IRA-Owned LLC Buying Gold: The Ultimate in Self-Direction or Disaster Waiting to Happen?

April 6, 2016

Guest post by Jeff Watson:

On multiple occasions I have been asked to share my thoughts regarding self-directed IRAs establishing limited liability companies so that the account holder can use that LLC to purchase precious metals and store them in a safe in the account holder’s own dwelling. Continue reading…

7 IRA Questions to Ask Your CPA

March 10, 2016

Guest post by The Heroes Group:

1. Am I eligible for a Roth IRA conversion?
Is it recommended? A key benefit of a Roth IRA is that you don’t pay income tax when you withdraw funds in retirement (your earnings, or profit, are tax free). Before you consider converting, ask your CPA for your estimated tax liability. Continue reading…

Investing in Notes for Passive Returns

Guest post by Earl Green:

If you’re using a self-directed IRA, HSA or similar investment account, you’re probably looking for a strong and predictable alternative to the stock market roller coaster. If this is true, investing in notes may be for you. These wonderful pieces of paper can provide strong and predictable returns that can be secured with real estate. Continue reading…

Financing Rental Properties to Get the Most Out Of Your IRA

March 9, 2016

Guest post by Gregg Cohen:

Savvy investors are becoming aware that it is possible to buy properties in your retirement accounts. However, many people have no idea that financing rental properties in your retirement accounts is also possible – and very powerful!  Continue reading…

Convertible Debentures – An Option in Volatile Markets

February 29, 2016

Guest post by Nelson Garcia:

The year 2016 has, so far, been the definition of volatility, which for many was unexpected. For some investors, switching from equities to fixed income securities (bonds) would be prudent to ensure the safety of the principal and a fixed return. Continue reading…

7 Benefits of Passive Turnkey Investing

December 9, 2015

Guest post by Larry Arth:

After investing in real estate for over 20 years, I have spent my last 12 years enjoying the passive investments I have found by investing in turnkey (done for you ) real estate investments.

Like many investors, I too started investing the old fashion way. After buying duplexes, triplexes and four-plexes that all taught me a lot along the way, I was ready to promote myself to investments that would have less of the domestic challenges that come from multiple families living together under one roof.

After managing my own properties for close to 20 years, I eventually hired property managers as I no longer had the time or desire to deal with tenants or fixing leaky toilets. I was now a true passive investor, but I was struggling to find these good investment properties.

Finding Good Investment Properties

I had the clarity that I did indeed wanted to invest in single-family homes. I wanted investments that would of course produce a cash flow while creating great equity build-up through appreciation that I could execute a perfect exit strategy of selling to the retail home-buyer looking for a place to house their families.

I spent hours which turned into days then weeks and then months searching properties that may be good investments. Then trying to establish fair market rents in the area and establish what my expenses would be. There was little room for error here as your cash flow and total R.O.I. was at stake.

Then I Found Turnkey Investing

My “Ah-Ha” was like many others as we were trying to take a single-family home and convert it into a small little business. This process meant we have to do all the diligence and take all the risk in buying property and insuring we can make cash flowing equity building business from the property. I discovered that the risks of turnkey investing have been absorbed by the turnkey companies, and we could actually acquire these homes as a performing asset already rehabbed and rented with tenants and leases in place. The calculations and guess work had been completed, and now we could simply confirm the properties meet our investing criteria and invest in a little business that is already established.

7 benefits of Investing in Turnkey Real Estate

Properties are already performing assets: The guess work is removed and the properties are already rented and performing as assets in the best locations with property management and exit strategies in place.

Best investing markets: As an investor, you want to invest in only the best most sustainable markets. The nice thing is these companies can only survive in these best markets as well. If you cannot find a turnkey company in a particular city, there is probably a great reason why. Real estate is all about location, and turnkey companies will not start a business in a non-sustainable market. Find a great turnkey company, and you probably found a great market to invest in (of course you will want to still perform your diligence on the turnkey company)

Knowledgeable purchases within the sweet spot of the market: The owners and operators of these turnkey companies usually live in the investment areas and have intimate knowledge of the micro markets there, so they know which streets to buy on that will produce the highest demand for resale. Knowing schools, price points of properties, and areas that are prominently owner-occupied are keys to help to you reap the highest reward when selling.

