Even with the bloom off the rose, investors still have interest in using real estate in IRAs. The interest and use of real estate in IRAs peaked with prices. Even as the real estate market cratered, real estate professionals with sagging commission income pushed IRA real estate (often mistyped or incorrectly searched as IRS real estate) on investors dissatisfied with stock market returns. But IRA real estate is a bad idea for IRA savings. Here are five reaons why real estate is a bad idea for tax sheltered retirement investing.
You lose the depreciation deduction. One of the nice things about owning apartments or rental homes is that the cash flow is partially sheltered from income tax by the depreciation deduction. Since an IRA does not pay current tax, IRA real estate loses the deduction. Why would someone knowingly lose a tax deduction? Because they are likely sold on the idea of real estate in IRAs by a zealous real estate sales person. Or, they may only have liquidity in their IRA and no cash outside their IRA. If you don't have the cash outside the IRA, then pass on an IRA real estate purchase.
You lose financial leverage. When you purchase real estate outside of an IRA, you can typically put 20% down and borrow the rest. So when the property appreciates 20%, you have doubled your investment--a 100% return on your equity. But an IRA real estate purchase cannot be done with any mortgages as IRAs cannot have debt. So you must make the purchase for all cash. Now, when the property appreciates 20%, you have a 20% return on your money, not 100%. Therefore, you lose the leverage of "other people's money" when you consummate an IRA real estate purchase.
You turn the best capital gains asset into ordinary income. Because of the leverage explained above, you can have very large capital gains on real estate. Not only do you lose the large capital gain potential because of losing leverage, you have turned a capital gains taxed at reduced rates (15% to 25% on real estate), into ordinary income (rates as high as 35%). There is not such things as capital gains on IRA real estate because everything withdrawn from an IRA is taxed as ordinary income.
If the rental property in your IRA needs a new roof, you must use IRA funds to replace the roof. You cannot use your own funds as then you as an individual are deemed to be in business with your IRA and this is a prohibited transaction which could cause your IRA to become taxable. So you need to always have plenty of cash in your IRA for repairs, insurance payments and property taxes. This means you need to keep funds liquid in 1a 3% money market and sacrifice the potentially higher returns of other investments. Need yet another reason?
Your IRA fees are likely free at your brokerage firm or bank. To hold real estate in IRAs, you need a specialized IRA custodian willing to do this and the fees range from 40 to 150 basis points annually--i.e. hundreds of extra dollars in costs.
And just in case you still want IRA real estate, if you should make a bad deal, your loss will not deductible inside an IRA as it would be as a non-IRA transaction. If you line up 10 people that tell you placing real estate in IRAs is a good deal, you will find 10 people that earn commission by selling real estate. If you want real estate in your IRA, then buy shares of real estate investment trusts or other real estate securities.
David Coe says
I guess I'll start off with the fact that I am a real estate professional that specializes in IRA real estate purchases. Why? Because real estate is an EXCELLENT investment to hold within an IRA. Let me give you 5 reasons why.
1) Create Leverage: Your IRA can absolutely borrow money! National American Savings Bank (www.nasb.com) is one lender that does non-recourse loans to IRA holders. They usually require 30% - 40% down and want to see positive cash flow in any deal, but you can create leverage with an IRA. By the way, you could also borrow money from another IRA holder since lending money is also allowed by law.
2) Tax Free Cash Flow: A successful real estate investment can provide monthly cash flow to help grow your retirement along with any appreciation earned in the property itself. Since the asset is held within a tax-free environment, there are no taxes to worry about. Any profit withdrawn from the IRA is income based on your tax rate upon withdrawal. And since you're in retirement, your taxed at a lower tax rate based on the limited income you make. And if you own the asset in a Roth IRA, the monthly cash flow and capital gain is TAX FREE.
3) Control: Want to improve the value of your investment? Add a new roof. Put in carpet. Do landscaping. Add new fixtures. All of these improvements can increase monthly cash flow and ultimately improve the value of your asset. These costs do get paid out of your IRA, but name another investment class that you can improve with your own free will. If you own mutual funds, CD's, stocks, you're along for the ride and your return is completely independent of your effort. Not so with Real Estate.
4) Inexpensive Custodian Fees. Self Directed IRA custodians get paid based on the size of your account, usually 40 basis points or less. So if you have a $100,000 account, your annual fee is in the $450 range. But that's it. Other banks and brokerage houses don't charge you a fee because they make their money from the limited investment products they offer. Own mutual funds? The fees can include management fees, redemption fees, exchange fees, account fees, purchase fees, distribution fees and operating expenses to name a few. Usually these fees are TWICE as much as what a self-directed custodian will charge.
5) Diversification. Real estate offers a great way to diversify your portfolio. How many people had ALL of their retirement portfolio in the stock market? Nearly 70%. Use real estate as a way to generate leverage, monthly cash flow and long-term appreciation. But also use it to balance your retirement portfolio, along with other asset classes, so retirement doesn't get postponed due to a bear or down market.
