How Real Estate Syndications Benefit Self-Directed IRA Investors
Although real estate syndications are not new, they are becoming a popular way for individuals to invest in real estate, including those with self-directed IRAs.
Real estate syndication—also called property syndication—is essentially a partnership between people who operate in two roles: the syndicator (or sponsor) and the investor(s). By partnering up, investors combine their resources, capital, and skills to purchase and manage a property or multiple properties that would not have been feasible to purchase on their own.
In short, the syndicate pools funds for greater buying power, enabling all parties, as a group, to access deal flow. You may hear syndication referred to as real estate crowdfunding because it is a way of making investments more accessible to a wider pool of interested parties. Syndicates may invest in office buildings, multifamily properties, warehouses, or a property fund.
Sponsors and investors
The sponsor is the individual responsible for finding, acquiring, and managing the real estate. Ideally, this person has experience in this area and can underwrite and conduct necessary due diligence on the property. He or she may choose not to put up any cash, and may also earn an acquisition fee or a property management fee if a third party is not contracted to handle that. Everyone else—including self-directed IRAs that participate—are the investors, who own a percentage of the real estate. It is passive ownership for them, providing all the benefits of owning real estate in their portfolios without having to do all the work.
Syndicate structures, syndicate profits
Syndicates are usually limited partnerships or limited liability companies; in these cases, the sponsor is the managing member or general partner. These are special purpose entities through which investors purchase the real estate. All members of the syndicate, including the sponsor, earn periodic returns on the initial investments.
A syndicate agreement is drawn up between the parties, with all arrangements agreed upon in advance (such as acquisition fees, returns on net income, ownership percentages, voting rights, the exit strategy, and how to divide profits after the property is sold). When it is sold, the syndicate is complete.
Using a self-directed IRA in real estate syndication
Rather than go all in on your own, you can have your self-directed IRA partner up with a syndicate. This lowers overall investments costs compared to buying real estate directly, since expenses are spread out over multiple investors. Plus, if your IRA is short on the necessary funds to directly invest in commercial property, participating in a syndicate is a great way to include this asset in your self-directed retirement portfolio.
As with all self-directed investments, you, as the investor, are expected to do your full due diligence—in this case, about the syndicate and the property or properties it plans to include in its portfolio. And, like any other asset, all income and expenses related to this investment flow through the self-directed retirement plan, which will earn returns on the investment until the syndicate is complete. Note that when using your self-directed IRA to invest in a syndication, you may NOT also act as a general partner; investments should be limited partnership only.
If you have questions about using syndications to include real estate investments in your retirement plan, or want to better understand how self-direction as a retirement strategy works, you may schedule a complimentary education session with Next Generation. You’ll gain insights into how these and other assets can be included to create a more diverse portfolio. Alternatively, you may contact the Next Generation team directly via phone at 888.857.8058 or via email at NewAccounts@NextGenerationTrust.com.
Investing in Oil and Gas Royalties Through a Self-Directed IRA
Last summer, we shared information on investing in energy assets through a self-directed IRA, including investments in mineral rights. Digging a bit further, some self-directed investors choose to include oil and gas royalties in their self-directed retirement plans. Let’s look at how that works.
What is a royalty interest in mineral rights?
In general, royalties are ongoing revenue streams based on production (in the case of energy assets) or licensing/usage (for intellectual property). In the case of oil and gas royalties in a self-directed IRA, the retirement plan owns a portion of the revenue that the oil or gas wells produce.
While most self-directed investors don’t have the equipment and financing needed to explore, extract, and produce oil or natural gas themselves, they can passively earn a royalty from the producing company that leases the land in exchange for access to it (and the ability to produce these energy assets).
How is the investment structured?
There are a couple of common scenarios. The first of which is when the oil/gas company leases land from a property owner (the IRA in this case), with mineral rights as part of the lease; this gives the producer access to the goods that lie beneath the surface (oil, natural gas, uranium, coal, etc.). The property owner is paid a percentage of the total production by the company—so if your self-directed IRA owns the land, the IRA will receive that income as landowner.
