But direct investments in real estate might not be suitable for every investor’s portfolio or investment profile. The key to successful investing, whether in the context of retirement planning or even general investing, is to find investments that are suited to your needs and to your investment approach. Fortunately, there are ways to invest in real estate assets without having to meet the administrative challenges of managing direct real estate holdings.
Real Estate Investment Trusts
One option for being able to invest in real estate without having to take on the risk of doing so directly is to purchase shares of a so-called “real estate investment trust” or “REIT.” A real estate investment trust is an actively managed trust that itself invests in real estate of various types. Shares of a REIT are generally traded like shares of stock on the major exchanges, and are typically structured and operated in order to receive special tax breaks – the most significant of these is that the REIT offers high yield to investors. For investors who are looking for current income, REITs can be a great option.
Most REITs are generally focused on a particular type of property (such as multifamily residential or commercial) or real estate mortgages. But there are some REITs that try to take a hybrid approach by investing in physical properties as well as mortgages.
Another way to invest in real estate without having to hold property is to commit a portion of your portfolio to private investment partnerships that focus on real estate investments. Rather than buying property yourself, you are buying an interest in an investment partnership that has its own administrative structure in place to buy and manage properties for the benefit of the partners. While you’ll likely be able to vote on many of the decisions he investment partnership makes, it’s vitally important that you are comfortable with the partnership management structure that’s in place.
Private Mortgage Lending
When you have a self-directed IRA you can make private loans as another type of investment. You’ll probably want to stick to loans that are secured (meaning that the borrower pledges collateral that you can take possession of if they fail to meet their loan repayment obligations), and this includes private mortgage lending. This is yet another way to invest in real estate alternative investments and not have to hold property directly.
The term “real estate” means a specific type of investment class to many investors. There are in fact a wide range of real estate alternatives that you can invest in with your self-directed IRA without having to hold property directly.