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Purchasing Real Estate with Your Self-Directed Roth IRA

Self-Directed Roth IRA for Real Estate

A Self-Directed Roth IRA to Purchase Real Estate is a wise choice. As you may know, there are many benefits to establishing this type of retirement plan. Again, with the Self-Directed IRA, you can invest outside of traditional investments. This allows you to diversify your portfolio and better protect your assets/funds. As you may know, in the 2008 financial crisis, many retirement holders lost almost 25% of their retirement assets. As a result, diversification is steadily growing in popularity. Plan participants realize they don’t have to invest in Wall Street.

To point out, alternative investments, such as real estate, have always been possible IRA investments. Yet prior to 2008, very few people knew about self-directed retirement plans and alternative assets. The small group wasn’t that was knowledgeable of this didn’t get hit as badly by the financial crisis.

Learn More: How to Invest in Real Estate with Retirement Funds

Real Estate Investments in a Self-Directed Roth IRA

Below, we provide a partial list of domestic or foreign real estate investments you can make with your Self-Directed Roth IRA.

  • Residential homes
  • Raw Land
  • Commercial property
  • Apartments
  • Duplexes
  • Condos/townhomes
  • Mobile homes
  • Real estate notes
  • Real estate purchase options
  • Tax liens certificates
  • Tax deeds

Learn More: Self-Directed IRA to Flip Homes Tax Free

*Did you know that a Self-Directed Roth IRA allows you to invest in alternative investments? While this article focuses on real estate, you can make a wide range of alternative investments with a Self-Directed Roth IRA. Furthermore, some Self-Directed IRA Custodians limit what you can invest in. At IRA Financial, you are allowed to invest in what you know, all for a low annual fee.

Use Your Self-Directed Roth IRA to Purchase Real Estate

Real estate has become one of the most popular forms of non-traditional assets to invest in. Why do you think that is? First off, people want to invest in what they know and understand. Many individuals have more knowledge and confidence in real estate, which is one reason they are investing in it. Another reason is because investing in a real, material asset can protect their retirement savings from the threat of inflation.

And did you know that all income and gains from real estate is tax-free? That’s right. Real estate owned in a self-directed IRA LLC is tax-exempt. To fully grasp the financial benefits of this aspect, let’s look at an excerpt from Self-Directed IRA in A Nutshell.

“…If you purchased a piece of property with your self-directed IRA for $100,000 and you later sold the property for $300,000, the $200,000 of gain appreciation would generally be tax-free. Whereas, if you purchased the property using personal funds (non-retirement funds), the gain would be subject to federal income tax and, in most cases, state income tax.”

Here’s an even better example: Joe Average establishes a Self-Directed IRA LLC with $100,000 to purchase real estate. He also plans to make other traditional/non-traditional investments. Joe Average keeps his self-directed IRA LLC open for 20 years.

Over the years, he was able to generate an average annual pretax return of 8%. The average tax rate is 25%. By using a tax-deferred IRA LLC strategy, 20 years later, Joe’s $100,000 investment is worth $466,098. That’s $349,572 after taxes. But if Joe makes the investment with taxable funds (non-retirement funds) he only makes $320,714 after 20 years.

*Real estate remains the most common asset held by IRA Financial clients. However, IRA Financial does not limit what you can invest in. Some Self-Directed IRA Custodians only allow clients to invest in certain assets. Many do not allow real estate investments. At IRA Financial, you can invest in real estate and extensive alternative investments for a low annual fee. 

Learn More: Beginners Guide to Alternative Assets

Checkbook Control Self-Directed Roth IRA

Most financial institutions don’t allow real estate investments. In the end, the IRA custodian makes the decision in what you can invest in with your retirement plan. However, a checkbook controlled self-directed IRA LLC, you are the manager of the LLC, and can make decisions on what to invest in. Of course, this includes real estate.

For reiteration (you can find this information in our other Self-Directed IRA LLC pages), now making investments is quick and easy. You no longer pay high custodian fees or must wait as custodians approve (or deny) your investments. With checkbook control Self-Directed IRA LLC, you write a check or wire funds from your IRA LLC bank account, and the investment is yours.

Learn More: What is a Self-Directed IRA LLC with Checkbook Control?

Your Tax is Due on Profits from Leveraged Real Estate

Following Code Section 514, if your Self-Directed IRA LLC uses non-recourse debt financing (for example, a loan) on a real estate investment, some portion of each item of gross income from the property are subject to Unrelated Business Income Tax (UBTI). For more information, see: Non-Recourse Financing: How It Works. 

*Did you know that if you are self-employed, you can use a Solo 401(k) to invest in real-estate without using a non-recourse loan? Learn More: Real Estate Investing with a Solo 401(k)

“Debt-financed property” refers to borrowing money to purchase the real estate, such as a leveraged asset that is held to produce income. In such cases, only the income payable to the financed portion of the property is taxed. Gain on the profit from the sale of the leveraged assets is also UDFI. That is, unless the debt is paid off more than 12 months before the property is sold.

There are some important exceptions from UBTI. Those exclusions relate to the central importance of investment in real estate, such as:

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

However, rental income from real estate that is “debt financed” loses the exclusion. That portion of the income becomes subject to UBTI. Therefore, 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.

For example, if the average acquisition owed is $50 and the average adjusted basis is $100, 50 percent of each item of gross income from the property is included in UBTI.

A Self-Directed IRA LLC subject to UBTI is taxed at the trust tax rate because an IRA is considered a trust. For 2018, 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

Real Estate IRA Prohibited Transaction Rules

Before using retirement funds to invest in real estate it is imperative that you understand the prohibited transaction rules.

