Be Quick: Buying Self-Directed Real Estate IRA Properties in a Competitive Market

When legendary baseball player Ted Williams – arguably the greatest hitter who ever lived – became a coach and mentor to younger players, he had two pieces of advice:

  • Watch the ball
  • Be quick!

While Self-Directed Real Estate IRA investors do not have to try to hit a 100-mile-per-hour fastball from Bob Feller, like Williams did, they still have to be quick: Homes are spending 32 fewer days on the market than they did just a few years ago, according to Buyers are snatching up properties as fast as they come on the market. And Self-Directed Real Estate IRA investors need to swing a very quick bat in order to have a chance to acquire the assets they need to provide their retirement income portfolios down the road.

Here are some expert tips on how to invest in the fastest housing market we can remember.

  • Do not rely on traditional lenders, unless you are pre-approved. The average conventional loan now takes nearly two months to underwrite and process according to Self-Directed IRA and Self-Directed Real Estate IRA mortgages tend not to take as long, since they must be non-recourse loans, they are underwritten based on the value of the property, rather than on income, which can be difficult to document.

But conventional mortgage companies and garden-variety banks are not known for speed in processing. Do not wait until you are bidding against multiple qualified buyers before lining up the financing or getting cash on hand.

  • Pay cash. This is the ultimate dealmaker: Cash is and always will be king, when it comes to getting a deal through quickly. If you have the cash to buy a home on the spot, you have the leverage to get a better price. This price advantage translates to a profit advantage down the road for your Self-Directed Real Estate IRA.

It also leads to a lot less wasted time. Every deal that falls through because you are too slow represents a loss in terms of wasted time and effort that you could have spent on a deal that succeeds.

  • Include a check with the offer. Ideally, you can attach the check for the full purchase amount made out to escrow along with the offer. If not, or if you need to attach some strings to the deal, attach a check for a few thousand dollars in “earnest money.”
  • Focus on homes that have been on the market for a while. Many times, the sellers are frustrated. They know they have priced their homes too high – but they probably are not getting too many offers these days. Buyers are flocking to the new listings. You may be able to get a good deal.
  • Do not let it slip you are in a hurry. Sellers can smell desperation and will drive a harder bargain. Make a good, fair offer at a discount from the home’s intrinsic value (you are an investor, not a retail buyer, after all), and be willing to walk away if the seller walks. If they know you are willing to walk, they are more likely to accept a reasonable offer immediately.

Interested in learning more about Self-Directed IRAs?  Contact American IRA, LLC at 866-7500-IRA (472) for a free consultation.  Download our free guides or visit us online at

Investing in Multifamily Real Estate with a Self-Directed IRA

You might not realize it but investing in multifamily real estate with a Self-Directed IRA makes solid investment sense. If you are like many retirement investors, you have your money spread among stocks, bonds, and cash according to your tolerance for risk or your proximity to retirement. You probably feel secure with your mix, believing that it protects you through almost any economic downturn or black swan that comes your way.

Stocks are a wonderful long-term investment, but their volatility can be gut-wrenching if a substantial portion of your portfolio is devoted to them (remember back in 2000 when investors saw their equities pull back as much as 50%). And bonds are good for adding some stability and income to a portfolio, but they can decline in value when interest rates are on the rise.

A Self-Directed IRA can add much-needed diversification from typical investments like stocks, bonds, and CDs by allowing you access to alternative investments such as tax lien certificates, precious metals, private stock…and multifamily real estate investments.

Why invest in multifamily real estate with a Self-Directed IRA?

Real estate is a tangible and secure asset. As financier and politician Russell Sage once said:

“Real estate is an imperishable asset, ever increasing in value. It is the most solid security that human ingenuity has devised. It is the basis of all security and about the only indestructible security.”

What’s more, real estate often grows faster than a lot of those traditional investments. Multifamily properties provide greater potential to assist you in building that all-important retirement wealth. And investing in multifamily real estate with a Self-Directed IRA also lets you take a more proactive approach to growing your retirement account.

There are those who choose to buy one rental house at a time, satisfied that two or three single properties are all they need for a secure retirement. Others prefer the convenience of having several properties at the same location, and that is where multifamily real estate investing comes in.

