The Ultimate Guide to Raw Land Investing Using a Real Estate IRA

Investing in raw land has long been a hidden gem in the real estate world. It’s the road less traveled for individual investors, yet it holds the potential for significant returns. When combined with the power of a self-directed real estate IRA, this investment avenue presents a persuasive strategy for building wealth. This guide covers raw land investing within a real estate IRA, discussing its benefits, how it works, and essential considerations when buying raw land. So, if you’re eyeing land as a part of your retirement portfolio, read on to uncover the potential that lies in acres untapped.

Harnessing the Benefits of Raw Land Investing

Raw land investing refers to the acquisition of undeveloped land with no structures or improvements. It’s a blank canvas for investors, offering numerous possibilities: from agricultural leasing to strategic sale after appreciating value, and everything in between.

Let’s shed light on why you should consider the open fields of raw land as a resourceful addition to your investment portfolio.

1. Simplicity and Stability

The simplicity of raw land is one of its most enticing attributes. Unlike properties with structures, like single family homes and multifamily property, vacant land requires little oversight. There’s no need to manage tenants, repairs, or renovations. Moreover, as a tangible resource, land does not depreciate; while buildings lose value over time, the ground beneath them typically appreciates.

2. Growth Potential and Diversification

With urban sprawl and population growth, land scarcity is a reality that inadvertently drives up land values. Investing in strategically located raw land can yield considerable returns as development expands. Additionally, including land in your real estate IRA offers diversification, balancing out market fluctuations that may affect traditional stock or bond investments.

3. Tax Advantages of Raw Land Investing

Owning land in an IRA means that you bypass capital gains taxes on sales—because the gains are deposited into your retirement account and enjoy that tax-sheltered status. When factored over the long haul, this leads to substantial profit preservation.

How Raw Land Investing Works in an IRA

A real estate IRA provides the advantage of diversifying your retirement savings into alternative assets. You can invest in assets beyond traditional stocks and mutual funds. But how exactly does one go about leveraging this financial instrument for raw land investing?

Here’s an overview:

1. Setting Up a Self-Directed IRA

To be clear and in case you didn’t know, a real estate IRA is the common term for a self-directed IRA that holds real estate assets. First and foremost, you must establish an account with a self-directed IRA services provider that allows alternative investments such as raw land. To fund the new account, you can rollover funds from another IRA, transfer your 401(k) from a former employer, or make a cash contribution within the IRS annual contribution limits.

2. Finding the Right Land

Next, you scout for land opportunities, performing due diligence on prospective Image of fields of green grass illustrating raw landing investing in a real estate IRA.parcels. The self-directed IRA administrator plays no part in this decision—it’s your responsibility to locate and analyze potential investments.

3. Purchasing Land

Purchases are made with IRA funds, and the land is titled in the name of your IRA. It’s important to note that all maintenance expenses, taxes, and other costs related to the investment must be paid with funds from your IRA. All profits from the land must be deposited into the IRA.

4. Complying with IRS Regulations

Throughout the process, it’s crucial to adhere to IRS rules governing self-directed IRAs. For instance, disqualified persons such as you and your immediate family cannot use the land personally. This is a prohibited transaction and leads to significant penalties and even disqualification of your IRA. IRC 4975 outlines rules for IRAs in detail, but below are a few highlights.

Just a few rules and regulations you must understand:

    • All income and expenses relevant to the investment must flow directly into and out of the IRA.
    • Learn about and avoid prohibited transactions and dealings with disqualified persons.
    • Land purchased with the intent of running a business (raising crops, cattle, etc.) within an IRA is subject to unrelated business income tax (UBIT).
    • If your IRA took out a non-recourse loan to help purchase the asset, it may earn unrelated debt financed income (UDFI), which is subject to UBIT.

What to Know When Buying Raw Land

Raw land investing through a self-directed IRA is a sophisticated strategy that requires thorough research and diligence. Here are key factors every investor should know:

1. Location, Location, Location

Not all land holds the same value. Factors such as accessibility to roads, proximity to growing urban areas, zoning laws, and the availability of utilities will tremendously affect the land’s worth and potential for appreciation.

2. Use and Development Potential of Raw Land

Investigate the possible uses of the land. Is it suitable for residential or commercial development, agriculture, or renewable energy projects?

For example…

    • Residential and commercial development property: Prime pieces of land in areas where growth is expected can be parceled off and sold or even leased to building contractors and investors.
    • Oil and mineral producing land: Mineral rights can be leased to mining companies or other investors; the right piece of land can also be bought at a fair cost and sold for more to achieve a gain.
    • Timberland: Both hard and soft woods can be planted, harvested, and sold to make a profit; tracts can also be leased to others, such as timber companies for the same purpose.

Understanding the land’s possibilities helps to foresee its profit-making potential.

3. Environmental and Legal Considerations

Before committing to a purchase, conduct environmental assessments to ensure that the land isn’t contaminated or prone to natural disasters. Additionally, work with a lawyer to screen for any legal encumbrances–like liens or easements–that could affect ownership rights or value.

4. Holding Costs

Though raw land investing doesn’t demand the same level of ongoing maintenance as other forms of real estate, there are still holding costs. Property taxes, insurance, and, in some cases, homeowner association fees, need consideration, and since the property is within an IRA, these costs must be accounted for from within the account.

Preparing for a Land Purchase in Your IRA

To streamline the purchase process, it’s crucial to have your financial house in order. Ensure your self-directed IRA is adequately funded and that you’ve engaged with an IRA administrator who understands real estate transactions. Having a team of professionals, like a real estate agent with raw land investing experience and a knowledgeable attorney, prevents costly mistakes.

The Call of Raw Land Investing Awaits

Raw land offers an attractive investment opportunity for the patient and discerning investor. With its potential for appreciation, tax advantages, and stability, it can be a valuable asset in a diversified retirement portfolio. Raw land investing through a real estate IRA only magnifies these advantages, making it a compelling consideration for those in search of growth and security in their golden years.

Does the call of untamed soil resonate with you? Are you ready to explore the untapped potential of raw land investing within the haven of a real estate IRA? Initiate the journey today. Begin by researching custodians that facilitate such investments, consult with real estate and legal professionals, and draft a thoughtful investment approach that aligns with your long-term financial vision.

Remember, like any venture, patience and due diligence are paramount. Raw land investing isn’t about the quick turnover. It’s an investment in the future—a physical legacy that matures over time, possibly serving as a robust foundation for your retirement nest egg.

Take charge of your financial destiny. Start sculpting your retirement landscape with the raw material of investment potential—land, as enduring and full of promise as your aspirations.

If you have questions about this article or want to learn more about self-directed IRAs, contact Advanta IRA today.

Additional resources on real estate IRA investments:

Invest in Real Estate in an IRA: A Beginner’s Guide

What Is Unimproved Land and How to Invest with an IRA?

How a Private Mortgage Works in a Self-Directed IRA or Solo 401(k)





About Scott Maurer

Scott Maurer, Vice President of Sales for Advanta IRA, is a recognized expert in the field of self-directed IRAs. With a law degree from the University of Florida and as a designated Certified IRA Services Professional (CISP), Scott’s keen understanding of rules and regulations fuels his passion to educate others on the power of investing in alternative assets using self-directed IRAs. Scott is a frequent guest on retirement and investing webinars and podcasts, and he has shown thousands of individuals how to achieve financial freedom by teaching them how to use their retirement funds to invest in private placements, real estate, private lending, and more. Throughout his two decades in the industry, he has watched numerous unique investments unfold, giving him great perspective of what is possible when people take control of their retirement funds and investing decisions.