Pros & Cons of Self-Directed IRA Real Estate Investments

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Buy Real Estate in your IRA – Expand your Investment Horizons

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.Typically, people sock away things into their traditional IRA accounts including stocks, mutual funds and bonds. If you have the urge to save something other than these things and you are self directing your IRA investments consider real estate. Using your IRA retirement account to broaden your portfolio is possible with the purchase of raw land, condos, houses, commercial properties and mortgage notes.

An insurance company office manager in California, Ruby Barnett, has always wanted to invest in various properties. Barnett says, "I read a book a few years ago, and it mentioned you could self direct IRA in real estate investments. My goal was to buy properties and flip them – rehab and sell them. But I ended up buying income property, so I have tenants. The rent goes into the IRA."

It is possible to use a traditional IRA account, or a Roth IRA, for investing in IRA real estate. It doesn't matter if you are a hands-on person like Barnett, or if you are an investor who would rather rely on another person's expertise. Most people who do invest in real estate through their IRA are very willing to learn. They prefer to be in the driver's seat.

Simple IRA Rules with Investing in IRA Real Estate

To invest in real estate through your IRA, you must be aware of the simple IRA rules. You cannot buy real estate using your basic IRA. You must open a self-directed IRA. If you want to invest and need to open one of these IRA accounts, banks, brokerage firms and insurance companies will assist you with opening the IRA. Generally, they will limit your options to the specific products they sell. In order to buy real estate, you may have to seek out an independent administrator that will serve as a trustee. There are companies that will help you find the right administrator for the self-directed IRA.

Administrators of Self-Directed IRA Accounts

Administrators, who work fee-based, will charge each and every time they do something. For example, if they have to make weekly payments to your account, the administrator may charge $10 per payment.

An asset-based administrator would charge a percentage of the annual total asset value. For example, if you have a portfolio of $40,000, you may pay anywhere between 1 to 1.5 percent in fees. However, if you have a million dollar portfolio, the fee may be only .03%.

Most administrators seem to be going a different route, however. They are hybrid-based administrators, who will charge a little of both.

If you decide to find an administrator on your own, make sure you take the time to talk to several different administrators. As with any service you buy, the most expensive does not always mean it is the best, and the cheapest is not always the bargain you think it is. It is advised that you try to avoid administrators who are new to the business.

The act of avoiding new administrators is not to disqualify them. Many administrators come and go in the business. This doesn't mean the client will lose their money, but it may get tied up until things are settled. This is the concern when dealing with new administrators. It is important to know their asset base, how much is under their control, and how much experience they have.

Make sure you talk to reps and ensure they understand what you are trying to do. Make note of their flexibility. Many administrators will not take real estate because they do not completely understand it. Be sure to ask questions and request an annual statement. Also inquire about all applicable fees.

When you finally choose an administrator, they will walk you through all the steps needed to open a self-directed IRA. It is possible to set up an account with new money, but you would only be able to fund it with the allowed maximum IRA annual contribution. However, you could transfer some, or all, of your assets from your traditional IRA account.

According to Hugh Bromma of Entrust Administration, a self-directed IRA is often the best option for those looking to invest in real estate. This type of IRA has the best advantages, especially for those who make a lot of money in their existing portfolio. Unlike a traditional IRA, the earnings are tax-free upon distribution. This is a great benefit. To exemplify the advantage, consider a traditional IRA that begins with $10,000 that parlays into a million dollars. With the traditional IRA account, you would be taxed on the million dollars.

Read the second part of this two-part series on IRA real estate investments, IRS' rules on real estate IRA investments, Options in real estate investments and using an Investment-Locator Company: IRS' Rules: Self-Directed IRA Real Estate

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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