By J.P. Dahdah, Vantage Self-Directed Retirement Plans

Being a “self-directed” investor doesn’t mean you have to go through your financial journey alone. In fact, very few high-net worth individuals would tell you that they reached their level financial success by themselves. Making sound financial moves consistently requires a high level of financial literacy and it’s difficult to master a multitude of investment, tax and legal strategies by yourself. If you are going to excel at the money game, it is essential that you identify an effective group of professionals that can add value to your retirement planning by sharing their knowledge and experience in their area of expertise. Let me be clear, I am not suggesting that you delegate your financial decisions to third party advisors. What I am stating is that you should surround yourself with a team of experts that can help YOU make the most informed decisions with your savings. You should still maintain total control at all times. Subject matter experts and advisors should be by your side to provide knowledgeable input, information, insight and options for consideration. Ultimately, they report to you and then you make the final decision based on your level of comfort, understanding and confidence resulting in the most suitable direction for you and your family. You may be thinking “I already have a CPA, Financial Advisor and Attorney, so I’m set. I have my team established already.” Wrong. That isn’t sufficient. You must go deeper…much, much deeper.

For example, let’s assume that you have decided to open a Vantage Self-Directed IRA to invest in real estate. Your dream team should include, but not be limited to, the following list of knowledgeable professionals.

1) Registered Investment Advisor (RIA)/Financial Planner: This individual is responsible for ensuring that your real estate IRA strategy is in line with your comprehensive financial goals and that the expected rate of return will help you achieve your defined retirement objectives. I encourage you to seek a fee-based or fee-only advisor that can prove that they embrace the methodology of incorporating alternative investments, such as direct real estate investments, into a well-diversified investment portfolio. If your Advisor seems allergic to alternative asset strategies, it’s probably a good time to re-evaluate his or her role on your team. You may have out grown them.

2) Certified Public Accountant (CPA): This individual is responsible for confirming that your real estate IRA strategy will not increase your tax exposure and that you’re prepared to cover any current and/or future tax liabilities. Should your real estate IRA strategy include leverage or active fix and flip transactions (i.e. potential for dealer status), your CPA should be able to educate you and analyze the potential impact of Unrelated Business Income Tax (UBIT) and Unrelated Debt Finance Income Tax (UDFI) to your IRA.

3) Real Estate Attorney: Having a family or general business attorney won’t cut it. You need legal counsel that specializes in real estate. Someone that can provide guidance on real estate contracts, debt instruments, eviction rules, leases, landlord laws, deeds, ownership structures, etc.

4) Self-Directed IRA Attorney: Identifying an attorney that specializes in Self-Directed IRA legal strategies is also critical. This individual is responsible for educating you about prohibited transactions, disqualified persons for your IRA, appropriate investment ownership structures (i.e. Limited Liability Companies, Limited Partnerships, Private Placements, Syndications, Investment Funds, Private Stock, etc.) Working with attorneys before you make an investment to help you minimize your potential liabilities is much more cost effective than hiring them to fix problems after the fact, so please do yourself a favor and don’t skimp in this area. A great attorney in this area is worth their weight in gold. I suggest you follow my personal mantra about attorneys… “If you can’t afford hiring the appropriate attorney(s), you can’t afford the investment.” Meaning, if you are seeking to save yourself $200-1,000 by not engaging an attorney to evaluate your investment legal strategy, you probably shouldn’t risk directing any higher dollar amount into any investment!

5) Estate Planning Attorney: A third Attorney? Yes, a third attorney. This individual is responsible for ensuring that your IRA investment is aligned with your overall estate plan. They will counsel you on your various IRA beneficiary options and suggest the most tax efficient structure given your wishes upon death. Even if you are not married or have children, you still have an estate and I suggest you make certain that your hard earned savings are inherited by your loved ones and not the Internal Revenue Service.

6) Real Estate Professional: This individual is responsible for identifying and negotiating the best investment property for you. Be sure that your chosen Realtor® specializes in investment real estate and isn’t a generalist. If investment real estate doesn’t make up at least 50% of their business, you should move on until you find one whose business reaches that minimum threshold. Many agents claim to work with investors but don’t truly have expertise and knowledge in this area. It is also preferable to work with someone that has Self-Directed IRA experience and has worked through an IRA funded real estate transaction previously. Visit Vantage’s home page to search for a Certified Real Estate IRA Agent in your area. If you are an experience real estate investor, you may be able to do this on your own.

