Real Estate IRAs Provide Real Diversification Against Struggling Stock Market

It has been a rough few months for most investors. But, owners of Real Estate IRAs have been doing pretty well.

The last week of March the Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted 1400 points to reach a low for the year. The Dow fell 5.7 points and the S&P 500 fell 5.9 percent – the worst week for stocks in two years. The Nasdaq fell 6.5 percent that week. The S&P 500 is now 0.68 percent underwater for the year to date. The Dow is now 11.2 percent off its high.

Sure, that is not the end of the world – it is also up by more than 12 percent over the previous 12 months. Stocks have been exceptionally volatile lately. The U.S. stock market is also trading at over 27 times earnings which have been looking favorable. There is ample good news already figured into the stock market. One big earnings miss, or a disappointing jobs report could bring the whole thing down by a significant amount.

“The market has been priced for perfection … and that leaves the market vulnerable to surprises. In this case, it’s trade,” according to Baird analyst Bruce Bittles.

Stock Vulnerability Is Global

U.S. markets were not the only losers. Stocks lost money around the world – this time on fears of a potential trade war between the U.S. and China, sparked by talk of tariffs in Washington. China helped send shares plummeting by slapping retaliatory tariffs on more than 148 U.S. products, including steel pipes, pork, almonds and California wine.

In the above markets, diversifying into international stocks did not shelter investors from the pain.

Real Estate IRAs Outperforming

The investors who chose to diversify into Real Estate IRAs experienced a better outcome:  U.S. house prices jumped 7.3 percent in January compared to the same times last year, according to data from the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Prices were up more than 10 percent in the Mountain region. Prices had jumped 0.8 percent from December to January – the biggest monthly increase since February of 2017.

Real estate has been delivering a solid annual return – on an unleveraged basis – while still showing much less downside volatility. Over the past 12 months, all regions in the U.S. were up, with the weakest regional market – the West South-Central region (Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas and Louisiana) increasing by 5.1 percent. Home prices in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico saw double-digit increases.

The Potential Benefits of Leverage in Real Estate IRAs

Real estate investors are doing much better than even those numbers suggest. First, real estate is commonly leveraged. So, an investor in Colorado with a typical real estate portfolio gain of 10 percent for the gain but holding just 50 percent equity is getting close to 20 percent, minus costs of carry.

Furthermore, he or she is collecting rental income the whole time. In this case, the landlord can collect two rents for the price of one, thanks to leverage.

Leverage increases risks, in a down market, it can make things very dicey for the borrower. At the present, however, most real estate investors have been doing much better than stock market investors, with less stress (assuming good tenants)!

The last few months have been excellent for Real Estate IRA investors. The strategy has been working as intended: Real Estate IRAs provide meaningful diversification to portfolios otherwise heavy with stocks. They are delivering solid price appreciation. They are generating current rental income, so investors get paid to wait. And the income they generate has been steadily increasing. Rents have been rising in nearly 9 out of 10 cities, according to data from RentCafe, helping protect income-oriented investors against inflation.

Own Real Estate IRAs

We suggest nearly every American with significant retirement savings or investable assets consider including real estate, including Real Estate IRAs, in their portfolio.

Holding real estate in a Real Estate IRA, Solo 401(K) or SEP IRA can help shelter increasing income from taxes and generate free cash flow on a tax advantaged basis.

Investing in a Real Estate IRA is very easy: Call American IRA, LLC today at 866-7500-IRA (472). You may also download our exclusive guide to Real Estate IRA investing here.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Self-Directed IRA Administrators vs. Custodians

More and more people are coming to understand the power behind Self-Directed IRA strategies.  Further, they are embracing the wisdom of diverse and unconventional asset classes while liberating their retirement portfolios from the narrow outlooks frequently characterizing the big Wall Street investment firms.

As such, with that knowledge comes the increased openings of Self-Directed IRA accounts.  Many of these new investors are not yet clear on the role of custodians and third-party administrators in the Self-Directed IRA industry – and the important distinctions between the two.

Let’s take a closer look.

