Analyzing Different Real Estate Strategies for Self-Directed IRAs with Guest Speaker: Shenoah Grove

Self-Directed IRAs are perfect vehicles for creating tax-advantaged buckets of wealth for the future, and they also let investors save for their retirement by investing into assets that they are familiar with and enjoy. Today, Shenoah Grove of the Texas Real Estate Investor Association joins me to share some strategies that have worked for her and her team as she has grown up in the investing world. 

Sarah: Thank you for joining me today. We’re going to talk a little bit about Self-Directed IRA real estate strategies. We’ll also discuss some of the strategies that you are personally using and teaching in your practices. Before we jump in, can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

Shenoah: Yeah, so Shenoah Grove here, founder, owner and operator of Texas REIAs, Texas’ largest association of real estate investor groups with over 87,000 members. I’ve been investing since 2003, but I’m a fourth generation Texas real estate investor. My great-grandparents owned a rental property. They owned about 18. And my grandparents own rental property. My parents still own about 12 doors to this day. So, it’s a little bit in my blood. I love what I get to do every day, both as an investor, as well as the owner and founder of Texas REIAs. I also coach many clients who are looking to either get started in real estate and/or tweak what they’ve already been doing in order to scale their business. So, that’s a little bit about me.

Sarah: It’s really neat that real estate investing has been in your blood for so long. It sounds like it’s something you’ve been passionate about for quite a while. What really got you started? What kick-started your time investing?

Shenoah: Well, I think we have all been socialized, probably over the last 50 years, just to go to college and we’re told that will be how we excel. That’s how we succeed. And even with real estate investing and with generations of real estate investors in my blood, I was also socialized that way. So, I got my undergraduate degree at University of Texas. Then, I got my MBA at Rice and I thought, “This is how I’m going to make it in the world, and how I’m going to make it in corporate America”. As I was doing that, I was working my butt off and I was watching my income grow, but I was also watching my parent’s income. It was double. Their wealth would double just from real estate investing. It became obvious at some point that I needed to reevaluate what I was doing and look at real estate investing in more detail.

Sarah: I love that background. Any specifics that stick out to you?

Shenoah: The first investment deal that I did was actually when I was in college. Now, don’t think that I’m bragging here, but at the time I was making $4.75 an hour. Okay, yeah. How does a college kid with hardly any income buy a house, right? So, the way that we did it at the time – this loan product is not available anymore – but at the time we used something called a “non-qualifying assumable loan”, which is essentially like buying subject-to today. Although they don’t make non-qualifying assumable loans anymore, you can still purchase the property subject-to the existing mortgage today, which is how I got my first house when I was in college. Actually, one of the members of our real estate investors association built a house right next door to this property and sold it for over $2 million. So, that’s how you build wealth as a real estate investor. You buy in the right places and you hold in the right places. And I love what I do now as an investor.

Sarah: Oh yes, I can always see how passionate you are about it every time I’m at one of the Texas REIA events. I always see a smile on your face and it always seems like people really love being a part of the program. Now, there were a couple of terms that you threw out when you were talking. You mentioned subject-to and buy and hold. Those are obviously a couple of real estate strategies that people can utilize whenever they want to invest in real estate. What are some real estate strategies that you’re using right now as you invest?

Shenoah: For me, I want to make money every time the phone rings and we are what we call ourselves, “strategy agnostic”. I don’t care what strategy it is. If there’s an opportunity to make money, then I’m going to employ that strategy. I want to make money whenever the phone rings. I see a lot of investors get caught in the trap of, “I want to do fix and flips”, or “I want to do buy and holds”, or “I want to do wholesaling.” Well, that may work, but it may not work on the next call you’re about to get. So, I don’t care if it’s commercial, single family, a duplex, three-plex, four-plex, or raw land. If there’s an opportunity, I’m going to do my due diligence and try and figure it out.

Sarah: That’s such an important point. There are so many opportunities. 

Shenoah: Right. And you spend a lot of money as a real estate investor on marketing, right? So, if you’re trying to fit every single lead that you get into one specific square, if you will, that’s not going to always work. You’re not going to be able to scale your business and/or reach the amount of income and wealth knowledge that you want as a real estate investor. For me, I love all the strategies. We love to buy, fix and flip. We love to build new. We love to buy and hold. We joke that we have the Blue Bell Ice Cream investing philosophy, being from Texas. Most people know Blue Bell slogans, which is “We eat all we can and we sell the rest.” So, for me, I want to keep all that I can, and I want to sell the rest, meaning sell enough just to fund my lifestyle.

