top of page

How Can You Use Your IRA or 401(k) to Invest in Real Estate?

Investing in real estate is a popular wealth-building strategy, and you might be surprised to learn that you can use your Individual Retirement Account (IRA) or 401(k) to invest in this asset class. While most people associate retirement accounts with stocks and bonds, there are options for diversifying your retirement portfolio with real estate.

Let’s explore how you can use your IRA or 401(k) to invest in real estate and the various strategies available.

1. Self-Directed IRAs (SDIRAs): A Gateway to Real Estate Investment

One of the primary methods for investing in real estate with your retirement account is through a Self-Directed IRA (SDIRA). Unlike traditional IRAs, SDIRAs allow you to have greater control over your investment choices, including the ability to invest in real estate.

Here's how it works:

Setting up an SDIRA: First, you need to establish a Self-Directed IRA with a custodian or trustee that allows real estate investments. This custodian will help you navigate the legal and administrative requirements associated with real estate investments within your IRA.

Funding Your SDIRA: Once your SDIRA is set up, you can transfer funds from your existing IRA or 401(k) into the SDIRA. This process is often called a rollover or transfer.

Choosing Your Real Estate Investment: With your SDIRA funded, you can now start investing in real estate. You can purchase various types of real estate, such as residential properties, commercial buildings, or even vacant land. Your SDIRA can own and manage these assets on your behalf.

Managing Your Investment: It's crucial to ensure that all expenses related to the property, such as maintenance, taxes, and insurance, are paid from the SDIRA account. Any income generated from the real estate investment, such as rental income or profits from a property sale, must also flow back into your SDIRA.

2. Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)

Another way to indirectly invest in real estate through your retirement account is by investing in Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs). REITs are companies that own, operate, or finance income-producing real estate properties. They offer a way to diversify your portfolio with real estate without the direct ownership of physical properties.

Investing in REITs: You can purchase shares of publicly traded REITs or invest in non-traded REITs through your IRA or 401(k). These investments offer the potential for dividends and capital appreciation without the hands-on management of real estate assets.

3. Solo 401(k) for Real Estate Investment

If you're self-employed or own a small business, a Solo 401(k) may be an excellent option for real estate investment. A Solo 401(k) allows you to contribute to your retirement account as both an employee and employer, potentially enabling larger contributions for real estate investments.

Setting Up a Solo 401(k): Establish a Solo 401(k) plan with a financial institution that permits real estate investments within the plan. You'll have control over the investment decisions, which can include direct ownership of real estate properties.

Funding and Investing: You can contribute to your Solo 401(k) and use these funds to purchase real estate properties, including rental properties, commercial real estate, or real estate development.

4. Real Estate Crowdfunding

Real estate crowdfunding platforms have emerged as an accessible way to invest in real estate through retirement accounts. These platforms pool investor funds to acquire and manage real estate properties or projects.

Participating in Crowdfunding: Many real estate crowdfunding platforms offer self-directed IRA options, allowing you to invest in their projects directly from your retirement account. This method provides diversification and access to real estate opportunities without the need for significant capital.

5. Check Regulatory Compliance

When investing in real estate using your retirement accounts, it's crucial to adhere to IRS regulations and guidelines. Certain transactions and activities can lead to penalties and taxes, so it's advisable to work with a knowledgeable financial advisor or custodian experienced in self-directed retirement accounts and real estate investments.

6. The Potential Benefits of Real Estate in Retirement Accounts

Investing in real estate through your IRA or 401(k) can offer several advantages:

Diversification: Real estate can diversify your retirement portfolio, reducing risk by spreading your investments across different asset classes.

Tax Benefits: Depending on the structure of your retirement account, income and gains from real estate investments may grow tax-deferred or even tax-free.

Income Stream: Real estate investments, such as rental properties, can provide a reliable income stream in retirement.

Hedge Against Inflation: Real estate has historically acted as a hedge against inflation, helping to preserve the purchasing power of your retirement savings.


Investing in real estate using your IRA or 401(k) can be a smart and strategic move to diversify your retirement portfolio and potentially achieve attractive returns. However, it's essential to navigate the rules and regulations governing these investments carefully.

Seek guidance from financial professionals who specialize in self-directed retirement accounts and real estate investments to ensure that you're making informed choices aligned with your retirement goals. Whether you choose to invest directly in properties through a Self-Directed IRA or explore real estate investment trusts and crowdfunding options, the world of real estate offers diverse opportunities to grow your retirement wealth.


bottom of page