IRA rules prohibit investors from taking personal, direct possession of assets within their Self-Directed IRAs. Yes, you can own the house down the block within your Self-Directed IRA, but you cannot personally reside there. What is more, you cannot keep the gold coins your IRA owns in a safe in your living room.  To use a more traditional example, it is no different than not being able to personally hold your stock certificates residing in a Schwab IRA account.

Custodians hold your Self-Directed IRA assets on your behalf.  Administrators process the paperwork on behalf of the custodian.  American IRA is an administrator and New Vision Trust Company, a South Dakota chartered Trust Company, holds the assets.  New Vision Trust Company and American IRA, LLC are an integrated financial company providing both custodial and administrative oversight for your Self-Directed IRA transactions.

A custodian handles transactions and holds Self-Directed IRAs and other retirement assets on your IRA’s behalf. The IRS has stringent requirements for Self-Directed IRA custodians. These businesses are subject to regular inspections and audits by federal regulators. They can hold titles, cash, investments and other types of property on investors’ IRAs’ behalf, and handle a lot of transactions.

If you own gold or other precious metals, or physical assets within an Self-Directed IRA, chances are there will be a custodian in the mix, holding the gold or other assets in a secure, insured facility somewhere – or at least physically holding certificates.

An IRA third party administrator, such as American IRA, LLC, has a more tapered scope of engagement. Administrators are the account record-keepers responsible for generating statements and documents. We do not hold assets directly, but work with New Vision Trust Company, a South Dakota chartered Trust Company on your behalf.  New Vision Trust Company and American IRA, LLC are an integrated financial company providing custodial and administrative oversight for your IRA transactions.  We simplify the process, document your transactions, generate statements and 1099s, and work with your advisors to help you stay in compliance with IRS rules and regulations.

We do not advise on the suitability or non-suitability of any particular investment for your individual portfolio. That is up to you and your own financial advisors. We focus on quickly and accurately executing and recording the transaction on your behalf, in accordance with IRS regulations.

Moving down the Self-Directed IRA industry hierarchy, there are other professionals and salespeople known in the industry as “promoters” and “facilitators.”

These individuals do not handle transactions and do not hold assets on your behalf, but they support the Self-Directed IRA process in other ways.

One type of promoter might be a real estate agent who focuses on helping investors find properties for their Real Estate IRAs, and who becomes very knowledgeable in that niche. Others are financial advisors, RIAs, IARs, accountants and attorneys who also promote the Self-Directed IRA approach and help facilitate your Self-Directed IRA strategy.

For example, an attorney may help create entities within your Self-Directed IRA such as C corporations and LLCs which may help insulate other properties and IRA assets against the claims of creditors.

Every Self-Directed IRA investor needs a custodian or administrator affiliated with one or more custodians to create and maintain a functional Self-Directed IRA account. Few are totally go-it-alone beyond that. Most investors require a knowledgeable and experienced, multi-disciplinary team of professionals to get the most out of their self-directed retirement accounts.

Fortunately, getting started in Self-Directed IRA investing is very easy, and our team of professionals at American IRA, LLC is available to help you throughout the process.

To learn more about our services as one of the leading Self-Directed IRA administrators in the country, or to set up an account and get started investing, call us today at 866-7500-IRA (472), or visit us at www.AmericanIRA.com.

You can also read more on this subject at our blog, here.

Do not delay! Give us a call today! We look forward to working with you!

Baby Boomer, Gen X Retirement Saving Inadequate, Study Says

When it comes to retirement saving, the Baby Boomer generation is in trouble.

Despite many of them now entering retirement, the majority of those born between 1946 and 1964 report having less than $250,000 in retirement assets. Only about 1 in 3 Boomers has that much saved up – leading to a retirement income shortfall of between $3,864 and $12,072, according to research from the Insured Retirement Institute.

And things are not looking too great for Gen Xers, either. According to the Insured Retirement Institute’s (IRI) fourth biennial report on Generation X, about 4 in 10 members of this generational cohort do not have money saved for their retirement. Despite an overall improvement in the economy, this represents a deterioration of about 5 percentage points from two years ago.

Of those with retirement savings, about 6 in 10 have saved less than $250,000. On the other hand, the percentage of those who have saved at least $250,000 or more has nearly doubled over the same time frame, rising from 12 percent in early 2016 to 23 percent in 2018.

