Three unusual benefits to being a property investor

Three unusual benefits to being a property investor

As time goes on, the property investment market in Australia continues to grow. In the March 2015 residential property exposures from the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority, it was noted that the value of lending to investors had reached a total of $450.2 billion. That’s 34.6 percent of all home loans, and a 12.4 percent increase on the value of investment loans recorded a year before.

This is likely due to the low interest rates we’re experiencing at the moment, which have allowed people to compare home loans that have incredibly low interest rates. Property is a popular option for people looking to generate wealth or simply secure a long-term asset, but did you know about the other benefits of joining this group of Australians?

There are many benefits that people aren’t always aware of when they decide to make a property investment — here are some that you might have overlooked. 

You don’t have to spend money to make money

With this, we don’t mean at the initial purchase of the property. That’s more often than not going to be one of the biggest purchases of your life. But once a property investor has signed the papers and owns rental real estate, there are ways they can create wealth without spending a cent directly.

Firstly, there’s tax deductions based off depreciation. This is where the bricks and mortar that make up a home, as well as the equipment within it, slowly wear down over time. The decrease in value that occurs here can be claimed as a deduction on your taxes! However, you’ll need to get a quantity surveyor to draw you up a depreciation schedule so you can accurately and fairly get this money.

Of course, there’s also capital gains tax to think about for people selling.

Like a fine wine

Interest rate cycles are just that, as are real estate ebbs and flows; one year a market might favour buyers, the next it’s the best place in the country to sell. However, provided you can weather the storms, you might find that investing in a property can be stable when taking a long-term approach, continuing to rise in value despite a few short-term disruptions. It could be an excellent complement to investment funds or other types of wealth generation. Of course, there are always risks with any investment and property is no exception.

Regarding speculation about a property bubble, Real Estate Institute of New South Wales President Malcolm Gunning recently said that “property should be a long term investment which makes you immune to cycles,” which is an excellent reminder of the unusual stability it offers.

Losing money isn’t always a bad thing

Common sense would suggest that if you’re losing money, you’re doing something wrong. However, it can be a strategy that works for property investors. Negative gearing means, essentially, that the costs of owning an investment property outweigh your income from it — it’s an increasingly common strategy.

This is because it offers you tax breaks in the short term, and allows you to spread your wings and secure more investments properties for big capitals gains. And given the strong value increases recorded in the CoreLogic RP Data monthly indices, people are getting great results from it.

The Real Estate Institute of Australia found it might not be those with millions in their savings account that are doing this, either. In fact, two thirds of people doing negative gearing are on taxable incomes of less than $80,000 per year!

There are obvious benefits to being a property investor, and those less clear to the naked eye. What you do is going to depend heavily on your financial situation, but if this is a path you want to take make sure to try out our home loan calculator to process your finances. 

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Learn more about home loans

What is an investment loan?

An investment loan is a home loan that is taken out to purchase a property purely for investment purposes. This means that the purchaser will not be living in the property but will instead rent it out or simply retain it for purposes of capital growth.

What is a line of credit?

A line of credit, also known as a home equity loan, is a type of mortgage that allows you to borrow money using the equity in your property.

Equity is the value of your property, less any outstanding debt against it. For example, if you have a $500,000 property and a $300,000 mortgage against the property, then you have $200,000 equity. This is the portion of the property that you actually own.

This type of loan is a flexible mortgage that allows you to draw on funds when you need them, similar to a credit card.

Mortgage Calculator, Property Value

An estimate of how much your desired property is worth. 

What is appreciation or depreciation of property?

The increase or decrease in the value of a property due to factors including inflation, demand and political stability.

What is equity and home equity?

The percentage of a property effectively ‘owned’ by the borrower, equity is calculated by subtracting the amount currently owing on a mortgage from the property’s current value. As you pay back your mortgage’s principal, your home equity increases. Equity can be affected by changes in market value or improvements to your property.

What is bridging finance?

A loan of shorter duration taken to buy a new property before a borrower sells an existing property, usually taken to cover the financial gap that occurs while buying a new property without first selling an older one.

Usually, these loans have higher interest rates and a shorter repayment duration.

What is a loan-to-value ratio (LVR)?

A loan-to-value ratio (otherwise known as a Loan to Valuation Ratio or LVR), is a calculation lenders make to work out the value of your loan versus the value of your property, expressed as a percentage.   Lenders use this calculation to help assess your suitability for a home loan, and whether you need to pay lender’s mortgage insurance (LMI). As a general rule, most banks will require you to pay LMI if your loan-to-value ratio is 80 per cent or more.   LVR is worked out by dividing the loan amount by the value of the property. If you are looking for a quick ball-park estimate of LVR, the size of your deposit is a good indicator as it is directly proportionate to your LVR. For instance, a loan with an LVR of 80 per cent requires a deposit of 20 per cent, while a 90 per cent LVR requires 10 per cent down payment. 