Sarah: And one strategy I know you utilize is the power of the Self-Directed IRA.

Shenoah: Of course, you know, being able to do that in a self-directed IRA, being able to do that in our Roth IRA really increases and even doubles the power of your investing. So, and there’s so many different strategies you can use. In our self-directed IRAs, we loan money to other investors. We also buy properties that we keep as rental properties. We have shares in apartment complexes, multifamily, and other commercial investments. We even buy subject-to the existing loans in our self-directed IRA. And when you think about buying subject-to in your self-directed IRA, for example, that really compounds it. Einstein says the most powerful force in the universe is compound interest or appreciation, right? Combine that with some of the tax-free savings that you can get using a self-directed IRA, specifically a Roth IRA, and there you go.  The self-directed IRA knowledge [is] critical in order to build that tax-free wealth.

Sarah: That’s great. Everyone is a little different. I like to use my Roth to be passive and do private lending, and I always love hearing about the creative ways other’s use their IRAs. 

Shenoah: We also partner with homeowners to do equity partnering. We like auctions and options, wraps, and all sorts of different things. And again, when I see a deal, I don’t look at the deal and say, “I want to fit in my strategy on that deal,” But instead I say, “What does this deal tell me?” It will tell me the strategy that I need to use. That’s a little bit about some of the different strategies that we use, at least in our self-directed IRA. 

Sarah: Absolutely. You talked about a lot of great strategies there and using a self-directed IRA to do so. Before we move on, for those that may not know, can you briefly define what a sub-to is/what a wrap is?

Shenoah: Yes, this is the strategy that will allow your “dollar to holler”, as I like to say. The average price in Texas right now is around $350,000. Not everybody has that money just laying around to be able to do investments with, but they might have $50,000 or $100,000. Well, with $50k or $100k, you could easily reinstate a property and/or do repairs. Even though you couldn’t acquire that property on your own with your own cash or with your own credit, or even on time for example, buying subject-to allows you to cut that timeframe down to nothing versus waiting on a traditional lender that might take 30 to 45 days to give a loan. Sometimes the properties we’re investing in, you don’t have 30 t0 45 days to close it. You might have two or three, and that’s where the excitement and the opportunity comes in. So, you could easily just reinstate a homeowner’s or seller’s loan and take over their payments, right? There’s three instruments that are typically filed on a sale. There’s the general warranty deed (who owns the property), there’s the promissory note (what’s owed on the property), and then there’s the deed of trust, which helps enforce that promissory note and allows for nonjudicial foreclosure, for example, here in the state of Texas. When you’re buying a property subject-to, that original promissory note and that original deed of trust that’s held by the lender stay in place. The general warranty deed transfers to you, the investor. You are the new owner. That’s buying straight subject-to. Now, the best way to do it to make sure you not only protect yourself as an investor, but also the underlying seller, is to create a new promissory note and a new deed of trust. It kind of sits on top of, or “wraps” around, the original note and deed of trust. Then, the original note and deed of trust, (the person you’re making payments to – the person who can foreclose) is the Wells Fargo chase bank of America, et cetera. And the new note is going to be the original seller. So, if you default as an investor on that loan, then the seller can go back and foreclose on you. It gives the seller additional protections that gives the seller a sigh of relief.

Sarah: That was a great explanation. Thank you!

Shenoah: Yeah, so, buying subject-to is really just taking over payments. Creating that wrap around mortgage is where you give that seller those extra protections by creating that additional note and deed of trust. Very powerful strategy again. Then add a self-directed IRA in the mix, and the possibilities of what you can do are endless when you are strategy stacking. It just feels like you’re a Jedi!

Sarah: Oh, I love what you just said there: strategy stacking. That’s a cool term, and self-directed IRAs are obviously just one more layer that you can have as a partner or, you know, a tool in your tool belt. Let’s talk a little bit more about self-directed IRAs specifically. When did you start using self-directed IRAs as a part of your strategies?