There are substantial benefits

Investing in multifamily real estate with a Self-Directed IRA can provide you with valuable tax advantages. Here are some of them:

  • You can eliminate capital gains taxes.
  • You can eliminate income taxes.
  • You can eliminate dividend taxes.
  • With a Self-Directed Roth IRA there will never be any taxes to pay on the profits from the investments.
  • You can invest your Self-Directed IRA into multifamily real estate without worrying about withdrawal tax penalties

In addition to allowing your investments to grow tax-deferred or tax-free, investing in multifamily real estate with a Self-Directed IRA protects your assets and helps you with estate planning by creating lasting wealth for you and future generations.

Here is how it works

If you do not already have a Self-Directed IRA, American IRA can help you open one. Once it is set up, you will be ready to start investing in multifamily real estate in your new Self-Directed IRA.

You will start by choosing among apartment buildings, townhomes, and duplexes. As with any investment, you will need to do your due diligence—including looking at income and expense records, copies of leases, and rent rolls—to make sure the asset is worthwhile. Comparing the income that was generated in the past to its expenses can help you determine whether or not this is a viable investment.

The IRS has stringent rules for real estate investing

Because the IRS has these strict rules concerning investing in real estate with a Self-Directed IRA, it probably is not advisable to go it alone. Get advice from professionals such as an experienced real estate broker, an attorney, and a financial advisor.

Interested in learning more about Self-Directed IRAs?  Contact American IRA, LLC at 866-7500-IRA (472) for a free consultation.  Download our free guides or visit us online at


How do Self-Directed IRAs and LLCs Work Together?

Are you looking for closer control of your retirement funds? You might want to think about adding a Limited Liability Company (LLC) to your Self-Directed IRA. Is it imperative that you have an LLC? No, it is not. You can buy any alternative asset, except collectibles and life insurance, without an LLC. But it could be helpful to understand how Self-Directed IRAs and LLCs can work together to give you more flexibility with your investing.

So, how do Self-Directed IRAs and LLCs work together?

When you establish an LLC, it is a legal entity that can purchase assets, giving you more freedom to manage your retirement funds. Since you will have direct access to your Self-Directed IRA, you will get funds quickly for real estate purchases or maintenance. Just remember that these funds are the Self-Directed IRA’s assets and do not belong to you personally.

Any funds cannot return to you but must go back to your Self-Directed IRA. If your LLC wants to purchase an investment by borrowing money in the form of a non-recourse loan, you might be required to make additional filings for your Self-Directed IRA. It is always a good idea to consult a tax advisor if you have questions.

It is fairly common for retirement investors to establish an LLC as a subset of a Self-Directed IRA, which makes it possible to combine personal funds or Self-Directed IRAs from other investors to fund the LLC. Many of these investors then open a Self-Directed Checkbook IRA, making it easier to manage the LLC.

What is a Self-Directed Checkbook IRA?

Often called “checkbook control,” the Self-Directed Checkbook IRA gives the owners of a Self-Directed IRA signing authority over an account that gives access to their retirement funds. Because the LLC is a business entity, it can have a checking account. Funds for the checking account are provided from the retirement assets in the Self-Directed IRA.

After the LLC is set up with a checking account, you (the Self-Directed IRA holder) will have “checkbook control” over your Self-Directed IRA funds. You will now be able to disburse funds quickly and possibly avoid certain administrative fees.

And while Self-Directed IRAs and LLCs can work well together with checkbook control, there is also increased responsibility placed on the IRA owner, for example, understanding the prohibited transaction rules. You will need a specially prepared operating agreement, Tax ID number, a bank account, financial books, and provide recordkeeping and accounting. You will also need to understand the IRS rules that pertain to Self-Directed IRAs and to abide by them.

Keep in mind these advantages of a Self-Directed IRA LLC with checkbook control

  1. More control of your investments

With a Self-Directed IRA with LLC, you can protect and diversify your retirement funds. As soon as you find an investment you want to buy, you write a check. You avoid all the paperwork that goes with depending on your administrator and waiting for them to write it. Having this control can be a big advantage when there are time issues, such as with an auction.

  1. Fewer administrative costs

With checkbook control, you do not pay the administrative and transaction fees that usually come with Self-Directed IRAs. If you have several investments in your LLC, your administrator only charges you for one asset, the LLC. As a result, more of your retirement dollars are working for you.

