Buying an investment property

Is an investment property the right choice for you in retirement?

What you need to know about buying an investment property

Buying a rental property is a very popular investment in Australia. For many investors, the appeal of owning an investment property is linked to their familiarity with this asset class – most of us either own or rent a house, apartment or villa. Over time, a quality, well-located property could generate long-term growth and decent income returns.

Houses and units may be easier to understand as an investment than many other assets such as shares and bonds, yet owning an investment property is not a licence to print money. There are risks and costs budding landlords need to consider.

The costs of having an investment property include property management fees, legal charges, mortgage interest payments and landlord insurance. You may also need to consider whether you could service the costs of owning the investment property if a tenant decides to move on and you’re left with a vacant property.

If you’re not sure you could cope financially, you might need to rethink your investment strategy. Likewise, you need to be aware real estate prices can take a tumble.

Downsizing to buy an investment property

Downsizing into a smaller property or moving to a more affordable location could be a worthwhile way to help finance your retirement lifestyle.

It can be a valuable strategy for empty nesters, some of whom may find maintaining a big and empty family home no longer makes sense financially or from a lifestyle perspective.

By downsizing to a more affordable property such as an apartment or townhouse, you could unlock any significant capital tied up in the family home.

With this extra capital, you may have the financial freedom to invest in either an investment property or another asset class. Before you make a move, be sure to speak to a financial adviser to determine whether a downsizing strategy is right for you.

Take advantage of downsizer rules

Downsizer rules may help older Australians who sell their family home to invest some of the proceeds into superannuation.

Under these rules, if you are aged 65 or over you may make after-tax or non-concessional contributions into superannuation of up to $300,000 for an individual or up to $600,000 for a couple from the proceeds of selling your principal residence. The usual contribution caps of $110,000 per year ($330,000 under the bring forward rule) don’t apply and it doesn’t matter what your super account balance is (you would usually only be able to make after-tax contributions if your total super balance is less than $1.7 million on the previous 30 June)1.

To be eligible for this measure, you must have owned the principal residence for at least 10 years prior to selling it. This may allow you to unlock the value of your home to boost your retirement income. You should be aware unlocking these savings may impact your entitlement to social security benefits, such as the age pension.

Proposed changes from 1 July 2022 

In the 2021 Federal Budget it was announced that the eligibility age for downsizer contributions will be reduced to age 60. 

Understanding the costs of buying/selling a property

The costs of buying a property include stamp duty for the property transfer and for the registration of your mortgage. Stamp duty is charged by state and territory governments so the amount you will pay depends on the location of the property and its price. To find a stamp duty calculator appropriate to your state, or territory, visit the ASIC Money Smart website.

When buying property, you should also factor in the cost of pest and building inspections, which vary depending on the size and location of the property.

Also don’t forget if you can save a deposit worth more than 20 per cent of the value of your property you may not be required to paying lenders mortgage insurance (LMI). LMI is generally charged by a lender if your deposit, is less than 20 per cent of the value of the property.

LMI enables lenders such as a bank or a credit union to lend you a larger percentage of the purchase price. The cost of LMI may be included either upfront or in your loan repayments so it’s spread out over the term of the loan.

If you’re selling your current home and buying an investment, you’ll probably sell through a real estate agent and this means paying the agent a commission on the sale. Agents in your area will have different fees, so be sure to shop around.

There are also legal costs for the transfer of a property from a vendor to a buyer. You’re likely to need the professional services such as a conveyancer to legally transfer ownership of the property you are buying or selling. Your conveyancer will also conduct property and title searches to ensure the seller is legally entitled to sell the property. There may be some minor charges for completing these searches, in addition to the conveyancer’s professional fee.

There may be a range of fees levied by your lender such as application, valuation and settlement fees. Make sure you ask your lender or mortgage broker about these fees.

Once you secure the property, you may also need to take out landlord insurance. This is insurance that may protect the building and its contents and cover if the tenant defaults on his or her lease obligations.

How much can I borrow?

To estimate what you can borrow to buy an investment property, you could use the Westpac mortgage calculator. Please note the calculator is not intended to be relied on for the purposes of making a decision in relation to a financial product. You should consider obtaining advice from a financial adviser before making any financial decisions.

Once you know your borrowing power, you'll have a better idea of what your next step will be. You’ll know whether you can afford an apartment or house near the CBD or out in the suburbs.

How can financial advice help with your investment property?

Financial advice could help you achieve your investment property goals. If you’re not on track with respect to your investment property goal, financial advice can help steady the ship and get the right strategies in place to help you achieve it. Financial advice can help you:

  • Establish and achieve your financial goals such as buying an investment property or putting more money into superannuation.

  • Make the most of your money with some sound advice around budgeting and establishing savings plans.

  • Protect yourself and your assets by assessing your insurance needs.

Next: Four smart strategies for estate planning



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This information is current as at 1 July 2021.

This information has been prepared without taking account of your objectives, financial situation or needs. Because of this you should, before acting on this information, consider its appropriateness, having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs.

This information provides an overview or summary only and it should not be considered a comprehensive statement on any matter or relied upon as such.

Superannuation is a means of saving for retirement, which is, in part, compulsory. The government has placed restrictions on when you can access your investment held in superannuation. The Government has set caps on the amount of money that you can add to superannuation each year on both a concessional and non-concessional tax basis.  There will be tax consequences if you breach these caps.  For more detail, speak with a financial adviser or visit the ATO website.

Any tax considerations outlined above are general statements, based on an interpretation of the current tax law, and do not constitute tax advice.  The tax implications can impact individual situations differently and you should seek specific tax advice from a registered tax agent or registered tax (financial) adviser.

Any projections are predictive in character. Whilst we have used every effort to ensure that the assumptions on which the projections are based are reasonable, the projections may be affected by inaccurate assumptions or may not take into account known or unknown risks and uncertainties. The actual results actually achieved may differ materially from these projections.

This Information may contain material provided directly by third parties and is given in good faith and has been derived from sources believed to be accurate at its issue date. It should not be considered a comprehensive statement on any matter nor relied upon as such. While such material is published with necessary permission, no company in the Westpac Group accepts responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of, or endorses any such material. Except where contrary to law, we intend by this notice to exclude liability for this material.

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