A little known fact about IRA’s is that you can use them to invest in virtually anything. Many of us are so accustomed to plugging our retirement funds into stocks, bonds, and mutual funds that we never explore the investing universe that is open to us. Buy gold with your IRA? You bet. Tax liens? Easy.
Investment property? Of course. Naturally there are restrictions, but those mainly deal with who you buy from, who you sell to, and whether or not you actually touch the money. If you are not happy with how your retirement fund has performed over the past several year, then you owe it to yourself to learn more about self-directed IRAs.
Why Real Estate?
Our retirement funds are normally invested with a long term, buy and hold focus, for a time horizon of ten years or more. So which performed better over the past ten years, the Dow or Real Estate? The answer may surprise you.
The Dow kicked off 1999 right around the 9,500 mark. Over the next four years the market lost about 2,000 points (more than 20% of its value) before it began a stunning five year climb to 14,164. In early 2008, the market collapsed and ended the year back at 9,000. After hitting a low of 6,547, the market has recovered to about 8,200 (as of this writing). So from January 1999 to January 2009, the Dow’s wild roller coaster ride left its buy and hold investors down 500 points (-5.3%) and that doesn’t include the 800 points we’ve dropped since then. The last decade in the stock market has been tough on buy and hold investors.
So how did the Real Estate market fare? Let’s use the US Median home price to compare. In January 1999, the median home price was $153,000. For the next four years, the housing market experienced a steady climb to $182,000. That was a 19% gain in housing while the Dow was busy shedding 20% following the Dot Com bust. Housing shot up to $254,000 in early 2007, and we all know what happened next. The housing bubble burst and prices plummeted to zero! Right? Not exactly. It appears that the national median price bottomed in March 2009 at $202,000. That is a pedestrian 20% drop from its peak as compared to a stunning 54% free fall for the Dow. More telling however is the fact that the US Median home price posted a 56% gain from January 1999 to January 2009, while the Dow lost 5% during the same time period. Which numbers would you choose for your retirement funds?