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Financial Advice Archives -

28 May


Borrowing From Your 401(k) to Buy Real Estate

May 28, 2014 | By |

Should you do this? Is an investment shift to real estate advisable in the long term? Will it help you to retire early? Or bankrupt your future? The short answer is: maybe.

Like any other big shift in 401(k) investment strategy or major life decision, buying real estate with your retirement account may be an excellent idea and a moneymaker. Or it could be a huge mistake that jeopardizes your financial future. So how do you know? Another short answer: Look before you leap.

“Spending” your 401(k) early is risky

Investment values (stocks, bonds, precious metals, pork bellies, real estate) are more erratic than ever these days. This is largely due to the instant (therefore often unsound/biased) “analysis” of the always-on news organizations and un-vetted experts.
Bottom line: Be careful to whom you pay attention, research investments carefully and plan for possible consequences.

Evaluating investment risks: factors to consider

• What if you borrow from your 401(k) for a real estate purchase, then leave your employer before repaying the loan?
• Do you have a backup source of funds to pay back your investment account–or are you relying on luck, a long-shot strategy?
• Are you prepared to pay the 10% penalty on your early withdrawal? Or will you be in debt to the IRS? How much will IRS penalties/interest, plus the stigma of such debt, affect your future? Your credit rating? Your retirement date?
• What does paying the IRS penalty do to the ROI of your investment strategy? Do you have other diversified investments or savings to balance out this risk?
• Do you have deep pockets? Do you have a large source of capitol to mimic big investors suddenly jumping into real estate? Can you afford volatility–losing big with enough remaining funds to enable a turn-around?
• What if you end up “underwater”? Could you ride out big real estate losses/devaluation until prices go back up? Do you have your own bailout fund?
• Are you knowled