The benefits of Self Managed Super Funds are becoming widely understood, Property investors have been drawn to SMSF’s on the basis that you are now entitled to borrow to buy property. This is a great advance and has created a big opportunity for people to build their property portfolio. Ken Raiss from the accounting firm Chan & Naylor Accountants, outlines the top 10 rules that the ATO needs to consider to make SMSF’s even more useful.
Amid increasing pressure on trustees of self-managed super funds (SMSFs) to keep pace with the steady stream of quiet pronouncements from the ATO, we turn the spotlight on some overlooked SMSF guidelines in need of urgent reform in 2013.
As a relatively young but rapidly evolving model, SMSF compliance guidelines contain more than their fair share of unnecessary and arbitrary rules. Some of these are discriminatory, lack logic or simply make the process of providing for independent retirement unnecessarily difficult.
Chan & Naylor has compiled the following list of 10 SMSF rules that themselves either require retirement or modification.
The ATO must broaden the net of reform to ensure arbitrary SMSF ruling is afforded urgent review and the best interests of Australian investors are put first.
1) An SMSF must have no more than four members.
SMSFs are most often used to provide for retirement income for all family members, yet four trustee positions would not be enough to cater for the average Australian household. The figure should respond to the nation’s needs as opposed to forcing families to either leave family members out of the SMSF or pay to set up an additional fund.
2) An SMSF cannot borrow money to pay for improvements to a single acquirable asset.
Should a trustee require money to renovate a property, it cannot be loaned in an SMSF because it is considered to increase risk, though trustees are still allowed to borrow money to purchase that property or asset in an SMSF.
3) A person must pay to set up separate holding trusts per single acquirable asset with debt.
Instead of adding acquirable assets with debt into the same trust structure, trustees must pay to set up another.
4) Life insurance (which is tax-deductable in super) cannot be moved from an individual name to a self-managed superfund unless the existing policy is cancelled and reissued.
Those who experience a change in circumstances while doing so, such as entering a new age group or different health, could find their new policy does not provide the same cover as their previous insurance policy, or worse still, cannot be re-written.
5) If a person is insured in super, they can only claim tax deductions for TDP (total and permanent disability) provided they are unable to work in any occupation.
This should also apply for a person’s own occupation.
6) It is prohibited to buy residential property or unlisted shares through an SMSF from a related party (wife, family member, etc.), even if supported with a registered valuation.
It is, however, acceptable to do the same with commercial property or shares. As long as the sole purpose test is passed there should be no limitation on from whom the asset is purchased if executed at arm’s length.
7) After the age of 65, a trustee is no longer entitled to the three-year average contribution.
This is age discriminatory. Anybody should be able to benefit from the three-year average contribution entitlement regardless of age.
8) Once a trustee reaches the age of 75, he or she may no longer contribute the full super contribution limit of $25,000 per annum.
This rule is discriminatory, especially as more Australians are both living and working for longer.
9) SMSFs must pay for manual amendments with each change to the SIS Act.
However, the big superfunds, covered by their associations, adopt legislation changes automatically. An SMSF deed, through legislation, should automatically pick up any changes to the SIS Act.
10) Trustees can suffer destructive penalties of up to 93% on over-contributions.
Excessive penalties should be axed for genuine errors.
Aussie hotspots enjoying a sudden property boom
Property prices across the country saw their steepest fall in 15 years in 2018, bringing them back to 2016 levels in what has been a housing downturn like no other.
But it’s not bad news everywhere – while investors shy away from Sydney and Melbourne, there are some hotspots which are enjoying a sudden property market boom, according to news.com.au.
The South East and Gold Coast regions are seeing the most buying activity, with Brisbane, Moreton Bay, the Sunshine Coast and Ipswich booming along with the Gold Coast, Tugun and Burleigh Heads.
Unsurprisingly Hobart is the strongest property market, although activity has spread beyond the inner city and into the middle and outer rings, while Launceston has also recorded solid interest.
The entire South Australian capital is booming, although most activity is happening in the inner city and Adelaide Hills.
New South Wales
While many investors have deserted Sydney, areas such as Paddington and Winston Hills and the nearby Central Coast are doing well.
Other booming areas are further north in Tweed Heads and Byron Bay.
View from the experts
Daniel Walsh of investment buyer’s agency Your Property Your Wealth, told news.com.au that investment activity has now firmly shifted to Queensland.
“We’re seeing rising demand particularly in the housing sector in southeast Queensland where yields are high and jobs are increasing due to the amount of government expenditure around infrastructure which is attracting families to the Sunshine State,” he said.
“With Brisbane’s population growth at 1.6 per cent and surrounding areas like Moreton Bay at 2.2 per cent, the Sunshine Coast at 2.7 per cent and Ipswich at 3.7 per cent, we are forecasting that Brisbane will be the standout performer over the next three to five years.”
Realestate.com.au chief economist Nerida Conisbee agreed, telling news.com.au Sydney investors especially had started to turn their attention north.
“Interest is strong in the Gold Coast across the board although there’s more action on the south side in places like Tugun and Burleigh Heads,” she said.
She added there was also a notable trend towards Tasmania, Adelaide and pockets of NSW such as Tweed Heads and Byron Bay.
Adelaide has also been flagged as finally booming after recently hitting the highest median house price ever recorded, largely driven by jobs and economic growth off the back of defence contracts, the announcement of the new Australian Space Agency and other investment in the area.
“Inner Adelaide, beachside and the Adelaide Hills tend to have the most activity but there’s also quite a lot of rental demand in low-cost suburbs so we’re expecting to see a bit more investment there in those really cheap suburbs over the next 12 months,” Conisbee said.
