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Investor Insights Blog|Self-Directed IRA Investment Options That Might Surprise You (Hint: It’s About More Than Just Stocks)

Real Estate

Self-Directed IRA Investment Options That Might Surprise You (Hint: It’s About More Than Just Stocks)

Woman on laptop

Most IRAs invest funds in the stock market, which as we all know can rise and fall day to day. But with the roller coaster of volatility we’ve been riding lately, investments in stocks can be even more uncertain.

Enter the self-directed IRA. There’s never been a better time to consider this powerful investment tool. Why? One of the most attractive benefits to setting up a self-directed IRA is the ability to invest in areas outside of traditional stocks and bonds.

Not only do they allow you to diversify, but self-directed retirement accounts (which include traditional and Roth IRAs as well as HSAs, SIMPLE IRAs, Solo 401(k)s and more) also make it possible to invest your hard-earned funds in your areas of expertise, as well as in fields and causes that may be close to your heart.

house at night

Self-directed IRA investment options

The primary difference between a self-directed retirement account and an IRA or other qualified retirement account is the increased freedom and flexibility to invest in both alternative and traditional asset classes.

Many investors don’t realize they aren’t limited to stocks, bonds and mutual funds. One major area of investment: real estate.

Real estate and self-directed IRAs 101

If you’re making real estate a part of your retirement income strategy, a self-directed IRA is a great vehicle to use for those investments whether you’re interested in condos, private homes, apartment buildings, commercial buildings and more.

[For a detailed look at how real estate investments work within a self-directed IRA, visit our Self-Directed Investments page.]

Do well by doing good with a self-directed IRA

One of the most attractive benefits for our civic-minded investors is the fact that self-directed IRAs can serve as an untapped source of investment capital with the potential to positively impact their communities. Yes, it’s about building tax-advantaged wealth for your retirement. But you can do well by doing good.

We’ve seen Equity Trust clients do extraordinary things with their retirement accounts — for themselves and for others — which we showcase on our Your Stories series.

From rehabbing blighted neighborhoods and providing affordable housing opportunities, to financing local businesses, you can use your retirement funds to truly help people in the city where you live.

food truck - small business

Alternative investments

Beyond real estate, what else can you invest in? The sky is (nearly) the limit. Some popular alternative options include:

  • Private debt, like corporate debt offerings, notes secured by deeds of trust or mortgages, unsecured notes and contracts for deed.
  • Private equity. This asset class has enjoyed a period of unprecedented success over the past decade and is continuing to grow. Some common private equity investments include stock of C-corporations, limited partnerships, LLCs and REITs. Do you know of a small business you’d like to support? Your IRA may be able to invest in it.
  • Precious metals, including gold, silver, platinum and palladium. There are certain restrictions on the types of each category allowable by the IRS in an IRA. Click here for specifics.
  • Cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin.

A few areas are off-limits, per Uncle Sam. IRS Publication 590 identifies which investments are prohibited in IRAs, including:

  • Collectibles (such as artwork, rugs, antiques, gems, stamps, certain coins, etc.)
  • Certain precious metals
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Life insurance policies

Bottom line: Once investors learn about self-directed retirement accounts, and work with an advisor or financial professional to determine if it’s the right fit, it may be possible to tap into the multi-trillion-dollar IRA market.

At Equity Trust, we can help. Contact us today and we’ll be happy to talk through your options.

For more information, read ‘5 Self-Directed IRA Benefits’


Am I restricted to only purchasing residential property with my IRA?

You are not limited to residential real estate. Your IRA can hold various investment properties such as commercial buildings, vacant land, condominiums, mobile homes and apartment buildings, in addition to residential property.


Can I buy stocks, bonds and mutual funds with a self-directed IRA?

Yes. Some IRA custodians only allow investing in stocks, bonds and mutual funds; however a self-directed IRA custodian, such as Equity Trust, allows those types of investments in addition to real estate, notes, private placements, tax lien certificates and more.

100+ IRA Investment Options Checklist

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