Well, the dust has finally settled on the new legislation regarding the Budget changes to depreciation that will apply to second-hand residential properties.
In this article we will dig deep into some of the questions we have commonly been asked since the 9th of May 2017, when the changes were announced in the Federal Budget.
Before we get into the nitty gritty let’s begin with a quick recap:
Property investors who acquire a second-hand residential property after May 10, 2017, that contain “previously used” depreciating assets, will no longer be able to claim depreciation on those assets. Depreciating assets, in this case, refers to things like ovens, dishwashers, blinds, etc.
As you already know, in 2017, the rule book on depreciation changed massively.
The Federal Government successfully voted on new legislation to change the way depreciation works, representing the biggest move in the industry that I’ve ever seen – and I’ve been a quantity surveyor for over 25 years!
The changes were effective as at 9 May 2017 at 7.30pm, when the federal budget was handed down. As you can imagine, they have huge implications for property investors and more importantly, the property equation, which we’ll go into later.
So, how have things changed exactly?
The best way to understand it is to break the changes down into nine simple key points:
1. If you acquire a second-hand residential property from 10 May 2017, which contains ‘previously used’ depreciating assets, you will no longer be able to claim depreciation on those assets. This refers to the plant and equipment portion of a depreciation schedule, including:
• Lounge suites
• Common property plant and equipment items.
2. However, the building allowance, or claims on the structure of the building, has not changed at all. You will still need a depreciation schedule to calculate these deductions, which typically accounts for 85 per cent of the overall construction cost. The structure includes things like brickwork and concrete so there’s no change to that.
3. Acquirers of brand-new property will carry on claiming depreciation in exactly the same way as they have done so to-date – for both plant and equipment and structure. This is great news for the property industry, because a lot of developers rely on depreciation as part of their marketing strategy to attract investors. The government resisted making changes to depreciation on brand-new property because it did not want to halt construction, which would have impacted upon the supply of new property. A downturn in the construction industry would also have a knock-on effect – if tradies are out of work, they aren’t paying tax!
4. If you renovate a house while living in it, then sell the property to an investor, the assets will be deemed to have been previously used and the new owner cannot claim depreciation on the plant and equipment.
5. The proposed changes do not apply if you buy the property in a corporate tax entity, super fund (note self-managed super funds do not apply here) or a large unit trust. In other words, you can still buy a second-hand property in a company name and claim depreciation on it. You can buy a second-hand property in a super fund – as long as it’s a large one – and a large trust can buy a property as long as it has 300 members
or more, and claim depreciation on that property.
6. The proposed changes only relate to residential property. Commercial, industrial, retail and other non-residential properties are not affected, so you can still buy a second-hand office or similar and continue to claim the second-hand carpet, exactly as you could before. You can’t do this for residential property, as I’ve explained above.
7. If you engage a builder to build a brand-new house, or do the work yourself and it remains an investment property, you will still be able to claim depreciation on both the structure and the plant and equipment items. This is because it’s brand new, and was brand new when you put in that oven. Therefore, you can still claim it because the costs are known.
8. If you engage a builder to renovate a property – or you do the work yourself – and it is also being used as an investment property, you will still be able to claim depreciation on it when you have finished the renovations. As above, this is because the assets you install are brand new, therefore you can still claim. But if you bought a property renovated by someone else and they lived in it for six months or a year and then sold it – you can’t claim depreciation on the oven and dishwasher, etc. in the future, because they have now been previously used. See the difference?
9. While investors purchasing second-hand property can now no longer claim depreciation on the existing plant and equipment, they will have the benefit of paying less capital gains tax when they sell the property. How? Well, when they replace or remove an item of plant & equipment they would have been able to claim in depreciation under the previous legislation, the opening value of the asset can be claimed as a capital loss.
In my opinion, it seems like a lot of work to get the same result. The new rules have just moved depreciation from one line of the budget to another!