The basis of the prohibited transaction rules stem from the premise that investments involving Roth IRA and related parties are handled in a way that benefits the retirement account and not the IRA owner. The rules prohibit transactions between the Roth IRA and certain individuals known as “disqualified persons”. These rules can be found in Internal Revenue Code Section 4975. In general, the definition of a “disqualified person” (Internal Revenue Code Section 4975(e)(2)) extends into a variety of related party scenarios, but generally includes the Roth IRA holder, any ancestors or lineal descendants of the Roth IRA holder, and entities in which the Roth IRA holder holds a controlling equity or management interest.

The IRS permits using a Self-Directed Roth IRA LLC to purchase real estate or raw land. Since you are the manager of the Self-Directed Roth IRA LLC, making a real estate investment is as simple as writing a check from your Self-Directed Roth IRA bank account. The advantage of purchasing real estate with your Self-Directed Roth IRA LLC is that all income and gains are tax-free, assuming the Roth IRA has been opened for 5 years and the Roth IRA holder is over the age of 591/2 when the distribution is taken.

For example, if you purchased a piece of property with your Self-Directed Roth IRA LLC for $100,000 and you later sold the property for $300,000, the $200,000 of gain appreciation would generally be tax-free. Whereas, if you purchased the property using personal funds (non-retirement funds), the gain would be subject to federal income tax and in most cases state income tax.

When it comes to using a self-directed Roth IRA to purchase real estate, there are a number of rules that should be followed in order to make sure the real estate Roth IRA investment does not violate any of the IRS prohibited transaction rules.

  • The deposit and purchase price for the real estate property should be paid using Self-Directed Roth IRA LLC funds or funds from a non-disqualified third-party
  • No personal funds or funds from a “disqualified person” should be used
  • All expenses, repairs, taxes incurred in connection with the Self-Directed Roth IRA real estate investment should be paid using retirement funds – no personal funds should be used
  • If additional funds are required for improvements or other matters involving the real estate investments, all funds should come from the Self-Directed Roth IRA or from a non “disqualified person”
  • If financing is needed for a real estate transaction, only non-recourse financing should be used. A non-recourse loan is a loan that is not personally guaranteed and whereby the lender’s only recourse is against the property and not against the borrower.
  • The Roth IRA holder or “disqualified person” in connection with the real estate investment should perform no services in connection with the use of self-directed IRA LLC. In general, other than standard management type of services (necessary and required tasks in connection with the maintenance of the LLC), no active services should be performed by the LLC manager or a “disqualified person” with respect to the real estate transaction.
  • Title of the real estate purchased should be in the name of the Self-Directed Roth IRA LLC. For example, if Joe Smith established a Self-Directed Roth IRA LLC and named the LLC XYZ, LLC, title to real estate purchased by Joe’s Self-Directed Roth IRA LLC would be as follows: XYZ LLC
  • Although the use of a non-recourse loan is permitted with a self-directed Roth IRA when buying real estate, the use of a non-recourse loan would impose a tax pursuant to IRC 514 on a percentage of the income generated by the Roth IRA investment based off a percentage of the debt used in proportion to the amount of cash invested. This tax is especially difficult in the case of a Roth IRA, which generally offers tax-free income and gains.
  • Keep good records of income and expenses generated by the real estate investment
  • All income, gains or losses from the Self-Directed Roth IRA LLC real estate investment should be allocated to the IRA and be returned to the Roth IRA LLC bank account
  • Make sure you perform adequate diligence on the property you will be purchasing especially if it is in a state you do not live in
  • Make sure you will not be engaging in any self-dealing real estate transaction which would involve buying or selling real estate that will personally benefit you or a “disqualified person”
  • If you need to make additional Roth IRA contributions to your Self-Directed IRA, the contribution should be made to the Roth IRA custodian/administrator and then the funds will be transferred to the Roth IRA LLC.

Related: How are Real Estate Titles Held in a Self Directed IRA? 

Use Your Retirement Funds to Invest in Real Estate Today!

Invest in Real Estate with a Self-Directed Roth IRA today! When you purchase real estate with a Self-Directed IRA LLC, it’s very similar to when you purchase real estate personally. Let our IRA specialists establish your self-directed IRA LLC.

  1. Set-up a Self-Directed IRA LLC with the IRA Financial Group.
  2. Identify the investment property.
  3. Purchase the investment property with the Self-Directed IRA LLC (No need to seek the consent of the custodian with a Self-Directed IRA LLC with “Checkbook Control).
  4. The title to the investment property and all transaction documents must be in the name of the Self-Directed IRA LLC. The LLC manager must sign the documents pertaining to the property investment.
  5. All expenses paid from the investment property go through the Self-Directed IRA LLC. Likewise, all rental income checks go directly into the Self-Directed IRA LLC bank account. No IRA
  6. investment checks will deposit into your personal accounts.

All income or gains from the investment flow through to the IRA tax-free! Furthermore, you can use your new Self-Directed Roth IRA to invest in a wide-range of alternative assets, including cryptos, precious metals, private businesses, hard-money loans and more. You can also use your new Roth IRA LLC to invest in traditional assets such as stocks and bonds, for a low flat fee

Did you know?

A Self-Directed IRA allows real estate transactions, including investments in rental properties and office buildings, as well as allowing other real estate ventures. The SDIRA should be formed in the state where the real estate will be located. An SDIRA also allows for more traditional investments.  Alternatively, if you are self-employed, you can use your Solo 401(k) to invest in alternative assets. Contact IRA Financial to get started.

Read More:

How Do Self-Directed IRAs Work?

What is the Minimum Amount to Invest in Real Estate?

Real Estate: The Best Hedge Against Inflation?

Let’s get started! Contact IRA Financial today.


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