7) Title and Escrow Officer: The title company and escrow officer plays a critical role throughout the real estate transaction so be sure you select a financially strong and credible company that can help you avoid delays, unnecessary expenses and pitfalls. There is a lot of paperwork involved in a real estate transaction. You need someone that has the patience to explain the purpose of each document and the responsibilities you are assuming by signing each dotted line. Yes, reading the fine print is super annoying and painful, but it must be done to avoid surprises later.

8) Property Manager: This individual or company is responsible for helping you protect and hopefully increase the value of your real estate asset. This is done by ensuring you identify a great tenant (if your strategy involves obtaining rental income) and providing credible service and maintenance providers (i.e. landscapers, pool maintenance, plumbers, handy men, home warranty insurance, HVAC specialists, insurance agents, etc.) for your investment.

9) Loan Officer: This individual is responsible with helping you analyze if using leverage with your real estate IRA strategy is viable. Be sure that this professional is knowledgeable about how non-recourse IRA loans work, has access to non-recourse loan programs and can educate you about the potential for tax liability associated with leveraging your IRA account savings (i.e. Unrelated Debt Finance Income Tax).

10) Insurance Agent: This individual is responsible for ensuring that your investment property is adequately insured for all potential risks. Be sure you work with an insurance specialists that has vast knowledge in investment protection policies. Just because a company or agent offers various insurance policies and products doesn’t mean they have the expertise and experience in providing sound advice for real estate investors. Again, be sure you read the fine print of the policies you purchase and that your insurance advisor has the patience to go over all the relevant policy language, terms, contingencies, exclusions, financial obligations and protections.

You may be looking at this list of ten professionals and thinking “OMG, that seems like a lot of work, meetings and costs. I don’t have enough time to meet with all of these advisors.” There is no denying it, it is a lot of work and there are various costs involved. No one said building wealth was quick or easy. The truth of the matter is that these are the steps needed to invest prudently. There are no shortcuts to attaining true wealth. Remember, this list is relevant to someone making an IRA investment in real estate. If your alternative investment appetite is something else, there will be a slightly different list perhaps but taking the step of drafting a dream team of experts in each key area shouldn’t be overlooked. As you gain more investment experience and you identify a group of experts you trust and feel comfortable with, this process will increasingly get easier and more proficient. Most investors already have a head start with this and already have a short list of these professionals on their side and only need to draft a few more to complete their power team. Regardless of whether you have a few or you are starting from scratch, you may be wondering “What is the best way to find the right professionals?” The best way is to get a referral from trusted source. Find someone that is already at the financial level you are seeking to obtain and ask them who they use. If they are wealthy, chances are, they have already built their dream team and can share their contacts with you.

The great news about being an AZREIA member is that you have many of these professionals, if not all, at your fingertips during monthly meeting. Good luck in drafting your real estate dream team and happy investing!!!

For more information about Vantage Self-Directed IRAs, please visit

Kevin's Story

“The Launch Pad was exactly what I was hoping for. The deep dive into my expectations through your assessments was very valuable. The plan you provided me for my investment future put me at ease and gave me some reassurances that I am heading in the right direction. Launch Pad is definitely something I would recommend to all new investors. Thank you!”

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Matt & Nicole's Story

“My wife Nicole and I wanted to thank you for the 4 hours of dedicated time you set aside for us. The Launch Pad program really helped us find out what our interests were, and you experience and guidance helped us figure out how to go about achieving our goals! We always thought the recommendation you gave us was unachievable, but after our meeting we realize that it is!

The Launch Pad program was extremely insightful, and we thank you for your input and explanations! Also, we look forward to all the subgroups you recommended we attend.

Thanks again! I highly recommend the Launch Pad to any new investor!!! Thanks to this program, we shaved probably 3 years off the learning curve and countless hours of frustration.”


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Kevin's Story

“I took AZREIA’s Launch Pad program with Alan Langston. I found it to be very helpful as a “newbie” to REI.

The program, over 4-hours long, walked me through what my initial strategy and tactics should be for me to reach my goals. It even told me if I should even be an REI to begin with. Yes, it was that detailed.