“There you can get houses for $250,000 so for an investor, it’s a relatively low cost in terms of outlay and the area is seeing really strong rental demand which means you’re more than likely to get tenants, so for investors it’s a really attractive area,” she said.
Why equity can help you buy again
Unlocking the equity in your home could help you purchase another. Chief executive of property advisory firm Property Mavens used her home’s equity to buy a Preston investment property. Picture: Lawrence Pinder
WE’VE all heard of the benefits of refinancing to get a better deal on your home loan, particularly a more competitive interest rate.
But what if refinancing could also help you buy an investment property?
“Borrowers may be able to refinance their existing home loan to access equity they may have built in their property, in order to buy an investment property,” Mortgage Choice chief executive Susan Mitchell said.
Refinancing with the aim of buying an investment property could allow borrowers to grow their wealth, according to Ms Mitchell, as, generally speaking, property was considered a safe asset class in Australia with decent returns over the long term.
“CoreLogic found that over the 10 years to June 2018, national dwelling values increased by over 40 per cent, a good return on investment,” she said.
But she cautioned there were a number of costs associated with refinancing, so it was important borrowers made an informed decision before jumping in.
The nuts and bolts
So, how does refinancing using equity work?
The Successful Investor managing director Michael Sloan explained that lenders would typically lend you 80 per cent of the market value of your home, less the debt you still owed against it.
“This is your usable equity as banks hold some back as security,” he said.
“So, say, for example, you have a $500,000 property and a $200,000 loan. Your usable equity will be $200,000,” he said.
As to what value investment property you could buy, Mr Sloan said a simple rule of thumb was to multiply your usable equity by four.
“But remember that one of the risks of property investing is spending too much,” he said.
“You need to buy well below the median house price ($742,000 in Melbourne, according to CoreLogic), in fact you shouldn’t be within $200,000 of it.”
Ms Mitchell said the figure depended on how much a lender determined a borrower could afford to repay.
“Available equity is important but the key factor a lender needs to consider is how much a borrower can afford,” she said.
“If a borrower does not have additional capacity to repay a proposed new loan, they may not be able to borrow, irrespective of how much equity they may hold,” she said.
Where do I sign?
And there’s the rub: having equity in your home is not a guarantee you’ll be able to access it.
“You can have a million dollars of equity but if you don’t satisfy the institution’s lending criteria, they are not going to loan you any money,” Mr Sloan said.
“The bottom line is they will take everything into consideration: for example, how many children you have, as the more you have the less you can borrow, your work situation and how much you spend on everything from your daily coffee to the tyres on your car.”
Lenders have also tightened their assessment procedures as a result of recent regulatory measures, such as The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) imposing a 10 per cent benchmark in growth on investment lending last year.
This was introduced in a bid to curb activity in the housing market, Ms Mitchell said.
“These regulatory measures have resulted in lenders increasing their scrutiny of a borrower’s ability to service a loan,” she said.
“When deciding if an applicant can afford a mortgage, a lender will consider a borrower’s available ongoing income and from this allow for existing debt commitments and living expenses,” she said.
“Their decision will also factor in a buffer for potential increases in interest rates.”
But it’s not all doom and gloom. Ms Mitchell advised that borrowers could overcome the increased scrutiny by getting “financially fit”.
“Get out of debt, spend your money wisely and adopt a disciplined savings strategy to show lenders you can service a loan,” she said.
Air Mutual director Damien Lawler advised would-be investors to consult an independent broker who could access a range of lenders, which might have varying assessment procedures.
“Everyone is talking about the banks tightening up – which they are – but there are banks, particularly the smaller, tier-two banks, who are still lending,” he said.
And finally …
Mr Sloan said his No.1 piece of advice for would-be property investors was to play it safe and to have some funds in reserve if things go wrong.
“You should never buy (another) property if you have no extra money available to you after you settle, so you need to have a buffer. And protect what you are building with income protection and life insurance, if you have a partner,” he said.
New postcode restrictions for home loans
THE nation’s largest lender is tightening its belt and making it even tougher for potential borrowers to successfully get a loan.
In a notice issued to mortgage brokers today the CBA announced it will roll out a range of changes including restrictions on lending in some postcodes.
This includes forcing customers to stump up fatter deposits in order to get a home loan.
It will impact all types of properties including homes and apartments and also borrowers regardless of whether they are owner occupiers or investors.
In the notice it said from Monday, December 4 the key changes will include:
– Reducing the maximum loan-to-value ratio from 80 to 70 per cent for customers without Lenders Mortgage Insurance (an insurance the customer pays and protects the lender not the borrower.) This means borrowers with a deposit less than 30 per cent must pay expensive LMI costs.
– Reducing the amount of rental income and negative gearing eligible for servicing which will impact investors.
– Change eligibility for Lenders Mortgage Insurance waivers and LMI offers for customers in some postcodes.
CBA said the new Postcode Lookup tool which will start from Monday will allow the bank and brokers to determine whether a borrower can successfully borrow in a particularly region or postcode and it will reduce customers wasting time applying where they are likely to get knocked back on a loan.
CBA has not released the postcodes and regions these changes will impact.
The move is a result of the responsible lending restrictions put on lenders by regulators to cool the red-hot lending market.
Home Loan Experts’ managing director Otto Dargan said these changes are significant and will impact many borrowers.
“Lenders keep an eye on the economy and their exposure to different property markets and adjust their lending policies to manage their risks,” he said.
“We strongly recommend that home buyers don’t commit to buy a property until they have an unconditional approval from a bank.
“You could win an auction and then find out that your pre-approval is worthless, and then what are you going to do?”
Unconditional approval is when your loan application has been fully approved and is not subject to any terms or conditions.
Originally Published: brisbaneinvestor.com.au
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