Questions to ask before you consider buying property in a SMSF


I have had a lot of enquiries lately for advice on SMSF loans for property investment and we have run regular educational seminars on the issue for clients and the public. My main observation from the enquiries I have received is that people are jumping on the band wagon without checking if they really need to take on the additional risk and costs involved. Here are some simple questions to consider before starting the process.  Property in Super

1. Are you ready to seek advice, take advice and follow that advice? This is not an area to mess around with and the penalties of getting it wrong are expensive and time-consuming so unless you are willing to learn the rules, follow the rules and do the necessary paperwork as well as pay the initial set up costs then STOP NOW! Look elsewhere for a get rich quick scheme.

2. Are you only considering this option because you have run out of equity to fund property purchases in your own name or are you genuinely interested in using property as a part of a diversified strategy to meet your retirement income needs. Using superannuation funds means the focus has to be on providing for your retirement and you need to ensure that is the primary intent of the investment.

3. Would the prospective property investment stand up on its own to a proper assessment of its potential without the tax benefits allowable in this superannuation strategy. If an investment does not stack up under normal circumstances then do you really want to rely on future governments keeping their fingers out of the Superannuation pie to meet your retirement needs!

4. If you have attended a seminar where you were actually offered a property and if so do you know what commission/fee/marketing allowance the promoter is getting as part of the deal? If you pay $6-$10K to set up the SMSF structure, $10-$20K Stamp Duty and the promoter gets say$17,500 which is 5% on a $350K property then you will need the property to grow by at least 10%-15% before you break even. Currently ANZ in its July Australian Property Housing Chartbook compiled by economists David Cannington, Paul Braddick and Ivan Colhoun.  indicate a 4-5% growth rate would be the most expected over the coming few years.

5. Are you prepared to do the hard slog yourself and research a decent deal in an area you understand and to ensure you are paying a fair price for a property with rental and growth potential over the longer term.

Property is a great part of a long-term savings portfolio but like every investment you have to do the ground work and the current hype in this area has attracted the spruikers who promise much but deliver little long-term. Seek out the professionals who have an established reputation in the property sector and always do simple things like doing a Google search on  the person or business and the word “scam” or “complaint”.

I hope these thoughts  have been helpful and please take the time to comment if you know of others questions investors should ask as I know this is not an exhaustive list.

Liam Shorte

Director, SMSF Specialist Advisor & Financial Planner at Verante Financial Planning & The SMSF Coach

Financial Planner, SMSF Specialist Advisor and Small Business Advisor who enjoys working with people to have the same control of their finances that they have in their business. I believe when people understand and have control of their savings they are more likely to be active, successful investors. Writes a regular blog as The SMSF Coach. Also contributes to EViser, MYOB's The Pulse, Humble Investors website. I am also the NSW State Chapter Chair for the SMSF Association.