Shenoah: When we started investing in 2003, we were in corporate America. We had a 401k and it’s like you had four options: low risk, medium risk, high risk, and international, which means we don’t even know what’s going to happen here. That was about it. So, we started investing, but we kept thinking how we wanted to be diversified. We were going to keep our 401k money in the stock market, and then we we’re going to keep our real estate money over separate. That worked for a while, but at one point we realized we weren’t watching the stock market. We weren’t being good caretakers of that. We also realized that we were probably not going to outsmart the average person who is on Wall Street. But as we started investing for a while, I started to think, “Okay, well, I can outsmart the average real estate investor. So, when we realized that we live, breathe, eat… and sleep real estate, we moved our money over into a self-directed IRA. It’s nice to be able to touch, look, see, and evaluate the investment. You don’t have to worry about some crazy worldwide disruption changing the whole value of the portfolio. 

Sarah: That is so true. 

Shenoah: The only hockey quote that I know is by Wayne Gretzky. And he says, “I don’t skate to where the puck is. I skate to where the puck is going to be.” You need to know where the values are growing and you need to invest in those locations, especially for the buy-and-hold strategy. The fix-and-flips are not going to change value in the short amount of time that you have to raise the value of that property. If you know where the value is going and growing over the course of the next several years and you’re investing there, then you’re going to win. Never is that hockey statement so true then about real estate and real estate investing, specifically when it comes to buying and holding. So, yes, this is something that we’ve loved to do and something that has benefited us, and it has really been the basis for our wealth as investors. And then double that with some of the tax-free benefits that you get, and yeah, it’s called winning!

Sarah: That’s actually exactly what I was going to say, too. Tax fee, and then also being able to invest in what you know. If you’re investing in what love, you’re probably going to get higher returns. Now, on the flip side, are there any strategies that you all try to avoid? Strategies that make you think, “We are going to avoid these at all costs. They don’t work for us.”?

Shenoah: Yeah, every area is different. So, Texas has different laws than California, than Florida, then other places. We factor that into our strategy. And also, as an entrepreneur, you always have to remember that it’s your job to be looking for disruptions, right. What’s the disruption, what is the solution, what is the workaround, and do we need to change our business and look for different strategies. 

Sarah: I love that you mentioned workarounds. I mean, one of the biggest workarounds we have is obviously the backdoor Roth IRA which we talk about in other articles, but some of those work arounds can sometimes even make a strategy you didn’t think you had possible. Those work arounds – when you understand them and do them correctly – they’re so important.

Shenoah: Yes, you have to be careful. I don’t like pushing the envelope when it comes to self-directed IRA specifically from the standpoint of when what I’m doing might create a taxable event for me. I see a lot of people out there who are possibly creating taxable events, just because they don’t know or just because they got educated on what I call “YouTube University”. They’re listening to the wrong people. That’s why I love you guys.

Sarah: Thank you, and you are so right. It really is important to surround yourself with the right people when it comes to proper education, whether it’s Self-Directed IRAs or real estate investing or anything really! Well, Shenoah, I really appreciate you being here with me today and sharing some of your strategies and insights with me today. If people want to get in contact with you where can they go?

Shenoah: Our website for the TEXAS Real Estate Investor Association is . Thank you!

As you can see, not one strategy is better than the other, but they can all benefit you in some way. Being able to understand and utilize all sorts of different strategies will expand your investing knowledge and could be what takes your Self-Directed IRA to the next level. If you ever have questions about how to utilize certain real estate strategies in your IRA or want more information about how to get started, we encourage you to talk to an IRA Specialist! To learn more about how to get started investing with a self-directed IRA, schedule a 1-on-1 consultation with an IRA Specialist by clicking HERE.

How to Streamline Private Loans in your SDIRA with Quest Supervisor Robyn Ruston

Thank you for joining me today. I have Quest’s Dallas Office Supervisor and transaction specialist Robyn Ruston here with me today. She’s an expert when it comes to almost anything involving real estate, notes, or private entity purchases. Today, we are going to be talking about how to streamline the process for lending and borrowing when a Self-Directed IRA is involved. 

Sarah: If someone is interested in doing a private loan with their Self-Directed IRA, what does one even need? Whether that be making sure preliminary boxes are checked or providing forms, what is needed to make sure that funding gets taken care of? 

Robyn: Well, first and foremost, the IRA accounts have to have funds. Then, it depends on what type of note they want to do. So, they decide that with the borrower, what kind of note they want to do, (secured or unsecured). For instance, we’re always going to have to have a Direction of Investment Form. It doesn’t matter what kind of loan they’re going to do, they will always need the Direction of Investment. It’s our internal form that tells us, you know, where to send the money, their interest rate, maturity date. It just gives us the general information of what the investment is. It tells us the pertinent information on how to process the funds. 

