News reached me a few days ago from a friend at a major national commercial real estate brokerage that LandAmerica 1031 Exchange, a substantial firm in the 1031 business, is ?terminating operations? immediately. They have frozen customer accounts and are unable to meet customer withdrawal demands. Seems LandAmerica invested its customers? dollars in illiquid auction rate securities. So now all LandAmerica customers who have their hard-earned capital gains and principal with LandAmerica can?t access their funds and stand a good chance of losing some or all of it.
There has been trouble brewing for a long time for certain 1031 companies, specifically the ones that have other businesses, such as selling/packaging tenant-in-common deals or other brokerage activities. Consider this hypocritical information posted directly on the LandAmerica 1031 website:
?As a wholly owned subsidiary of the publicly traded LandAmerica Financial Group, Inc. (NYSE:LFG), which also owns an FDIC insured bank, LandAmerica 1031 Exchange Services, Inc. (LES) is uniquely positioned to provide the security and liquidity that taxpayers and their advisors should be demanding from a qualified intermediary. To learn more about the strength of LES and why it is the appropriate QI to choose to facilitate your exchanges??
?Recent events have caused many advisors to recognize the need to better assess the solvency and fidelity of the Qualified Intermediaries (QI) used to structure ?safe-harbor? IRC § 1031 deferred exchanges, commonly referred to as 1031 exchanges. Advisors, including attorneys, accountants and real estate professionals, are examining anew the importance of recommending a QI that is a reliable financial resource for their clients. In an industry that includes a vast number of privately held, unregulated providers, LandAmerica 1031 Exchange Services stands out for its transparency and reliability. As a wholly-owned subsidiary of LandAmerica Financial Group, Inc., a publicly traded company, and operating in a highly-regulated industry, we are held to strict legal standards concerning reserves and transparency in our finances and processes. LandAmerica Financial Group, Inc. holds its own bank, and has affiliates licensed to issue title insurance nationwide.?
Serious investors should be advised to work with 1031 exchange companies with no other product areas or affiliated companies that can draw cash from it. Working with a company that focuses only on 1031 exchange services is the best and only way. Make sure they simply deposit the exchange money in highly liquid money market accounts that only invest in US treasuries, and then return it on the date the investor specifies. It?s that simple, and that safe. Or at least it should be.