The good news is that the new legislation is ‘grandfathered’. That means that for everyone out there with an existing depreciation schedule, you can continue to claim exactly as you have been doing. So, if you bought a property prior to the budget – 9 May 2017 – nothing has changed. And if you have bought an investment prior to this date, and you don’t have a depreciation schedule, there’s never been a better time to get one! You might not get these allowances again.
One final point on grandfathering; if you bought a property prior to the budget and it is owner-occupied, and then you move out after 1 July 2017 – you will not be able to claim depreciation on the plant and equipment in that property.
Those items will be deemed to be previously used and caught in the net of the changing legislation – even though you acquired the property prior to the budget. So, these changes are kind of ‘half grandfathered’ if you ask me.
You will, however, still be able to claim the building allowance in this scenario if the property was built after 1987.
So let’s start with some of the easy questions we’ve been asked.
1. Do these new rules apply to brand new investment properties as well?
No, they don’t, if you buy a brand new property you will be able to carry on claim claiming depreciation exactly the way you have done so to date. That means you can claim both the plant & equipment and structure of the building. That is unless you live in the property as an owner occupier at any time after its completion, this would then mean the plant and equipment assets are deemed ‘previously used’.
3. Can I still claim depreciation on things like the bricks, concrete & windows etc?
Yes you can, provided the residential property was built after 1987 when the building allowance kicked in.
You will still need a depreciation schedule to calculate these deductions. This component typically represents approximately between 80 to 85 percent of the construction cost of a property.
4. Can I still claim depreciation on plant and equipment items if I buy them and have them installed?
Yes, you can, provided they are brand new or from 2nds World or the like.
However, if you buy a second-hand item off Gumtree, for instance, you cannot claim the depreciation.
There is now no other depreciable asset class where this occurs.
The new laws state that the item cannot be “previously used” in order for you to claim the depreciation on it.
However, if you buy a “previously used” lounge off Gumtree and put it in your office – you can claim it.
6. What if I bought a property prior to the budget and lived in the property until now – can I claim the depreciation?
If you bought a property prior to the budget and it is owner-occupied, and then you move out after 1 July 2017 – you will not be able to claim depreciation on the plant and equipment in that property.
The property needed to be income producing in the 2016/17 financial year.
Those items will be deemed to be previously used and caught in the net of the new legislation – even though you acquired the property prior to the budget. So, these changes are kind of ‘half-grandfathered’, if you ask me. If you did buy an investment property prior to the budget, I would recommend getting a depreciation quote now, more then ever.
7. What happens If I inherit a property – can I claim the depreciation on the plant and equipment as well as the building?
Well, you will certainly be able to claim the depreciation on the residential structure of the building, provided it’s built after 1987. So there’s no change there – and this covers most properties.
Whilst there is no specific ruling on the plant and equipment it seems to me that if you inherit a property with plant and equipment items contained within, they will be deemed to be “previously used” and you won’t be able to claim them.
This would, in my opinion, even occur if the person that you inherited the property from, bought the property brand new.
As I mentioned, there is little guidance on this topic so it might be best to check this with the ATO if this question is relevant to you.
9. Can I still claim depreciation on a property that I bought overseas?
The answer is yes, you can depreciate an overseas investment property… but there are a few key differences.
The first main difference is with regard to claiming the building allowance. With Australian properties, you’re entitled to claim 2.5 per-cent of these construction costs per annum, as long as the property was built after July 1985. The rate for overseas properties is the same – but the date is different.
Construction of an overseas property must have commenced after 22 August 1990.
So, if you want to maximise your depreciation benefits on an overseas property, look for a newer property built in the last decade or two.
The plant and equipment, such as carpets, ovens, lights, and blinds, can also be depreciated as they would be in an Australian investment property but now they will have to be brand new or not previously used.
10. What happens if I engage a builder to renovate my investment property can I still claim depreciation?
In simple terms yes – provided all the plant & equipment items that were installed were brand new. You will also be able to claim all the structural items installed such as kitchen cupboards, tiling windows etc.
