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The rules governing IRA investments types are exclusive – not inclusive. Therefore, you can invest your IRA funds in a virtually unlimited set of investments, except for those specifically excluded by law.  The only assets excluded by the IRS are life insurance contracts, collectibles, and capital stock in an “S” Corporation.

Allowable investments for self-directed IRAs include the following:

  • Residential real estate—including apartments, single family homes, and duplexes
  • Commercial real estate
  • Undeveloped or raw land
  • Real estate notes (mortgages and deeds of trusts)
  • Promissory notes
  • Private limited partnerships, limited liability companies, and C corporations
  • Tax lien certificates
  • Foreign currencies
  • Oil and gas investments
  • Publicly traded stocks, bonds, mutual funds
  • Private stock offerings, private placements
  • Judgments/structured settlements
  • Gold bullion
  • Car paper
  • Factoring investments
  • Accounts receivable
  • Equipment leasing

You can verify that it’s legal to invest your retirement funds in trust deeds by going to and searching for Publication 590.  Pages 43-47 define what cannot be held in an IRA.

Often, self-directed IRA custodians communicate to the self-directed IRA holders that they should consider their self-directed IRA separately from themselves as individuals. It is important to understand that for purposes of the IRS code you and your self-directed IRA are separate entities whose interests are not related. Understanding this nuance will reduce the number of potential issues that may arise when you make investments using your self-directed IRA.