Using your SMSF to plan now for a future downsize and a seachange


Living in Sydney and I have many clients who dream of retiring up or down the coast or inland to more suitable and often slower paced areas of Australia.  SMSF Property Investment

Many plan to downsize and sell their Sydney home in retirement and purchase a place on the coast. The issue that arises is that they often feel they have identified the area or actual property they want to live in during retirement and want to secure it now. Others are afraid that the selected area will be priced out of their budget in future years with so many baby boomers retiring over the coming decades.

So here is a solution we used for a few of our clients wanting to plan ahead and reduce that risk.

Jeff & Joan (of course it’s not their real names!) came to see me in 2006 and they had a lovely house in Hills District of Sydney but it was 2 storeys and with Jeff’s knees playing up they knew that they would need a single level property later. Also they planned to move to Lake Macquarie to be nearer their children and hopefully future grandchildren in Newcastle in retirement.

They could not borrow to buy a property in their own names as they had business and family commitments that reduced their borrowing capacity.

They had a decent sized SMSF and could afford to buy a property as part of their diversified strategy so we put this strategy to them.

They identified a property they would like in Lake Macquarie that ticked all the boxes and was currently tenanted. We revised the SMSF Investment strategy and put the trustees reasoning for investing in residential property and the projected returns and maintained a diversified investment portfolio with the other funds. We also looked at options and exit strategies as part of the analysis and the investment stood up as a sound one for their portfolio.

There SMSF purchased the property in early 2007 for $400,000 and it was a sound investment over the following 5 years providing a reasonable rental income and about 3% capital growth per year over that time which was decent for a single level property just one street back from the water.

In 2012 Jeff decided to retire and Joan agreed to reduce her hours. They put their house in Castle Hill on the market and gave the Lake Macquarie Tenants 4 months notice which they felt was fair. Their Sydney property sold a few months later for $850,000.

We got a professional valuation on the Lake Macquarie property and it was valued between $480,000-$500,000, so we agreed a market value of $490,000. The couple elected for a lump sum pension commutation from their SMSF paid “in-specie” as the Lake Macquarie property from their Self Managed Super fund and because it was in NSW they did have to pay Stamp Duty on the transfer. I believe on Victoria and WA there  are exemptions that apply on such transfers as long as it is the same Beneficial Owners after the transaction. We sought legal advice here in NSW and were unable to get this concession.

The couple then used $150,000 to renovate the property and kept $150,000 in Term Deposits in their own name. This left approximately $500,000 which they contributed as Non-Concessional contributions equally to the SMSF.

What were the benefits?

  1. Secured their choice of future retirement home earlier.  The relief of having this certainty should not be underestimated by advisers.
  2. They did not over extend their personal debt which would have left them very exposed during a downturn in their business from 2008-2010
  3. Rental income from 2007 to 2012 was taxed at only 15% rather than their higher marginal rates.
  4. Secured a $90,000 tax-free gain on the investment property as they were in pension phase.
  5. Turned their superannuation accounts from mostly a Taxable component to accounts with more than $250,000 each of non-concessional components and Tax Free to their adult children as part of their Estate Planning.
  6. Oh and they missed the GFC effect on this portion of their investments!

Downside:

  1. Yes we had to pay Stamp duty but that was highlighted from the start as a possibility
  2. The house prices did not run away from them in Lake Macquarie but at least they were not worried.

I must also mention a comment the clients made in their latest review and that was that in the 12 months since they moved they have not seen an alternative property, that would have suited their needs so well, come on the market so the advanced planning worked in their favour. Oh and they now have 2 grandchildren that they look after 2 days per week while enjoying the Lake Macquarie lifestyle they wanted.

Why not checkout my article “ What can my SMSF invest in?” as a good place to start.

As always please contact me if you want to look at your own options. We have offices in Castle Hill and Windsor but can meet clients anywhere in Sydney or online via Skype.

Keep updated by putting an email address in on the left hand column and pressing the “Sign me up!” button. Happy to take comments in the section below.

Bye for now.

Liam Shorte B.Bus SSA™ AFP

Financial Planner & SMSF Specialist Advisor™

SMSF Specialist Adviser 

 Follow SMSFCoach on Twitter Liam Shorte on Linkedin NextGen Wealth on Facebook   

Verante Financial Planning

Tel: 02 98941844, Mobile: 0413 936 299

PO Box 6002 BHBC, Baulkham Hills NSW 2153

5/15 Terminus St. Castle Hill NSW 2154

Corporate Authorised Representative of Viridian Select Pty Ltd ABN 41 621 447 345, AFSL 51572

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

Owning your business property in a SMSF


Business Premises

Business Premises owned by SMSF

Interested in property and also running a business? Then one popular strategy used by many small business owners is to own their business premises in their self managed superannuation fund (SMSF).

Before we start let me emphasise, this is not a strategy to prop up a failing business.

