Dear Harry: I have quite a bit of money in my IRA from the rollover of a 401(k) from an old employer. I was told that I could use the IRA to invest in real estate. I am thinking of buying a vacation home in Florida that I can use as a residence when I retire. The broker who is my custodian told me that I can't use the IRA for real estate. Who's right here?

What Harry says: A little of each. You may use an IRA to invest in real estate. However, you may not use it for a home or for the homes of closely related people. Most custodians will not get involved in real-estate investing for IRAs because they are not interested in getting tied in to a nonpassive investment. Permitted IRA investments are pretty wide and include certain U.S. coins, but not gold, silver, platinum or palladium bullion. Also excluded are collectibles such as antiques, art works, rugs, stamps, etc. You can get further details of permitted and non-permitted investments in IRS Publication 590. Call 800-TAX-FORM if you'd like a copy. *

Write Harry Gross c/o the Daily News, 400 N. Broad St., Philadelphia, PA 19130.