Buyer/investor reduction of risk: The uncertainties of buying properties and converting them to a small rental business, establishing the true cost of any rehab work, the cost of utilities, taxes, insurances, etc. are removed from the buyer. You simply need to evaluate if the investment meets your turnkey investing criteria.

Benefit from economies of scale: Because turnkey companies have relationships with banks and typically buy 10, 20, and even 30 properties per month that close quickly with cash purchase, they tend to get better pricing than an individual can get for the purchase of the property. Then they have their own rehab construction crew that can renovate cheaper than an individual can by hiring contractors themselves since they can buy material in bulk.

Vested interest in the success of your portfolio: Like any good business, turnkey companies want to earn your business today and again in the future. To do this, they are motivated to work with investors and assist in making sure your investment rewards you well. They want to manage your properties and get you great overall repairs with as few headaches as possible so they can hopefully sell you another property in the future. The only way to accomplish this is to sell you a property at a fair price today, run it efficiently and help your investment make you money.

Real estate professionals teams in place: As an individual, buying property requires you to find great tradespeople like lenders, attorneys for entity structuring, and accountants. Turnkey companies already have a variety of proven professionals that they can share with you to make the process easier for you.

Which way makes the most sense to you?

Active investors sometimes enjoy doing all this research and diligence. Passive investors tend to have less time on their hands or simply do not have the desire to do all these tasks, so turnkey investing is a great solution for them.

It took me 20 years of doing investments the hard way before I discovered turnkey investing. Now that I know turnkey investing exists, I no longer have to waste all my time and money doing it the hard way. I can reduce my risk and transfer it to the turnkey companies so I can do what true investors do – invest instead of micromanage details.

Larry Arth is the founder and CEO of Equity Builders Group. Larry is an international recognized consultant and speaker, and he assists investors, both foreign and domestic, to realize their investment potential. He analyzes locations for economic strength that will yield the most sustainable return on investment. Visit Larry’s website.

Treasury Launches myRA – A Cure for Retirement Planning?

November 11, 2015

With much fanfare, On November 9th, 2015, the Secretary of the US Treasury, Jacob Lew, officially rolled out a new government-sponsored retirement plan for workers that are not offered a retirement plan at their work. Continue reading…

IRA Lending with Non-Recourse Loans

November 2, 2015

Don’t have enough in your retirement account to buy that investment property you have your eye on? Your IRA can get a mortgage, but it has to be a specific type of mortgage referred to as non-recourse loans.

Non-recourse loans just ensure that the IRA owner cannot be held personally responsible for repaying a loan for the IRA. Remember the IRA has a few options when buying investment real estate. It can:

  • buy the property outright with sufficient IRA funds in the account
  • partner with another IRA or individual to pay for part of the property the IRA might not be able to afford (or to split the risk with someone else)
  • be issued a non-recourse loan to fund the full purchase of an investment property

Below, the Senior Vice President of First Western Federal Savings Bank, Roger St. Pierre, outlines important information every IRA owner should know about non-recourse loans.

Fearlessness, Fairness, and Preparation

October 9, 2015

Ken McElroy, a recent presenter at our annual Planning for Prosperity investor symposium and real estate advisor for Rich Dad Poor Dad, shared on his blog a while back some takeaways from Warren Buffet. Much of the advice found online for entrepreneurs is just as relevant and applicable to investors with self-directed IRAs. Any investment you make is a big and brave business decision, so if Warren Buffett says he takes six different factors into consideration when he’s in the process of making big and brave business decisions, shouldn’t investors consider those factors as well?

Ken broke down his favorite three lessons from Buffett, and we agree they’re useful tips for investors:

1.) It has to be a big choice and a big win

Buffett prefers the go big, go bold method. He typically acquires “large purchases (at least $75 million of pre-tax earnings unless the business will fit into one of our existing units).”