As an alternative to the above scenario, the IRA may choose to instead purchase mineral rights to the resources below the surface on a per-acre basis. The IRA then leases those mineral rights to the production company, which keeps its share of the revenue and distributes monthly royalty payments to the self-directed IRA.
These monthly royalty payments can range from a traditional 12.5% in the oil industry to upwards of 25%, depending on what is negotiated. The investor that owns the mineral rights—in this case, the self-directed IRA—may choose to sell those rights in the future for a profit. With profits flowing into the IRA, tax on those earnings would either be deferred or eliminated (in the case of a Roth IRA).
Benefits of mineral rights investments
- The production company is responsible for all exploration and extraction operations while the self-directed IRA passively collects an ongoing revenue stream.
- Unlike commercial and vacation property real estate investments, there are very little ongoing costs incurred by the investor, since the producer is dealing with expenses associated with working the land.
- Similar to real estate investments in self-directed IRAs, diversification is available within one asset class. Your self-directed IRA can invest in multiple oil and gas fields simultaneously—and collect royalties from these – or buy and sell as desired (with all income and expenses flowing through the retirement plan).
As with all self-directed investments, account holders are encouraged to conduct full due diligence about mineral rights investments and different energy assets, to fully understand how mineral rights work and the mechanics of land leases to energy producers.
At Next Generation, we’re here to answer questions you have about many types of non-publicly traded, alternative assets, including oil/gas. You may schedule a complimentary educational session with one of our knowledgeable representatives to discuss the nontraditional investments allowed through self-direction. Additionally, you may enjoy free access to our on-demand webinars and blog articles that cover many topics related to self-direction as a retirement strategy.
Investing in Self-Storage Through a Self-Directed IRA
Did you know you can include self-storage in your retirement portfolio? Real estate is the most popular asset class in self-directed IRAs—including commercial real estate—and self-storage is a growing segment that offers great potential for self-directed investors. In fact, it is a $39.5 billion industry in the U.S., utilized by approximately 10% of all U.S. households (with tremendous growth potential as Generation Z gets older and Generation X starts to downsize). As of this year, the estimated number of self-storage facilities is over 49,200.
The most common avenues for self-directed investments in this asset class are through promissory notes (lending) or private placements—direct investments in a private entity such as a self-storage REIT (real estate investment trust), C-corporation, LLC or fund. The self-directed IRA invests into those entities, with all income and expenses related to the asset flowing in and out of the retirement plan.
Strong asset class with strong ROI
- As of 2019, the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts (NAREIT) reported high annual returns of 16.85% over 25 years (NAREIT) – outperforming multifamily, retail and office
- According to Self-Storage Almanac 2021:
- Around 31% of self-storage space by rentable square footage is owned by six of the largest public self-storage companies:
- Public Storage
- Extra Space Storage
- Life Storage
- National Storage Affiliates Trust
- Another 16.5% is owned by the next largest 94 operators
- Mom and pop/small operators own 52.3%
- This leaves a wide-open field for market consolidation through private REITs or funds specializing in self-storage investments
- Around 31% of self-storage space by rentable square footage is owned by six of the largest public self-storage companies:
- Utilization of self-storage units continues to climb as people downsize, are in transition, or simply have too much stuff
- Self-storage facilities generally have low operating costs compared to other real estate assets and lower construction costs than other commercial real estate sectors—with high income potential
Investing in self-storage through a self-directed IRA
Before taking the steps to invest in self-storage through a self-directed IRA, there are a few things to note. This must be a passive investment to meet IRS investing guidelines. You, as the self-directed IRA owner, cannot be an active partner, director, or managing member of the investing entity (REIT, fund, LLC)—this makes you a disqualified person and creates a prohibited transaction which can cause your investment to lose its tax-advantaged status. Also, beware of investing in a private fund or company that is owned 50% or more by disqualified individuals, as this would constitute a prohibited transaction. Disqualified persons for this purpose are the account owner, his/her spouse, lineal descendants or ascendants; a beneficiary of the IRA; or plan service providers and fiduciaries.
