Become a First Time Homeowner, Thanks to your IRA (Even if you've Owned a Home Before)

There’s no time like this summer to buy your first home. The market is booming, and you’re ready to stop shelling out cash to your landlord and invest in a long-term asset that will belong to you. Plus, you’ll finally be able to paint the walls!
If you have a Traditional IRA account, you may be able to use your retirement funds to finance the down payment of your first home. The distribution age of your Traditional IRA account normally isn’t until you reach 59.5 years of age; withdrawing assets or capital gains before that age can result in taxation and a substantial penalty.
 
However, IRA account owners are permitted to withdraw money before distribution age, penalty-free, in certain circumstances – in this case, IRA owners can withdraw up to $10,000 for qualified acquisition costs on a home, without paying the 10 percent penalty for early distribution. Qualified acquisition costs generally cover buying, building, or rebuilding your first home, as well as funding most settlement, financing and closing costs.
 
Since all contributions into your Traditional IRA account are deposited “pre-tax”, you will have to pay ordinary income taxes on the money you take as a distribution. This could potentially bump you up into a higher tax bracket. Additionally, you will no longer benefit from the compounding interest on your account’s lump sum.
 
Despite these caveats, there are more perks involved with this exemption: you can take distributions from your IRA account for home buyers other than yourself, including persons who are otherwise disqualified to interact with or benefit from your Traditional IRA in any way. Your distributions can be used to cover home buying/building expenses for your children, grandchildren, spouse, parents, mother-in-law, etc.
 
Additionally, you can qualify as a first-time home buyer even if you’ve owned a home before. As long as you haven’t owned a home dating back two years prior to (what will be) the closing date of your new home, according to the IRS you’re technically a first-time home buyer.

Using your Traditional IRA account to finance your first home (or in some cases, your second) can be a fabulous perk to regularly and sensibly investing in your IRA. Consult with your trusted financial adviser to weigh the costs and benefits of taking an early distribution to fund your first home. And as always, happy investing!

Find out more about IRA investing on the New Direction IRA blog.

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