  1. A word of caution on due diligence

Before you make the final decision to register as an LLC, protect yourself with due diligence. Find out if there might be drawbacks or costs you were not expecting. There could be tax requirements, fees from your state, or certain limitations.

Rules for LLCs vary by state, and just as with any other Self-Directed IRA investment, you need to be careful to avoid prohibited transactions that could endanger the tax-advantaged status of your IRA.

American IRA requires that all Single-Member IRA LLC documents be prepared by a qualified professional with an understanding of Self-Directed IRAs and LLCs. Self-prepared documents cannot be accepted.

Interested in learning more about Self-Directed IRAs or LLCs?  Contact American IRA, LLC at 866-7500-IRA (472) for a free consultation.  Download our free guides or visit us online at

Investing in Out-of-State Properties with a Self-Directed IRA

Investing in local real estate can be complicated, but when you move the process out of state, all those challenges can become magnified. Because of this, Self-Directed IRA investors will not give out-of-state properties a serious look. They focus on the negatives and miss out on good deals.

Investing in a property that is located in another state adds diversity to your portfolio and could give you a bigger return on your investment (ROI) than properties in your state. Sure, there are unknowns you must deal with:

  • You do not know the area.
  • You might not know the laws.
  • You cannot walk into a property and see it firsthand.
  • You have not developed any contacts.

But these are not barriers since each of them can be overcome. Many of us do not have the cash to make a real estate investment, and few of us have enough cash flow to support two mortgages, but a lot of us have accumulated retirement funds that could be used to take advantage of a potentially lucrative investment.

You cannot invest in real estate with a conventional IRA, but you can if you have a Self-Directed IRA. Once you have opened a Self-Directed IRA account, you have opened yourself to a vast array of investment opportunities, including real estate.

If you want to get started in real estate and believe that greater value is available in another state, here are a few suggestions to consider:

Decide what you want

It makes sense to know what kind of property you want before you start searching. Make a list of your goals for the property and what you want to see in it. Only then can you look for something that meets your criteria. Otherwise, you could get distracted during the process and end up with something that does not fit.

Ask yourself what kind of property you want and who would be an ideal tenant for it. Decide how much you want to invest in the property and how much rent you will need to get a good ROI for your Self-Directed IRA.

Without starting with a clear vision of what you want, it is no use deciding on a location.

Research the area

After you have come up with specifics for a property, you can focus on the area. You should get to know everything about where you are looking. Things are different from one area to the other. Look at:

  • Tax rates
  • Property values
  • Demographics
  • Employment rate and type
  • Crime rate
  • Local laws and restrictions

All of these factors help you decide if this is a viable area in which to invest. Most of this information is readily available. Check out the prospective city’s website for their Annual Financial Report. Once you have a handle on the area, you can start looking at specific properties to invest in with your Self-Directed IRA.

Pay attention to the details

Once you find an investment property that sounds good, dig into the details. That will not be as easy since you are not there in person. Here is where technology can assist you with video tours of the property, Skype, and electronic documentation. You can see the neighborhood and the property itself on Google Maps. If you are not up to speed on technology, take the time to learn enough to help you make this investment from a distance.

Other recommendations include getting in touch with area property managers to get their opinion on the property you are considering, evaluating rent prices, and talking to local investors who are familiar with the neighborhood and the property. As soon as you have the property under contract, hire an appraiser and a reputable inspector.

Assemble a trustworthy property management team

It can be very unnerving to own an investment property in your Self-Directed IRA that is hundreds (or even thousands) of miles away. That is why it is crucial to hire a property management company that you can trust to run the day-to-day operations of your investment.

Try to get as many referrals as possible and interview several before making a decision. Make sure they are communicating promptly and clearly during the screening process. If not, that could be a red flag that they will be unresponsive after you hire them. You are looking for a company that will keep you informed, manage your tenants, and guards your investment.

The property management company is vital to the success of your out-of-state investment property. Take your time and choose it carefully.

Interested in learning more about Self-Directed IRAs?  Contact American IRA, LLC at 866-7500-IRA (472) for a free consultation.  Download our free guides or visit us online at

How a Self-Directed IRA Helps Millennials Retire Sooner

“Retirement? I cannot even pay off my student loans!” We get it. However, there is a process to it, and starting a Self-Directed IRA sooner rather than later puts you on the way.

