Best Practices for Tracking Your Real Estate Investments

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

tracking real estate investmentHow well are your stock market investments performing? Even if you don’t know the answer off the top of your head, you could probably calculate a performance measure fairly quickly. Chances are your investment broker has access to online account tools that give you all the information you need. Even if you have other types of investments in your portfolio, you may use investment management software or online service to help you track those investments.

The same holds true for real estate. Like any other investment type, you can only evaluate your real estate investments if you have all the necessary information available – in a form that’s easy to use. Here are some things to consider for tracking your real estate investments. regardless of whether they’re in a self-directed IRA or are one of your taxable investment holdings.

Tracking Your Expenses. Some investment types don’t generate much in the way of current expenses. For example, you probably pay a commission each time you buy or sell a publicly traded stock owned. Beyond that, you might not pay an annual fee to the investment brokerage that handles your account. But simply owning the stock doesn’t cause you to incur additional fees.

Real estate investments, on the other hand, require a broad range of fees, from annual maintenance and upkeep expenses, to hazard (homeowners) insurance, to property management fees for someone to manage your property and find you new tenants whenever necessary. Identify all of the categories of expenses you’re likely to face, and use the tools that best suit your recordkeeping style. This might be a piece of dedicated financial software. or possibly a notebook and pencil.

Tracking Your Taxes. While your expenses for investment real estate may to some extent the variable (for example, you can save on management fees by managing a property yourself), your annual property taxes will be beyond your control. In addition to monitoring and measuring these taxes, you’ll want to set up a system whereby you ensure that you are never to link went in meeting your tax obligations.

Tracking Your Time. Real estate investments also differ from many other investment types in that they require a much more active management style. You might stay on top of your stock and mutual fund investments by regularly reviewing quarterly reports and disclosures, and researching those companies and funds to make sure that your original investment assumptions are still true. But there’s nothing you must actively do in order to maintain your investment positions.

In contrast, investing in real estate will require much more of a “hands-on” approach. For developed properties, this will include finding tenants, maintaining any structures or improvements on the property, and making sure all taxes and other legal obligations with respect to the property are met. Even in the case of undeveloped or speculative properties, you’ll still have to pay taxes, ensure the property and make sure that no problems arise. By tracking your time you can make sure you wouldn’t be better off with outside assistance.

Investing in real estate can be financially rewarding, but it takes more effort than buying stocks or bank CDs, Make sure your record keeping process for real estate investments helps you meet your financial goals.

An Overview of “Prohibited Transactions” in a Self Directed IRA

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

IRAs were created in 1975 as a way for citizens to take control over their retirement savings. They were established in response to ERISA, The Employee Retirement Security Act, which was passed in 1974 to put the responsibility of retirement savings into the hands of employees.

IRAs are a wonderful retirement savings tool. They provide an abundance of tax benefits and can make saving for retirement safe and relatively secure. However, they do come with a set of rules and regulations. Self Directed IRAs, which provide the most investment opportunities, also come with a list of “Prohibited Transactions.” It’s important to understand what’s prohibited to make sure you don’t incur penalties.

What is a Prohibited Transaction?

The IRS prohibits certain transactions within an IRA. Any activity that improperly uses the account’s funds is considered a prohibited transaction. These prohibited transactions center around two key terms:

Self Dealing

Self dealing is defined as “The conduct of a trustee, an attorney, or other fiduciary that consists of taking advantage of his or her position in a transaction and acting for his or her own interests rather than for the interests of the beneficiaries of the trust or the interests of his or her clients.” (Source: http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Self-Dealing)

It means that you cannot make a transaction that directly benefits you. For example, you cannot borrow money from your IRA. You also cannot use it as security for a loan nor can you buy personal property with it.

Disqualified Person

A disqualified person is anyone who is directly related to you or to the account. Your spouse, dependents, and the fiduciary of your account are all disqualified people. Additionally, if someone owns more than 50% of a business or estate that is held by the fiduciary, they too are a disqualified person. This means you cannot use your IRA to their benefit.

Common Prohibited Transactions

Here is a short list of the most common prohibited transactions. You cannot:

  • Borrow money from your Self Directed IRA
  • Sell property to it.
  • Receive compensation for managing it.
  • Use it as security for a loan.
  • Use it to purchase real estate that you use.
  • Use it to issue a mortgage on a relative’s new residence.
  • Buy stock in a closely held corporation or from a disqualified member.

It is important to make sure you understand the terms disqualified person and self dealing. Make sure you do not break the rules! If you engage in a prohibited transaction the account is treated as distributing all its assets to you at their fair market value. The distribution is then subject to taxes and penalties.

So What Can You Do With Your Self Directed IRA?

The possibilities for permitted investments are virtually endless. In addition to being able to make traditional investments like stocks and bonds you can also:

  • Invest in real estate including farm land, developments and rental properties
  • Issue a mortgage
  • Issue a loan
  • Buy a franchise
  • Invest in private equity
  • Invest in tax liens
  • Almost any other than life insurance or collectibles

A Self Directed IRA provides you with an abundance of investment opportunities. The good news is that if you are concerned about prohibited transactions a good custodian can be your facilitator and educator. Contact Quest Trust Company to set up your self-directed IRA account today.