Retirement: The key to investing well

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Risk is part of any investment. We know that. But if you understand diversification, you put yourself ahead of the game. You no longer put all of your eggs in one basket – a true recipe for disaster.

While there’s been a debate on exactly how to diversify, most experts agree that real estate is a stable addition. Not only do you own a hard asset for potential cash inflow, you’re likely to see a higher rate of return than owning a stock.

It’s part of the reason many investors have been cashing out retirement accounts. They want real estate.

Owning real estate has always been, and always will be, the foundation of building significant long-term wealth.

“’We’re seeing many people cash out 401(k)’s or IRAs because they want to take advantage of the market,” said LM Funding, as quoted by CNN Money. “In order to get in on hot housing markets, amateur investors are buying up homes and taking risky measures -- like tapping their retirement accounts -- to fund the deals.”

Though, it’s not always advisable without proper investment guidance, as investors will tell you.

You have to make sure it makes financial sense. Legal advice, accounting advice and real estate advice from professionals should be considered along the way.

While investors cannot invest in non-traditional assets – like real estate – with 401(k) and IRA investments, a self-directed IRA does offer the flexibility to buy residential and commercial real estate, rental homes, deeds and mortgages. When real estate investors use a self-directed IRA, they’re lending themselves the money. Proceeds from the real estate can then be used to repay the loan and any other expenses.

If managed incorrectly, the self-directed IRA can be disastrous, though. It’s why legal and accounting advice is necessary. “The primary mistake is any appearance of self-dealing, where you benefit financially or otherwise from the property in the account before the minimum distribution age of 59 ½,” according to Business Week.

“You cannot receive any personal benefit from the property – which means you can’t live in it or use it anyway. The real estate owned by your IRA must strictly be used for investment purposes,” notes About.com Money over 55.

There’s always a catch.

Handled properly, buying real estate with a self-directed IRA can be lucrative. But remember, doing so involves good professional guidance – and investment opportunity.