Sarah: And that information is very important. We can’t fund without it.  

Robyn: Right. So, if they want to do one that is secured with a note, then we would need a promissory note and we need the deed of trust and/or mortgage showing that the IRA is the lender. Once the note is completely paid off, the borrower will submit a release of lien and Quest will sign it releasing the IRA from that asset.  The supporting documents specify the terms between the borrower and the lender. The biggest thing to remember is that, in order for them to do any type of investment, we always need supporting documents determining whatever they’re going to do. 

Sarah: Got it. I also heard you mention… you touched on the fact that they have to decide all those terms. That’s an important part there.  

Robyn: Yes, that’s decided between the borrower and the lender. They decide all the terms, and how it’s going to be written. They find somebody who drafts all the documents surrounding the investment. That’s what makes it self-directed. As the custodian, we review all documents and we make sure that it’s in compliance with IRA terms. We make sure that we have the right vesting on there, and that we have the information that’s needed in order for us to be able to hold that investment. 

Sarah: Perfect. So, I’m sure that you probably have lenders calling in all the time asking “how do I fill out these forms?”, and “What do I do?”. How often do you get lenders and borrowers calling in for questions and how do you address those?

Robyn:  When it comes to answering questions, we can answer questions for the borrower and to the lenders. But we can only answer questions for the borrower to an extent, as long as they don’t pertain to the lenders account. We don’t mind like talking to the borrower to let them know what’s needed or the steps for the investment process, just so both sides of the party are fully aware of the steps that are required to make an investment happen. So, we do also talk to the borrowers often. 

Sarah: I’m sure one of the biggest questions that a lot of the borrowers have when they call in is “I have to pay back my lender! How do I do that?”. How does the lender get paid back? Can you talk a little bit about that and where those funds have to go? 

Robyn: There are a couple of different ways. We can always provide Delivery Instructions to our lenders, so that the borrowers can make payments a couple different ways. They can wire over the funds to an IRA account. They can send them via ACH or through check, and they can even use our online payment methods. You know, we make it pretty simple and easy. They will send the funds directly to Quest and then we will allocate those properly to the clients’ IRA accounts. 

Sarah: Now, one thing that you touched on there that’s really important – something that I think all of our readers should know – is those funds have to go back to the IRA accounts. I’m sure that’s a big mistake many people make. Interest payments must be made to the IRA. 

Robyn: Exactly

Sarah: So, while they’re going through that funding process, what’s one of the biggest things that you see holds people up getting that investment funded on time?

Robyn: Most of the time, you know, what I see is that the documents aren’t worded right; we don’t have the correct language, meaning the vesting is incorrect. Another is that we don’t have any wiring instructions. So, the best way to just kind of make that go quicker is to make sure the client understands a few things. We always let the client know, “why don’t you go ahead and get the terms drafted and then submit those over to us.” Let us look at them. We’ll tell them, “this needs to be corrected. That needs to be corrected.” Once you get the final draft, that’s when I would get people’s signatures and stuff like that, because every time you make a mistake or every time you have to correct the document, you have to go back and get a signature again. 

Sarah: I can see how that could be a holdup.

Robyn: The best way to streamline the process is to go ahead and just submit all documents over for a preliminary reviewWe can’t draft it, but we can review it and let you know if it meets all of our requirements. We can say, “go ahead and get the borrower to execute” or we can let them know, “hey, your vesting is incorrect or you’re missing the maturity date, basic information”. That way they can correct it.

Sarah: And even if one thing is missing, that’ll hold something up. We have got to have it all. 

Robyn: We’ve got to have it all. 

Sarah: One thing that you mentioned at the very beginning when we were talking about what’s needed, you said that it depends on what type of note and I want to go back to that, because that was really important. There are unsecured versus secured. Now, if somebody wants to do an unsecured note, what type of due diligence should be done before entering in to a Self-Directed IRA investment like that. 

Robyn: Yes, we recommend that the client does a bit of research and that they know what they are investing in, especially with an unsecured note. The great thing about our IRAs is that they are self-directed, but it can also put more responsibility on the account holder since all of the investment details are curated between the lender and the borrower. It’s best definitely to do some due diligence and just make sure that they are aware of what they’re investing in, making sure that they are agreeing to these terms in this loan, right? And then to just making sure that everyone’s goals is met at the end of their investment, their promissory note. 