According to the IRI, about 60 percent of Generation X respondents report being generally confident they will have enough money saved for retirement. Their top three economic concerns are changes in Social Security (66 percent), higher than expected health care expenses (64 percent) in retirement and running out of money (59 percent).

Ultimately, people across the generations need to get serious about putting money away.

Use “Catch-Up Contribution Limits”

The Baby Boomers and the oldest of the Generation Xers can both take advantage of “catch-up contribution” limits, available to those ages 50 and older. Congress anticipated the need for older Americans to sock more money away as they enter their peak earning years and their children have reached adulthood.

For Self-Directed IRAs, individuals age 50 and older can put an additional $1,000 away each year in combined Roth IRA and Traditional IRA contributions – over and above the normal $6,500 annual limit. Some limitations apply for those at higher income levels.

Older Self-Directed 401(k) beneficiaries can also increase salary deferral contributions. As of 2018, those ages 50 and older can contribute an additional $6,000 per year to employer-sponsored Self-Directed 401(k) plans, on top of the generally applicable $18,500 contributions, for a total potential employee contribution of $24,500 per year.

Similar provisions also apply to 403(b) plans, the federal Thrift Savings Plan and many Section 457 deferred compensation plans for public employees. They also apply to Self-Directed 401(k)s and small business Self-Directed 401(k)s.

Those turning 50 and older this year should consider taking full advantage of these more generous tax-advantaged compensation limits.

Working longer

Many Americans will have little choice but to stay in the work force longer and put off retirement. This means more years of earning an income, and more years of potential retirement contributions and compounding within retirement accounts. It also means higher monthly Social Security benefits, if you can put off collecting Social Security until you reach full retirement age.

Staying in the work force also means you do not have to stretch your retirement income over as many years. With today’s advances in health care and nutrition, it has grown commonplace for Americans to live into their late 80s and 90s. Taking income out of your portfolio for 10 years rather than 20 years can make a big difference in the sustainability of your retirement income.

For more information on getting started with Self-Directed IRA investing, call American IRA today at 866-7500-IRA (472).

Survey: Most Americans Have No “Bear Market” Retirement Plan In Place

Federal banking regulators routinely force banks to “stress test” their portfolios, modelling what would happen under various troublesome economic scenarios. They do this so that banks have a chance to shore up wobbly loan portfolios and liabilities before the crisis arises.

Have you done the same with your retirement plan?

A new survey shows that nearly half of Americans have not.

The latest Country Financial Security Index shows that almost half of all Americans could not withstand a sudden 6,000 point hit to the Dow Jones Industrial average, which would slash much of their retirement portfolio’s power to generate income in retirement.

A decline of that magnitude would constitute roughly a 25 percent drop from current levels (depending, of course, on when you read this!)

It has not even been a decade since we have seen a decline at that level – it last occurred in 2009, during the worst of the Great Recession and the mortgage crisis, which spilled over into stocks and real estate – though it was a boon for gold investors and for those willing to pick up real estate and other assets at bargain basement prices.

“Our motivation in asking the question was to get investors’ attention,” says Doyle Williams, executive Vice President at Country Financial, the Bloomington, Ill. insurance and financial services company. “We want them to think about a drop of this size ahead of time, to get them to think about what they would do in the moment,” he told editors of USAToday, ahead of the survey’s publication.

Other findings:

Only about half of Americans – 52 percent – told surveyors that they were “financially prepared” for a 25 percent decline in the stock market as of February 2018. However, only 28 percent reported having any kind of financial safety plan in place. 44 percent reported having no such plan.

What would such a plan look like?

Here are some suggestions:

1.)  Maintain a significant emergency fund. Ideally, you should have 3 to 6 months of financial reserves to see you through any manner of emergencies. For many people, this may not be an easy practice: A 2017 study, also by Country Financial, found that about half of Americans – 49 percent – do not have enough savings on hand to cover three months of expenses if they lost their jobs or other primary sources of income.

If you fall into the above category, chances are your emergency fund can use some shoring up. Checking and savings accounts, money market funds and cash value in permanent life insurance policies are all good homes for your emergency fund savings.

2.)  Reduce debt. Your emergency fund will probably last a lot longer if you do not have any payments.

