FAQ’s

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Frequently Asked Questions about Real Estate Property Investment issues, concerns and solutions…

What is a residential investment property?
A residential investment property is a house, townhouse, villa, terrace or unit which the owner does not use as a personal residence but rather with the intention that it be rented out to tenants. This allows the investor to benefit from both taxation advantages and rental income from the property.
Should I consider property a short or long-term investment?
Experienced investors understand that time is part of the strategy. It takes patience and time to build real wealth and your thinking needs to expand beyond the time-frame of one birthday to the next if you want to achieve real wealth.
What if I don’t have enough money for a deposit?
Cash deposits are not necessary when there are sufficient assets to borrow against. For example, if you own your own home or have sufficient equity in it, the banks will allow you to use this as security for your investment property, so there is no need for you to “save up for a deposit”. In fact, it can take you a long time to save for a deposit and by the time you have enough saved, property values may have increased.
Should the property be purchased in joint names?
Sometimes, yes, but not always. An important consideration with this type of investment is its tax effectiveness. It may therefore be wiser (and more efficient) to have the investment owned by the highest tax payer. (We recommend that you consult your accountant and/or financial advisor for the best arrangement for you.)
How easy will it be for me to find a tenant?
Vacancy has two main causes-firstly, the amount of rent being asked, and secondly, the location of the property. If you can’t find a tenant at the advertised rent then lower the rent until a suitable tenant is found. A good property manager understands this and will direct you accordingly. Your rental should be in a good location where there is a demand for rental properties; e.g. close to transport, shops, schools and employment.

The 70% home ownership ratio is the main reason for the security, reliability, and predictability of residential property as an investment. Owner occupiers, people who own their own homes, do not panic and rush to sell as investors do in some other sectors such as industrial and commercial real estate, or as company shareholders do when times get tough. The residential property market is not dominated by investors. This provides a built-in safety net for the residential property market. Residential property is the only investment market not dominated by investors. It forms a barrier against substantial down-side in the market place.

That is a unique feature of residential property as opposed to all other investment vehicles. Everybody must be housed, whether they rent, or are owner occupiers. No matter who the occupier is, the capital growth is still generated for the owner. The safety of residential property is underpinned by owner occupiers who do not sell if a market lacks strength. They need more compelling reasons, are better placed to hold through softer markets and continue to need a roof over their heads.

What if I have a bad tenant that damages my property?
With the right property management, tenant difficulties should be reduced to a minimum.

There are comprehensive insurance policies on the market (tax deductible and relatively low cost) that will protect your property against most forms of damage, these include:-

Damage by tenants

Default of rent

Departure of tenant without notice

Theft

Denial of access by tenant

Breaking of lease

What if I don’t have time to manage my own investment?
Maintaining control of your investment does not have to mean active involvement. Once a property has been purchased, your involvement can be reduced to a minimum through the use of an effective property manager.

The right kind of property management will save you time, money and headaches. Managers can assist you in some or all of the following areas; maintenance, tenant screening, rent collection, preparation of lease, inspection and tenant relationships. It is important to look for someone who is not only a good manager but also someone who runs the rent-roll like he would run his own business.

What if interest rates increase?
If this is a concern to you, then you might have more peace of mind by taking out a loan which is fixed over a certain period of time (say 3 or 5 years). (Please consult your financial advisor for the best arrangement for you.) By doing this, it could give you two advantages:-

The amount of interest paid will remain constant for the duration of the fixed term, even if interest rates increase, and

Because the amount of your repayment is known in advance, it is easier for you to plan ahead.

Ensure that you ask your Financial Advisor to show you what effect an increase in interest rates would have.

There are two principles that will ensure your security when it comes to borrowing:-

1. Only borrow to purchase appreciating assets, and

2. Make sure your debt is manageable.

What is a tax depreciation schedule?
Property investors should ensure that they don’t miss out on potential tax benefits by failing to take advantage of the full tax depreciation potential of their investments.

A professional tax depreciation schedule has the potential of substantially reducing your taxable income. Thus, by claiming these depreciation benefits, you as an investor, can significantly enhance your after-tax return from your investment and generate a healthier cash flow.

What are some of the tax deductions are available?
Investment properties can depreciate in two ways.

New or near-new buildings are depreciable over a 40-year period at a rate of 2.5% pa. In this case, depreciation is related to the building itself, and is based on the cost of construction of the building rather than the acquisition cost.

For residential properties, depreciation is calculated at a rate of 2.5% pa if construction started after 16 September 1987, and 4% if construction started between 18 July 1985 and 15 September 1987. Residential properties built prior to 18 July 1985 don’t qualify for a building allowance.

Fittings and fixtures depreciate more quickly and can be written off over a five-year period. Assets decline in value as time goes by.

Depreciation on an investment property provides investors with substantial tax benefits, which can help them improve their cash flow and increase their returns. This is an allowance made under the Income Tax Assessment Act (1997) to recognise the decline in value of an asset when it is used to produce an income.

New investment properties experience the highest depreciation allowance in the form of ‘depreciating assets’, more commonly referred to as plant, articles and machinery items.