Best of all Alan showed me how only a single SFH rented out at $2k/mth could get me to my retirement goals in 10 years!”


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Who We Are!

AZREIA, Arizona Real Estate Investors Association, is a professional association that exists to serve the needs of independent real estate investors. We provide market information and analysis, education, networking opportunities, implementation guidance, and support to assist our members in achieving success in real estate investing. Since our founding in 2002, we have helped thousands of real estate investors.

  • We believe real estate investing can help anyone achieve their financial goals. Success is a process and real estate investing over the long-term can provide exceptional results. Your results are dependent on your commitment to success and the effort you put forth in addition to market factors both seen and unseen. Not everyone is willing to commit and do what is necessary (legally, ethically and morally) to succeed. We do not believe in “get rich quick”! Please take our FREE Entrepreneurial Self Assessment to better understand your suitability for real estate investing. It takes about 20 minutes.
  • We believe planning is an essential element to reaching your desired outcome. We feel our Launch Pad program for new investors is an exceptional planning process for new real estate investors that will keep you focused, take months off your development cycle and give you a much better opportunity for success. Launch Pad is available to everyone. It is available for AZREIA members at the small price of $30. Non-members may attend on a space available basis but pay a non-refundable $100 fee to attend.
  • We believe strongly in education and offer reasonably priced education both internally and from respected educators outside of AZREIA. We are not mentors or coaches. We do not offer these type of high cost programs.
  • We believe networking is critical to any investor’s success. Networking with a purpose will help you build or improve your team, understand how others are successful, learn different investing techniques, acquire property, find money partner and much more. We believe networking is the second most important aspect to successful investing falling only behind implementing a well thought out plan. In support of this belief, AZREIA offers several networking opportunities every month.
  • We believe an association should bring purchasing power to its members. AZREIA has exceptional benefits that save our members money, increase their profits and simplify their business.
  • We believe and enforce our strong Code of Ethics. (CLICK TO VIEW)

AZREIA is believed to be the largest REIA in the country. We have been the most highly recognized REIA by the National Real Estate Investors Association. No other REIA has earned the REIA of the Year Award as many times as AZREIA. Additionally, National REIA has recognized AZREIA’s education program, community program and Government Affairs program as the best. National REIA has also honored AZREIA as being the Most Innovative. Locally, the Phoenix and Tucson Business Journals have listed AZREIA among the Top 10 Professional Associations.


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Will real estate investing solve my problem?

Most people consider investing in real estate as a way to solve an issue or issues in their life. The good news is real estate investing can work for anyone. So, the quick answer to the question is yes, real estate investing is a good way to solve many financial issues.

The bad news is many times a person will not take the necessary steps to ensure success in real estate investing. So, while real estate investing will work for anyone, it will not work for everyone. If you are committed and take the necessary actions (legally, ethically and morally) your probability of success is very high.

We encourage all new investors to complete AZREIA’s FREE Entrepreneurial Self Assessment. This 20 minute exercise will help you determine if real estate investing is right for you. Also, you will understand the type of investing most suited to your personal situation. [CLICK HERE to take the Entrepreneurial Self Assessment] Based on your results, you may determine to complete Launch Pad.

At AZREIA, we have a path for all people considering real estate investing to follow as a way to get started and determine if real estate investing will work for you. We call it Launch Pad!

Launch Pad is a planning process that when completed provides most new investors with the following:

  1. Your Optimal Investing Path
  2. Your Preferred Property Type
  3. Your Property Acquisition Plan
  4. Your Funding Plan
  5. Your Educational Plan
  6. Your Team Building Plan
  7. Your Networking Plan
  8. Your Beginning Timeline

We’re sure you noticed that each one of the above eight items begins with “Your”. That is because every investor is different. Your needs are unique to you, so your plan needs to be specifically designed to meet those needs. Also, your plan should fit in with your current life situation.

Here’s the kicker…. Going through the Launch Pad process will also determine if real estate investing will work for you at this time in your life. If so, great! You have a plan to implement. If not, isn’t it better to know that up front and save you a lot of time, money and anguish? At that point, you can consider other ways to solve the problems you are facing.

Consider registering for our next Launch Pad session. You will need to set aside about four hours to complete the process. If you are an AZREIA member, there is a small $30 fee for Launch Pad. Non-members may attend on a space-available basis but pay a non-refundable $100 fee to attend.