I offer that if you find 10 people who advise against real estate in your retirement account you'll probably find 10 people that LOSE money when their clients shift assets to a self-directed account and out of their control.
Roland Manarin says
In my opinion real estate should always be viewed as a financial asset and not necessarily an investment asset.
Forclosed Homes Today says
I am a real estate paralegal and I own an abstract company. I have dealt with many new marketing tools in my time and I have to agree that this tool is what you make of it. If you can sell it and make a commision, then you have a leg up. But what about the customer. Did they make a wise investment with the IRA real estate purchase?
Branson Real Estate says
Well, I have to say that I agree with you 100% on this one. I'm a realo estate professional and my primary compensation is from comissions. But, I still reccomend to all clients that they shy away from the IRA real estate investments.
I still have morals and honor. And if I don't think something is good for my clients, then I am up-front and honest with them about it,as all agents should be.
Thanksfor sharing! I look forward to reading more in the future.
Todd Beardsley says
You made some good points. I feel like there are pros and cons on both sides of this debate of whether or not to use real estate in your IRA. The decision to do it or not should of course be thought over very carefully.
Lindsay Kennedy says
This is so interesting! I work for a real estate company and we have been approached by multiple companies wanting to include us in their self-directed IRA presentations. Are they just making money on the transactions? Or transitioning a standard IRA into a self-directed?
Joe Greene says
Hey, you guys are missing something here! There are two different options to using your IRA to buy real estate. One of the ways you can actually occupy the real estate. Read this article by Andrew Waite of Personal Real Estate Investor - its an eye opener!
David Hsieh Jacksonville says
This seems like a good deal for the real estate reps but a bad deal for the customers.
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Richard Hammarstrom says
I make a living selling a Roth 401(k) plan with checkbook control. Investing in real estate, within our plan, makes great sense! First, unlike an IRA, there is no tax on the profit from leveraged real estate profits. Further, with a Roth plan, all the future profits are distributed tax-free! Having checkbook control makes it so much easier to do repairs and pay for them on the spot.
Maverick Real Estate Investments says
I have to agree with some of the other comments. I think that real estate is a great long term investment. Even though our economy is in a slump now and the housing market it hurting, it will go up again real estate will always gain value ultimately. However, after all of the bad mortgage loans that were made and ended up causing so many concerns, I don't think I'd want it in my 401K.
Ken Obrien says
I agree, there are 2 sides to the story. One for the real estate rep and one for the client. I guess we have to find some middle ground here to make it work. Thanks for the article
Doug Orlando Real Estate says
Well, there are some different opinions in this thread, I guess I just have to look into it myself and come back with my 'expert' opinion.
Maverick, you stated that real estate always gains value ultimately, I beg the difference. If counting in all factors, of course you cannot make that statement and fully believe in it.
Apex Professionals LLC says
Depending on the nature of the real estate investment it can actually end up being more of a liability. But I do agree that it is a better investment than an IRA, especially now with real estate prices at record lows, and the instability of the stock market. Thanks for the read. Great Article.
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Meeting rooms heathrow says
As I mentioned in an earilier post, I own an abstract company. I have dealt with many new marketing tools in my time and I have to agree that this tool is what you make of it. If you can sell it and make a commission, then you have a leg up. But what about the customer. Did they make a wise investment with the IRA real estate purchase?
Arizona Wholessale Deals says
Very interesting read - it's why I love this business... never static and always dynamic. Interesting read but not very objective. Comment from David Coe shows this. Here is to profits!
Bob Knox says
Real estate just like any other market has it's ups and downs. with that said real estate is and always will be the most stable investment
Orlando Mortgage says
As a mortgage broker, I could never advise that someone use their IRA to fund a real estate investment. Maybe I'm just too conservative, but it's a move that has bad idea written all over it.
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[email protected] hosting says
I would invest in reits for a ira not actual income property. This way it is all cash flow and if you use mutual funds you can invest in differnet sectors to make sure your income is steady.
Your 100% correct. So many of my clients actually have lost good properties because they overlook the asset part and focus on which property looks to be the best investment.
The cost of having a self-directed IRA varies. Some administrators charge according to the total value of assets in the account. For example, if your self-directed IRA is worth $75,000, the annual fee might be 1% or $750. Some firms charge a flat fee per asset you hold in the account, while others charge a transaction fee each time they handle a task for you.Its just way to expensive!!
Gas Fires says
The retirement plans/IRA also are often pre-tax withdrawals prior to receiving your after-tax paychecks. Again, a forced savings.Amidst these surviving opportunities to save money for later in life is a growing problem that is happening much too often.It kinda sucks actually..
Issaquah Real Estate says
This is really interesting.. like many have said, 100% agree.. everytime we buy a real estate piece, we should look at it as a long term investment and asset. we should be as educated as possible to be successful in real estate business.
Thanks for the read! Nice one..
Alan Staten says
This has been one of the best conversations I've seen on this subject!! Real estate is most definitely an investment, and one that will be with you for many years. So you truly have to look at the long-term benefits and risks. But who knows where we'll be in 20 years, real estate may very well be the best investment you can make right now.
