You work hard for your retirement, and should get to enjoy every moment of it. For many Australians, that means living in their dream home. What if you could purchase your dream retirement home now? Well, with buying residential investment properties through your self-managed super fund (SMSF) becoming a more and more popular option, your dream home could be closer than you think.
So if you’re thinking of retiring down the coast or buying that CBD penthouse, you might want to think about using your SMSF to purchase it now and rent it out until you retire. However, there are certain rules you have to be aware of.
Buy a property now, transfer ownership later
Your fund can purchase a retirement home for yourself now, and rent it out to generate income. It is important to recognise in this instance that you are not the owner of the property – it is owned by the fund. Once you retire and start receiving a pension from the fund, you sell your current home, the proceeds of which would be treated as a contribution to your SMSF – meaning it will be subject to your age and contribution cap. You would then change the ownership on your retirement property from your SMSF to your personal name. In theory, you're purchasing the property from your fund at market value. If the sale of your existing property is more or less than the market value of the SMSF property, shortfall and excess amounts are treated as a member's pension or a member contribution, respectively. Contributions are subject to your age and contribution cap. All that’s left is moving in and reaping the rewards.
But be aware, any property purchase must comply with your SMSF’s written investment strategy. It is also advisable that you don’t use all your SMSF assets to purchase your retirement home – having diverse assets will protect you if one of your asset classes fails.
Fund the purchase
Your SMSF can purchase a retirement home either outright (if it has the funds) or by borrowing from a lender. If the fund needs to borrow, the loan must be a limited recourse loan. This means that if the property investment fails, the other assets in the SMSF are protected from creditors. Because such a structure involves more risk to a lender, they will generally only lend up to a maximum of 70–80% of the purchase price.
You can’t buy the property from or rent to family or friends
As with other SMSF residential properties, you can only buy the property from or rent it to people unknown to you – no friends, no family and definitely not yourself! It also can’t be used as a holiday home. You can only move into your home once you have retired – and not a day sooner.
Pay stamp duty twice
Don’t get caught in the stamp duty trap. Many people think that transferring a retirement property from an SMSF to a personal name will not be subject to stamp duty, as the ownership has not changed. While –practically speaking – ownership has not changed, legally it has. You would be required to pay full stamp duty on the transfer when you retire as well as when your SMSF purchases the property. This is something you should factor when making your calculations.
Take advantage of capital gains exemption
When your SMSF sells a property, capital gain is taxed at 10% if you have held the property for a year or more. Once you retire and you want to transfer ownership of the home from the SMSF to you, you will already be drawing a pension from the fund. This means that you will pay 0% on the capital gain.
Using your SMSF to buy a retirement property can be a great way to buy your dream home now, while prices are lower. But it’s important to work out whether this is the best option for you.
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