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New to Real Estate Investing: How AZREIA Membership Helps Me

Congratulations! Just knowing that real estate investing will help you means you’re off to a great start to achieving your financial goals. As an AZREIA member and new to real estate investing we take all of the guesswork out. You start by completing Launch Pad and then the rest of the items listed below. There is a Launch Pad session about every 30 – 45 days. This process will take months off your development time and gets you started doing deals as soon as possible.

1. Register for and complete Launch Pad – Proper planning is the major differentiator between those who succeed and those who don’t. We are so committed to you getting off to a great start that Launch Pad is included for AZREIA members for just $30. This four-hour session provides most new investors the following eight critical items:

  1. Your Optimal Investing Path
  2. Your Preferred Property Type
  3. Your Property Acquisition Plan
  4. Your Funding Plan
  5. Your Educational Plan
  6. Your Team Building Plan
  7. Your Networking Plan
  8. Your Beginning Timeline

We’re sure you noticed that each one of the above eight items begins with “Your”. That is because every investor is different. Your needs are unique to you, so your plan needs to be specifically designed to meet those needs. Also, your plan should fit in with your current life situation.

Register for the next available Launch Pad session: VIEW CALENDAR

2. Start implementing your Launch Pad Plan immediately! Your personal Launch Pad plan tells you what to do and when to do it. So, schedule the education you need. Begin building your team. Attend the networking sessions important to your plan. Implement your Acquisition Plan. Time to get going! It’s all in your Launch Pad plan!

3. Review the latest Market Update in the Member Resources tab in the Member’s Area of this website. As an investor it is important that you stay informed on the market. Creative real estate investing means being able to respond to market conditions in your negotiations, marketing, acquisitions, pricing, etc. It will take you a while to become comfortable with market trends. Attending the Market Update and Market News segments of AZREIA’s monthly meetings will help you understand trends and directions important to your investing.

4. Optional: View the Success Factors video series by CLICKING HERE. This free, one-hour, six-part video covers several important topics for new investors:

  1. What Will Be Covered
    1. Goal Setting
    2. Getting You Started Quickly
    3. Taking Months Off Your Ramp Up Time
    4. Getting You Connected
    5. Reducing Mistakes
  2. Jumping Right In!
    1. Getting in the Right Mindset to Succeed
    2. Top 5 Success Factors
    3. Separating Fact from Myth
    4. Understanding Different Investing Strategies
  3. Education: Spending Your Dollars Wisely
    1. Education You Need Versus Unnecessary Education
    2. Mentors: What You Need to Understand Before Spending Your Money
  4. It’s All for Nothing if You Don’t Do a Deal
    1. Finding Deals
    2. Getting Money for Deals
  5. Tools for Success
    1. Building Your Team
    2. Leveraging the Market Update
  6. Time to Get Started!
    1. Look Out!
    2. Your Next Steps

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Experienced Investors

Congratulations! You are somewhere along the path to achieving your objectives. Maybe you have rehabbed a couple of houses or acquired a few rentals. Possibly you have already achieved your objectives and are fully living the life you dreamed. Regardless of where you are on your path, an AZREIA membership will benefit you by helping you get to your goals faster, increasing the margins on your current investments and simplifying your business.

Seven Ways AZREIA Will Help You

1. Market Information – Market knowledge sets you apart from your competition. How you use the knowledge and information will be unique to you and your needs. Valued market information will help you adjust your investing to current market conditions, so you don’t miss opportunities. The knowledge you gain from this valuable tool will help you communicate as an expert. It will help you raise money from investors. You will justify pricing and offers based on market trend analysis. The Market Update is invaluable and free to members.

2. Controlling Your Cost & Saving Money – AZREIA members have access to exclusive benefits from dozens of our Business Associates and major national companies like The Home Depot where members can qualify for 2% rebate and receive exclusive pricing on paint, cabinets and appliances. AZREIA members on average save over $1000 per year each through our expansive relationships. Experienced members save many thousands of dollars each year.

3. Simplify Your Business – Real Estate investing is constantly changing. New processes, new technology, new creative techniques are always coming along. AZREIA will keep you at the forefront of it all.