12. Show me the numbers?! How much will these changes actually mean in terms of how much depreciation I will be able to claim moving forward?
Well in order to understand this – it’s best to examine 3 different scenarios:
An investor buys a brand new unit or house for $850,000.
As you can see from the above chart the depreciation amount you can claim if you bought the same property pre-budget or post-budget hasn’t changed.
That’s because a brand new property is exempt from these changes.
An investor buys a residential house or unit for $850,000 that was built in the year 2000.
As you can see from the above the depreciation allowances available have dramatically reduced in the early years now.
Towards about year 8 they level out and aren’t that different. This is because the pre-budget chart on the left-hand side still shows that you can claim the plant and equipment. Whereas the chart on the right-hand side shows how you can only claim the building allowance moving forward.
The key takeaway from this is: That the depreciation allowances on second-hand property built after 1987 are affected most in the first 5 years. After that – there’s not much difference.
An investor buys a residential house or unit for $850,000 that was built prior to 1987 – that hasn’t been renovated.
Well in this scenario it’s all or nothing! Pre-budget we, as quantity surveyors, would visit a property, regardless of its age, and re-value the plant and equipment items like carpet, oven etc. In essence, starting the depreciation process again.
The Government wanted to stop this continual revaluation of plant & equipment and this will be achieved by the new legislation.
As you can see from the chart above if you buy a property that was built prior to 1987, there will be no claim at all if the property is still in its original state.
Why? Well, the plant & equipment will be deemed as previously used, thus no claim applies and in order to claim the building allowance, the property has to be built after 1987.
However, this is very rare, as most properties built prior to 1987 have had some renovation to them, whether that be a new bathroom or kitchen and those costs are claimable.
13. Can I still claim depreciation on plant and equipment on my holiday home if I use it twice a year?
This is the biggest grey area of all the legislative changes in my view and one that will require further clarification moving forward.
The Government in the Housing Tax Bill Explanatory Memorandum states that if a property is used in an “incidental way” or “occasionally used” then your depreciation eligibility on the Plant & Equipment does not stop if you acquired the plant & equipment prior to The Budget in May 2017.
Incidental Use is described as:
“Use is incidental if it is minor in the context of the overall use and arises in connection with another non-incidental use – for example staying at the property for one evening while carrying out maintenance activities would generally be incidental use.”
Occasionally Used is described as:
“Spending a weekend in a holiday home or allowing relatives to stay for one weekend in the holiday home free of charge that is usually used for rent would generally be occasional use.“
It’s a bit vague, isn’t it?
Does one week a year over Christmas nullify your claim? What about if you stay for Easter and Christmas?
What does this mean for all the Airbnb landlords out there that claim depreciation but move in when times are quiet but acquired the property prior to the budget? They went into that investment doing the maths on being able to claim the depreciation on a pro-rata basis based on the tax laws at the time?
Now if they use the apartment for an unknown time they may be disallowed the depreciation deduction.
Strangely, this Memorandum, differs from the ATO’s website which was updated on the 15th of December 2017 which indicates that “Gail and Craig” who use their property for 4 weeks a year can claim the depreciation? “Kelly and Dean” would appear to be ok as well!
Whilst the Memorandum doesn’t give a time frame… it indicates that a weekend is OK…I would’ve thought 4 weeks would’ve been stretching it?! Who knows – pick a number????
This is at a time when the ATO wants to target Airbnb hosts and pro-rata any capital gain tax exemption that may be applicable.
Hopefully, sense will prevail and if the holiday home is clearly available for rent – like 11 months over the year – it’s still an investment property.
Dealing with your rental property post-budget change
Before the budget change investors were entitled to claim plant and equipment and building allowance, so long as the property was built post-1987 and the property had settled within 10 years of getting the depreciation report, even if they had lived in the property prior, post or during the purchasing of their depreciation report.