Depreciating assets include items such as:

Carpet ; Ovens; Cook-tops; Dishwashers; Clothes dryers; Blinds and curtains; Air-conditioners; Heaters; Hot-water systems

Together, the building write-off allowance and the depreciation of the plant and equipment will provide you with substantial taxation benefits. This is even more so the case if the property you purchase is brand-new, as the cost base for depreciation is much higher.

Professional advice from a quantity surveyor is important to ensure that investors maximise their depreciation claims.

What is a quantity surveyor?
Quantity surveyors are one of very few professionals recognised by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to determine the cost of building components for tax depreciation purposes.

Real estate agents, valuers, solicitors and accountants, are not recognised by the ATO as being able to determine the cost of construction.

Quantity surveyors determine the value of depreciation based on historical data on the cost of construction and the cost of assets. The ATO will not accept the cost of constructions based on published area rates, unless the quantity surveyor uses them only as a guide.

And remember, a quantity surveyors’ fees are tax deductible.

Why don’t more people want to buy their own property?
In 1978 approximately 73% of people owned the home they live in, by 1988 that had dropped to 66%, by 2012 the percentage of people who own the home they live in is expected to be even less. This could mean that the majority of Australia’s households will be renting. The pool of people who have no choice but to rent is increasing.
What does buying off-the-plan really mean?
Buying off-the-plan means that you are entering into a contract to purchase a property prior to, or during the construction phase of the development.

There is no finished product to inspect. . hence the phrase buying off-the-plan.

What are the advantages of purchasing off-the-plan?
Savings: If you are able to secure property at today’s price – in a rising market – and don’t settle for 12-18 months, the value of the property at settlement could potentially be higher than the purchase price.

Tax Benefits: Buying off-the-plan can maximize your returns as the tax benefits associated with an investment property are greater when the property is purchased brand-new.

Time:With settlement not likely to occur for 12-18 months, you have more time to establish your investment strategies/save for repayments.

What’s the difference between buying an existing property and buying off-the-plan?
1. Contract Details

A contract for purchasing off-the-plan will be much more detailed given that construction may not have commenced, or may have only just begun. In this case, the contract will include everything from proposed body corporate assets and expenses to an outline and schedule of finishes for each property.

2. Settlement Timeframe

While settlement for an existing property generally occurs 30 days from the contract date, purchasing off-the-plan allows more time between contract date and settlement.

16. How much deposit is required when purchasing off-the-plan?

A 10% deposit is generally the standard real estate practice and is required upon the contract becoming unconditional. Usually within 14 days of the contract date.

How do I arrange finance for off-the-plan property?
When buying off-the-plan you must understand that banks will only provide approval in principle for finance. In most cases, settlement of the property is too far in the future for approval of a loan. Some banks will pre-approve your finance for 12 months, but will require an update of your information prior to lending you the money and settling the property.

As the property you have purchased nears completion you will be advised of the official settlement date, you will then need to organise your financial arrangements to ensure that you are ready for settlement.

When do mortgage repayments commence when buying off-the-plan?
When purchasing property off-the-plan in Australia, the mortgage repayments do not commence until after settlement – when construction is complete.

This can be a considerable advantage, especially when buying off-the-plan as there can be 12-18 months before settlement.

Should I furnish my investment property?
Furnished properties generally attract much higher rent, however, the downside is the initial outlay for the furniture – a cost that can quickly add up. One thing that an investor must do before considering this option is to check if there is a demand for furnished properties in the area.

Property within walking distance of a CBD has the potential for strong demand for long-term and short-term corporate lets. This generally requires a far greater investment in the furnishings because of the style of tenant you are likely to attract, and you may need to provide everything from the sheets and towels to the cutlery and crockery.

If you’ve purchased in an area near educational institutions, such as a university or a TAFE college, a furnished property may improve your chances for a good tenant and great returns. International students, in particular, are more likely to choose a furnished property over one that is unfurnished.

Furnishing an apartment will provide additional tax benefits through increased depreciation that can be claimed against your income.

Remember, it’s vitally important that you discuss this with your accountant, who will be best placed to advise on whether this strategy will be beneficial to your personal circumstances.

Properties in the suburbs are more likely to be rented unfurnished as by far the majority of tenants will have their own furniture, however, the right furnished property in a suitable area can provide exceptionally good returns.

We’ve only got about 14 years to retirement, have we “missed the boat”?
Definitely not, no matter what stage of life you are at, by setting goals now and planning ahead, you will prepare yourself for whatever opportunities and obstacles that may present themselves along the way.

For most mature people, the greatest fear is that they will live longer than their money. Fear of poverty is the number one fear from which the majority of people suffer. Sadly, so few take any action to prevent poverty or are blissfully ignorant of what the future holds for them.

There are six main reasons why 93% of the population do nothing about tackling their fear of poverty and they are:

indifference
indecision
doubt
worry
overcaution
procrastination

People don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan!

Most people wish for wealth, but few have a definite plan and the burning desire which pave the road to wealth.

We have absolute confidence that by joining us in the next stages of your learning and planning program, you will increase your knowledge and ability to be among the 5% of the population who plan the road to independent wealth.

How do I get started?

Contact us on 1300 545 899 for a free information pack, or to arrange an obligation free consultation.

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