By Dmitriy Fomichenko
Financing planning is an important aspect of real estate investing, and most of the realtors pay special attention to it. However, when it comes to retirement planning, we often prioritize other financial responsibilities instead. It’s critical to understand that you’ll need at least 80% of your current income to maintain your current standard of life during retirement. The good thing is that there are retirement options that allow you to accumulate retirement savings at a heightened rate. Self-directed retirement plans offer the freedom to invest in alternative assets, including real estate, mortgage notes, tax liens/deeds, precious metals, private equity, personal lending, and even the traditional stock/bond investments.
In order to help you choose the best self-directed retirement plan, our team has put together a small Infographic, comparing an SD IRA, IRA LLC, and a Solo 401k plan.
Infographic: Choosing self-directed retirement plans
By Dan Kryzanowski
Tips on Sponsorship and Syndicates
My Journey to Financial Independence
Who do I (or you) have more in common with, Joe Biden or Mitt Romney? Putting politics way aside on my response, my answer is both. Speaking with my business hat on, I morphed from Joe to Mitt.
The Early Days
While like Joe, I did grow up on the “mean streets” of Scranton, Pennsylvania. Actually, the streets were not so mean and life was wonderful as a child in the 20th century. I was also very fortunate that my parents had secure jobs – high school principal and social worker – with pensions in perpetuity!
Grit was (and is still) a valued trait in northeast Pennsylvania (aka NEPA), with NEPA known as coal mining community with strong cultural ties and traditions. There was a solid deference to top-down organizations and assumption of middle-class comfort.
In terms of real estate and investments, the primary residence was the only “alternative” asset for the supermajority. This held true for the single-earner family or high-flying businessman that made six-figures in the early 80s. That said, the immigrant sense of adventure shined with the true immigrants (i.e. first-generation Americans) born in the early 1900s. My great aunts and uncles strongly valued family gatherings, so purchased land and built houses outside of town.
My entrepreneurial spirit flickered early, though primarily in the “non-profit” sense, to provide opportunities for my peers. I co-founded and stood up programming for a youth leadership group under Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY), and served as matchmaker years before LinkedIn and Facebook. Overall, life was wonderful as a child and teenager in NEPA in the 20th century.
Sometimes it pays to be lucky, being in the right place at the right time with the right people. I spent college and my twenties studying and living in three countries (traveling to another 20), ten US states, and locations such as Martha’s Vineyard in the summer of 1998 to Austin, TX prior to the current (infinite?) population boom. I also picked up degrees at Wharton and Thunderbird and benefited immensely from a decade at Merrill Lynch and GE Capital.
Life was good and I quietly built up a sizable 401(k) and healthy Roth IRA. Stocks trended upward, public REITs paid double-digit dividends and I could receive a whopping 6% on a risk-free Certificate of Deposit (CD)! I felt very “diversified” and sophisticated within the comforts on the Fidelity online portal.
While 9/11 was an obvious shock (I worked at 4 World Financial Center) and wake up call to potential horrors, day-to-day living (and investing) in the mid-2000s was quite comfortable. That, of course, all changed in September 2008. The curtain fell on the Wizard of Oz, and what was behind the curtain was not pretty (i.e. “trusted” institutions).
Backing up a little bit, it should be noted that I rarely go against my gut feeling, and when I do it tends to put my entrepreneurial and investing endeavors on hold. Instead of remaining in Austin in mid-2008 to be at the forefront of the first true “organic” tequila, we ended up back in the northeast, paying $2,000 monthly for a condo with a view of a wall in Stamford, CT (when I literally could have bought a house in east Austin for $40K). Fast forward three winters, the reintroduction of state income tax, and dozens of pints for friends laid offer during the financial crisis – it was time to return “home” to Texas.
Keeping It Weird
Austin, and Texas in general, has a very educated investor base, with folks forming all types of syndicates to invest in everything from conservative multifamily preferred loans to restaurants that cater to dogs and comedy tours (“Ha”, said my CPA, when we wrote off this investment). I immediately cannonballed into both ends of the pool, opening a Self-Directed IRA (SDIRA) to invest in high-yield/low-risk real estate and effectively crowdfund some of my dividends and piggybank savings accounts into hotel/bar/restaurants across Austin, some of which we also own the dirt. Overnight, I morphed from Joe to Mitt.