There are a number of benefits in adopting this strategy:

  • As superannuation is generally more tax-effective than other investment entities you can have one of your major assets owned by a separate entity to yourself or your business thereby offering a greater degree of diversification of risk and ;
  • some asset protection as in the event of severe financial difficulty or even bankruptcy, creditors find it more difficult to get access to or create caveats over super fund investments as long as the premises were bought or transferred to the SMSF in good times, for clearly documented reasons and not deliberately to prevent creditors efforts to seek redress.
  • By having the premises owned by the fund rather than a third-party landlord you have more freedom to add fixtures and fittings, additional capacity and make changes to the layout without having to seek someone else’s approval and have surety of tenure that the costs can be recouped over time rather than worrying about ability to renew a lease at the landlords whim.
  • By accessing the capital held in a self managed super fund, your business can have more flexibility to make better use of its own capital to build or maintain the business.
  • It can often make it easier to sell a business later or pass it to family if they are not burdened with the capital requirements of funding a property purchase as part of the deal. This can also be a very stable income source in retirement as commercial / industrial property rents are often 7% or more.

When a SMSF owns real estate and you want to lease it back to your business which is seen as a related party of the fund the property must meet the definition of business real property (BRP).

Related parties of your fund include all its members, all their relatives and entities that those members and relatives control, or are deemed to control.

The definition of business real property is in subsection 66(5) of the SIS Act:

business real property , in relation to an entity, means:

a)    any freehold or leasehold interest of the entity in real property; or

b)    any interest of the entity in Crown land, other than a leasehold interest, being an interest that is capable of assignment or transfer; or

c)    if another class of interest in relation to real property is prescribed by the regulations for the purposes of this paragraph – any interest belonging to that class that is held by the entity;

where the real property is used wholly and exclusively in one or more businesses (whether carried on by the entity or not), but does not include any interest held in the capacity of beneficiary of a trust estate.

Accordingly, two basic conditions must be satisfied before an SMSF, or any other entity related to or dealing with an SMSF, can be said to hold business real property :

  • the SMSF or the other entity must hold an eligible interest in real property; that is an interest identified in paragraph (a), (b) or (c) of the business real property definition; and
  • the underlying land must satisfy the business use test in the definition, which requires the real property to be ‘used wholly and exclusively in one or more businesses’ carried on by an entity.

For more detail and numerous examples of Business Real Property you should see Self Managed Superannuation Funds Ruling SMSFR 2009/1

If the property does not easily fit the definition of a BRP, then the asset will be considered an in-house asset and my advice is to not to push the limits of the ATO’s patience. Seek good legal and tax advice to ensure you understand all the implications and requirements of having or transferring a property into a a SMSF

SMSFs with in-house assets need to make sure that their fund’s total in-house assets do not exceed 5 per cent of the market value of all the fund’s assets. The 5% test is measured at acquisition and at the end of each financial year. If there is a breach, then corrective action must be taken.

Document the Lease

To keep the relationship on an arm’s length basis do not take short cuts, treat the lease like it was between 2 unrelated parties out and  formal lease between the SMSF and the tenant (your or any other business). The terms of the lease should be clear and easily identified by an auditor reviewing the actions and paper trail of the trustees.

As trustee’s you are dealing with this property on behalf of the SMSF so you must be prepared to enforce the terms of the lease with the tenants. Lease payments must be paid on time and I recommend a direct debit be set up to ensure the temptation to delay or miss payments is avoided. If the business fails to meet its rental payment schedule the default penalty clauses must be enforced as they would for a third-party lease.

TIPS

For an online source to a flexible comprehensive lease agreement that ticks all the boxes  you can visit DIY Legal Kits – Lease Agreements

Example

Peter the Physiotherapist is specialising in rehabilitation and water therapy and needs a property where he can install heavy equipment bolted to the floors and a hydrotherapy pool.

A suitable property is available locally for $750,000. The problem is that the business doesn’t have the capital to purchase the property or the capacity to borrow that amount.

Peter and his wife Margaret have their own SMSF which has $450,000 in the fund.

Peter & Margaret decide that SMSF should purchase the property using a Limited Recourse Borrowing Arrangement to borrow the other $400,000 plus costs leaving $100,000 liquid cash in the fund.

They must use a Holding trust arrangement to hold the property under this type of scenario.

A lease must be put in place between the SMSF and the Business

A commercially comparable rent needs to be agreed and paid from the business to the SMSF.

The SMSF is a very tax effective investment vehicle in the long-term as once the members enter pension phase, the CGT and tax on rental income can be minimised.

For more details on how borrowing to buy a property in an SMSF works please see the following 3 part series of articles from earlier this year:

Property through super in a SMSF – Part 1: Background

Property through super in a SMSF – Part 2: The Process

Property through super in a SMSF – Part 3: 20 most common mistakes

Before contemplating this type of transaction is contemplated, it’s essential to consider the member’s long term retirement needs and the super fund’s investment strategy. Consider what are the impacts on the super fund in terms of liquidity, diversification, returns on the investment and what if the business fails and the  property remains vacant unable to find a suitable tenant.

Keep updated by putting an email address in on the left hand column and pressing the “Sign me up!” button. Happy to take comments in the section below.

To discuss your needs you can contact me at my Castle Hill or Windsor offices or I am happy to use Skype, phone or email as suits your needs.

Bye for now.

Liam Shorte B.Bus SSA™ AFP

Financial Planner & SMSF Specialist Advisor™

SMSF Specialist Adviser 

 Follow SMSFCoach on Twitter Liam Shorte on Linkedin NextGen Wealth on Facebook   

Verante Financial Planning

Tel: 02 98941844, Mobile: 0413 936 299

PO Box 6002 BHBC, Baulkham Hills NSW 2153

5/15 Terminus St. Castle Hill NSW 2154

Corporate Authorised Representative of Viridian Select Pty Ltd ABN 41 621 447 345, AFSL 51572

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

Can My SMSF Buy And Lease Plant And Equipment To My Business


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Plant or Equipment in an SMSF?

