With investing, diversification is key to a robust investment portfolio.  For many individuals, self-directed IRAs (Individual Retirement Accounts) offer a pathway to explore alternative investments beyond the stock market. One such alternative investment avenue gaining attention is raw land.

Investing in raw land through a self-directed IRA can be an intriguing prospect, offering unique benefits and considerations that investors should carefully evaluate. Let’s delve into the realm of raw land investment within the framework of a self-directed IRA.

Understanding Self-Directed IRAs

A self-directed IRA offers investors the freedom to invest in a broader range of assets compared to conventional IRAs.  With a self-directed IRA, investors can allocate funds towards alternative assets such as real estate, precious metals, private equity, and yes, raw land.

The Appeal of Raw Land Investments

Investing in raw land can hold several advantages for investors seeking diversification and long-term growth potential:

  1. Tangible Asset: Raw land represents a tangible asset with intrinsic value. Unlike stocks or bonds, which are subject to market fluctuations, land maintains inherent worth based on its location, utility, and development potential.
  1. Diversification: Adding raw land to an investment portfolio can diversify risk and reduce correlation with traditional asset classes. Land values may respond differently to economic cycles compared to stocks or bonds, potentially offering a hedge against market volatility.
  1. Development Opportunities: Raw land presents various development opportunities, from residential subdivisions and commercial projects to agricultural ventures. Investors with vision and patience can capitalize on the appreciation and income potential that development projects offer.
  1. Inflation Hedge: Land historically serves as a hedge against inflation, as its value tends to appreciate over time, keeping pace with or outpacing inflation rates.

Investing in Raw Land with a Self-Directed IRA: Key Considerations

While investing in raw land through a self-directed IRA can be enticing, it’s crucial for investors to navigate the process with diligence and awareness of potential challenges:

  1. IRA Custodian Selection: Self-directed IRAs require a custodian or trustee to facilitate transactions and ensure compliance with IRS regulations. Choosing a reputable custodian experienced in alternative investments is paramount to the success of a raw land investment strategy.
  1. Due Diligence: Conducting thorough due diligence is essential before purchasing raw land. Factors to consider include zoning regulations, environmental assessments, access to utilities, market trends, and potential development restrictions.
  1. Tax Implications: Investors must understand the tax implications associated with raw land investments within a self-directed IRA. While IRAs offer tax-deferred or tax-free growth, certain activities such as land development or leasing may trigger unrelated business income tax (UBIT) or unrelated debt-financed income (UDFI) taxes.
  1. Liquidity Constraints: Raw land investments typically lack the liquidity of traditional assets. Selling land can be a time-consuming process, and investors should be prepared for potentially extended holding periods.
  1. Property Tax: If you are investing with another party and you are co-owners of the same parcel with the same APN, keep in mind that most taxing authorities will only accept ONE payment, not two payments from two different investors. Be sure to include this factor in your due diligence before investing.

Profiting from Raw Land

There are several ways for your raw land investment to cash-flow:

1. Rental Income:  You can rent the land for various uses such as cattle grazing or windmill farms.

2. Capital Improvements:  Your IRA can develop a parcel of raw land and profit from that forced-appreciate.  Keep in mind that all construction/rehab expenses must be paid for by the IRA.

3. Infrastructure Upgrades: Investing in infrastructure upgrades such as road access, water supply systems, and sewer lines can enhance the desirability and value of raw land for future development or resale.


Investing in raw land with a self-directed IRA presents an intriguing opportunity for investors seeking diversification, inflation protection, and long-term growth potential. However, it’s essential for investors to approach raw land investments with prudence, conducting thorough due diligence, understanding tax implications, and selecting a knowledgeable IRA custodian.

While raw land investments may not be suitable for every investor, those willing to embrace the inherent challenges and uncertainties can potentially reap rewards in the form of capital appreciation, income generation, and portfolio diversification. As with any investment endeavor, consulting with financial advisors and legal professionals can provide valuable guidance tailored to individual circumstances and objectives.

In conclusion, while raw land investments within a self-directed IRA require careful navigation, they represent a compelling avenue for investors to explore alternative asset classes and unlock new avenues for portfolio growth and diversification.  To get started on your Self-Directed journey, open an account HERE.