Buying Real Estate in IRA:IRS' Rules on Self-Directed IRA

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Powerpoint slides on a superior retirement planning strategy called Roth IRA on Roids which allows for tax-free distributions, tax-free growth, guaranteed principal and guarateed death benefits.Many administrators will not give investment advice. In this case, you will need to rely on a firm that will specialize in finding the appropriate real estate for your portfolio. One company that specializes in real estate is Secured Assets Funding, located in Vacaville, California. Bruce Bishop runs the company and says most of his clients are leaving a company or planning retirement. They are ready to roll over their 401k into a new IRA retirement account, but they do not want to choose the traditional path of investing in stocks and mutual funds as found with traditional IRA accounts and Roth accounts.

IRS' Complicated Rules of Self-Directed IRA Real Estate

The IRS is one reason to avoid taking on a self-directed IRA real estate investment on your own. This branch of the government has many rules regarding the use of retirement funds for real estate.

Patrick Rice, or IRA Resource Associates, says, "The most common question I hear is, I've found a really neat time share and I want to buy it with my IRA, can I do that?' Yes, you can." The important thing to know is that you cannot buy real estate for your own personal use.

The IRS will allow you to use the land as long as it is not in your IRA portfolio. Though you cannot reside on the property, you can rent it and place the collected rent into your IRA retirement account. When the time is right, you can take those earnings as a distribution. To make things even more complicated, you cannot rent the real estate to your spouse, ascendants or descendants, but you can rent to a brother or sister.

Regardless of whether you want to use this self-directed IRA real estate account for a retirement home or commercial property, the IRS does not really tell you what you are allowed to do with your IRA assets. They only tell you what you cannot do!

Consider your Options to Make Money in Real Estate

Many people make the assumption that they need a lot of money to make money on property with their IRA retirement account. This is not the case. Hugh Bromma says that people that use options only have a few thousand dollars. An option will give you the exclusive right to buy property within a set period.

Bromma explains it like this: "Suppose I like your house and would like an option to buy it in 60 days at $100,000. If I don't, you get my option money, $1,000. I hunt down a buyer who will pay $150,000. On day 59, I say I'm going to exercise this option and I give you $100,000. The next day I sell the property for $150,000. With $1,000 from the IRA, I made $50,000 on the deal."

Rice believes that you will gain more control investing in real estate than investing in the stock market. He says, "You can drive by and look at a neighborhood, control the value of the property through maintenance, good tenants and foresee changes in the market a lot easier. When basis points are dropped by Alan Greenspan, then it's a good market for real estate. When points rise, you can see it coming. It happens today but doesn't hit the hometown market for 3 months, giving you time to maneuver."

Use an Investment-Locator Company

Using an investment-locator company will provide you with the benefit of having experts on your side. They can check out hundreds of properties and choose the best ones. "We do the appraisals, get opinions; you get a couple inches of research to review," says Rice.

Barnett suggests doing as much homework as possible. She states, "Last year, there were multiple offers on the property I bought. The seller takes a look and decides what they'll accept. They don't always take the highest price. What worked for me was I had cash and could close the deal sooner. I looked at the property, had inspectors check it out. I went with them. I got up on the roof with the inspector." However, according to Bromma, the practice of doing your own research places you in the minority.

He claims, "There are people who say they want to get into real estate, but when they find out it's real[ly] work, they don't. When I do seminars, probably 10 percent of the people I talk to will follow through on doing these types of investments. They don't have enough knowledge in their investment arena. I discourage them from doing anything until they do their homework."

It will take some time and effort to determine if a self-directed IRA real estate account is the right way for you to broaden your portfolio. In some cases, people, like Barnett, find the process profitable and interesting.

Read the first part of this two-part series on IRA real estate investments, Administrators of self-direct IRA accounts: Self-Directed IRA Real Estate Investments

Rocco Beatrice, CPA, MST (Master of Science in Taxation), MBA (Master of Business Administration), BSBA (Management/Accounting), CWPP (Certified Wealth Preservation Planner), CMMB (Certified Mortgage Broker), CAPP (Certified Asset Protection Planner), Managing Director, Estate Street Partners, LLC. Mr. Beatrice is an asset protection, award-winning trust, estate planning and tax expert.

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