I get this question on Plant and Equipment financing regularly from business clients with an SMSF. The technical answer is yes subject to complying with the regulatory provisions of SIS Act. In reality for most businesses the answer is most likely NO as there are so many ways you can breach one or more of the rules governing this area. Let’s look at some of those rules.

Firstly it is a requirement that a SMSF and any assets it considers purchasing must meet the Sole Purpose Test.

Sole purpose test

• Section 62: trustee must ensure fund is maintained solely for core purposes, such as benefits to members upon retirement and ancillary purposes

Other relevant issues include:

Formulating Investment Strategy

Section 52: trustee must formulate and give effect to investment strategy that has regard to whole of circumstances including:

• risk involved in making, holding and realising, and likely return from investments having regard to objectives and expected cash flow requirements

Lending to members, relatives and financial assistance:

Section 65: A trustee must not lend fund money or provide financial assistance to:
• member of fund OR relative of a member

• ‘Financial assistance’ has no technical meaning and their frame of reference is language of ordinary commerce … one must examine commercial realities of transaction and decide whether it can properly be described as giving of financial assistance (Charterhouse Investment Trust Ltd v Tempest Diesels Ltd [1986] BCLC 1, 10)

In-house asset rules:

An In-house asset is:
• loan to ‘related party’
• investment in ‘related party’
• investment in a ‘related trust’
• asset subject to lease between trustee and a related party (this is the one that matters in your case)

However a SMSF can have up to 5% of fund’s assets in invested “in-house” assets without breaching the rule so if the equipment’s value were less than 5% of the funds total value then you would not be in breach of this rule….but remember the other rules hold equal importance. Also it is important that this rule is met on an ongoing basis so if stock markets drop or cash is taken out of the fund for pensions you need to revisit the value of the in-house asset.

Arm’s length requirements:

Section 109(1): A trustee must not invest unless:

• the trustee and the other party are dealing with each other at arm’s length OR
the terms and conditions are no more favourable to the other party than if they were at arm’s length
• Section 109(1A): If trustee invests and is required to deal with investment with another party not at arm’s length, must deal as if were at arm’s length

• The term ‘at arm’s length’ is not defined in the SIS Act so open to interpretation

• implies dealing that is carried out on commercial terms again subject to interpretation

• useful test to apply is whether prudent person, acting with due regard to own commercial interests, would have made the investment (APRA v Derstepanian (2005) 60 ATR 518, 524)

So example of how this works:

Let’s say you have $600,000 in your SMSF and you want to purchase an excavator for $25,000 to lease to your own business.

  1. The SMSF Trustees do their research and minuted how they calculate a lease rate that takes into account market return on their investments, allows for the depreciation of the asset and insists on the insurance of the vehicle with its interest noted on the policy to protect its investment. They are satisfied that this provides a decent return for the fund not correlated to the other assets of the funds invested in shares and term deposits. Sole Purpose, S62 and S52 satisfied.
  2. They amend the SMSF Investment Strategy to include this type of asset with the target allocation to “Other Assets” or specifically have an allocation to “Plant & Equipment”
  3. They ascertain that the business could be approved to obtain finance for the excavator from a third-party on similar terms. Section 65 met as clear finance available elsewhere and that this is not the reason why the arrangement is being entered into.
  4. As the value of the excavator ($25k) is less than 5% of the fund ($30K) it does not breach the In house asset rule. This needs to be monitored annually.
  5. They arrange for a written commercial lease agreement comparable with the standard lease available in the market to be entered into by all parties. S109(1) satisfied

So in summary, yes it can be done but in reality there are so many ways you can trip up that it is really not worth the hassle and raising the eye of the ATO or challenging your Auditor’s patience. Your first step is to engage your Accountant and a SMSF Specialist before considering these types of strategies. I would be interested to receive comments from people who have implemented these strategies.

Why not checkout my article ” What can my SMSF invest in?” as a good place to start.

As always please contact me if you want to look at your own options. We have offices in Castle Hill and Windsor but can meet clients anywhere in Sydney or online via Skype.

Liam Shorte B.Bus SSA™ AFP

Financial Planner & SMSF Specialist Advisor™

SMSF Specialist Adviser 

 Follow SMSFCoach on Twitter Liam Shorte on Linkedin NextGen Wealth on Facebook   

Verante Financial Planning

Tel: 02 98941844, Mobile: 0413 936 299

PO Box 6002 BHBC, Baulkham Hills NSW 2153

5/15 Terminus St. Castle Hill NSW 2154

Corporate Authorised Representative of Viridian Select Pty Ltd ABN 41 621 447 345, AFSL 51572

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

Image courtesy of Supertrooper at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

SMSF Borrowing: What Can I Do With An Investment Property Within The Rules.


We constantly have people contacting us with ideas of what they want to do with an investment property once they have borrowed to purchase one in their SMSF. Some are sensible but some show no grasp of the regulations at all and include moving the whole family in to save on their home mortgage or knocking it down to build a multi-storey unit development. If you run a self managed superannuation fund, you have the ability to invest in residential property or commercial property and under certain circumstances a farm. (Note: ability to do something does not mean you should).

Repairs v Improvements

Repairs v Improvements

Borrowing to purchase a property in an SMSF or in the industry jargon a “limited recourse borrowing arrangement (LRBA)” has been legal since 2007 and is becoming increasingly popular with SMSF owners seeking to leverage their funds.

