You’ve likely seen the ads on cable T.V. at some point or heard a message on the radio or internet about a “forgotten” 401(k)? This account is a combination of your regular contributions to your former employer’s retirement plan along with accompanying employer deposits as well. When you firstreal estate in a retirement account enrolled in the 401(k) plan, you elect how much you want deducted from your regular pay and is removed tax-free.

There can also be an employer matching plan that makes a similar contribution as well. Your requirement is that you elect to enroll then choose from an assortment of investment plans all carrying a different blend of investments, all suited to different attitudes toward risk.

As you continue your employment journey, you may in fact forget about your regular contribution and adjust to the take-home pay. You might occasionally look up your fund balance to see how it’s doing but from a day to day basis, it’s managed by a firm chosen by your employer or managed in-house. Once you leave your employer for whatever reason, the fund typically stays where it is, unless you make the move to transfer it elsewhere. That’s where the notion “forgotten” comes into play but frankly it’s hard for someone to forget they have several thousand dollars in a retirement account.

That said, what if you do have a 401(k) account still sitting with your previous employer? What should you do with it? Prior to your leaving your last job it was the fund manager that made the decisions about allocations. But now that you’ve left, you can elect to close the 401(k) account and roll it over into an IRA.  A self-directed IRA. A self-directed IRA is a fund that you control where the investments go, including investing in real estate.

Funds in a self-directed IRA are eligible to be used to invest in real estate in a similar manner as an individual stock, mutual fund or even just a cash account. If you have one or more 401(k) accounts still sitting with past employers, it might be wise to rollover those funds so you can take control of your investments.