A real estate IRA is a type of self-directed IRA that allows for real estate investments. Since most self-directed IRA custodians allow for real estate investments – as real estate is the most popular self-directed IRA investment – most self-directed IRAs could be considered real estate IRAs and vice versa.
Don’t be confused, though, just because you set up what was described to you as a real estate IRA, doesn’t mean you can’t make non real estate related investments in your IRA. Most companies use the term real estate IRA simply as a marketing gimmick. Investors who aren’t familiar with self directed IRAs will often search on the internet for ‘real estate IRA’, or ‘buying real estate in an IRA’ and phrases like that. These investors are trying to learn how they can invest in real estate using their IRA, and the various self-directed IRA companies are able to capture them buy using terms like ‘real estate IRA’ on their webpages.
If you run into a company that tries to tell you that the only investment you can make in a real estate IRA is real estate, it is probably because they are trying to sell you real estate investments that they offer. In this case, it is probably a good idea to avoid the company altogether – they obviously do not have your best interests in mind.