Regardless of deal type, what struck me most was the commonality and comfort of each deal lead to sponsor a syndicate. In the early 2010s this was still a grassroots effort, now aided by various Meetups and crowdfunding platforms. The wild card, though, which has yet to scratch the surface is the “green tsunami” of $10T (yes, trillion) that individuals will shift from stagnant, nameless mutual funds to sponsors/syndicates, with a strong percentage of these funds going towards real estate.
Raise your hand if you or somebody you know rents a storage unit. Raise your other hand if you would rather spend Memorial Day Weekend on your boat vs. changing storage providers if you monthly rate went up by a whopping $7. Now with both hands in the air (i.e. the universal “it’s good” on a PAT), you have a taste into the beauty of self-storage and natural attraction to invest in a storage facility with your friends and family.
Pinnacle Storage Properties, founded by Uncle Bob’s veteran, John Manes, offers the simple blueprint on how to sponsor a deal. First, assuming you are liked – or of greater importance, respected – then you should have a natural following of 100+ interested individuals who will engage based on the high level of competency and character you exhibited throughout the years.
Second, keep it simple. Unless a single person is willing to take all the equity off the table, then there should not be multiple share classes on your initial deals (or even on future deals or initial fund). Likewise, this eliminates the perception (and possible reality) of preferential treatment of your Grandma’s $50k on Day 1 vs. an ex co-worker funding the final $250k from her SDIRA.
Finally, set parameters on commitments. Make it crystal clear that you need $X by Y date. That said, it is always best practice to communicate a “funds due date” a good 14-30 days before your true ‘D Day’, as is is very common for your next door neighbor’s check to get lost in the mail. Assume also that 10% of commitments will fall through, so either be oversubscribed or be prepared to front or possibly invest that final 10% of equity out of your own pocket.
Six Figures in Six Minutes
Did you know you can get 6 figures in 6 minutes? Yes, it’s true! As referenced above, assuming you have a reasonable number of potential investors (e.g. 100 or more), then a simple email or mention in your deal packet should bring you a few checks from your investors’ “forgotten trillions”.
In every deal I sponsor, and even when I do not have a live deal, I always educate any potential investor that s/he may use their retirement dollars to invest in my upcoming deal. Tommy Prate of Magnify Capital is a longtime evangelist of enhanced retirement accounts (Solo 401(k), SDIRA), empowering both his investors and ‘Magnifiers’ (those sourcing deals with boots on the ground diligence) with the knowledge that they may invest in his current/next deal with their retirement accounts. Manes/Pinnacle also regularly receives 15%-25% of equity raise from Self-Directed accounts.
The added bonus, and ease, of “selling” the concept of retirement accounts is that these dollars are likely locked up (i.e. cannot withdraw without early distribution penalty) for the next 5-25 years, so the investor has no urgency of receiving (~demanding) his principal back. Secondly, with a checkbook controlled SDIRA, the investor can easily reinvest dividends or have a bit of fun investing smaller checks in other real estate and private deals, while maintaining all the benefits of a traditional retirement account. Play this to your advantage, and you will literally get 6 figures for 6 minutes of your time.
Playing the Mitt card to Financial Independence
When on the campaign trail in 2012, Mitt Romney was asked how his ROTH account could be in the Millions (actually $102,000,000!) when the maximum ROTH contribution was only $5,000? While Mitt took advantage of other types of enhanced retirement accounts (with 10x contribution limits), the takeaway here is that he invested via a post-tax account and will not have to pay taxes on this balance during his golden years.
Stated differently, would you rather pay taxes today on a small seed or the full evergreen tree in the future? I opted for the former, now very confident that my seed will replicate many times over until I elect to take my first distributions in my 60s.
Executive Vice President
Dan serves as EVP at Rocket Dollar and Capital Partner for Pinnacle Storage Properties. Dan has raised “six figures in six minutes” numerous times across the self-storage, multi-family, and residential worlds. His profession mission is to guide individuals to take back control of their retirement dollars and empower sponsors raise more money faster. Visit with Dan at Family Office Connect on May 21st in New York City.
