FAQs

If I can invest in real estate using my IRA without taxes and penalties, why hasn’t my broker told me about this?

Most people and their stock brokers question this strategy. Your financial advisor’s company or agency may either be disinterested in this type of business or have not been educated regarding this type of format. A stock broker makes money when they sell stocks, bonds and mutual funds not real estate.

Is it legal to have real estate investment in IRA accounts?

Yes! Internal Revenue Code Section408 has guidance on what investment activities that you can have in your retirement account. While the code does not specify which transactions are legal, the code is very specific as to which transactions are prohibited. Thousands of individuals have successfully implemented the strategy over the past 20 years.

Specifically, what are prohibited transactions in your self-directed IRA?

Internal Revenue Code 4975(c) (1)identifies prohibited transactions that include any direct or indirect:

  • Selling, exchanging, or leasing any property between a plan and a disqualified person. For example, your IRA cannot buy property your currently own from you.
  • Lending money or other extension of credit between a plan and a disqualified person. For example, you cannot personally guarantee a loan for a real estate purchase by your IRA.
  • Furnishing goods, services, or facilities between a plan and a disqualified person. For example, you cannot use personal furniture to furnish your IRAs rental property.
  • Transferring or using, by or for the benefit of a disqualified person the income or assets of a plan. For example, your IRA cannot buy a vacation property you or your family to use.
  • Dealing with income or assets of a plan by a disqualified person who is a fiduciary acting in his own interest or for his own account. For example, you should not loan money to your CPA.
  • Receiving any consideration for his or her personal account by a disqualified personwho is a fiduciary from any party dealing with the plan in connection with a transaction involving the income or asset or the Plan. For example, you cannot pay yourself income from your IRAs rental property.

What kind of retirement funds am I able to use to purchase real estate?

If a qualified retirement plan that allows you to define and/or self-direct the type of investments in your retirement account. You have the ability to purchase real estate within the plan. This kind of plans typically includes:

  • Traditional IRA
  • Roth IRA
  • SEP IRA
  • Keogh
  • 401(k)
  • And many more

Most employer sponsored plans such as a 401(k) will not allow you to self-direct the plan while you are still employed. However, some employers will allow you to roll a portion of your funds or your personal contributions to a rollover IRA. The best way to find out whether your plan is eligible is to contact your plan administrator.

Can my IRA buy real estate that I currently own?

Even though there are companies which claim you can, this is strictly forbidden under IRC #4975. There are many great real estate transactions available so do not put your retirement account at risk by engaging in a “self-dealing” transaction such as this.

What is a Self-Directed IRA custodian?

The custodian is a bank or savings and loan institution, as defined in IRC # 408(n), or any other entity that has the approval of the IRS to act as custodian.

Is my money safe with an IRA custodian?

The custodian that holds retirement assets is a registered trust company. In order to register as a trust company, the institution must meet stringent state and federal requirement and maintain adequate reserves. Your money and retirement assets are held in a separate account for your benefit and are not subject to the creditors of the Custodian. Further the Custodian never has control of your money or assets, you are always in control.

How does a custodian make money?

You are charged a fee for simply having an account with a custodian each year. A custodian generates revenue in a variety of ways.

  • Asset based fees
  • Transactional fees
  • Holding fees
  • Special fees

Asset fees are typically based on a percentage of the value of your Self-Directed IRA. As your IRA continues to increase in value, they are able to charge you more – even if you never purchase an asset. Large accounts are penalized under this system.

Transactional fees apply when your IRA purchase an asset. In regards, to real estate, there can be fees assessed for writing an escrow deposit; fees for reviewing a purchase and/or sale; fees for recording each document; and fees for the final wire of funds to complete the purchase. The process repeats itself when you sell that asset. This can add up quickly for active accounts. Holding fees are also assessed for assets that are held with a custodian. If your IRA purchased a parcel of real estate, the custodian could assess a quarterly fee for just holding the deed on behalf of your IRA. Special fees include things like expediting service, express mail,wiring funds and so on. Special fees can add up quickly, especially when trying to close transactions quickly.

Can I mix personal funds with IRA funds to purchase a piece of real property?

Yes, if it is structured correctly. You must be very careful to whom you are listing. The prohibited transactions code prohibits any individual from using personal or IRA cash to benefit the other. This can be easily violated through “formation issues”. If you are considering using your personal funds to move forward in real estate with your IRA either through Tenant-in-Common or a Partnership Entity, consult with experienced professionals.

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