Sarah: Mhm. Perfect. Moving right along… What are some common questions that you get? What do people call in and have the most questions about? Let’s address some of those. 

Robyn: [chuckles] Mostly, “where’s my funding?” Oftentimes, we get asked, “can we go ahead and fund without a signature from the borrower” or “how is the investment status, what is the status of the investment?” 

Sarah: And if they wanted to check on the status of an investment, do they have somewhere where they can do that? 

Robyn: Yes. The QTC Investment Hub has an investment tracker. It’s located in their Client Portal. 

Sarah: Awesome, well do you have any other words of advice that you would give to either lenders or borrowers to help them streamline the process?

Robyn: Yes. To just make sure that, as the client, they are responsible for knowing what is exactly needed for their note and what we look for. That way they know for when they’re getting their note drafted. We can always send it over to them through email. So, when they’re getting it drafted they can make sure that everything is included. I also recommend that, before they even start to process, do their digital research. Really look into who they’re borrowing from or on the other side, who they’re lending to. Go on the internet, Google at home, see if you can find out any information, and check with somebody who’s already invested with those people. You know, just kind of get their feedback on anything. Borrowers should be willing to let you talk to somebody who has already invested with them or lent them money. 

Sarah: That is such a good point. 

Robyn: If they have a good track record, they shouldn’t have any problem answering your questions. So, just pick it apart and just make sure that you know what you’re going into. And that last thing is just to set realistic expectations and times. All of this will really help in streamlining the process. 

Private loans and other notes continue to be one of the most popular investments held in Self-Directed IRAs, and it’s’ helpful to understand some of the ways to keep the process moving smoothly. If you have more questions about how to lend and borrow funds with a Self-Directed IRA, feel free to call our office at 281.492.3434 and a representative will be happy to help answer any questions.  To learn more about how to get started investing with a self-directed IRA, schedule a 1-on-1 consultation with an IRA Specialist by clicking HERE.

Active vs Passive: What Type of Self-Directed IRA Investor Are You?

One of the biggest benefits of real estate investing with a Self-directed IRA is the ability to have extreme flexibility no matter what type of lifestyle you have. Some people are full time investors, and love to spend all of their time searching for new rental properties or their next rehab project! But others simply don’t have enough time. With day-to-day life constantly moving, the thought of taking the time to find a property to invest in may sound daunting, which is why a more passive approach is appealing. The good news is, no matter what type of investing you prefer, Self-Directed IRAs offer something for everyone! 

Investing in What You Know Best

When getting involved in any investment, you always want to make sure you’re doing the best deal for you! Investing in things you are interested in and are familiar with will usually yield the highest returns. When you invest in things you don’t fully understand, you run the risk of doing something wrong. If you don’t like the investment, you won’t have any interest in it, which could mean losing money, as well. Taking the time to stop and think about what you are good at will typically help produce better results for your Self-Directed IRA.

Active vs. Passive: What Works for You?

As mentioned, your lifestyle plays a big role in the way you invest, too. A lot of investors still have a regular day job and can’t afford to dedicate all of their time to their retirement account.  Passive investors can maximize their IRAs by finding investments that don’t take much daily maintenance. For others, real estate is a full time job, and doing a few deals in their SDIRA in addition comes easy.  These active investors can afford to offer more time to their investments. Common things that passive investors would dread, like dealing with tenants or property repairs isn’t as big of a hassle for active investors, since they usually have more availability.

What Investment Are Good For My Investing Style?

So, what type of investments would be good for you? Let’s analyze. As passive investing grows in popularity, more people are maximizing their Self-Directed IRAs with non-traditional passive investments. Real estate notes and private loans secured by property can be a great investment for the busy investor that can’t actively invest in real estate the traditional way. Multifamily and other private entity deals (i.e. include LLCs, limited partnerships, trusts, private stock, etc.) are also quite passive and don’t require much work from the Self-Directed IRA investor, making these great opportunities, as well. 

Active investors may prefer to seek out physical property, using their Self-Directed IRAs to purchase rehabs or potential rental properties. Wholesaling and fix-and-flipping are gaining popularity among IRA investors, too. The beauty of real estate is that it offers safety and security by being a tangible asset. You can drive by a property and actually see, touch, and feel the investment, which gives active investors assurance. Below is a helpful chart that can help you weigh which option might be best for you.