A common question regarding the budget change:
The other day I received an email from one of my clients asking me for some personalised advice regarding his investment property and depreciation report. He told me he and his wife had purchased their first home in 2011. It was not a brand new property, and between 2014-2016 they rented out the property with a full depreciation schedule, claiming all they were entitled to. At the start of 2016 they moved back in to their home, and are now looking to renting it out again.
He was wondering if they are still eligible to claim the original tax depreciation schedule they purchased in 2014, or do they have to adhere to the new government tax depreciation rules since the budget change concerning the plant and equipment on established properties.
I thought this was a great question, and wanted to ensure all of my clients and readers were aware of the significant changes to the way second-hand, previously used assets are now being treated moving forward from the budget change.
The changes outlined:
As of the Federal Budget Announcement on the 9th May 2017, the Government has disallowed depreciation deductions on items such as Ovens, Dishwasher etc. where they have been previously used.
Whilst these new laws are grandfathered and as such are only applicable to properties purchased after the May 9th announcement, one caveat exists: The property must be income-generating at some point between July 1st, 2016 and June 30th, 2017.
This meant, that even though my client had acquired the property before the budget, they were unfortunately ‘caught in the net’ because they were living in their property for the entirety of the 2016/2017 financial year. Due to this, those aforementioned items would now be considered ‘previously used’ and they wouldn’t be entitled to claim any further depreciation on them.
The explanatory memorandum issued by the Government is a bit ambiguous (if you ask me):
“The amendments also apply to assets acquired before this time if the assets were first used or installed ready for use by an entity during or prior to the income year in which this measure was publicly announced (generally the 2016-17 income year), but the asset was not used at all for a taxable purpose in that income year.“
It’s worth noting that these new rules only apply to residential properties. Commercial, industrial and other non-residential property are not included.
It’s also important to note that the way residential property investors claim depreciation on the building has not been altered. You can continue to claim the depreciation on the structure (all the bricks, concrete etc.) provided the building was built after 1987.
An investment property tax deductions calculator won’t always show you everything you can claim. Many leave out the assets that go into a typical depreciation schedule. Here are the things that your tax depreciation schedule must contain.
When it comes to tax, there’s one question you must ask about your investment property: what can I claim?
There are the basics of course. Everybody looks into mortgage tax deduction. Australia is full of financial experts who can help with this issue. You may even find that an investment property tax deductions calculator can do the basics for you.
But what about property depreciation? It’s a type of deduction many investors miss, but it could save you thousands of dollars every year. Others make claims, but do so using the wrong schedule. Again, they end up missing out on thousands of dollars in savings.
You need to call in the experts. No, that doesn’t mean your accountant. Instead, a Quantity Surveyor is the professional you need to create a strong depreciation schedule.
The typical schedule will include the depreciation of capital works and equipment. However, some leave out other, less obvious, assets. Here’s what your depreciation schedule must contain if you’re to maximise your deductions.
You may have chosen a unit or apartment as your first investment property. Australia has several cities, which can make such properties a wise investment choice.
Naturally, you’ll claim depreciation on your unit’s assets. But what about the assets that it shares with other units in the apartment complex? You can claim for your portion of those too, but many investors miss out on these deductions.
Common items include fire extinguishers, air conditioning units, and lifts. You can also claim for ventilation and hot water systems. You don’t get to claim depreciation on the full value of the asset, but even a little bit can help with your cashflow.
Item #2 – Scrapped Items
Let’s assume you’ve carried out some renovations on your property. Oftentimes, you’ll have a bunch of assets left over that you no longer have a use for. Many just throw such items away, without giving them a second thought.
That’s a mistake. Old items have what’s known as a scrapping, or residual, value. This is the item’s value once it’s reached the end of its use.
You can claim a final depreciation sum on any items you intend to throw away following renovations. Such items include old appliances or carpets. Have a Quantity Surveyor create a new depreciation schedule prior to your renovations. This will ensure you catch any assets with scrapping value.