At Next Generation, we take steps to make investing in all types of alternative assets as easy as possible. Our Starter Kits contain all the paperwork needed to open and fund a new self-directed retirement plan. After you do your research and identify the entity into which you wish to invest through your IRA, we’ll provide you with a list of the documentation required to process and execute the private placement (or promissory note, if lending). You will need to provide our Next Generation team with a buy direction letter, private placement instruction letter and advisory notice, transaction payment method, and outgoing ACH or wire instructions.
We will review the transaction for compliance with IRS investing guidelines and complete the transaction; our custodial firm, Next Generation Trust Company, holds the assets for our clients.
Want to know more including self-storage in your self-directed IRA? Watch this on-demand webinar on the topic, or schedule a complimentary educational session with Next Generation. You can always contact us by phone at 888.857.8058 or by email to NewAccounts@NextGenerationTrust.com with your questions.
Using a Self-Directed IRA to Invest in Music Royalties
A royalty is essentially the income stream generated from certain intellectual property—usually music, books, and films—and earned by the rights holder of said published or produced properties. Singers, songwriters, producers, labels, publishers and authors are among the individuals or companies that can have legal claim to the income generated from the intellectual property (IP).
Did you know that music royalties are considered an alternative asset that can be bought or sold and included in a self-directed IRA?
Self-directed investors can invest in music royalties to diversify their retirement portfolios with a non-publicly traded asset. Like many other nontraditional investments allowed through self-direction, music royalties are considered uncorrelated assets, meaning they perform unrelated to public markets (such as the stock exchange); therefore, they provide a good hedge against market volatility.
Royalties as revenue streams
Royalties are legally-binding payments from a licensee to a licensor—the party with the legal claim to the intellectual property. In the music world, royalties are paid based on album sales, song/album downloads, streams, or whenever a song is used in a commercial or movie—any sales channel. They can generate a consistent cash flow, especially in today’s age of digital streaming. Think Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, and other pop music artists who’ve created the asset one time but earn income for years; their songs and records climb the charts and continue to sell or be downloaded time and time again, year after year.
Royalties are a long-term asset, paid for the life of the artist plus seven years, creating the potential for capital appreciation over time.
Artists may sell royalties to their back catalogs or even current works to raise capital in the short term or create financial security, enabling them to earn money immediately from their works, or even have the proceeds donated to charity. Sometimes estates auction off the catalogs. Investors can earn passive income when holding the IP asset in their self-directed IRA.
How to invest in music royalties
In the past, investing in royalties had been limited largely to private equity investors or institutional funds. Today, royalties are bought and sold on exchange platforms created specifically for this purpose, making this alternative asset more accessible to a wider pool of investors (including those with self-directed retirement plans).
There are four main categories of music royalties:
- Mechanical – based on sales of a recording on any type of media
- Performance – whenever a song is played publicly (radio, streamers, in public places such as restaurants)
- Synchronization – for songs used as background music in a film, television show or commercial
- Print – paid to songwriters and publishers for sales of printed sheet music
The account owner invests in a percentage of the royalties through auction and can earn a healthy yield. According to Royalty Exchange, one of the exchange platforms for entertainment IP, music royalties earned 10% or more average ROI (annualized asset return) in the first six months of 2020. Other exchanges are SongVest and Lyric Financial.
Other types of royalty investments
Self-directed investors may include royalties in trademarks, patents, mineral rights, educational materials, pharmaceuticals, or invest in royalty trusts. When investing in items with copyrights or patents, the income – and the percentage ownership – lasts for the lifetime of that copyright or patent.
At Next Generation, our clients invest in a broad array of alternative assets through their self-directed IRAs, from real estate to royalties, private equity to precious metals. Next Generation offers custodial and administration services for these accounts, and as part of our white-glove service, we offer client education through webinars and our complimentary educational sessions. Alternatively, our helpful team is available to answer your questions directly via phone at 888.857.8058 or email at NewAccounts@NextGenerationTrust.com.