Investing is different for everyone. There will be pros and cons for whatever type of investment appeals to you. In the event something were to go wrong with your investments, understanding what to do will also help you determine if the investment is right for you. Most important thing to do is find an investment that you like and are comfortable with. If you have questions about starting your Self-Directed IRA to invest actively or passively in real estate, schedule a 1-on-1 consultation with an IRA Specialist by clicking HERE.

Understanding How to Buy and Sell Real Estate in a Self-Directed IRA

Times are changing. The way many Americans have been taught to invest just doesn’t work anymore. With the unpredictability of traditional investing, more people have been turning to tangible assets like real estate.  Real estate investing allows people to diversify their retirement portfolios without having to deal with the uncertainty of the stock market. Being able to diversify your portfolio with tangible assets is a great way give yourself some added financial security in the future, no matter what the markets may look like. 

Real Estate in an IRA

Buying real estate in a self-directed IRA only requires a few steps. Locating the investment of your choosing is the first step. Since these accounts are self-directed, you are responsible for finding the deal. As you are looking for the perfect deal, remember to do the proper due diligence on your investment. Due diligence is extremely important to ensure you are protecting your investment as much as possible.

After finding the property you would like your self-directed IRA to purchase, you will submit investment documents and work with your self-directed IRA custodian to get your deal funded. When using a self-directed IRA to invest in real estate, it is important to understand that the self-directed IRA is the one making the actual purchase.   Although you are the one directing the IRA, the IRA itself will be the purchaser. Once all documents are signed, the funds will be sent by your custodian in the name of your IRA. 

Process of Purchasing a Real Estate Asset

Real Estate purchases with funds from a self-directed IRA differ slightly from your personal funds. Self-Directed IRAs require you to draw up the offer/contract in the name of the self-directed IRA. For example, when a Quest account is the buyer, the vesting will read: Quest Trust Company FBO [CLIENT’S FULL NAME] [IRA] # [ACCOUNT NUMBER]. Making sure the vesting is correct to show that the purchaser is the IRA will help you to protect your investment. Since your Quest IRA account is the buyer, when listing the buyer’s address on any investment documents, you would use the custodian’s address as well. 

Along with drafting up required documents, many times custodians will have their own internal forms that will need to be completed to purchase the investment, too. These forms allow the client to sign off, giving their approval for funding. After all of the documents are signed, the custodian will work with the third parties to close your real estate asset. Remember: the custodian is the legal entity in administration of your IRA, so the client will not have to attend any closings. 

Holding Real Estate in your IRA

Real estate assets in a self-directed IRA come with some responsibilities. You will want to know what to do when you are faced with property taxes or maintenance. We’ve already discussed how important it is to understand that your IRA owns the investment. In the event taxes are due or a repair is needed, the self-directed IRA will be the one that will need to pay for any expenses that are incurred. When paying for an expense, the custodian will usually require a copy of the invoice/purchase order along with a Payment Authorization Form. 

Similar to the self-directed IRA expenses, all profits and earnings must go back into your IRA. These payments must be made payable to your self-directed IRA and should NOT be deposited into your personal banking accounts. Paying for any expenses with personal money or accepting earnings back to a personal checking or savings account would be a prohibited transaction. You can learn more about prohibited transactions HERE. 

Selling Your Real Estate Investment

When you are ready to sell your real estate investment, you will also make sure to work with your custodian. All required forms will need to be completed so that the self-directed IRA can sell the property. Internal forms are typically required here, as well, along with the contract, warranty deed and final settlement statement showing details of the sale. Once completed, all profits will return to the IRA account. From here, you can continue to invest and grow your self-directed IRA for years to come. 

Investing in real estate with a self-directed IRA can be very lucrative when done correctly. Once you understand the steps to purchase property, starting is as simple as calling up a certified IRA specialist to get started. To learn more about how to get started investing with a self-directed IRA, schedule a 1-on-1 consultation with an IRA Specialist by clicking HERE.

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, and check out the many educational resources available to you at  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! To learn more about how to get started investing with a self-directed IRA, schedule a 1-on-1 consultation with an IRA Specialist by clicking HERE.

What Common Mistakes Can I Avoid When Setting up a Self-Directed IRA?

Do you want to take more control over your retirement investment accounts? Have you been considering a self-directed IRA but worried about the rules?

You want to diversify your portfolio – outside of the traditional investment markets such as stocks and bonds. That’s where a self-directed IRA comes into play. It allows you to diversify while also keeping control of your investments yourself.