Item #3 – Common Outdoor Items
Let’s come back to shared items. It’s not just the common indoor items you can claim depreciation on. Any common items outside the apartment block itself have value to you as well.
This includes pathways, fences, and various landscaping items, such as pergolas. You may even be able to make claims on a shared swimming pool.
However, you can’t claim for all common outdoor items. For example, turf and plants won’t find their way into your depreciation schedule.
Item #4 – The Fees You Pay to Design Professionals
Did you realise that you can include the fees you pay to design and construction professionals in your tax deductions? Australia offers plenty of opportunities to build your own property. Investors often go down this route, rather than buying an existing property.
Your depreciation schedule must account for the costs of such construction work. This includes the money you paid to any designers or architects who worked on the project.
Make sure you supply your Quantity Surveyor with accurate receipts for these services. This will allow you to maximise your claim for the fees you pay.
Item #5 –Money You Pay to the Council
You may have to pay fees to the council for various services. For example, there are costs involved with lodging application fees, or getting council permits.
If you’re building your own property, you may also have to spend money on infrastructure. This might include gutters and footpaths.
Your depreciation report should include all these items. Again, this is something that many investors miss out on because they don’t think the costs relate directly to their properties.
The Final Word
Check your depreciation report again. Does it include all the items on this list? If not, you’re missing out on several Australian Taxation Officer (ATO) tax incentives for homeowners.
You need the help of Washington Brown to create an accurate tax depreciation schedule. Call us today to speak to one of our Quantity Surveyors about your property.
The capital works allowance, or the building allowance as it is more commonly called, refers to the construction costs of the building itself including items such as concrete and brickwork.
Capital works deductions
Capital works deductions are income tax deductions. They can be claimed for expenses such as building construction costs or the cost of altering or improving a property.
Regarding residential properties, the general deductions are spread over a period of 25 or 40 years. When you purchase a property, keep in mind that the capital works deductions are not able to exceed the construction expenditure.
Also, no deductions are available until the construction has been completed if you are waiting on a new build to claim your deductions.
Deductions based on construction expenditure apply to capital works. Some examples are as follows;
A building or an extension. Eg, adding a garage or a room
Making structural improvements to the property
Making alterations to the property
A number of deductions you can claim depend on the type of construction and the date the construction commenced on the property.
Construction expenditure refers to the actual cost of constructing the building or extension. Deductions are possible on the expenses incurred in the construction of a building if you contract a builder to construct the building on your land.
However, there is construction expenditure that is not able to be claimed in deductions.
Some of these costs that are not included are listed below;
The cost of the land which the property is built on
The costs regarding landscaping
Expenditure on clearing the land before the construction commencement
Cost base adjustments
Cost base adjustments refer to figuring out the capital gain or capital loss from a rental property. It is possible that the cost base and reduced cost base of the property will need to be reduced to the extent that it includes construction expenditure in which you, as in investor, can claim in capital works deductions.
Find out What Capital Works Are and How You Can Claim Them
Not all people buy an investment property in Australia and leave it just the way it is. Many invest in improvements, so they can charge more rent to tenants. Buying a property and making improvements to it is one of the best investment property tips for beginners in its own right. But did you know there are plenty of tax deductions in Australia that you can claim for the extra features you build?
It all comes down to capital works. Also known as Division 43 of the Income Tax Assessment Act (ITAA), capital works relates to the work and materials you spent money on to build the house.
Such costs include the following:
The materials you use in construction, such as timber and tiles
New extensions, such as a garage
The construction of internal walls
Excavation of new foundations for your construction work
Improvements to the property’s structure, such as a new carport or fencing for the garden
Renovations to the bathroom and kitchen
Beyond these practical costs, you can also claim tax deductions in Australia for some of the fees associated with construction. For example, you can claim for the fees you pay to surveyors, architects, and engineers. Additionally, you could also claim for the money you spent on acquiring building permits for the work.
Can I Claim Capital Works?
