Real Estate exchanges help you sell “investment” real estate without paying capital gains tax. (Actually, the taxes are deferred, not eliminated.)
Seller can rid themselves of investment houses, land or apartment buildings and they get 45 days to identify 3 replacement properties and 180 days to close on the new property. The seller must put the sale proceeds in an exchange escrow. I set up quite a few of these for clients.
There are also “reverse exchanges.” In a reverse exchange, you buy your replacement property first, then sell your current investment property. The problem is that an exchange accommodator must buy the property (you can’t) and then you buy it from the accommodator once you sell your current property. A reverse exchange is more complicated than a straight exchange and the fees are about 4 times that of a regular exchange. There are two sets of transfer taxes and it is difficult to obtain financing on the property that is acquired first (because you don’t have the equity from your sale yet).
All things being the sale you are better off doing a regular exchange rather than a reverse, if at all possible.