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Buying & managing an investment property

9 Aug 2017 Nowra 0 Comment

Buying a property to rent out is a popular form of long-term investment in Australia. Houses and units are easier to understand than many other types of investments, however there are some issues and costs that you need to be aware of.

Costs involved in purchasing an investment property

Some of the costs involved with property investment include: stamp duty, conveyancing fees, legal costs, search fees, and pest and building reports.

Where to buy

Where and what you buy will affect your return on investment. Here are some tips to help you identify a good investment property.

What to buy

Owning and managing an investment property

When you own an investment property, you will be responsible for such ongoing costs as: council and water rates, insurance, body corporate fees, land tax, property management fees (if you use an agent), repairs and maintenance costs.

If you borrowed to invest, you will also have mortgage repayments, and if your investment is positively geared you may pay tax on your rental income.

Property management

You can either manage your property yourself or engage a managing agent to do it for you.

If you manage the property yourself, you will avoid paying management costs but you will have to do everything, from showing the property to tenants to collecting rent and organising repairs. You also need to comply with landlord regulations.

If you use a managing agent to look after the property, the management fees you’ll pay are tax deductible.

Insurance

While you don’t need to pay for home contents insurance, you will need to organise building insurance which cover you for building replacement if, say, the house burns down. If you buy a unit, building insurance will be paid from your strata levies.

You should also consider taking out landlord insurance. This protects you if your tenant damages the property or if they leave without paying the rent. The cost of landlord insurance is tax deductible.

If you are relying on part of your salary to cover your repayments and expenses, make sure you have adequate income protection insurance.  Your ability to earn an income may be the most important asset you have.

Repairs and maintenance

You need to include repairs and maintenance in your investment property budget. If your tenant complains that the oven is not working or the shower starts leaking, you need to fix it straight away. Consider the age of the property when you are working out how much to set aside every month to cover emergency repairs and replacing items like air conditioners, hot water systems and dishwashers.

Only renovate your investment property if you think it will increase the rent you can get, or if it will make the house or unit more appealing to renters. Property improvements are not tax deductible.

Selling an investment property

If you decide to sell your property, you will have to pay agent’s fees, as well as advertising costs and legal fees. You may also have to pay capital gains tax if the property has increased in value.

Positive or negative gearing

Most people will borrow to invest in property. This is called ‘gearing’. Negative gearing is where the income from your investment is less than the expenses. Positive gearing is where your income from an investment is higher than your interest and/or other expenses.

Work out your income and expenses

Once you have a property in mind, think about the income you expect to receive from it, and what your regular expenses will be. If there is a shortfall, think about whether you can cover it long-term. Also, work out whether you could cover all expenses short-term if you had no tenants for a while.

Pros and cons of property investment

Property investment is often seen as being less risky than other forms of investment, but it does have some potential pitfalls.

Benefits Pitfalls
Less volatility – Property can be less volatile than shares or other investments. Cost – Rental income may not cover your mortgage payments or other expenses, so you may have to find other money to cover the costs.
Income – You earn rental income if the property is tenanted. Interest rates – An rise in interest rates will mean higher repayments and lower disposable income.
Capital growth – If your property increases in value, you will benefit from a capital gain when you sell. Vacancy – There may be times when you have to cover the costs yourself if you don’t have a tenant.
Tax deductions – Most property expenses can be offset against rental income, for tax purposes, including interest on any loan used to buy the property. Inflexible – You can’t sell off a bedroom if you need to access some cash in a hurry.
Physical asset – You are investing in something you can see and touch. Loss of value – If the value of the property goes down you could end up owing more than the property is worth, this is known as negative equity.
No specialised knowledge required – Unlike some complex investments, you don’t need any particular specialised knowledge to invest in property. High entry and exit costs – Expenses such as stamp duty, legal fees and real estate agent’s fees make buying and selling property very expensive.

 

For further financial guidance on investing, superannuation, borrowing, insurance and much more head to ASIC’s Smart Money web site at https://www.moneysmart.gov.au

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