4. Networking – The most successful investors realize the tremendous value of networking. AZREIA makes it simple to network with a purpose. From the structured networking of the Phoenix Real Estate Club designed for experienced investors to achieve results to great networking opportunities at all our strategy based subgroups, we have made networking effortless.

5. Improving Your Team – We know you already have a team in place. You wouldn’t be a successful investor without one. Through AZREIA’s Business Associate Program it is very possible you will improve your team with experts in virtually all of the services and products you will need. You know the value of having an experience, expert team. If you need to upgrade your team, AZREIA can help.

6. Education – You’re successful, so you are smart as it relates to investing. AZREIA’s most successful investors continuously invest in their advanced education. AZREIA’s reputation allows us the benefit to be very picky on the national educators we bring to our members. We realize it is important for you to understand the latest techniques and how to integrate them into your current investing.

7. Two Things Successful Experienced Investors Need To Do – We have found that time constraints often prevent or delay experienced investors from doing two thing that will protect their long term success – proper insurance coverage and exceptional asset protection. AZREIA will assist you in understanding your insurance coverage and asset protection. We are not an insurance company or attorneys and will not give you advice. We will help you to understand what you need to know and the questions you must have answers to in both of these critical areas. There is no reason to work a lifetime for success and give it away in a day. Don’t be “one of those investors” with a story. Preventing the loss of success is possible and something every investor should do.

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Help for Non-Members

Naturally we can help you more if you are an AZREIA member, but there are several things you can do as a non-member.

1. Take our FREE Entrepreneurial Self Assessment. This first step of our Launch Pad program helps you better understand your suitability for Real Estate Investing. It takes about 20 minutes to complete. [CLICK HERE to take the Entrepreneurial Self Assessment]

2. View the Success Factors videos. This free one-hour, six-part video series (CLICK HERE to view) covers several important topics for new investors:

    • What Will Be Covered – Goal Setting, Getting You Started Quickly, Taking Months Off Your Ramp Up Time, Getting You Connected, Reducing Mistakes
    • Jumping Right In! – Getting in the Right Mindset to Succeed; Top 5 Success Factors; Separating Fact from Myth; Understanding Different Investing Strategies
    • Education: Spending Your Dollars Wisely – Education You Need Versus Unnecessary Education; Mentors: What You Need to Understand Before Spending Your Money
    • It’s All for Nothing if You Don’t Do a Deal – Finding Deals & Getting Money for Deals
    • Tools for Success – Building Your Team & Leveraging the Market Update
    • Time to Get Started! – Look Out!; Your Next Steps

3. Take a Launch Pad session. This is free for members, but it is available to non-members for a fee on a space available basis. Launch Pad is a planning process when completed provides most new investors with the following:

    • Your Optimal Investing Path
    • Your Preferred Property Type
    • Your Property Acquisition Plan
    • Your Funding Plan
    • Your Educational Plan
    • Your Team Building Plan
    • Your Networking Plan
    • Your Beginning Timeline

I’m sure you noticed that each one of the above eight items begins with “Your”. That is because every investor is different. Your needs are unique to you, so your plan needs to be specifically designed to meet those needs. Also, your plan should fit in with your current life situation.

Register for the next available Launch Pad session: VIEW CALENDAR

4. Attend AZREIA meetings as a guest. There is a reasonable guest fee which is discounted if you register online.

    • The Market Update is presented at our Monthly Meetings, so you are able to receive this valuable information. (Only members may download and use the charts and data.)
    • You may meet AZREIA Business Associates in the Tradeshow during our Monthly Meetings. This will give you access to exceptional product and service providers that successful real estate investors use.
    • Networking at our Monthly Meetings is unsurpassed. As a non-member you may take full advantage of this opportunity.

5. Please enjoy our Blog of interesting articles by industry experts. Access our blog by CLICKING HERE.

6. The best way we can help you is to convince you to become a member. Our benefits are extensive. Our average registered member receives several hundred dollars in rebates and exclusive AZREIA discounts from The Home Depot. Discounts on education and services/products from our Business associates ensure you save big. Every AZREIA member should receive many times their annual dues back just through our rebates and discounts.

Please consider our “Build-Your-Own” membership plan as a cost-efficient way to fully participate in AZREIA. At only $60 a year under our current promotion and low meeting costs it is an ideal way to get started.

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