You have your monthly mortgage or rent to worry about along with paying back student loans, healthcare costs, and sometimes just making ends meet.

Whether you are employed or work for yourself, chances are you have started an IRA or 401K. Ideally, your employer also contributes a percentage of your pay to your plan as a benefit of working for them. You elect to contribute a small percentage of your pay as well.

At this point in time, your retirement planning consists of, if you have time, opening your monthly statement and seeing a bunch of numbers and percentages on a chart. You struggle to find that number at the bottom of the third page that you think tells you how much you have saved up thus far. It looks like your money will add up and that 30 to 40 years from now you might have enough to be able to retire.

It does not have to be that way. By converting to (or starting) a Self-Directed IRA, you can take control over your retirement possibilities.

If you are knowledgeable about your current “plan”, you often need to research the various funding options your current plan makes available to you and read through pages of growth and pie charts in order to make a decision.

What this means is that you are being asked to take your valuable time to make what is really an uninformed decision about something that may not impact you for many years.

The companies that “manage” these IRA and 401K plans make their money by charging employers service fees for “managing” all of these accounts. The opportunities they present for investing are usually limited to those entities the management company does business with or has a financial relationship with.

On the other hand, starting your own Self-Directed IRA allows you to freely choose your investing decisions.

Now think about how many people you know that do not own a home and are paying rent every month. The amount of rent they (or you) pay each month is based on a number of cost factors.

Suppose a landlord charging your friend $1,000 per month winds up with $75 per month “profit” after their mortgage cost, property tax, maintenance, janitorial service, garbage removal, redecorating, and property management costs. Suppose this landlord owns a 10 unit apartment building. That would make their “profit” $750 per month.

Chances are that your current IRA or 401K plan is not generating $750 per month (or $9,000 per year) for you at this early stage. Even if you have $100,000 in your account, a $9,000 annual contribution equates to 9%. It does not take very long to verify that your current plan is not producing at a 9% rate for you.

With that in mind, suppose you have a Self-Directed IRA instead. Among the capabilities it provides is an ability to invest in real estate at any time. This means that you could purchase or partner in the purchase of an apartment building or any other form of rental property.

Using your friend’s apartment above as an example, doing this under your own Self-Directed IRA could be contributing some or all of that $750 per month “profit” to your fund every month, and it is tax free.

It takes your personal time to find either a partner or the right investment property to purchase. Think of which is more worth your while. You could spend time each month trying to interpret your current IRA or 401K statement and making fast decisions about your 2% gain. Or, you could spend that time next month toward purchasing the best real estate opportunity to grow your Self-Directed IRA as quickly as possible.

Thinking long term, you could use your monthly profits toward investing in additional properties which generate rental profits and grow your own empire.

Suppose that you start your Self-Directed IRA now, and that ten years from now, your rental properties combine to be valued at $700,000. By then, your debt is paid off or close to it. You could then either keep growing your portfolio or you could sell it and retire.

That is ten years from now. Not thirty. The choice could be yours.

Interested in learning more about Self-Directed IRAs?  Contact American IRA, LLC at 866-7500-IRA (472) for a free consultation.  Download our free guides or visit us online at

Be Cautious, Due Diligence is a Must with Your Self-Directed IRA

We see stories in the news all the time about criminal activity milking millions of consumers out of large and small sums of money. We all need to be even more careful when it comes to our Self-Directed IRA account.

Perhaps the biggest lesson came a few years ago when the owner of a large chunk of commercial land in Texas perpetrated rumors that the Disney people were looking to develop a theme park along the line of DisneyLand in that area.

Based on this “information”, several large commercial developers invested in what they were told was land surrounding where the Disney people were expected to build. They wanted to be able to develop hotels, restaurants, and everything else that families want near a Disney property.

However, there was no truth to the “news” that Disney had any plans to build there. The discovery of these lies was not discovered until several developers had spent millions of dollars on land which had much less value than they were told.

What does this have to do with a Self-Directed IRA?

If that scenario can happen to multi-million-dollar investors with teams of executives, this could happen to you and your family as investors dealing with some or all of your retirement money.

Even though the criminals in the Texas Disney scandal were eventually caught, several of those that invested under the false pretenses lost at least part of their money.