Social Investing Through a Self-Directed IRA
Self-directed investors are avoiding the stock market roller coaster by investing in non-publicly traded, alternative assets, through their self-directed IRAs. These retirement plans offer the same tax advantages as regular IRAs, but allow for a broader array of nontraditional investments that traditional brokerage accounts do not. This also enables individuals to build retirement wealth through investments that reflect their personal interest or, in other cases, their ethics. One such class of nontraditional investments is social investing, also called sustainable investing or impact investing.
Examples of social investing are assets that fit into the broader category of environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG); they foster positive social change, social justice, and protect the environment. Investors are discovering ways to invest in causes that are meaningful to them; these may be renewable energy options that reduce carbon footprint, shares in cooperative farms that lift people out of poverty, or funds that include corporations with excellent employee relations or human rights records.
As with any self-directed investment, social investing means taking the time to research and conduct one’s due diligence. Investors who want to make a difference through their retirement plan can look for ways to support sustainable or impact investing projects, or funds that are managed in a socially responsible way. Maybe you know of a startup that’s bringing clean energy projects to market or clean water to remote villages; or perhaps you want to invest in a minority-led company as a way to diversify your retirement portfolio—and support economic diversity.
Once you’ve done your research and selected sustainable investments to include in your retirement plan, Next Generation—as the self-directed IRA custodian and administrator—will first conduct an administrative review of the asset documents to ensure it meets internal guidelines for self-directed retirement plans. We will then process your transaction based on your instructions, hold the assets, and manage all the paperwork and mandatory filing associated with the investment (mandatory IRS filings of 5498s, or Fair Market Value and 1099s if required).
If you have questions about self-direction as a retirement strategy, or about the many other nontraditional investments these retirement plans allow, you may schedule a complimentary educational session with one of our knowledgeable representatives. You can read more about various types of alternative assets these plans allow here; or contact us directly via email at NewAccounts@NextGenerationTrust.com or call 888.857.8058.
Investing in Cryptocurrency in a Self-Directed IRA
One of the benefits of self-direction as a retirement strategy is the ability to include a broad array of nontraditional investments in an IRA or retirement plan. One such investment that has the attention of certain savvy investors is cryptocurrency.
Many people have heard of Bitcoin—a form of cryptocurrency—but what is this alternative asset all about?
What is cryptocurrency?
In short, it’s a digital or virtual currency—not paper money or metal coins—that is created on decentralized networks of computers using blockchain technology. Blockchain is a distributed/online ledger and an organizational method for ensuring the integrity and security of all transactional data—an essential component of many cryptocurrencies.
Cryptocurrencies are secured by encryption techniques called cryptography and allow for secure online payments as virtual tokens—these tokens are the ledger entries in the system. Cryptocurrencies are not held at a bank nor issued by any central authority such as a government agency or financial institution. No personal information is exchanged during a transaction and there is no third-party interaction with institutions such as a banks or credit card companies. The parties’ digital wallets are account addresses with a public key and the owner has a private key to sign transactions.
Bitcoin, launched in 2009, became famous as the first blockchain-based cryptocurrency; today, there are many others that compete with it. A more detailed explanation of blockchain technology and cryptocurrency can be found here.
Including cryptocurrency in a self-directed IRA
Diversifying one’s retirement plan through self-direction enables individuals to include many non-publicly traded alternative assets—such as cryptocurrency—in their retirement portfolios. Investors who know and understand this asset also know that market prices are based on token supply and trader/user demand, and the exchanges the currencies trade on.
(NOTE: There is a limited supply of this computer-generated currency by design; for example, Bitcoin was designed to cap at 21 million).
That said, like many nontraditional investments, cryptocurrencies can provide a hedge against stock market volatility and inflation, and unlike other alternative assets, are certainly easy to transport and use.
