Buying Real Estate in an IRA: Understanding Why and How

As Americans have become more interested and involved in their retirement options, Self-Directed IRAs and the opportunity to invest in non-traditional assets have been gaining popularity. One of the more common alternative investment opportunities inside of a Self-Directed IRA are Real Estate assets. 

Many people are looking to diversify their retirement portfolios with tangible assets like Real Estate, after dealing with the often uncertain public stock market. With Self-Directed IRAs, you have the option to invest in all sorts of Real Estate assets such as single-family homes, multifamily and commercial properties, mobile homes, land, and so much more.

Real Estate in an IRA

Holding Real Estate assets in your Self-Directed IRA has many benefits. Many investors enjoy the freedom and security that comes with knowing all of your ‘nest eggs’ so to speak, are not sitting in one basket. Diversifying your portfolio with tangible and non-tangible assets is a great way to give yourself financial security, no matter what the markets may look like in the future. 

Self-Directed IRAs also allow you to hold assets with notably high returns on investments. Real Estate investments have been shown to produce results that are double and sometimes even triple the original price. When these transactions are done inside of an IRA– a tax-exempt vehicle– investors have the potential to grow their Self-Directed IRAs to the millions. 

When you’re ready to start investing in Real Estate in your IRA, it is important to read up on the structuring rules and limitations of the IRS, in order to protect yourself and your investments. For example, when doing a Real Estate investment in a Self-Directed IRA, many people assume that an LLC or other 3rd party entity is needed, in addition to the IRA. While this method makes sense for some investors, it is often not the simplest way to structure a deal. 

First, know that an IRA has the ability to purchase an investment outright– there is no need for a middle entity. Second, if an intermediary entity is created, you will need to be aware of disqualified parties to your IRA.  The term “disqualified parties” refers to those individuals that the IRS has said cannot benefit from or enter into transactions with your IRA. 

For more information on how to keep your IRA working for you and protecting your retirement, visit IRS.gov, and check out the many educational resources available to you at questtrustcompany.com.  Click here for an article on IRA Prohibited Transactions.

How to Use a Self-Directed IRA to Buy a Real Estate Investment

The process of buying a Real Estate asset in your Self-Directed IRA is quite simple. Since these accounts are Self-Directed, your first step is to locate an investment of your choosing. Once you have selected the property you would like to purchase within your IRA and you have completed the due diligence on your investment, you can complete your investment documents and work with your custodian to get your deal funded. 

Unlike when you make a Real Estate purchase from your personal funds, with a Self-Directed IRA, you MUST draw up the offer/contract in the name of the IRA. For example, if the buyer is a Quest client, the buyer’s name on the offer/contract reads: Quest Trust Company FBO [CLIENT’S FULL NAME] [IRA/HSA/ESA] # [ACCOUNT NUMBER]. It is important to make sure the vesting is correct to show that the purchaser is the IRA and to protect your investment. When listing the buyer’s address, it works the same way. Since the IRA is held by the custodian, you would use the custodian’s address. 

Oftentimes, custodians will have internal forms that will need to be completed at the time of investment. These forms will require the client to sign, giving their approval on the funding. Once all the proper documents are signed, the custodian will work with the 3rd party closing agent to close your Real Estate purchase. Since the custodian is the legal entity in administration of your IRA, the client will not have to attend any closings. Click here for steps on purchasing Real Estate in your Quest Trust IRA.

Maintaining Real Estate in an IRA

Real Estate investments usually come with ongoing responsibilities, such as property taxes or maintenance, and you will want to know what to do when those situations arise. First, it is important to understand that your IRA owns the investment, and it will need to be the IRA that pays for any expenses that are incurred. You cannot pay for any expenses out of your own pocket, as this would be a prohibited transaction. When an expense needs to be paid, you can contact your IRA custodian and follow the steps that they provide to have the IRA pay that expense. 

This may seem like an extra step, but it’s extremely important to maintaining your investment security. Paying any expense out of pocket for your IRA’s Real Estate asset is a prohibited transaction. You never want to jeopardize your growth potential by engaging in a prohibited transaction, so following all of the IRS’s rules and guidelines is imperative. If there is ever a situation that you have questions about, call your custodian and they will be happy to provide you with the education to help you make the best decision for your account.

When deciding to do a Real Estate investment in your Self-Directed IRA, be sure to choose a custodian that is familiar with the investments you plan to do. Time is a crucial factor in investing, especially in Real Estate, so finding a company that works fast and has ample knowledge on your types of investments will save you from missing out on a great deal. 

If you ever have a question about purchasing Real Estate in your IRA, call a Quest Trust IRA Specialist at 855.386.4727 and we can answer any questions you may have!

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