3.)  Fully fund your IRA or Roth IRA (including Self-Directed IRAs). Your IRA savings can pull double duty: Contributions can grow tax-deferred or – in the case of Roth IRAs – tax free as long as the money remains in the account, into retirement. Yes, there is a 10 percent penalty on early distributions under normal circumstances. But IRAs also have a number of hardship provisions that waive this penalty if the withdrawal is made under qualifying circumstances.

These circumstances include:

  • Disability
  • Death
  • Avoidance of foreclosure or eviction
  • Paying for qualifying medical expenses exceeding 10 percent of your adjusted gross income
  • Paying for health insurance premiums.

Do not rely on 401(k) assets for emergency savings. Many companies do not allow for in-service withdrawals, and emergency hardship withdrawal limits are generally much more stringent. However, if your plan allows for loans against your 401(k) balances, this could help in a pinch. Remember you must pay the loan back to the plan.

4.)  Diversify your portfolio. If you are overexposed to stocks – so much that the prospect of a 25 percent or even a 50 percent decline scares you, it is time to diversify. Move money into other asset classes, such as bonds, real estate, precious metals, and even further afield. A Self-Directed IRA can be an excellent vehicle for diversifying your retirement portfolio while still retaining the possibility for significant long-term gains.

 For more information on using a Self-Directed IRA to increase diversification and potentially reduce your overall risk exposure in the event of a big stock market decline, call American IRA, LLC today at 866-7500-IRA (472).

 

 

 

Self-Directed IRA for Independent Minded Investors

Lots of people want or need a financial advisor to work with them for every financial decision. And that is ok. There is a time and place for that, and there are great advisors and brokers out there who do a lot of good for them.  And then there are the kind of investors who use a Self-Directed IRA.  These investors prefer to diversify or may just want all their retirement funds in alternative assets.

Self-Directed IRA Basics

Structurally and legally, a Self-Directed IRA is just a subset of Traditional IRAs or Roth IRAs. The difference is that the owner of a Self-Directed IRA has chosen to sidestep the Wall Street distribution system – the vast network of brokers and advisors that channel money into the stock, bond and mutual fund markets – and invest money directly, usually in one or more alternative asset classes or in direct placement opportunities that bypass Wall Street.

Assets Commonly Held in IRAs

Conventional (Traditional or Roth) IRAs Self-Directed (Traditional or Roth) IRAs
Mutual funds Mutual funds
Publicly traded stocks Publicly and non-publicly traded stocks
Publicly-traded bonds Publicly-traded and privately-placed bonds
Annuities Annuities
CDs and money markets CDs and money markets
Publicly Traded REITs Publicly and privately-traded REITs, direct ownership of rental real estate
Master limited partnerships Any partnerships, MLPs or privately held
Publicly traded private equity funds Private equity funds and direct private equity placement
Hedge funds and funds of funds (accredited investors only)
Oil and gas investments
Fix and flip real estate
Tax liens and certificates
Private mortgage lending
Hard money lending/bridge loans
Asset-backed lending
Gold and precious metals
Closely-held C corporations
Partnerships and LLCs
Farms and ranches
Accounts receivable factoring
Commercial lending
And much more…

As you can see, the Self-Directed IRA is a tremendously flexible vehicle. If you are willing and able to look beyond the relatively narrow set of asset classes that Wall Street brokers have in their inventory, you can achieve a much more diverse portfolio than you can limiting yourself to paper assets.

In many cases, you can gain exposure to better performing investments, simply by virtue of the ‘go anywhere’ benefit of the Self-Directed IRA strategy. You may be able to reduce risk at the same time, either by investing in very safe and secure investments, or adding investments with a very low correlation to the S&P 500 or other paper assets you may hold elsewhere in your portfolio.

Custodians and Administrators

IRS rules do not allow investors to hold IRA assets directly. Instead, all assets in an IRA have to be held in trust for you, in the IRA’s name, by a custodian, trustee, or administrator such as American IRA, LLC.

The process is simple:

  • Open an account with American IRA, LLC
  • Transfer funds to the account
  • Provide written instructions to American IRA, detailing what assets you want us to buy and sell on behalf of your IRA; what expenses you want us to pay with IRA funds, and what you want us to distribute to you.