Back in December 2017, the Securities & Exchange Commission uncovered a scandal which generated more than $1.2 billion invested into a line of what proved to be unregistered securities. The majority of those who invested into this fraud were seniors, many of whom lost all of their retirement money.

That amount all came from consumers located within the state of Florida alone.

When you have your Self-Directed IRA, you have the flexibility of making your own investment decisions in terms of real estate and/or business interests you purchase in order to grow your funds.

This is why you need to exercise extreme caution and check into every detail before you make any payments.

Chances are you have or had a Traditional IRA or 401K plan, which are often administered by a management company retained by the employer, union, or other professional organization.

Those entities handle the due diligence process prior to making the various investing opportunities available to their clients.

However, while the Self-Directed IRA allows you the opportunity to invest with a higher rate of return, you, in turn, take on the responsibility of having to live with your decisions regardless of how well they work for you.

There are due diligence steps that you can take to ensure that an investment you are considering is a legitimate opportunity for you.

  • If you are considering investing in a real estate trust fund or holding company, you can check with the Securities & Exchange Commission. You should also do online research. Look for any complaints or inconsistencies in information they distribute including a company web site.
  • There are ways to research prior to making a purchase, or even making an offer, on a specific property. You can review comps, which are comparable prices of similar nearby properties, by looking at web sites such as
  • In the event that a builder or developer is involved, you should research their recent transaction history. If a contractor is involved, you should check with the city or village in which the property is located to verify that the company is actually licensed there.
  • If it is not a property you can easily go and see for yourself, it is all the more reason to be careful. Unless you know for a fact that the company is reliable, do not invest in anything out of your area or out of state.

You should also research the community surrounding a potential real estate investment. There is the scene in the TV show from many years ago called “The Honeymooners”. Alice is complaining to Ralph about the time he bought a parking lot across from a movie theatre and how badly that investment turned out.

“How did I know they were building a drive-in?” was Ralph’s response. Good for a laugh, but a lesson for all of us in the process.

Make certain that you treat your Self-Directed IRA at all times like it is your own money. After all, it is.

Interested in learning more about Self-Directed IRAs?  Contact American IRA, LLC at 866-7500-IRA (472) for a free consultation.  Download our free guides or visit us online at

The Seven Deadly Sins of Self-Directed IRA Investing

1.)  Paying too much. Experienced investors will tell you: Make your money when you buy. Not when you sell.

This means that whatever the investment, the best investors are buying assets at a discount to the intrinsic value of the property. Time and reasonable care and effort will result in unlocking            value, and you can profit handsomely simply by selling the property for what it is worth. You do not have to hope you find a foolish buyer willing to give you more than it is worth. That is not a        strategy. Find unloved properties, ugly ducklings and hidden gems that you can buy on sale, take a little care, fix them up, and you can rent or sell for a fair price.

2.)  Doing business with relatives. It is not a great idea in any context. But if you do business directly with the wrong relative in your Self-Directed IRA, it is actually illegal – and could        result in severe fines, taxes and penalties.

Congress expressly forbids owners of Self-Directed IRAs from using them to buy from, borrow from, lend to or sell to certain family members. Specifically, you cannot transact with these              individuals:

  • Your spouse
  • Your own descendants and those of your spouse
  • Your own grandparents and great grandparents and those of your spouse
  • Your attorney, accountant or advisor who advises you on your Self-Directed IRA in a fiduciary capacity
  • Any entities controlled by any of these prohibited counterparties.

3.)  Commingling funds.  You cannot involve your own personal funds in your Self-Directed IRA investment in any way. All purchases related to your investment must come from your Self-  Directed IRA account that contains the property. Technically, by law, you cannot even change a lightbulb in your property unless you bought the bulb with money from your Self-Directed        IRA account.

Self-Directed IRA owners should work closely with American IRA, LLC to ensure that all transactions related to your property are routed through your IRA account.

4.)  Accepting rent payments personally. If you are renting out a Real Estate IRA property, you cannot accept a rent check made out to your own name. Rents and all other payments          related to your Self-Directed IRA must be made out to the entity that holds the property, or to your Self-Directed IRA account itself.