2.) The decisions has to create value for you consistently and currently

The phrase of “it’ll pay off in the long run” does not apply when it comes to Warren Buffett’s decision making. Your choices should be valuable and make a real-life (current) impact. Consistent earning power is key.

3. The decision will benefit everyone who’s invested in it, and it won’t leave anyone hanging

Buffett wants “businesses earning good returns on equity while employing little or no debt.” Meaning no one investing money, sweat, or tears will come out at the end with less than they started.

As Ken has pointed out, “the themes here are fearlessness, fairness, and preparation – which are all great takeaway lessons to apply towards all aspects in our lives.”

You can read more of Ken’s thoughts on his blog at

Airbnb – a Threat or Opportunity for Landlords

August 28, 2015

Guest article by: Charles P. Castellon, Esq.

The law has always struggled to keep up with technology. Back in the 70’s, the legal system was not ready to address issues stemming “test tube” babies and currently, there are some gray areas involving digital assets in estate planning. In the still-young internet age, it will continue to be difficult for the legal system to keep up. An interesting example in the real estate world relates to tenants’ use of Airbnb to earn money from their properties.

Airbnb is a wildly successful web-based company that matches visitors seeking to rent a room with lodging providers. What Uber is to the taxi industry, Airbnb is to hotels. Recently, a New York judge ruled to evict a tenant in a rent-controlled apartment for using Airbnb to rent three of the sprawling apartment’s four bedrooms to guests. The tenant earned an astounding $61,000 in nine months of rental activity.

The judge ruled this subleasing violated the lease and New York’s and rent-controlled housing laws. Though there are unique facts to this case and New York landlord-tenant laws are very different than Florida’s, all Florida real estate investors should carefully consider how the Airbnb revolution may affect them.

Perhaps the first and most important issue Florida landlords should consider is liability. The constant “revolving door of strangers” that alarmed the New York tenant’s neighbors should be a real concern to Florida property owners. As title owner to the home, the landlord is likely to be held liable in court for any harm an Airbnb guest may commit while using the property. If a guest renting one room were to sexually assault a guest in another room, it is a near certainty the victim would sue everyone–the owner, tenant and perpetrator and try to collect damages against any or all. Which one is most likely to have assets the victim could pursue?

A similar liability concern involves an injury to the Airbnb guest in the property. Though it’s not advisable, some investor owners don’t carry hazard insurance on their free and clear properties and instead suggest or require the tenant to get a renter’s policy. If the owner does have insurance, the next risk is whether the carrier may deny coverage based on the “commercial” use of the home effectively being operated as a hotel, or deny the claim for some other reason.

Fortunately, in our market economy, every problem leads to an opportunity for profit by solving it. The “sharing” economy has spawned insurance pools to cover this new category of risk.

The next question is whether the landlord wants to allow the tenant to make money off the property. Some owners may not mind and would feel more secure about collecting the rent if the tenant has an additional income source. Others may demand a piece of the action if there is extra income to be earned. Most landlords would likely be swayed by the liability concerns and as a result, try to prevent the sub-leasing.

A landlord may draft a lease clearly prohibiting using the property as a hotel with heavy penalties, but enforcement may be difficult. Periodically monitoring Arbnb for listings of the investor’s properties may be one answer, but other sites are likely to arise in the wake of Airbnb’s success, just as Lyft came along to compete with Uber for passengers. With time being the most scarce resource for most investors, trying to root out such rentals (that may never occur) on all potential platforms cannot be considered a wise investment.

The best solution to this potential problem is a well-written lease with a heavy hammer of penalties for violations for landlords who don’t want their properties used as hotels. For landlords who don’t object or want to participate in the money-making opportunity, a different lease can be written.

No matter what, the tenant should sign an air-tight indemnification agreement in favor of the landlord. This means the tenant would fully cover the landlord in the event of a claim. Of course, most tenants will not have the money to protect the landlord, so insurance coverage will be essential.

The first step for landlords is to be aware of developments in our society such as Airbnb and how it affects them. The next is to make a well-considered strategic plan to contain the risk of this web-based platform and either prevent its use or share in the profits.