In May 2012, the ATO released a ruling SMSFR 2012/1, “Self Managed Superannuation Funds: limited recourse borrowing arrangements – application of key concepts.” To clarify its understanding of the legislation.

It should be noted that the ATO focused on borrowing to invest in property as it saw this as the most likely area people would encounter problem scenarios. They key issues that the ruling addresses are:

–   defining a single acquirable asset

–   property development and off-the-plan purchases.

–   distinguishing between improvements vs repairs or maintenance.

–   improving an asset to the extent if becomes a replacement asset.

In this article I will concentrate on the latter 2 issues as it is ok to use borrowed funds for most repairs or maintenance but you can’t use borrowed money to finance improvements. You can use your other funds in your SMSF to fund improvements so it is a matter of getting the strategy right.

The ATO has given specific meanings to the following words:

‘Maintaining’ an asset typically involves work done to prevent or anticipate defects, damage or deterioration (in a mechanical or physical sense). For example, repainting a timber house to prevent deterioration is typically maintenance

‘Repair’ ordinarily means the remedying or making good of defects in, damage to, or deterioration of, property to be repaired and contemplates the continued existence of the property.  A repair replaces a part of something or corrects something that is already there and that is damaged, has become worn out or dilapidated or has deteriorated. Repair may be necessitated through ordinary wear and tear, accidental or deliberate damage or by the operation of natural causes (whether expected or unexpected) during the passage of time.

‘Improvement’ the guidance is that they mean work that:

  • provides something new
  • generally furthers the income-producing ability or expected life of the property
  • generally changes the character of the item you have improved
  • goes beyond just restoring the efficient functioning of the property

So what can you do and what can’t you do?

The following scenarios outline when an existing LRBA will continue to apply to an asset, based on the ATO’s SMSF ruling.

1. Using Borrowed Money : Repairs and Maintenance (Yes You Can) v Improvement (No You Can’t)

Work to be carried out Repair or maintenance (Yes you Can under an LRBA) Improvement (No you Can’t under an LRBA)
Residential property
A fire damages part of the kitchen (cooktop, benches, walls and ceiling). Restoring the damaged part of kitchen, including addition of a dishwasher, even if there wasn’t one there before (considered minor). Yes you can If as well as restoring the damaged part of the internal kitchen (a repair) a new external kitchen was added to the entertainment area of the house the external kitchen would be an improvement. No you can’t
Replace guttering Yes you can
Replace fence Yes you can
Replace house destroyed by fire Rebuild comparable house. Yes you can Rebuild house not comparable (although if built from insurance proceeds does not affect LRBA) No you can’t
A pergola is built to create an outdoor entertaining area. No you can’t
The addition of a swimming pool or a garage. No you can’t
A house extension to add another bathroom. No you can’t
Cyclone damage to a roof Replace roof: Yes you can Add a second storey at the same time as replacing roof.  No you can’t

Source: ATO SMSFR 2012/1

 

2. Development while under a LRBA: Retains Same Attributes (Yes You Can) v Creates a different asset (No You Can’t)

Asset and Action Result
1.  Vacant block of land on single title. A vacant block of land is subsequently subdivided resulting in multiple titles. One asset has been replaced by several different assets as a result of the subdivision.  Different asset created No You Can’t
2. Vacant block of land on single title. A residential house is built on vacant land which is on a single title. The character of the asset has fundamentally changed from vacant land to residential premises. This is a different asset. Different asset created No You Can’t
3. Residential house and land. A house is demolished following a fire and is replaced by three strata titled units. The character of the asset has fundamentally changed along with the underlying proprietary rights. This has created three different assets. Different asset created No You Can’t
4. Residential house and land. A residential house is converted into a restaurant by renovations which include fitting out a fully functioning commercial kitchen. As a result of the renovation the character of the asset has fundamentally changed from residential premises to restaurant premises. This is a different asset. Different asset created No You Can’t
5. Residential house and land. One bedroom of a residential house is converted to a home office. This would not ordinarily result in a change in the overall character of the asset as a residential house. The conversion of the bedroom into an office does not result in a different asset.  Same asset – Yes You Can
6. Residential house and land. A fire destroys a four bedroom house and a new superior residential house is constructed on that land using both insurance proceeds and additional SMSF funds. Rebuilding another residential house (whether of the same size or larger) does not fundamentally change the character of the asset held under the LRBA. The addition of a garage, for example, would also not change the character of the asset. Same asset – Yes You Can
7. Residential house and land. While each of the following changes would be improvements each (or all) of the changes would not result in a different asset:

  • · an extension to add two bedrooms;
  • · the addition of a swimming pool;
  • · an extension consisting of an outdoor entertainment area;
  • · the addition of a garage shed and driveway;
  • · the addition of a garden shed.
Same asset – Yes You Can
8. Residential house and land. To allow a road to be widened, a local government authority undertakes the compulsory resumption of a minor portion of the frontage of a property which has a residence on it. While the resumption results in the existing property title being replaced, the minor extent of the resumption is such that the fundamental character of the asset, taking account of not only the proprietary rights but also the object of those proprietary rights, remains that of being the residential property. Same asset – Yes You Can
9. Residential house and land. A ‘granny flat’ is to be constructed in the backyard of a property which already has a four bedroom residence established on it. The granny flat will have two bedrooms, a family room, a kitchen and a bathroom and will be connected to utilities such as electricity, water and sewage. The character of the asset would remain residential premises and thus the construction of the granny flat would not result in there being a different asset. Same asset – Yes You Can

Source: ATO SMSFR 2012/1

Conclusion

There is no doubt that this ATO ruling and the examples given are good news, and much appreciated by the SMSF industry who have to deal with enquiries every day. It provides a substantial amount of clarity around many issues that had previously been quite unclear. The common sense and commercial approach by the ATO has also been welcomed and was somewhat unexpected.