It depends on your situation. Your building needs to generate income, which means it must be an investment property in Australia. If the building has produced income within one financial year of your claim, you can claim tax deductions as part of Division 43 of the ITAA.
As for your own status, it can vary. You could be an individual investor or member of a trust. Companies can also claim for capital works, as can the managers of superannuation funds.
How Do I Calculate My Capital Works Deductions?
The first thing to remember is that any valuations you have for the work are not relevant. Your capital works tax deductions in Australia must relate to the actual construction costs.
There are two rates may apply to your capital works – 2.5% and 4%. Which of these is relevant to your work depends on several factors. These include when you started construction, how you use the capital work, and the type of work undertaken. Furthermore, you have to take the amount of time the capital work generated an income for during the last financial year into account.
It’s best to speak to a professional to find out which rates apply to your capital work. Making claims you’re not entitled to could land you in trouble.
How Do I Make a Claim?
You can make claims for tax deductions in Australia on any capital works for a maximum of 40 years after the construction completion date. However, you’ll also have to provide several details in your claim, which include the following:
Information about the type of capital work undertaken
The start and end dates for construction
Information about who did the work
The actual cost of construction, which is not the same as any valuations or purchase prices you have
Information about how the capital work generated an income for you during the last financial year
Sometimes, it’s difficult to determine the actual construction costs. You may have lost some receipts along the way, which means you need an estimate. This must come from a quantity surveyor, or an independent third-party who holds similar qualifications to a quantity surveyor.
The estimate your quantity surveyor produces will consist of a schedule for all the capital works undertaken. It also creates a forecast for the tax deductions in Australia that you can claim on the work. Take this schedule and use it to complete your tax returns. Also, bear in mind that the estimate cannot come from a real estate agent or accountant. The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) will refuse your claims if your estimate comes from the wrong source.
How Does Capital Gains Tax Relate to Capital Works?
Any capital works that you claim must be taken into account if you decide to sell the property. You will use them to figure out your capital gains or losses.
You must deduct your capital works claims from the base cost of the home. The amount of these deductions will affect the amount of Capital Gains Tax (CGT) you pay. If the deductions result in you making a loss on the property, you may not have to pay any CGT.
Your Investment Property in Australia Doesn’t Have to be Pre-Owned
Whether you buy an old or new property is one of the key decisions you’ll have to make when buying an investment property in Australia. Both have their advantages. With an old property, you can often secure a great deal, plus there’s potential to renovate and add value. You can also feel more certain about how the property will perform
A new investment property in Australia may not come with those assurances. However, you shouldn’t discount them outright. In fact, investing in new homes comes with several benefits that may earn you more money.
Benefit #1 – Higher Capital Growth
As we all know, location is important when buying an investment property in Australia. Choose the wrong location, and you limit the capital growth your property will enjoy. Buying an old property in a desirable location practically guarantees you’ll enjoy capital growth. That’s a given.
But many don’t realise that the same applies to new properties as well. In fact, a new property may enjoy greater capital growth than an old property in the same location. Newer properties tend to enjoy higher levels of demand than old properties. Buyers and renters want the latest mod cons, which they won’t always get with an old property. This increased demand makes the location more desirable which contributes to increased capital growth for your property.
Benefit #2 – Construction Quality
Have you ever bought an old investment property in Australia, only to find that you have to spend thousands of dollars on renovations? It’s not an uncommon problem. Properties wear out over time. Fixtures need replacing and appliances need maintenance. This is all money coming out of your pocket.
Yes, you can claim tax deductions in Australia for some of this work. But you may not want to deal with the hassle.
A new property allows you to avoid those problems. There are stringent regulations in place to ensure all newly-built properties meet certain standards. They have to be built to a certain quality level, plus they must be energy efficient. This means you can feel certain that the construction quality of a new building will be high. As a result, you don’t have to spend more money on making improvements.
Benefit #3 – Lower Prices
A lot of people will tell you that it’s almost impossible to get a new property at a low price. Developers know the value of their properties and won’t sell for anything less.