For starters, it's not always clear who regulates or oversees the entities and people who tout self-directed IRAs. It could be, for instance, a state banking regulator or state securities administrator, or even the state attorney general's office. Or it could be the Securities and Exchange Commission. The only clear answer is that the regulator is unlikely to be the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, unless the entity is a broker-dealer. FINRA regulates broker-dealers and stockbrokers.
Jim of Sun City says
I am quiet new to real estate but I guess real estate for retirees should be seen as a permanent investment since after they retire, they have to consider questions like: can I still afford to rent? or can I keep up with the constant increase of rentals? money should be invested wisely and although one should not totally invest in real estate, at least you will own a home that will keep your finances stable.
Evergreen real estate says
Great article- as more and more people recognize the limits to holding real estate in an IRA the more challenging it is to accomplish! ALthough I sell real estate in Evergreen, CO and prices are through the floor-- so a great time to pick up investment property-- I recommend purchasing outside your IRA to maximize one of the biggest benfits of buying real estate-- Leverage.
Property Management Courses says
This is an excellent Post. Thanks!
I believe that real estate should be seen as a financial asset and not an investment asset. This is just my opinion.
[email protected] Dominican Republic Real Estate says
Which type of IRA investment is best is as subjective as the customer. I love the tips in this article with regards to not breaking any of the rules and causing the IRA to become taxable. Real estate is definitely one of the most stable investments in the long run and should not be ruled out.
ISO 9001 Accreditation says
The only clear answer is that the regulator is unlikely to be the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, unless the entity is a broker-dealer. FINRA regulates broker-dealers and stockbrokers.ne
Real Estate Investing Guy says
There certainly several sides to this argument and everyone makes valid points and comments...Most IRA investors have default thinking towards stocks and bonds but it may very well serve investors to always at least "consider" other IRA investment vehicles that have historical upside through the economic ups and downs.
Jason Simpson says
I've got to say that there's instances where investing in Real Estate in your IRA is a bad idea. On the other hand, there's plenty of times where it's a Phenomenal idea. I sure as heck wouldn't invest them in long-term properties, but short term flipping, I would.
Just depends on where you are in your investing!
Unfortunately, Internal Revenue Service regulations will not let you use the real estate owned by your IRA as your residence or vacation home. Nor can your business lease space in your IRA-held property. The underlying premise for any real estate investment purchased with IRA funds is that you can’t have any personal use or benefit of the property. To do so may cost you plenty in taxes and penalties.
Mark Eskeldson says
Putting the whole property inside the IRA does have disadvantages, like loss of the depreciation writeoff (a big deal) and running into contribution limits to fund expensive repairs. Better yet, have your IRA purchase an equity position (an actual security) in the property, say 25% interest for $30k. No tax on 25% of the profit, and no problems funding repairs. (Experienced professional required.)
Sell My House says
Real estate is a hands-on investment that demands time and attention. You've got to choose the right property, maintain it and find suitable tenants.Dealing with the myriad rules governing IRA accounts makes the task even more challenging.
David in Alaska says
I cannot find anything on occupying a property after distribution starts to take place on a Real Estate IRA. I'm looking at purchasing a property that I would move to in three years when I would be eligible to start distributions from my IRA account. If I rolled over an IRA to a Real Estate IRA and purchased the property with that IRA, could I do that? How does it work?
We all know you earn when you buy. However it is different for retireds who want to buy a retirement home rather than an investment home.
The real estate IRA investment is a flexible investment. There are many types of real estate IRA investments like raw land, single family homes, commercial property etc.
Drew with FindMyHomeDenver says
I work for a lawyer/investor who uses a self directed IRA to buy all his investment properties. No one else is making money off of it as he did the paper work, he simply believes he can make a better return off of short term real estate transactions instead of having it sit in some stock somewhere. He has done very well with it.
There are different types of real estate IRA plans, the investor can be invest in raw land, commercial property etc. The investor can invest in any type of land which he desires. The real estate IRA is a peerless investment
If you think to buy assets for your IRA, the income and approval normally builds up tax-free until you start to take withdrawals.
Investor Websites says
The best Ira for real estate is the self direct Roth Ira. There is a company that specializes in called Equity Trust. They are located in Ohio
Camden Place says
Great post. Your points of view are well-explained and sensible. Real estate, to me, is always a financial rather than an investment asset.
Dubai Business News says
On the contrary, I believe IRA Real estate is a great idea although i have to agree that you do lose the financial leverage which is a put down.
Quick cash loan application says
Actually, Real estate is a hands-on investment which demands time and attention. Moreover, the real estate IRA investment is a flexible investment and there are many real estate IRA investments such as raw land, single family homes, commercial property etc.
Quick cash loan application
I was drawn to this article because of it's title. I work for a company (www.slvrstream.com)that specializes in cherry-picking sweet property investments with IRA friendly non-recourse financing available. Our main focus is IRA real estate, so I was naturally intrigued. Once I finished reading I was all ready to punch out some solid rebuttals, but my thunder's been stolen by David Coe and others. Thanks for writing such thought provoking stuff.