Investing in Cryptocurrency through an IRA at Next Generation
Note that any time you buy or trade a digital asset, this transaction is done through a digital wallet that is linked to a checking account. If you plan to invest in Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, most self-directed IRA custodians, like Next Generation, require that this be done through an LLC; the LLC is funded by the self-directed IRA and opens a business checking account to use for the digital wallet. This checkbook control should ensure that the funds are held and used specifically for the purpose of buying or trading this digital asset (or other alternative assets within the IRA)
If you’ve done your research on cryptocurrencies—or if you’re already trading these digital assets outside of your existing IRA—you can form an IRA LLC with Next Generation and start building a more diverse retirement portfolio that includes Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. You can also schedule a complimentary educational session with one of Next Generation’s team members to discuss how this all works. For questions about self-direction as a retirement strategy, contact Next Generation by phone at 1.888.857.8058 or by email at NewAccounts@NextGenerationTrust.com.
Investing in Private REITs with a Self-Directed IRA
A real estate investment trust (REIT) is a company that invests in/owns and usually operates all types of income-producing commercial real estate: multi-family housing/apartment buildings, student housing, retirement and senior communities; warehouse and industrial properties; retail centers, hospitality, and office buildings.
In order to qualify as a (REIT), the company must file with the SEC and meet certain SEC requirements. Although most REITs are publicly traded on stock exchanges (known as public, traded or listed REITs), there are also private REITs; like their stock exchange-traded counterparts, private REITS must register with the SEC and are subject to the same IRS regulations. That includes the requirement to return 90 percent of their taxable income to shareholders annually.
One big difference in public vs. private REITs is that the latter are not as susceptible to demand-driven price volatility as public REITs, whose value fluctuates daily; private REITs are valuated annually.
Why invest in a REIT
- REITs provide access to dividend-based income in the short term, and long-term return on investment as the property grows in value over time.
- Real estate is a popular hedge against inflation/stock market volatility and enables investors to diversify their portfolios.
- REITs require a relatively low minimum investment to get started.
Renters are on the rise—and so is rental property popularity
Multi-family housing represents a large portion of real estate investments, thanks to an increase in the renter population, which has been in growth mode for a few years and continues to rise. There are several reasons for this:
- Baby Boomers are downsizing into amenity-rich luxury rental apartments; the 2015 Census Bureau projected that by 2020, five million Baby Boomers will make an apartment their next residence.
- Millennials are delaying home ownership and looking for smaller domiciles in more urban, denser areas; they value the flexibility of apartment living and are paying off student debt.
- Right behind Millennials is Gen Z, whose members have started entering the rental market.
Investing in private REITs with a self-directed IRA
As you know, a self-directed IRA can include many different types of nontraditional investments, with real estate being the most popular class of alternative assets within these plans.
When your self-directed IRA invests in a private REIT, all income and expenses related to the asset flow in and out of the retirement plan. However, private REITS are not the only type of real estate investment you can include in a self-directed IRA. Other types of real estate investments might allow you to partner your self-directed IRA with another buyer, transact a “fix & flip” and take the profit on the sale of the property, or buy and hold the asset, so the IRA earns tax-advantaged rental income over time.
After you’ve researched a REIT or any other real estate investment you’d like to include in a self-directed retirement plan, it’s time to open and fund your account. At Next Generation we not only provide comprehensive transaction support, we also provide client education about investing in real estate and other alternative assets through a self-directed retirement plan. Of particular importance is understanding prohibited transactions and disqualified persons as defined by the IRS.
If you have questions regarding this strategy, don’t hesitate to contact Next Generation at NewAccounts@NextGenerationTrust.com or call 888.857.8058. Alternatively, you can schedule a complimentary educational session with one of our knowledgeable representatives.
Want Out of the Stock Market? Consider Precious Metals in a Self-Directed IRA
Buckle up, investors—the stock market is taking millions of people for a very uncomfortable ride during the Covid-19 pandemic. Individuals who maintain retirement portfolios with traditional assets like stocks, bonds, and mutual funds have seen precipitous declines in their retirement accounts this month as the markets, businesses, and the world deal with the virus.
