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What your mother wishes to do would not protect her form tax on the sell of the property she now owns.
The sell of the investment property would need to be under a 1031 exchange.
IRC Section 1031 provides an exception and allows you to postpone paying tax on the gain if you reinvest the proceeds in similar property as part of a qualifying like-kind exchange.
In a deferred exchange, the disposition of the relinquished property and acquisition of the replacement property must be mutually dependent parts of an integrated transaction constituting an exchange of property.
She would need to work through an intermediary, they receive the payment on the sell of the property and they act on her behalf.
She designates the replacement property and it must be another investment property it cannot be a second home.
They will most likely charge a fee. Most people use an attorney as their intermediary.
She should choose one now.
There are time frames that would need to be met if she wants to use this.
Before closing of the first property, the Exchangor has 45 calendar days to identify to either the intermediatry or the closing entity the addresses of the potential replacement properties. In a reverse exchange where either the replacement or relinquished property is parked, the Exchangor has 45 days to submit a final list of properties for sale or purchase.
She needs to have her intermediary in place now to hold her replacement property and the for the sell of the other.
Here are the basics of the 1031 so you can get familiar with the requirements
If your mother were to purchase a property prior to selling the other outside the proper 1031 arrangement then she cannot use that to defer the sell.
The intermediary could hod the new property then when she sells the old the exchange could happen.
This is more complicated then buying and selling on one's own.
In a reverse 1031 exchange, the Exchangor cannot hold title to both properties at the same time, so an Exchange Accommodator Titleholder (EAT) is created to take title or park either the old or new property.
The EAT can be single member limited liability company (smllc) created for the purpose of holding the property for the duration of the 1031 reverse exchange. The smllc is never reused or simultaneously holds property for another exchange.
Once the old property sells, the equity is returned to the Exchangor for the cash contribution to the new property or to pay down the new property debt. EATs are also used while the new property receives improvements. If it takes 6 months then that is allowed.
Your mother cannot buy a property then sell another to pay off the new and not pay tax on the sell.
That is not within the IRS rules for deferring gain.
There are real estate attorneys that specialize in this sort of transaction.
I hope this has been helpful.
Doing a reverse is the most complex. Selling first then replacing is the easier method.