I always suggest that SMSF Trustees keep sufficient cash flow in the SMSF to finance repairs and maintenance or any expected improvements rather than using borrowed funds and risk running foul of the rules.

You should however carefully consider any strategy in the light of these rules and make sure you get a second opinion as often if you are too close to a project you can be blinded to its faults. That’s where a good team of advisors comes to the fore.

Checkout : Can I borrow to buy a house and land package off the plan in my SMSF?

As always please contact me if you want to look at your own options. We have offices in Castle Hill and Windsor but can meet clients anywhere in Sydney or online via Skype.

Liam Shorte B.Bus SSA™ AFP

Financial Planner & SMSF Specialist Advisor™

SMSF Specialist Adviser 

 Follow SMSFCoach on Twitter Liam Shorte on Linkedin NextGen Wealth on Facebook   

Verante Financial Planning

Tel: 02 98941844, Mobile: 0413 936 299

PO Box 6002 BHBC, Baulkham Hills NSW 2153

5/15 Terminus St. Castle Hill NSW 2154

Corporate Authorised Representative of Viridian Select Pty Ltd ABN 41 621 447 345, AFSL 51572

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

Super changes will hit saving strategies


Please find a link below to an article on the Macro Business blog website about the expected and unexpected effects of the proposed Super changes.  No More Tax Free

http://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2013/04/super-changes-will-hit-saving-strategies/

Macro Business has an excellent engaged readership and as always the comments tend to be very valuable at exploring the details of any subject just that little bit further.

Are you looking for an advisor that will keep you up to date and provide guidance and tips like in this blog? Then why now contact me at our Castle Hill or Windsor office in Northwest Sydney to arrange a one on one consultation. Just click the Schedule Now button up on the left to find the appointment options.

Liam Shorte B.Bus SSA™ AFP

Financial Planner & SMSF Specialist Advisor™

SMSF Specialist Adviser 

 Follow SMSFCoach on Twitter Liam Shorte on Linkedin NextGen Wealth on Facebook   

Verante Financial Planning

Tel: 02 98941844, Mobile: 0413 936 299

PO Box 6002 BHBC, Baulkham Hills NSW 2153

5/15 Terminus St. Castle Hill NSW 2154

Corporate Authorised Representative of Viridian Select Pty Ltd ABN 41 621 447 345, AFSL 51572

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

Can I borrow to buy a house and land package off the plan in my SMSF?


I have had a number of enquiries about this strategy in the last few weeks and I felt it was worth clarifying some details.

Off the Plan

Off the Plan

As with any strategy where you commit to a large future purchase in a moving market and also take a risk on the developer performing to contract, buying off the plan can be risky.  Especially because of the way these contracts shift the risk away from the developer.  With a Self Managed Super Fund purchase with a mortgage this can be even more of an issue if the proposed lender’s final valuation comes in lower than the contracted price which is more common recently. You may then be forced to come up with the shortfall in your SMSF which may be more difficult if you have exhausted your contribution limits.

Here are the basic essentials to getting this type of strategy right:

  • The “property purchase” should be subject to one contract which must be for the completed house and land. Do not purchase land and then look for an SMSF loan to construct a property on it. You will be too late to use the land as security.
  • It is often better to have the SMSF pay the deposit and only have the lending arranged as part of the settlement. In my opinion the Holding Trust should still be in place with the Custodian/Holding Trustee on the title of the contract from the outset.
  • Ensure that the bank/ lender’s only security is only over that land and completed house/unit;
  • The only payments made in respect to the purchase are for the deposit and settlement with no “progress payments”. You may breach the “single acquirable asset” rule which is a big no-no!.
  • Be prepared to move quickly at the time of settlement. LRBA loans do not go through lender’s quickly and you should have as much of the documentation prepared in advance and ready to go as is possible. Drum this into your Mortgage Broker and Solicitor.
  • Do not borrow to the limit of your SMSF. Make sure you have some liquidity to manage low valuations or the demand for a lower LVR from the lender. Alternatively have the capacity and ability to add funds to your SMSF without breaching a contribution cap.

Now there are some who feel that more than 2 payments are possible and that the law is silent on the matter but my philosophy is to KEEP IT SIMPLE! Why makes things difficult for yourself especially when there are developers out there redesigning their contracts to meet the basic 2 payment strategy.

For those looking for more detail I would recommend reading the  issues addressed by the ATO their Taxpayer Alert TA 2012/7 and in the minutes of discussion at the NTLG Super Technical sub-group (December 2012) (if you can find a copy as the ATO took down the page) with specific reference to  example 10 within SMSFR 2012/1.

My final tip is to use a SMSF Specialist Advisor who has dealt with SMSF property borrowing and look for references from client’s they successfully guided through the process. Use a conveyancer or solicitor with experience in the intricacies of these strategies. Use a Mortgage broker that knows how to place these specialised loans and is thinking ahead at all times. Oh and READ YOUR TRUST DEED!