Likewise, you cannot take a cash payment directly. Doing so risks having the IRS declare the payment to be a prohibited transaction, potentially triggering the disallowance of the Self-              Directed IRA’s tax advantages, along with tax liability, penalties and lots of legal bills.

5.)  Signing a personal guarantee for a real estate IRA mortgage. The law mandates that you cannot pledge your Self-Directed IRA asset as collateral for a personal or business loan      outside of the IRA. All mortgages on your Self-Directed IRA property must be on a non-recourse That means that in the event you default, the only course the lender can take is to foreclose          on the property itself. They cannot come after you, personally. If you sign a personal guarantee, or pledge non-IRA assets to secure the loan, the IRS could strip your account of its tax-                        advantaged status, resulting in significant taxes and penalties.

6.)  Forgetting about RMDs. Real estate is highly illiquid. But if you have assets in a Self-Directed IRA, Self-Directed Solo 401(K) or other tax-deferred savings vehicle, you will need to  come up with cash each year to make your required minimum distribution, beginning by April 1st of the year following the year in which you turn age 70 1/2.

Self-Directed IRA owners should plan ahead so they are not caught in a cash crunch, unable to quickly raise the money within the IRA to make the RMD.

7.)  Paying a high percentage each year just to hold the asset. Many Self-Directed IRA firms charge a percentage of assets under management to hold IRA properties on your behalf.      Many times this is needlessly expensive and inefficient.

For investors who tend to buy and hold over long periods of time, switching to American IRA’s flat-rate, menu-based fee structure, rather than a high expense ratio, wrap fee or other AUM                charge can save thousands of dollars each year on fees.

Interested in learning more about Self-Directed IRAs?  Contact American IRA, LLC at 866-7500-IRA (472) for a free consultation.  Or visit us online at

Everything Realtors Need to Know About Self-Directed IRAs

For realtors, there is no doubt about it: the more people are interested in real estate, the better business will be. Yet many realtors do not know that real estate is one of the most popular retirement investments outside of the stock market—especially with those who run their own Self-Directed IRAs. An investor that uses their Self-Directed IRA to purchase real estate still has access to non-recourse loans. And though there are some limits on what an investor can do with real estate using a retirement account, it will only help realtors to know what is possible.

Why It Is Important Realtors Understand Self-Directed IRAs

The concept is simple: there is no reason to ignore one corner of the market where real estate is involved. By using Self-Directed IRAs for real estate investments, retirement investors can put aside wealth in the form of real estate with the tax advantages of any other retirement investment account. That provides additional incentive for any real estate investor looking to build long-term wealth to utilize one of these retirement plans for their own real estate investing purposes.

Self-Directed IRAs also allow individual investors to partner up and make real estate investments that way, there are plenty of options available to those who choose to self-direct. Realtors who know clients who self-direct may be able to bring more opportunities their way, especially when it comes to “investment” real estate that otherwise has difficulty finding enough potential buyers.

Alternative Funding Strategies with Self-Directed IRAs

Realtors who recognize an opportunity when they see it can offer alternative funding ideas to their clients. For example, because a Self-Directed IRA is expected to act as a separate entity from the individual, it is possible for an individual to partner up with themselves to muster the funds necessary—provided that the real estate investment itself still adheres to the rules of Self-Directed IRAs. For example, investors cannot live in the real estate in which they are investing with a Self-Directed IRA, whereas personal real estate purchases can also double as residences. Still, this funding advantage can offer a realtor a tremendous amount of flexibility in fully exploring the market for a given piece of real estate investment property.

Limitations of Self-Directed IRAs and Real Estate

Although it is important to be mindful of these tremendous advantages for investors—even as a realtor—it also pays to know the potential limitations. For example, you would not want to bring the idea of buying a personal home to anyone investing in real estate with a Self-Directed IRA—unless the idea was to go through the usual means, and not through the investment vehicle itself. Self-Directed IRAs can only be used on real estate if those investments are kept separate, as the accounts themselves are considered separate entities.

The good news? It is advantageous for any realtor to know that there are plenty of options—including non-recourse loans—for those who invest with a Self-Directed Real Estate IRA. Knowing these options can grant realtors access to a larger market than they ever thought possible.

Interested in learning more about Self-Directed IRAs?  Contact American IRA, LLC at 866-7500-IRA (472) for a free consultation.  Or visit us online at