This may be true when trying to buy a new property after the developer has already sold most of their stock. However, it discounts the potential savings you could by getting in early.
Keep your ear to the ground so you can find out about upcoming development work. If the houses are in a desirable location, you should try to get in as early as possible. Many developers sell their new properties for less than they’re worth to investors who make early offers. If you’re among that group, you’ll have a great property that cost you less than it should have.
Benefit #4 – You Attract More Tenants
We touched on this point earlier, but it’s worth coming back to. Tenants want properties that offer the latest appliances. They also want to pay as little as possible on their utility bills.
Buying an old investment property in Australia sometimes means that you can’t offer these things to your prospective tenants. The fixtures and appliances may be out of date, which lowers the demand. The property may also not be energy efficient. In the end, you have to charge less rent than you may wish so that you can attract tenants.
That shouldn’t be a problem with a new property. The developers will have installed modern fixtures and appliances, which attract more tenant applications. You don’t have to pay for renovations, plus, you can charge higher rents.
Benefit #5 – You Get a Blank Slate
Let’s assume you aren’t buying the property as an investment. Instead, you want to live in it yourself. If you buy an established, older property, you’re going to have to deal with the previous owner’s choices. You may have to spend a lot of money to change things until they’re just the way you like them.
When buying a new home, you have more choice. For example, you can discuss your preferences with the developer to ensure the home is built to meet your needs.
The prospect of having a blank slate appeals to many buyers. Plus, you get to enjoy the other benefit’s we’ve mentioned if you do decide to take on some tenants.
Make Sure You Claim All Depreciation on Your Commercial Real Estate
If you’re thinking about buying commercial real estate in Melbourne, you need to prepare yourself. Many people fail to claim the commercial tax deductions in Australia that are due to them. This results in thousands of lost dollars.
You can claim for all sorts of things on your commercial real estate property. For example, you can claim deductions for the wear and tear of your fittings, furniture, and the structure itself. In fact, making the right deductions at the right time can affect cash flow. You can change a negatively geared property into one that enjoys a good cash flow.
So now you’re probably wondering how to maximise depreciation on your commercial investment property in Australia. Our guide will show you how.
Get the Ownership Structure Right
How you buy your commercial property is just as important as the type of property you buy. You need to have the right structure in place if you’re going to claim the maximum depreciation.
For example, you can increase your deductions if you buy the property using a trust. The same is true if you buy with your self-managed superannuation fund (SMSF). In both cases, you can split your deductions. You can make claims on the building as a standalone entity. Furthermore, you can also claim on any tenancy assets. However, you must operate a business in the property to do this.
Furthermore, you can claim for any capital works you undertake during your ownership. These can include extensions and many other general improvements. Finally, if you occupy the building as a business owner, you can also claim depreciation for any fixtures or fittings. Again, you must use these as part of your business operations.
Maintain Your Records
It should go without saying that it’s vital that you maintain accurate records if you want to claim commercial tax deductions in Australia. However, a remarkable number of people don’t do this.
Document every expenditure that relates to the building. These include both the immediate and ongoing costs. Furthermore, you should add day-to-day expenditure to the list. Keep anything that relates to a financial transaction involving your building. These records can help you to claim more.
Use a Quantity Surveyor
Every commercial property investor should employ the services of a quantity surveyor. These professionals can help you to create depreciation schedules. A good schedule ensures you can claim as much as possible on your property.
A quantity surveyor will carry out regular inspections of your property. These help to determine what deductions you can make each year. They’re ideal for long-term planning as well. A good depreciation schedule will lay out how to claim deductions for the next 40 years.
Furthermore, quantity surveyors understand how to maximise your depreciation based on your timeline. You may only intend to invest in the property for a short period of time. That’s okay. A good surveyor will take this into account, just like they would for a long-term investment.