Are you looking for an advisor that will keep you up to date and provide guidance and tips like in this blog? Then why now contact me at our Castle Hill or Windsor office in Northwest Sydney to arrange a one on one consultation. Just click the Schedule Now button up on the left to find the appointment options.

Liam Shorte B.Bus SSA™ AFP

Financial Planner & SMSF Specialist Advisor™

SMSF Specialist Adviser 

 Follow SMSFCoach on Twitter Liam Shorte on Linkedin NextGen Wealth on Facebook   

Verante Financial Planning

Tel: 02 98941844, Mobile: 0413 936 299

PO Box 6002 BHBC, Baulkham Hills NSW 2153

5/15 Terminus St. Castle Hill NSW 2154

Corporate Authorised Representative of Viridian Select Pty Ltd ABN 41 621 447 345, AFSL 51572

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

Property through super in a SMSF – Part 3: 20 most common mistakes


Buy Sell PropertyFollowing on from our previous 2 articles on SMSF and Property, the next logical step is to show where others have commonly made mistakes and how to avoid these errors. I have looked at the errors as they would be experienced in the pre-planning phase, during the borrowing process and once the loan is in place to make it easier to follow and to refer to later. In my opinion, these errors are the most common cause of investor angst and additional costs. They can lead to extremely negative experiences when borrowing to buy property inside a SMSF and are best avoided!

Before the purchase:

Error #1 – Believing purchasing an SMSF property purchase is a standard process

The superannuation system was set up as a concessionally taxed system with one sole purpose and that is to provide for retirement income. The regulators therefore are determined to preserve the integrity of this aim and you should keep this in mind when dealing with any issue related to superannuation and your self-managed super fund in particular.

There are numerous compliance obligations that you must consider that would not be of concern to you if buying a property in your own name or that of a family trust.

Those jumping in and expecting to be able to fix mistakes should be aware that the system leaves little room for error or mitigation of mistakes.

Error #2 – Not seeking pre-approval of a loan and knowing the lender’s requirements before incurring costs

I recommend you use a broker to find out exactly what the lender will require for a loan and check if you would qualify in financial terms before incurring any of the costs in the process. You should expect closer scrutiny of the fund’s deed and financials, your own position and the advice you have received than with ordinary property loans because the lender is offering you a limited recourse product.

Error #3 – Using out of date SMSF trust deeds

Limited recourse borrowing arrangements for superannuation funds is still relatively new and was introduced in September 2007 with a major update to the law in July 2010 and 2013. Further clarifications were made only recently and they may be needed to implement your chosen strategy. Any trust deed set up before July 2007 is unlikely to have the relevant powers required to borrow, grant a charge over an asset, or use a holding trust. As such, I would always recommend a deed upgrade before commencing the process.

And as the lender’s solicitors will review your deed before authorising the loan, any omissions in the deed will only result in delays, costs to rectify the deed and possibly additional fees to the lenders solicitors to approve such subsequent changes. You may miss your settlement date and breach your contract as a result.

Error #4 – Not having a consistent record of contributions or ability to forecast future contributions

Another reason for planning in advance for this strategy is to be able to display a history of making regular contributions to the fund to satisfy bank requirements. They will question the lack of contributions as an indication of financial hardship or lack of commitment to building liquidity in the fund. Likewise, you need to be able to show capacity to make future contributions. Already, the lowering of the concessional contributions cap to $25,000 has put some single member funds in trouble.

During the contract process:

Error #5 – Not making one person responsible for management and control of the process

The process, as outlined in last week’s article, involves the lender, the vendor and your own legal advisers, your tax advisor/accountant, possibly a legal document company and a mortgage broker. You can see that a delay in any part of the process can be a nightmare to sort out. You can see the benefit of having someone on your side who does know what they’re talking about when it comes to SMSF property investment. Ideally that person should be prepared to overview the deal and be the central point of contact for the others involved who may have issues. Having been brought in to handle problems I can tell you that it can be a mess to untangle.

Error #6- Buying a property before the SMSF is properly set up or the holding trustee registered

There is no room for “buy now – think later” moves on a weekend buying spree when dealing with an SMSF. If the SMSF has not been setup then a trust does not exist. If you sign a contract or place a deposit for a property without having the name holding Trustee Company established then you face double stamp duty and capital gains tax issues. Us of “and/or nominee” is very dangerous outside of Victoria.

Error #7 – Not setting up the SMSF and holding trust correctly

Using individual trustees for either the SMSF or the holding trustee may lead to finance being delayed or refused. It may also lead to potential exposure to litigation, putting personal assets at risk. For example, should a trades person be injured while working on the property and sue all parties for negligence, an individual trustee will be directly exposed. Using a trading company as trustee for either position is also a mistake, likely to compromise the “bare” trust arrangement.

In some states, such as NSW, using “and/or nominee” clause could result in ad valorem duty being charged when you then nominate the holding trustee as the alternative purchaser, as this can be seen as a ‘sub-sale’. From what I understand currently Victoria is the only state where ‘and/or nominee’ can be used, but you should check the rules with a local solicitor/conveyancer.

In NSW, Tasmania, the ACT, South Australia, Queensland and Victoria (subject to above), the purchasing entity should be the name of the holding trustee only. You should not use any references to “as trustee for the bare trust” or “as trustee for the XXX SMSF”. If you get this wrong, it may result in adverse and possible double stamp duty implications.