By Tim Houghten
It’s inevitable. A market correction is coming. The market has been on a high for years now. In 2018 alone, the Dow Jones Industrial Average broke a record high 15 times. If history has taught us anything, it’s that the market cannot sustain those highs for that long without a correction. Real estate markets across the country are still very hot. Even with the “cooling” that some markets are seeing, real estate prices are still well above records and competition is hot. “A cool-down has been predicted for over in a year in our local market. However, I’ve yet to see it. Sure there are some longer list times for sellers but properties are still selling in record time over asking price. It’s still a hot market,” says Eric Jones, Director of Sales and Marketing for Freedom Real Estate Group.
With all that being said, the question on every wise investor’s mind: how can I prepare myself for the next recession? The short answer, diversify. The long answer, diversify into buy and hold, long-term strategies.
“The short-game (fix and flip) is good. It’s instant return. But you get hit hard by the tax man. Buy and hold has some of the best tax advantages of any asset class,” Jones stated. “Depreciation, property taxes, mortgage insurance and more are all deductible expenses. Plus, with fix and flips, it’s simply not a long-term strategy. It’s not a way to build true wealth.”
To lessen the risk of any big swing in the market, the answer is to diversify your investment portfolio so all your eggs aren’t in one basket. The problem many individuals faced in 2008 was that most of their 401k or other retirement accounts were tied up in stocks and mutual funds. When the market tanked, so did their accounts. Now imagine if half of those funds were diversified into buy and hold real estate. For many, the outcome could have been vastly different. Here’s why.
The key to cash flowing, rental properties is that even during a down economy, they’re still cash flowing at the same amount. In some cases, even higher. Let’s look at it this way. If you were getting an 8% return on your stock investments, and the market crashes, you’re likely going to be reduced to 2%-4% if you are lucky. With rental properties, the rent amount stays the same. Your mortgage stays the same. Your property management fees, if you have them, stay the same. Essentially, if you were getting 8% returns on your property before, you’re still getting that. In a down economy, rents rarely go down. You may not be able to get rent increases during that time, but you will at least have a steady, consistent amount of cash coming in each month.
Rental properties tend to weather a down market in a consistent or even appreciating way. Not necessarily appreciating in value of the asset but appreciating in terms of cash flow being received. In a bad economy, a few things are happening. People simply aren’t buying homes. Credit is tighter. People are scared. The pocketbook is squeezed. Instead of purchasing, individuals and small families tend to continue renting during a recession. In addition, those that may be losing their homes to a foreclosure turn to single-family or duplex style rentals since it’s more private and familiar than a large apartment complex. Therefore, demand may actually increase in a down market which is a huge win for rental property owners.
With all that being said, a down market is definitely not the time to sell your rental properties. It’s a buy and hold strategy. During a down market, it is always best to hold these properties unless there is some absolute reason you must sell. When the market begins to climb again, then you may want to consider selling to upgrade to another investment property in a better neighborhood or better yet, purchase two and double your cash flow.
The best part of investing in rental properties is investors are wealth building while cash flowing. Very few investments offer this kind of opportunity. With a buy and hold strategy, you are receiving the benefit of monthly cash flow while also building a portfolio of tangible assets that will always – no matter the market – have value. “If you have the right plan, with a decent amount to invest, you can quickly scale up to a very healthy portfolio. We worked with a dentist who had $400k to invest and wanted to receive $10,000 a month in cash flow so he could retire. We built a plan and got him to his goal in three and a half years. He was able to retire early. However, not only did he keep receiving the cash flow each month, now he has tangible assets that he can sell off if he ever needed to and can pass on to his children and grandchildren,” Dani Lynn Robison, Co-Founder of Freedom Real Estate Group stated.
Something else to consider is how you are using the power of inflation to your advantage. Most 401k plans aren’t able to keep up with inflation. With the small returns and high managements fees, unless you are able to invest a lot in those funds, you may not even be able to keep up with the rate of inflation. However, with rental property, you are working with inflation to win in two ways. First, your mortgage payment doesn’t change. Let’s say when you purchased the property it was a $500 per month payment. If the market tanks, it’s still a $500 payment on a fixed rate loan. If the market is great, same payment. When the market is doing well, your asset, if all goes as planned, is increasing in value. You’re actually earning value on the asset while effectively reducing the value of the money you’re paying due to inflation. Second, you will likely be able to increase the rental amount between 1%-5% per year. That’s additional cash flow and value you will be receiving yearly.