Prohibited Transactions.

 You can invest in almost anything with a Self-Directed IRA. But you have to avoid just a few types of investments, and you cannot transact directly with certain family members.

For example: You cannot use IRA money to invest in life insurance, collectibles, alcoholic beverages, jewelry and gemstones, gold and precious metals of uncertain provenance or insufficient purity and mint quality (call us for specifics).

Additionally, you cannot use IRA money to buy or borrow from or lend or sell to yourself, your spouse, any of your lineal descendants, ascendants, or any entities they control. That means you cannot buy a property and let your son or stepdaughter handle the property management for a fee, and you cannot lend them money from your IRA to buy a home.

You also cannot transact with an advisor who provides advice about your IRA investments. Any of these would pose a conflict of interest and potentially be disallowed by the IRS.

Ready to learn more? Download one of our investment guides at www.AmericanIRA.com, or call us today at 866-7500-IRA (472).

 

 

 

Overseas Properties in a Real Estate IRA

Many of our clients are actively looking to diversify their retirement portfolios by using Self-Directed IRAs to invest in overseas assets. Often, this includes investing in foreign property using a Real Estate IRA.

Is it legal to purchase overseas property in an IRA? 

Yes, since the birth of IRAs in 1974, it has been legal to purchase and own overseas property using Real Estate IRAs. You can buy and sell properties, collect rent, and do anything you can do with domestic real estate in an IRA, provided you observe all the rules concerning prohibited transactions.

Can I take out a mortgage or borrow money to buy an overseas property for my Real Estate IRA

Yes, you can. You can borrow from any willing lender who is not a prohibited counter-party. Prohibited counterparts include yourself, your spouse, your children or grandchildren or those of your spouse, your parents and grandparents or those of your spouse, or any entities any of these people control.

If you do take out a mortgage, it must be on a non-recourse basis. That is, you cannot sign a personal guarantee for the loan. Any collateral for the loan must come from within the IRA itself.

You should also be aware of any local laws and regulations that may affect mortgages in the country in which you are investing. Most other countries will not recognize your IRA as a legal entity.

How can I purchase an overseas property using a Real Estate IRA

To buy property for a Real Estate IRA, you need to establish an account with a custodian or administrator that will support self-directed/real estate transactions ahead of time. You cannot buy the property yourself, thinking that you can transfer it into your Real Estate IRA later. That would essentially be causing the IRA to purchase the property from yourself, and that constitutes a prohibited transaction.

Instead, set up an account in advance with American IRA, LLC, and fund it. In most cases, clients fund their Real Estate IRAs using rollovers from existing IRA accounts. You can also contribute up to $5,500 in new money per year to a Traditional or Roth IRA. If you are over age 50, you can contribute another $1,000 in catch-up contributions.

If you want to make larger contributions, and you have a business or self-employed income, you may consider setting up a small-business retirement plan like a SEP IRA or a Solo 401(k).

Set up a trust or local entity in the host country. 

Most countries do not recognize IRAs as a separate legal entity. That means that while you may have limited liability protection in the United States, you will not have any in the property’s host country. If a tenant sues you in local courts, they could go after you personally, and possibly seize other assets you own within the country.

Consider having a local attorney help you set up a limited liability entity that will help you limit your liability, just as you would set up a corporation or LLC within the United States to protect your personal assets if someone should sue the business.

Purchase the property. 

Again, it is best not to try to handle the transaction yourself, directly. Instead, send all necessary documentation and instructions to American IRA, LLC, to purchase the property on your behalf, using funds within your funded Self-Directed IRA account. Verify the purchase was completed correctly.

Note, the property cannot be titled in your name directly. The title has to go to your IRA, or to the entity within the IRA, with your IRA listed as the owner.

Disqualified parties may not reside in the Real Estate IRA property. 

Unless you are ready to withdraw the entire property from the IRA, and pay taxes on the transaction, you, nor any disqualified person to your IRA can physically stay in the property; even if market rent is paid.  You cannot use an IRA to own your own vacation home overseas. If the IRS finds out, they could force you to take the entire value of the account as a distribution, costing thousands in taxes, penalties and legal bills.