In WA, the word ‘for’ instead of “as trustee for” must be used between the holding trustee and SMSF trustee names. It should be “Holding Trustee Pty Ltd ACN for Super Fund Trustee Pty Ltd ACN”.

The name of the purchaser on the contract for NT property is very specific. It needs to be “Holding Trustee Pty Ltd ACN as trustee for Name of Holding Trust as bare trustee for Fund Trustee Pty Ltd ACN as trustee for Name of Fund ABN”.

Error #8 – Not properly implementing rules concerning ‘single acquirable assets’

In simple terms, the rules state that trusts should purchase a single asset on one title. The ATO ruling SMSFR 2012/1: application of key concepts with LRBAs, provides a degree of clarity by explaining under what circumstances an asset could be viewed as a single asset, which predominantly revolves around whether it cannot be dealt with separately (even if multiple titles are involved). The ATO gives 15 examples as a guide.

Error #9 – Using the lender as holding trustee in a related party loan (where you lend to your fund)

The presence of any conflict, like in a case where the holding trustee is also the lender to the fund, may weaken the “absolute entitlement‟ of the SMSF to the asset. This could have capital gains and land tax consequences for the fund. An example would be the loan coming from your family trust and having the trustee of that family trust also act as the trustee of the holding trust.

Error #10 – Signing up the holding trustee as the borrower instead of the SMSF trustee

Again, I would emphasise that the holding trustee simply holds the title and nothing else. The SMSF trustee is the beneficial owner and must be the borrower on all documentation. If the holding trustee is the borrower, then full stamp duty will be payable on any transfer of title from the holding trustee to the SMSF Trustee when the loan is paid up. Sometimes the holding trustee will have to sign documentation in order for the documentation to be effective. Where this is the case, it should be recorded that the trustee is acting on the instructions of the beneficial owner (i.e. the SMSF trustee).

Error #11– Paying holding fee, deposit, settlement payment or any costs from any source other than from the SMSF

All payments in respect of the transaction must come from the SMSF bank account or the loan facility. In order to facilitate the property transfer on completion of the loan, a documentary evidence showing the trail of payments will be need to be submitted with the request. This is another reason for getting the holding trust deed stamped as recommended later in order to pick up on errors early and seek remedies before financials are completed. This is far better than trying to find solutions years later.

After the settlement:

Error #12 – Breaking the “safe harbour”, “arm’s length” and “sole purpose” rules when dealing with related parties

If you have any interaction with the SMSF directly yourself, or through a company or trust entity controlled by you or a related party, you must be very careful to do so as if dealing with a third-party. Here are a few examples of what this means:

  • putting a proper lease in place for business real property;
  • paying rent on time;
  • making loan repayments on time or charging penalty rates as per the loan agreement;
  • not making personal use of an SMSF residential property even if you agree to pay rent; and
  • not letting your child or sibling move in to a residential property while they get through a rough time.

See: ATO guidance on related party SMSF loans (LRBAs)

Tip: For an online source to a flexible comprehensive lease agreement that ticks all the boxes  you can visit DIY Legal Kits – Lease Agreements

Error #13 – Leaving the stamping of the holding trust deed to be completed too late

The holding trust deed must be stamped to ensure that the final transfer from the holding trustee to the SMSF trustee attracts only nominal stamp duty. Best practice, and in some states the rules dictate it, is to have the final transfer stamped generally within 30-90 days after it has been activated. As mentioned previously, it makes common sense to gather all the supporting documents stamped while available, and the process confirmed before doing the funds financials for the year.

Imagine if your spouse had passed away, or you lost some of the bank’s statements/documentation when trying to do it later, and found double stamp duty being applied by the regulators in your state. Better safe than sorry.

Error #14 – Holding Trustee doing anything other than holding legal title

The holding trustee only exists to hold legal title to the property while there is a loan outstanding. It may also grant security via a mortgage to the lender and enter into leases of the property on behalf of, and as instructed by, the SMSF trustee. A common mistake is for the holding trustee to have its own Australian business number (ABN), tax file number (TFN), or bank account, which should all be avoided.

If the holding trustee performs any other active duties and does not act solely at the direction of the SMSF trustee, then the holding trust may be found to be a separate entity for the purposes of reporting GST. It would then need to prepare and lodge tax returns and the look-through approach to the holding trust may not apply for income, land tax and CGT purposes, which of course means outside of the concessional superannuation environment.

Beware of any lender that requests additional duties on the holding trustee and have your solicitor seek to remove these clauses.

Error #15 – Not considering the liquidity needs of the SMSF during retirement phase

If you plan to put your fund into pension phase while still holding the property then you need to ensure the fund has enough liquidity to pay the minimum pensions, expected lumps sums and maintenance costs of the fund, such as accounting and advice fees. If unable to do so you may exacerbate the position by having to return to accumulation phase and pay tax on the rental income.

Error #16 – Not considering the liquidity needs of the SMSF during periods the property is unoccupied

Property occupancy is rarely continuous and you need to ensure you have the liquidity to make loan repayments and property expenses during periods without tenants. This is why we warn about setting up funds with small balances or using a high proportion of the fund balance for a single asset purchase.