LOAN AMOUNT / PROPERTY VALUE = LVR%

While this all sounds simple enough, it is worth doing a more accurate calculation of LVR before you commit to buying a place as there are some traps to be aware of. Firstly, the ‘loan amount’ is the price you paid for the property plus additional costs such as stamp duty and legal fees, minus your deposit amount. Secondly, the ‘property value’ is determined by your lender’s valuation of the property, not the price you paid for it, and sometimes these can differ so where possible, try and get your bank to evaluate the property before you put in an offer.

What is equity? How can I use equity in my home loan?

Equity refers to the difference between what your property is worth and how much you owe on it. Essentially, it is the amount you have repaid on your home loan to date, although if your property has gone up in value it can sometimes be a lot more.

You can use the equity in your home loan to finance renovations on your existing property or as a deposit on an investment property. It can also be accessed for other investment opportunities or smaller purchases, such as a car or holiday, using a redraw facility.

Once you are over 65 you can even use the equity in your home loan as a source of income by taking out a reverse mortgage. This will let you access the equity in your loan in the form of regular payments which will be paid back to the bank following your death by selling your property. But like all financial products, it’s best to seek professional advice before you sign on the dotted line.

What is appraised value?

An estimation of a property’s value before beginning the mortgage approval process. An appraiser (or valuer) is an expert who estimates the value of a property. The lender generally selects the appraiser or valuer before sanctioning the loan.

What is stamp duty?

Stamp duty is the tax that must be paid when purchasing a property in Australia.

It is calculated by the state government based on the selling price of the property. These charges may differ for first homebuyers. You can calculate the stamp duty for your property using our stamp duty calculator.

What does pre-approval' mean?

Pre-approval for a home loan is an agreement between you and your lender that, subject to certain conditions, you will be able to borrow a set amount when you find the property you want to buy. This approach is useful if you are in the early stages of surveying the property market and need to know how much money you can spend to help guide your search.

It is also useful when you are heading into an auction and want to be able to bid with confidence. Once you have found the property you want to buy you will need to receive formal approval from your bank.

What are the pros and cons of no-deposit home loans?

It’s no longer possible to get a no-deposit home loan in Australia. In some circumstances, you might be able to take out a mortgage with a 5 per cent deposit – but before you do so, it’s important to weigh up the pros and cons.

The big advantage of borrowing 95 per cent (also known as a 95 per cent home loan) is that you get to buy your property sooner. That may be particularly important if you plan to purchase in a rising market, where prices are increasing faster than you can accumulate savings.

But 95 per cent home loans also have disadvantages. First, the 95 per cent home loan market is relatively small, so you’ll have fewer options to choose from. Second, you’ll probably have to pay LMI (lender’s mortgage insurance). Third, you’ll probably be charged a higher interest rate. Fourth, the more you borrow, the more you’ll ultimately have to pay in interest. Fifth, if your property declines in value, your mortgage might end up being worth more than your home.

Why was Real Time Ratings developed?

Real Time RatingsTM was developed to save people time and money. A home loan is one of the biggest financial decisions you will ever make – and one of the most complicated. Real Time RatingsTM is designed to help you find the right loan. Until now, there has been no place borrowers can benchmark the latest rates and offers when they hit the market. Rates change all the time now and new offers hit the market almost daily, we saw the need for a way to compare these new deals against the rest of the market and make a more informed decision.

How to break up with your mortgage broker

If you find a mortgage broker giving you generic advice or trying to sell you a competitive offer from an unsuitable lender, you might be better off  breaking up with the mortgage broker and consulting someone else. Breaking up with a mortgage broker can be done over the phone, or via email. You can also raise a complaint, either with the broker’s aggregator or with the Australian Financial Complaints Authority as necessary.

As licensed industry professionals, mortgage brokers have the responsibility of giving you accurate advice so that you know what to expect when you apply for a home loan. You may have approached the mortgage broker, for instance, because you have questions about the terms of a home loan a lender offered you. 

You should remember that mortgage brokers are obliged by law to act in your best interests and as part of complying with The Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s (ASIC) regulations. If you feel you didn’t get the right advice from the mortgage broker, or that you lost money as a result of accepting the broker’s suggestions regarding a lender or home loan offer, you can file a complaint with the ASIC and seek compensation. 

When you first speak to a mortgage broker, consider asking them about their Lender Panel, which is the list of lenders they usually recommend and who may pay them a commission. This information can help you decide if the advice they give you has anything to do with the remuneration they may receive from one or more lenders.