Self-Directed IRA's with Checkbook Control

I’ve blogged a couple of times here at RCG about the benefits of using a self-directed IRA as an investment vehicle in Real Estate. When I originally set up my self-directed IRA I loved that I could control my retirement funds not only in securities but also in real estate.  I had to educate myself by going to seminars and talking to the very few professionals that understood the process.  However, being the do-it-yourselfer that I am, I traveled around the country attending lectures and symposiums until it started sinking in.

I set up the necessary entity and rolled over my IRAs and Seps into a Roth IRA (paid the taxes), created an LLC to buy real estate and then had my Roth IRA buy shares of my LLC.  This has been a great way to grow my retirement without ever paying taxes on the profit.

However, the process was cumbersome, I never thoroughly understood all the scary laws that would cause my self-directed IRA to loose it’s status and it was not always as fluid as I’d like. Such as, had I not attended the classes and done the research, I wouldn’t have even known where to go for the custodian that is required for the self directed retirement accounts.  Then, I had to find an accountant and an attorney who specialized in them.  Again, hard to find. Additionally, although I had good services in my chosen Custodial firm, I didn’t have the ability to have instant access to my money, and in fact, last month when I tried to take a distribution, it took over a week to get the cash out.  What if I’d wanted to purchase a home on the court house steps? not possible with my custodian.  I have no access to cash, nor do I have a checkbook.

Recently, I’ve learned of a completely different way of investing with self-directed IRA’s that’s being offered here in our own backyard in Bellevue. The company is Guidant Financial and they’ve developed a product called ‘Auriga’, (Auriga means the helsman of one’s ship).  Although I’m just learning about this product, it appears to provide a solution to problems inherent in custodial accounts by giving you checkbook control over your retirement account.  Additionally, Auriga allows the retirement plan to invest in more than one vehicle, and in my case, where my LLC sometimes is the owner of the property and sometimes is the lender, it allows for that flexibility.  Guidant is not the Custodial account for the IRA’s but has negotiated a very low fee thru a custodial business relationship that is not based on increasing the fee as the account increases in value.  The way they do this is to provide all the legal, accounting and guidance as Guidant Financial, streamlining the custodial role. My experience is that the custodian cannot give legal, accounting or much of any assistance in setting up the account, but it does charge an annual fee based on the size of the account.  Guidant Financial charges a one time up front fee for the setup and continued operation of the IRA account.  As your account value grows, the costs are still minimal since the custodian fees are not based on the size of the asset.

For more information there will be a webinar on Wednesday November 28 at 12pm.  I know that I’m not alone out there with my self-directed real estate investing.

Commercial Real Estate Transaction Using Your IRA

[photopress:pensco_trust_logo_200x150_1.jpg,thumb,alignright]For those of you who listen in on the Pensco Webinars, this week’s promises to be outstanding as Jim Wilson discusses commercial investing with Self Directed Retirement accounts. You can use your self directed IRA’s or 401K’s or the new Solo 401K to buy apartment buildings and/or take part in development projects, purchase blocks of pre-built housing developments, etc. This company produces webinars and seminars that are always top notch.

Webinar Date: Wednesday, April 4th, 2007 Webinar Time: 11 a.m. PDT / 12 p.m. MST / 1 p.m. CST / 2 p.m. EST

Topics Include:

  • How to Perform Due Diligence When Buying Investment Properties
  • How to Lend Your IRA to Developers
  • Get safety first preferred positions in development and re-development projects like small shopping centers.
  • Triple-Net Lease Considerations
  • How to Get into Larger Projects with Less Money
  • How to Get Mailbox Money for Your IRA

Directions for participating in this ‘Wednesday Webinar’:

Webinar Telephone Number: 1-212-990-8000 Participant 4-Digit PIN Code: 2090 #

This is my participant number. If you’d like to register and get your own number so you can listen, go to and go to the webinar information on the right.



The snow is[photopress:snow_picture.jpg,thumb,alignright] finally melting off the tree branches in my yard today. One foot of snow fell last Wednesday afternoon turning my normal 45 min commute to Issaquah into 4 hours. I’m really impressed with how well the agents are doing maneuver on these slick streets. I had a showing Friday night, Saturday and Sunday on one listing, even though the roads are still slick and hard to navigate out here in Issaquah.

Nice to be back to RCG. I’ve been buried in an investment class for the last 3-4 months and haven’t been keeping up with the post reading or writing. Came up for breath today and I see that a Welcome to all the new contributors is in order! We’re honored to have you on board. 

Given that it’s tax time, I want to remind everyone to be sure you’re aware of all the tax advantaged investment programs out there for real estate. Who knows how long these will last. There’s a great new program called a solo 401K to go along with the Roth IRA programs investing in real estate.  I’ve blogged about this before and hope you check it out especially if you’re paying taxes on any real estate gains this year. 

I’m building a good retirment by investing this way and it will all be tax free.  A key player in the IRA game is the custodian.  I’ve been waiting for the new custodian in Seattle, Viking Bank with Jim Winder in charge of the Self Directed IRA department to get their website up and running so that RCG readers can get information on line. Jim Winder is a well known guru of self-directed IRA’s and he is respected local celebrity and has taught many many classes in the past.  He promises the Viking Bank site will be functional soon.  But it is tax time so until then, I’ll direct you to Pensco Trust to learn all you need to know about some really great tax strategies using some of the money you’ve already socked in retirement plans. Pensco Trust is a national leader in IRA education so I hope you find these articles helpful.  

Once Jim’s fully in the game I’ll post you his site and when he’ll be teaching live classes.  LTD will be hosting one, soon, I hope, and by the way, I met Jim here on RCG!

Why I Don’t Want to Be Young Again

These days when I pass the mirror, I always wonder whose looking back at me cuz it’s sure not the 30 something person I think I am. I guess the answer to that problem, is not look into the mirror!

So, I’m looking for the good things about getting older. Know what the best thing is (given that I have no grandchildren yet)? For me it’s the day when I turn 59.5 and can take money out of my retirement fund and start spending it!

For those of you who can’t even think that far ahead, at least give some thougt to tax planning. Remember a dollar saved in taxes is a dollar you don’t have to earn! Real estate as an investment vehicle works for me, becuase of the leverage involved and the control I have and the great tax incentives. When you combine a good real estate investment with good tax planning, you can grow your wealth faster since you have some great tax free or tax deferred IRS sanctioned programs to take advantage of. Here’s a quick rundown of three of these programs to shelter real estate investment income. I’ve been using two of them for years.

Self Directed IRAs Investing in Real Estate

If you have a retirement account from a job you’ve left, did you know that you can self direct that money and invest it in real estate? Or, if you have IRAs, you can also self direct and invest them in Real Estate. First, you need a custodian to handle the transactions. Simply set up self directed IRA’s and self directed Keogh’s and 401K’s through a custodian such as Entrust or Pensco Trust. I use Pensco Trust out of San Francisco. They’re great at making sure you handle all the details and they can help you through the process. There are tricky issues to work through like needing non recourse debt financing and working through the UBIT taxes can be a challenge.

But for every roadblock there is a solution and if you have a Roth IRA and invest right, then your money can grow tax free! There are lenders willing to finance the necessary non recourse loans, and the UBIT tax is only on the leveraged portion and can be as low at 15%. Be sure to check out your particular situation with a tax professional.

In the next couple of days, I’ll write about the 1031 and the Family Foundations.

So, give it some thought. Don’t be afraid of getting older becuase it’s a blast!