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Real Estate Investing with a Self-Directed IRA | Self-Directed IRA For Real Estate

Real Estate Investing with a Self-Directed IRA

Real Estate Investing with a Self-Directed IRA allows you to diversify your retirement and invest in something you know and love. However, to invest in real estate with your IRA or any retirement account, you need a Self-Directed IRA, Self-Directed Solo 401(k), or Self-Directed SEP IRA. While there are variations in terms of eligibility and contributions for each of these plans, they all allow you to invest in real estate and other alternative investments such as gold, silver, cryptocurrencies, and private placements. Additionally, you can invest in traditional investments such as stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. Hence, a Self-Directed IRA for real estate is a great way to secure your financial future by diversifying your retirement portfolio.

What is a Self-Directed IRA for Real Estate?

A Self-Directed IRA for real estate, or in this case, a Real Estate IRA, allows you to invest in any type of asset that is not prohibited by the IRS. The only prohibited transaction that you need to worry about with a real estate investment is the disqualified person’s rule. You (the IRA owner), your spouse, your lineal ascendants and descendants, their spouses, and entities controlled by such persons are not allowed to benefit from the investment. The Self-Directed IRA should be the only thing that receives a benefit, which are the tax advantages of the plan.

The Self-Directed IRA is one of the few choices for those wishing to invest in alternatives. Traditional plans offered by banks and other institutions limit your investment choices. Typically, you can only invest in stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and the like. Therefore, you must first set up a Self-Directed IRA to make real estate investments. Further, when using the right custodian, such as IRA Financial Trust, you can gain checkbook control of your funds. You never have to ask IRA Financial when you wish to make an investment. Other custodians require custodial consent for every investment you wish to make. This is bad for real estate investors. Delays in the process could cause you to lose out on a property you wish to purchase.

Benefits of Investing in Real Estate with a Self-Directed IRA

Real estate is one of the most popular retirement investments among self-directed investors. One primary reason is that real estate is a tangible asset that produces steady income. For many investors, particularly those with real estate experience, it has been an integral investment in building retirement wealth.

Investing in real estate with a Self-Directed IRA has the following benefits:

  • The potential to generate higher returns compared to traditional investment options.
  • Helping to diversify your retirement savings. Real estate has traditionally generated high returns. However, with a Self-Directed IRA, you are not limited solely to real estate. You can also invest in other things such as traditional investments, precious metals, and cryptocurrencies.
  • Tax-free or tax-deferred growth, depending on if the account is a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA.
  • If you have a Self-Directed Roth IRA for real estate, you can move into the property after turning 55 ½ and the account has been open for five years.
  • The ability to invest in different types of real estate such as commercial properties, rentals, multifamily homes, land, fractional real estate, and more!
  • Depending on the investment you pursue, real estate may provide you with a steady stream of income flowing back to your retirement account.
  • You can purchase, sell, and flip properties at your discretion.
  • The freedom to make alternative IRA investments

What Real Estate Investments Can I Make with a Self-Directed IRA?

Below is a partial list of domestic or foreign real estate-related investments you can make with a Self-Directed IRA:

  • Raw land
  • Residential homes
  • Commercial property
  • Apartments
  • Duplexes
  • Condos/town homes
  • Seller Financing
  • Fractional Real Estate
  • Rental Properties
  • Mobile homes
  • Real estate notes
  • Real estate purchase options
  • Tax liens certificates
  • Tax deeds

How Does a Self-Directed IRA for Real Estate Work?

The process of investing in real estate with a Self-Directed IRA is relatively simple. First, you need to open an account. You will need to decide whether you want to open a Custodian Controlled Self-Directed IRA or a Checkbook Control IRA. Generally, individuals buying fractional real estate open a Custodian Controlled IRA due to the low frequency of investments. However, individuals seeking to invest in rentals, fix and flips, or commercial properties tend to open a Checkbook Control IRA. A Checkbook Control IRA gives the investor the freedom to write checks directly from his or her IRA.

Next, the individual will need to select the type of retirement account he or she is seeking to open. A Self-Directed IRA for real estate can be a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA. IRA Financial also allows individuals to open other types of accounts such as a Solo 401(k), SEP IRA, HSA, or Coverdell which can also be used for real estate investments.

After opening your new Self-Directed IRA, you will need to decide how to fund the account. Common ways to fund a Self-Directed IRA include:

Ways to Purchase Real Estate with a Self-Directed IRA

Direct Purchases

Retirement investors who want to invest directly in rental properties must have the knowledge to form the following plans:

  1. Finding the property
  2. Verifying that it is a good deal
  3. Financing the property
  4. Managing the property

Indirect Purchases

Retirement investors who do not feel equipped for the rigors of direct real estate investing can invest indirectly through REITs (real estate investment trusts), crowdfunding websites, private notes, or through a silent partnership such as Seller Financing.

Strategies for Using Your Self-Directed IRA to Purchase Real Estate

When using a Self-Directed IRA LLC to make a real estate investment, there are a number of ways you can structure the transaction:

1. Use your Self-Directed IRA funds to make 100% of the investment

If you have enough funds in your Self-Directed IRA to cover the entire real estate purchase (including closing costs, taxes, fees, insurance, etc.) you may make the purchase outright using your Self-Directed IRA LLC. You pay all ongoing expenses relating to the real estate investment out of your Self-Directed IRA LLC bank account. All income or gains relating to your real estate investment must return to your Self-Directed IRA LLC bank account.