Finally, it’s important to note that this is an investment and with any investment, there is inherent risk. No investment is guaranteed. However, real estate is one of the most proven, asset-based investment classes in history. Most millionaires were either made through investing in real estate or find large value in investing in real estate. As you explore this investment opportunity, look for markets that do not have super highs or super lows in market crashes (like 2008). States affected greatly were Florida, California and Arizona. One of the cities most notorious for being hit hard in the crash was Las Vegas. These may be markets to steer clear of. If a market crash occurs again, it may cause migration out of those areas resulting in rent losses. “Consider markets that may seem ‘boring’ like many in the Midwest including our market – Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio. These have proven to weather a down economy and not have big drops in real estate values or population. These are the markets where you truly win.” Eric said.
Diversification is the key to weathering a down turn in the market. More specifically, investing in buy and hold rental properties not only is a proven strategy to survive and even thrive in a down market, but one that holds many positive attributes such as consistent cash flow, numerous tax benefits, and true wealth building.
By Clint Coons
Most real estate investors are aware they can use their self directed IRA to invest in real estate. I have quite a few posts on this topic. If you are familiar with any of these prior posts you probably know I am not a fan of the self directed IRA unless you are dealing with ROTH funds or you plan to buy and hold one property for an extended period of time. Outside of these two situations I believe the risks of investing through a self directed IRA do not justify the risks given the IRS current interest in these transactions. My preference is, and will remain, the Qualified Retirement Plan (Profit Sharing Plan or solo 401k) which offers the same, and many more, benefits over the self directed IRA. Rest assured this is not another post on why you should avoid self directed IRA, you can read these prior posts if you are in doubt, but a strategy wherein you can partner with your QRP to buy real estate.
Consider John who would like to purchase a house for $200,000. John has a QRP with 150k and personal funds of $100,000. John could purchase the house in his own name with financing or he could partner with his QRP to buy the house. To partner with his QRP John and his QRP would need to form a LLC and divide the ownership proportional to the contributions from each member, i.e., if John contributes $70,000 and his QRP contributes $130,000 then the ownership would be divided as follows: John 35% and his QRP 65%.
If you are familiar with LLCs and their creation, then you should know profits will be split based upon ownership percentages. If John’s LLC generates $20,000 then John will receive $7,000 and $13,000 will be distributed to his QRP. From a tax standpoint, John will have taxable income of $7,000 and the QRP will not have any taxable income from its $13,000 in earnings. Straightforward right. How about the losses? If you recall, real estate is depreciated over 27.5 or 39 years depending on its characterization. Depreciation is often referred to as a paper loss because it can be used to offset your real estate income. In my example, the 200k house (175k allocated to depreciable structures and $25,000 to land) will generate approximately $6,400 per year in depreciation. John’s will receive $2,240 of the deprecation thereby reducing his income from $7,000 to $4,760 and his QRP will capture the remaining $4,160 depreciation. This of course does not benefit John because his QRP does not pay tax on its portion of the income.
Wouldn’t it be more advantageous if John could allocate all of the losses to him where then can be utilized. Of course it would and you can if you use an Anderson Tax Efficient LLC. An Anderson Tax Efficient LLC will allow John to take full advantage of all the real estate depreciation by specially allocating all the losses to John. The following table shows the tax advantage of using such a structure:
$20,000 net rental income
$13,600 taxable to John
$9,520 net income to John
With QRP W/O an Anderson Tax Efficient LLC
$20,000 net rental income
$7,000 allocated to John
$4,760 taxable to John
$16,332 net income to John and his QRP
With QRP and Anderson Tax Efficient LLC
$20,000 net rental income
$7,000 allocated to John
$600 taxable to John
$19,820 net income to John and his QRP
9520 x (X)=19820
Partnering with your QRP can produce some desirable tax benefits and opportunities to increase you’re your overall investment portfolio. However, this is not something you should set up without the assistance of our firm or another qualified advisor experienced in the tax aspects of LLCs and QRPs. If you would like to explore the creation of this structure, please call my office to schedule a consultation.