Error #17 – Not considering insurance for the property, the SMSF members’ lives, or your contribution capacity

You need to make sure the property is insured in the name of the SMSF trustee so a loan can be paid out in the event of fire or destruction. You should also ensure that unless you have other funds available within the fund, or can contribute enough to repay the loan on death of a member, that you have life and disability cover up to at least the value of the loan on each member. It is now a legal obligation of the Trustees to consider the insurance needs of the members regularly. If you are negatively gearing, and will rely on your contributions to the cover loan repayment shortfall, then you should additionally consider income protection insurance.

Error #18 – Not understanding the rules regulating the use of borrowed funds for repairs and maintenance, rather than improvements

You can harness the DIY renovator within you but the property developer may need to be shackled when it comes to SMSF property under a limited recourse borrowing arrangement.

Again, I refer to SMSFR 2012/1 for an explanation of the differences between these very similar terms. In basic terms, you can repair and maintain with the borrowed funds but can only improve the property to a certain extent with other funds of the SMSF. Your SMSF’s auditor and the ATO will keep a close eye on any such expenses and the source of funding. Read here for more detail SMSF Borrowing: What Can I Do With An Investment Property Within The Rules.

Error #19 – Going a step too far and creating a ‘replacement asset’

Remembering this is not a business venture, it is an investment within a heavily legislated structure that has a primary focus of providing for your retirement, you need to be wary of any form of ‘development’.

If you proceed to make improvements so extensive that the result is an asset that is substantially different from the original then you may have in effect created a ‘replacement asset’ in the eyes of the regulator: the ATO.

Some examples of ‘replacement assets’ provided by the ATO include:

  • the subdivision of a single plot of land on a single title into smaller plots with individual titles;
  • the building of a house on a vacant plot of land;
  • the demolition of an existing house and its replacement with three strata title units; and
  • the re-zoning of the land upon which an existing house stands and its transformation into commercial premises.

If the ATO considers that the character of the asset has been changed to such a degree, as outlined in the examples above, it now constitutes a replacement asset that they will deem falls outside the guidelines and may make the SMSF non-compliant.

Error #20 – Not registering for GST in the name of the SMSF trustee only

Thanks to recognition of the strategy by the tax office, where the property is commercial and the GST turnover is greater than $75,000, you do not need to register the holding trust for GST, only the SMSF needs to be registered.

This also means if the property is transferred to the SMSF trustee, this doesn’t constitute a taxable supply and thus does not give rise to a GST liability.

The bottom line: This is a comprehensive, but probably not exhaustive list of the errors that SMSF trustees can make in the process of managing a loan to purchase a property in their super. It is essential that you plan the purchase of a property well and do not act in haste or take advice from someone well-intentioned but without a clear understanding of the laws. Experience in dealing with the transaction from start to finish is essential to avoid repeating other peoples’ mistakes.

As always please contact me if you want to look at your own options. You can make an appointment by clicking here. We have offices in Castle Hill and Windsor but can meet clients anywhere in Sydney or via Skype

Liam Shorte B.Bus SSA™ AFP

Financial Planner & SMSF Specialist Advisor™

SMSF Specialist Adviser 

 Follow SMSFCoach on Twitter Liam Shorte on Linkedin NextGen Wealth on Facebook   

Verante Financial Planning

Tel: 02 98941844, Mobile: 0413 936 299

PO Box 6002 BHBC, Baulkham Hills NSW 2153

5/15 Terminus St. Castle Hill NSW 2154

Corporate Authorised Representative of Viridian Select Pty Ltd ABN 41 621 447 345, AFSL 51572

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

Property through super in a SMSF – Part 2: The Process


Follow the Process on SMSF BorrowingThis is Part 2 of a 3 part series. In the first article, we looked at the background to the limited recourse borrowing arrangements that can be used by SMSFs to invest in an asset, specifically a residential or commercial property. Now we look at the actual process (using NSW as our base as different states have slightly different rules).

  • Real estate investing and self-managed superannuation can be combined activities, but there are rules to be aware of.
  • Borrowing is one of the more complex areas in this process, but it can still be broken down into relatively simple steps.
  • It’s certainly not child’s play, but this week we show how limited recourse borrowing arrangements can work.

As we detailed last week in the first of this series, placing real estate investments into self-managed superannuation funds (SMSFs) needn’t been a Herculean task, but it does require careful planning. Most of all, however, you or your advisors need to be fully conversant with the current borrowing exception that is detailed in section 67A of the Superannuation Industry Supervision (SIS) Act. SMSF borrowing is more correctly termed as a limited recourse borrowing arrangement (LRBA). This week we take a closer look at LRBAs and show you the typical steps involved.  (more…)

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Considering an SMSF Property Investment


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.

  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.

Are you looking for an advisor that will keep you up to date and provide guidance and tips like in this blog? Then why now contact me at our Castle Hill or Windsor office in Northwest Sydney to arrange a one on one consultation. Just click the Schedule Now button up on the left to find the appointment options.

Liam Shorte B.Bus SSA™ AFP

Financial Planner & SMSF Specialist Advisor™

SMSF Specialist Adviser 

 Follow SMSFCoach on Twitter Liam Shorte on Linkedin NextGen Wealth on Facebook   

Verante Financial Planning

Tel: 02 98941844, Mobile: 0413 936 299

PO Box 6002 BHBC, Baulkham Hills NSW 2153

5/15 Terminus St. Castle Hill NSW 2154

Corporate Authorised Representative of Viridian Select Pty Ltd ABN 41 621 447 345, AFSL 51572

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

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