2. Partner with family, friends, and colleagues

If you don’t have sufficient funds in your Self-Directed IRA to make a real estate purchase outright, your Self-Directed IRA LLC can purchase an interest in the property along with a family member who is a non-disqualified person. You can also purchase with a friend or colleague. The investment will not be made into an entity owned by the IRA owner. Instead, it’s invested directly into the property.

For example, your Self-Directed IRA can partner with a non-disqualified family member, friend, or colleague to purchase a piece of property for $150,000. Your Self-Directed IRA LLC can purchase an interest in the property (for example, 50% for $75,000) and your family member, friend, or colleague can purchase the remaining interest (50% for $75,000).

All income or gain from the property will allocate to the parties in relation to their percentage of ownership in the property. Likewise, all property expenses must be paid in relation to the parties’ percentage of ownership of the property.

Based on the above example, for a $2,000 property tax bill, the Self-Directed IRA LLC will be responsible for 50% of the bill ($1,000). The family member, friend, or colleague is then responsible for the remaining $1,000 (50%).

We’ll discuss more on partnering with family, friends, and colleagues later in this article.

3. Borrow money for your Self-Directed IRA

You may obtain financing through a loan or mortgage to finance a real estate purchase using a Self-Directed IRA LLC. However, you must consider two important points when selecting this option:

Option 1

1. If the IRA purchases real estate and secures a mortgage for the purchase, the loan must be non-recourse. Otherwise, there will be a prohibited transaction. A non-recourse loan only uses the property for collateral. In the event of default, the lender can collect only the property and cannot go after the IRA itself.

Option 2

2. Tax is due on profits from leveraged real estate. If your Self-Directed IRA LLC uses non-recourse debt financing (i.e., a loan) on a real estate investment, some portion of each item of gross income from the property is subject to Unrelated Business Income Tax (UBTI). This is pursuant to Code Section 514. “Debt-financed property” refers to borrowing money to purchase real estate. For example, a leveraged asset is held to produce income.

In such cases, only the income attributable to the financed portion of the property is taxed. Gain on the profit from the sale of the leveraged assets is also UDFI. However, it is not Unrelated Debt Financing Tax (UDFI) if the debt is paid off more than 12 months before the property is sold.

There are some important exceptions from UBTI. Those exceptions relate to the central importance of investment in real estate from the sale of real estate. This includes:

  • Dividends
  • Interest
  • Annuities
  • Royalties
  • Most rentals from real estate
  • Gains/losses

However, rental income the real estate generates that is “debt-financed” loses the exclusion. That portion of the income becomes subject to UBTI. Thus, if the IRA borrows money to finance the purchase of real estate, the portion of the rental income attributable to that debt will be taxable as UBTI.

Let’s assume the average acquisition indebtedness is $50: the average adjusted basis is $100. 50 percent of each item of gross income from the property is included in UBTI.

UBTI Tax Rates

In most cases, when you use a retirement plan to make investments, you do not generate tax in the case of a Roth IRA, or the taxes will be deferred until a distribution, such as a Traditional or Self-Directed IRA. However, there are certain instances where you will trigger a tax known as the Unrelated Business Taxable Income (UBTI) tax. If you use retirement funds in a real estate transaction that involves a non-recourse loan, you will trigger the UBTI tax. In that case, it’s important to note that a Self-Directed IRA LLC subject to UBTI is taxed at the trust tax rate. This is because an IRA is considered a trust. For 2023, a Self-Directed IRA LLC subject to UBTI is taxed at the following rates:

  • $0 – $2,550 = 10% of taxable income
  • $2,551 – $9,150 = $255 + 24% of the amount over $2,550
  • $9,151 – $12,500 = $1,839 + 35% of the amount over $9,150
  • $12,501 + = $3,011.50 + 37% of the amount over $12,500

Partnering with a Family Member in a Real Estate Transaction – Prohibited Transaction?

Partnering with a family member is likely not prohibited if the transaction is structured correctly. Investing in an investment entity with a family member and investing in an investment property directly are two different transaction structures that impact whether the transaction will be prohibited under Code Section 4975.

The different tax treatment is based on who currently owns the investment. Using a Self-Directed IRA LLC to invest in an entity that a family member owns (and is a disqualified person) will likely be treated as a prohibited transaction.

However, partnering with a family member that is a non-disqualified person directly into an investment property is likely not a prohibited transaction. It’s important to note that if you, a family member, or another disqualified person already owns a property, then investing in that property with your Self-Directed IRA LLC would be prohibited. Set Up a Self-Directed IRA LLC with IRA Financial Group

Contact Us

Real estate remains the most common investment in a Self-Directed IRA. At IRA Financial, our experts are here to help. We have helped over 24,000 clients take back control of their retirement. However, investing in real estate can be complicated. Our experts are here to help. Simply contact us, schedule a call, or send us a message and one of our dedicated IRA experts will help guide you through the process.


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