Understanding Self-Directed IRAs

There are many things in our lives we have no control over. From weather to traffic, to the constant wear of life changes, some things are just beyond our control. This is why having a say in how we invest our money and what we invest it in is essential when it comes to taking control of your finances. Midland Trust is making that investment opportunity possible through self-directed IRAs.

Self-Directed IRA Graphic

What is an IRA?

An IRA is an individual retirement arrangement set up at a financial institution and allows individuals to save for retirement with tax-free growth or on a tax-deferred basis.

The account types offered include Traditional, Roth, SEP, and SIMPLE IRAs and 401(k) plans. Investments in regular IRAs generally include stocks, bonds, and mutual or exchange-traded funds.

What Makes a Self-Directed IRA Unique?

Self-directed IRAs put you as the investor in control. Regular IRAs, place limitations on what you can invest in. Investment opportunity stops at the products they sell, leaving you with Wall Street stocks and bonds.

Self-directed IRAs give you the power to choose your own investments with minimal restrictions and no strings attached. Through self-directed IRAs investing is expanded to real estate, futures, forex, private equity, hard money lending, promissory notes, precious metals, hedge funds, and more. The only limitations of a self-directed retirement plan are collectibles and life insurance.

Like regular IRAs, all types of retirement accounts are offered: Traditional, Roth, SEP, and SIMPLE IRAs and 401(k) plans. With a self-directed IRA, all income and gains are tax-deferred until you take a distribution, and in a Roth IRA, all income and gains to the account are tax-free.

At Midland, we pride ourselves on having no hidden fees, unlike many banks and brokerage firms. You select the fee schedule that works best for your account. We understand that every customer does not look the same so we want to work with you accordingly. We offer both an asset-based and value-based fee schedule for plans that hold multiple assets or high-value assets.

Types of Self-Directed IRAs

Real Estate

  • Invest in single-family homes, multi-unit homes, apartment and condo buildings, commercial properties, improved or unimproved land, Trust Deeds, and tenant in Common (TIC) Interests.
  • All rental income and expenses related to the property flow through the IRA, allowing the IRA to maintain its tax-advantaged status.
  • Real estate owned by a retirement account must be for investment purposes only, not for personal use.

Futures Contracts

  • Four Categories: Agricultural, livestock and meat, energy, and metal.
  • Invest in standardized contracts for the purchase and sale of financial instruments or physical commodities. A commodity is a good such as wheat, gold, beef, corn, or oil.


  • Best known as the foreign exchange market includes banks, investment management firms, and retail forex brokers and investors.

Precious Metals

  • Invest via a commodity exchange, providing liquidity for investors and through precious metal dealers. You can also directly hold physical gold in your retirement account, stored in a third-party depository.
  • Applicable metals include gold, platinum, and silver that meet specific fineness requirements.


Many other alternative investment options are available through a self-directed IRA including private equity, cryptocurrency, hedge funds, hard-money lending, and even traditional investments like stocks and mutual funds. The list goes on and on, if you can dream it the odds are you can invest in it.

Starting Your Self-Directed IRA Journey

Midland is the perfect place to begin your self-directed IRA journey. In business since 1994, we have been focused on investors and financial professionals achieving their financial goals through alternative investments.

Start today by filling out a Midland account application online at apply.midlandtrust.com.

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