I have been scouring the internet, wondering where self-directed IRA investors look to find real estate investment opportunities?
From what I know about self-directed IRAs (not much), you just have to find a custodian to manage the IRA for you. You can still find the same real estate deals as you would with your regular cash, but you have this custodian that is "directing" your IRA account funds for you.
What you describe is true for some self-directed IRA plans, but there are Checkbook IRA or IRA LLC plans that give you full control of the funds.
With these plans, the custodian is still there to comply with the IRS regulations. However, he/she will help you set up an LLC and invest the IRA funds into it. You, the plan owner, can be named as the manager of the LLC and will direct the funds on behalf of the IRA plan. So ultimately, you decide which bank to deposit the funds with, and have full access to the funds. Once you find a deal, you don't need to take it to the custodian. Instead, you can just write a check from your IRA LLC.
Of course, you still can only use the funds for investment purposes (i.e, buying an investment property, not a personal residence for yourself). You will also need to take caution to avoid engaging in a prohibited transaction.
This BP blog post discusses this type of IRA plan in details: http://www.biggerpockets.com/blogs/2810/blog_posts/28450-real-estate-ira
Many of our IRA and solo 401k clients network with agents in the area as well as developers.
A lot of "self-directed investors" in my area get together at various real estate investment meetings. The groups typically include those with self-directed accounts held at a custodian as well as though with checkbook control whether through an IRA LLC or through a Solo 401k. Perhaps there are similar meetups, investments groups, and clubs in your area.
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