Advisors will say that diversification is always the key to a healthy portfolio—something self-directed investors know and practice. One way to hedge against the volatility of the stock market and reduce risk is to include alternative assets within a self-directed IRA. Along with real estate, precious metals are among some of the most popular nontraditional investment options that can be held in a self-directed IRA. In fact, there has been a recent spike in demand from investors who wish to diversify their retirement accounts with metals like gold, silver, platinum, and palladium. You can read the particulars of including precious metals in a self-directed IRA in this blog post.
Why include precious metals in a self-directed IRA?
Long before there was paper currency, there were gold and silver, traded around the world. Key benefits to including precious metals in a self-directed IRA is that these assets have no credit risk, serve as a hedge against market volatility, and also do so vis-à-vis political instability, currency weakness, and economic collapse. As Goldman Sachs was quoted this week, “gold is the currency of last resort.” Given the news swirling around us right now, it’s no wonder precious metals are in higher demand as a long-term investment.
In a move to stabilize the U.S. economy and ward off a credit crunch, the U.S. Federal Reserve has committed to purchasing an unlimited number of Treasuries and securities tied to residential and commercial mortgages. This process, called “quantitative easing,” is meant to enhance liquidity of financial markets. Pushing more money into the market affects gold prices inversely; as more money is available, interest rates go down and the value of gold goes up. This article on MarketWatch explains further and predicts gold will increase sharply in value in the coming weeks.
If you’re already knowledgeable about investing in precious metals or want to include this alternative asset in your retirement plan, check out our helpful Precious Metals Guide to learn more. If you have questions about self-direction and the other kinds of nontraditional investments these plans allow, register for a complimentary educational session with one of our knowledgeable representatives. Alternatively, you can call us directly at 888.857.8058 or send an email to NewAccounts@NextGenerationTrust.com.
Including Joint Ventures in a Self-Directed IRA
Did you know that you can use funds in a self-directed IRA to invest in a joint venture? These investments allow you, as a self-directed investor, to enter into a business arrangement with one or more individuals, and create a way for different investors to pool resources for a particular project.
Unlike partnerships, which are between individuals and are long-term arrangements between parties to operate a business, joint ventures are typically for a limited time or for a specific investment. Joint ventures (JVs) are often done in real estate but can be for other investments that the parties intend to sell at a profit within a specified time frame.
According to Investopedia, “Joint ventures, although they are a partnership in the colloquial sense of the word, can take on any legal structure. Corporations, partnerships, limited liability companies, and other business entities can all be used to form a joint venture.”
JVs can be formed for many different types of business activities. Liability is mitigated since the venture is its own entity, separate from the participants’ other business interests. When the JV is a self-directed investment, the IRA, as one of the partners, shares responsibility for the profits, losses and expenses associated with the JV. It is possible for two or more self-directed IRAs to team up on a joint venture.
How joint ventures work with self-directed IRAs
Let’s say you have a self-directed retirement plan and wish to partner with another investor to purchase a piece of real estate. The self-directed IRA makes the investment along with another party or parties as a private placement. Terms of the arrangement are worked out between all involved, including:
- How much each party is investing
- Type of project (technology, real estate, foreign venture, etc.)
- Time period of the investment/JV
- Structure of the JV
- Control, management and, if relevant, staffing
- Ownership splits
Gains on the investment flow back to the self-directed IRA, tax deferred or tax exempt, depending on the type of retirement plan.
Joint ventures carry with them tax and legal considerations. At Next Generation, we recommend that as part of their due diligence, investors consult with their trusted advisors before entering into a joint venture of any kind. It’s also important to educate yourself to avoid a prohibited transaction. As a self-directed retirement plan custodian and administrator, we review all documentation for compliance with IRS guidelines to identify disqualified persons or prohibited transactions.
If you’re considering using your self-directed retirement plan to invest in a joint venture, and have questions about how to get started, contact us via email at NewAccounts@NextGenerationTrust.com or call 888-857-8058. Alternatively, you can schedule a complimentary educational session with one of our representatives to discuss self-direction as a retirement wealth-building strategy.