However, you need to make sure to avoid some common mistakes and pitfalls that plague many investors.

Read on to make sure that you don’t fall into these common pitfall traps.

A self-directed IRA allows you to invest in alternative financial investments. These can include real estate, promissory notes, oil, and gas, tax lien certificates and more.

However, instead of being administered by a bank or brokerage you instead manage the fund yourself.

Take Control Yourself

You know you need to save your money for your retirement. But it can be daunting, to say the least when you are responsible for it yourself. 

When it comes to your retirement, the only person most invested in your success is yourself. Therefore, it stands to reason that you should be the one to make the final decisions regarding your investments. However, without the correct information, you can make some unfortunate mistakes in your choices

Take control of your financial future and get started with a self-directed IRA today. Contact a Quest IRA specialist and find out how we can help you take control of your retirement.

Avoid the Pitfalls of a Self-directed IRA

When you take control of your financial future with a self-directed IRA, you need to ensure to avoid these common pitfalls.

  1. Prohibited transactions – these can be tricky to navigate so it’s important to know the rules.
  2. Due diligence – As mentioned, the rules can be tricky, and it’s imperative that with a self-directed IRA you make the decisions yourself. Always ensure you do proper due diligence before getting into any investment.
  3. Lack of liquidity – with a self-directed IRA minimum distributions are required at 72, however, the alternative investments allowed can be hard to sell. This lack of liquidity can be a common pitfall if you find yourself in an emergency and can’t get your money out of your self-directed IRA.
  4. Lack of transparency – when it comes to your exit strategy for selling your alternative investments all parties involved must be in agreement. You also must be fully transparent as to the valuation of your investments. Without this full transparency, you can fall into another common pitfall of self-directed IRAs.
  5. Lack of diversity – as most successful investors will tell you: diversity is key to successful investment accounts. However, with self-directed IRA funds, sometimes investors forget to ensure that it is fully diversified.

With a self-directed IRA, you need a trustee or custodian that specializes in these non-traditional investments. However, remember one of the common mistakes with self-directed IRA funds is the self-directed IRA owner not performing proper due diligence on investments.

So this trustee is simply a custodian of your account, not your adviser. You need to work with a company that understands the IRA rules and you can trust.

Stay Educated and Stay out of Trouble

We set up self-directed IRAs to help you prepare for your retirement. The most prepared people for retirement are those that are best educated.Keep continuing your education so you can fully prepare for the best retirement possible. For answers to your questions, contact us today. We can help you open a Quest account to get you started.

Important criteria to consider when hiring an IRA custodian

If you are considering setting up an IRA, it is essential that you discuss significant criteria with an IRA specialist to determine whether a potential custodian is right for you. 

Here is some advice to help you have the most productive discussion:

Qualification status 

  • To set up an IRA, you are required by law to use a qualified custodian. 
  • It is therefore essential to check that the potential IRA custodian is certified, and you should ask to see some evidence of this status.


  • You may have determined that the potential IRA custodian has the correct qualifications, but you should also find out how much experience they have. 
  • Newly qualified custodians will not have the same expertise as custodians who have dealt with numerous clients over a long-term period. 
  • Ask the potential custodian about their previous work to help decide whether they are the best fit for you.

Options for investment 

  • Custodians will offer different options for investment, so you must decide whether you want to invest using stocks and bonds or use alternative assets. 
  • This decision will affect the IRA custodian that you can choose, as not all will be confident with alternative investments.


  • Any financial account which you open must be insured to protect your money. 
  • Every company has a different threshold for insurance, so you should make sure to ask how much money their insurance covers. 
  • This insurance should at least cover the value of money that you expect to have in your account, but for optimum security, it is preferable for this to be exceeded. 


  • You must use a custodian that meets your budget. 
  • The initial quote that custodians provide can quickly escalate in the event of hidden fees, so you should try to use a custodian with an honest and reliable reputation. 
  • This decision can help to avoid receiving a bill that you are unable to repay. 

Quest Trust Company is an innovative financial institution that offers IRAs, 401Ks, and other investment savings accounts. If you are looking for a reliable IRA custodian, contact one of our IRA specialists today!  Our expertise enables us to offer several investment options, all for a minimal fee.

Tips For Managing A Large Real Estate Portfolio In Your Self-Directed IRA

Real estate is a perennially popular investment type for individuals to pursue within their self-directed IRAs. The ability to invest in real estate – both developed and undeveloped properties – can provide an investment and risk profile that generally can’t be mirrored with traditional stock market investments.

But holding real estate within a self-directed IRA can also require a greater level of investment involvement as compared to those other asset classes.

With stocks or mutual funds, the only investor decision is generally just whether to buy or sell. But with real estate, you’ll need to take a much more active role in your investment. And as your real estate portfolio grows ever larger (as is often the case, because many investors view real estate as the ultimate “buy and hold” asset, and therefore tend to add to their positions more than they sell existing investments), you will want to make sure you’re managing your portfolio as efficiently and effectively as possible.

1. Have a Plan.
One of the biggest differences between real estate investments and other investment types is simply the transaction costs associated with making the investments. You can buy stocks, for example, and pay a relatively small commission – and if you quickly change your mind about the suitability of that investment you can sell it the next day and similarly pay a similarly small commission. That’s not the case when it comes to real estate. You need to do your research and planning ahead of time to be comfortable that you’re making the right decision.
You may also wish to consider how subsequent additions to your real estate portfolio in terms of risk and exposure to particular market downturns will affect you. For example, if you own multiple units in a single neighborhood or very small geographic area, then you’re bearing risks (both to the upside and downside) associated with that area’s growth.

2. Stay Active.
By “staying active” we mean that you’ll want to stay on top of your investments and frequently monitor the local market conditions, the condition of the property, and that your tenants are meeting all of their tenant obligations. The value of your investment can erode over time if you’re not paying close enough attention. When you monitor your investments you may also be able to identify opportunities or efficiencies to be gained across multiple real estate investments in your account.

3. Seek Out Professional Assistance.
The larger your real estate portfolio, the more you stand to gain by using a professional property management service. While you’re permitted to perform repair and management related tasks on your own investments, you can’t compensate yourself for your time or effort – doing so would constitute a prohibited “self-dealing” transaction. This is true even if you’re in the business of providing these services to other clients.

But you can hire an outside company or individual (provided they’re not related to you) to perform these services. Not only might that just bring a higher level of professionalism and service to your investments, it can also save you time and energy by not having to manage a growing portfolio yourself.

Selecting Your First Real Estate Investment For Your Self-Directed IRA

Let’s say that like many individuals who are setting up their first self-directed IRA, perhaps drawn to the offerings of custodians such as Quest Trust Company because of the investment flexibility that such an account gives, you’re interested in using your new account to invest in real estate.

What are the next steps? How do you go about choosing your first real estate investment for your self-directed IRA?
What’s Your Prior Experience? When it comes to any new investment, there’s always some degree of learning as you go. But if you have very little or no experience with owning or managing real estate, then you may want to consider a more straightforward property for your first self-directed IRA investment.

What’s Your Investment Budget? Another key consideration is going to be the size of the investment budget for your first property. The more money you have available, the more options you’ll have.

As you formulate your budget, be sure to take into account the fact that any expenses for maintaining the property you buy must also come from within your self-directed IRA. This might be new contributions you are able to make each tax year, but these are subject to the annual contribution limits. Plan to either have your real estate generate enough income to pay for these expenses, or to incorporate other assets into your account in order to cover the real estate carrying costs.

What’s Your Current Portfolio Composition? Regardless of your preferred investment type, you always need to take care to avoid having too much of your portfolio committed to a single asset class. If you already have exposure to real estate in your portfolio (perhaps through banking stocks or REITs), then you want to factor that into your new investment considerations.

What’s the Purpose of the Real Estate Investment? Are you considering this real estate investment solely for potential gains, or do you have other goals in mind? For example, some people use their self-directed IRAs to purchase vacation or other properties that they intend to use themselves once they reach retirement age.

As you consider these types of investments, remember that the IRS regulations prohibiting self-dealing, meaning that you cannot use (nor can anyone in your family use) the property you buy until you take a distribution of it from your account during retirement (or face significant penalties if you take that distribution prior to retirement).

Start Small. Many first-time investors find that the best way to become more familiar with investing in real estate is to start small. This might be a single-family home, or even a condominium. Having a small investment in real estate can give you the opportunity to learn more first-hand, without over-committing your retirement portfolio to this type of asset.

Even though real estate is a fairly unique investment asset, it’s still subject to traditional financial analysis. Make sure you familiarize yourself with the local and broader real estate environment before making your first investment with your self-directed IRA.