It’s likely your surveyor will recommend the diminishing value method if you’re a short-term investor. This assumes the value of your assets depreciates most during their early years. As a result, you can claim for more depreciation in the short-term.
Long-term investors may prefer the prime cost method. This assumes uniform depreciation over the lifetime of your assets. As a result, you claim the same amount each year, rather than the bulk in the early years.
Which method works best for you will depend on the time commitment you make to your commercial real estate investment. A good quantity surveyor can talk you through the different timelines.
Take Advantage of the First Year
Your first year of ownership is vital. It’s when you will set up the structure through which you will manage your commercial property for the years that follow. Getting things wrong during the first year makes things more difficult than they need to be later on.
However, you also need to take depreciation into account from the moment you invest in the property. This is where your quantity surveyor can help again. You may be able to depreciate some of your assets faster with a commercial property than you would a residential one. Your surveyor will point this out to you. As a result, you can make more upfront savings using depreciation, which means you have more cash to use during that difficult first year.
The Final Word
Maximising your depreciation from a commercial property isn’t easy, but you can do it. Use the services of a reputable quantity surveyor and don’t put anything off.
Remember that you can make claims for depreciation from the moment you invest in the property. Don’t lose money because you were slow on the uptake.
Information goes a long way when you’re buying an investment property in Australia. Without information, you can’t prepare for the negotiations. This is when you sit down with the seller to try and find the right price for your investment property in Australia.
However, the information you have isn’t the only weapon in your arsenal. There are plenty of other tactics that you can employ to get a good deal. With that in mind, we’ve come up with five hot investment property tips for beginner negotiators.
Tip #1 – Learn as Much as You Can About the Seller
You may think the state of the property market would make it impossible to negotiate a good deal. If property prices are going up, it’s easy to assume that all sellers you meet will ask for more money.
However, this line of thought doesn’t take the seller’s situation into account. You need to find out everything you can about the seller when buying an investment property in Australia. For example, do you know the reason why the seller is getting rid of the property? If not, then you need to find out.
Many people sell because they’re in distressed situations. They may be in financial difficulties, or need to sell quickly to fund a new purchase. You can use this to your advantage and negotiate a better deal. After all, a motivated seller is one who will listen to lower offers.
Tip #2 – Sweeten the Deal
This ties into our first tip. Sometimes, a seller wants something really specific, which will make your bid for their investment property in Australia more attractive.
Consider the following example. The seller is currently going through a divorce. It’s a heartbreaking and emotional situation, but they really need to sell their property before the divorce is settled. As a result, that seller may be looking for a buyer who can help them settle the sale quickly, so they can get on with the rest of their life.
That’s where you come in. If you limit the terms attached to the transaction, you can speed up the process. That gives you some leeway to negotiate a lower price with a seller who wants to get rid of a property quickly.
Tip #3 – Get Pre-Approval on a Home Loan
Sellers love serious buyers. If you enter negotiations knowing that you don’t yet have the money to make the purchase, you’re going to sour the seller to any offers you might make.
This means it’s best to get pre-approval on a home loan before you try to buy an investment property in Australia. Lodge your application and ask your lender to provide proof of the pre-approval.
You can then take this into your negotiations. Having pre-approval shows that you’re a serious buyer who wants to move forward. This will make the seller more willing to negotiate terms with you, which could be your pathway toward making a lower offer that saves you some money.
Tip #4 – Make the Right First Offer
The first offer you make on your investment property in Australia is crucial. Go too low, and you may insult the seller so much that he or she stops taking you seriously. Make a high offer, and you may end up spending more than you need to.
This is where your research is going to help. Find out how much similar properties in the same area are selling for. You can use this to get an approximate figure for the value of the property. Compare this to the seller’s valuation to ensure you’re both on the same page.
From there, you need to make your offer. It’s usually best to offer somewhere between 5 and 10% less than the seller’s valuation. This shows you’re a serious buyer, while giving yourself some wiggle room if the seller comes back to you with a higher figure.
Tip #5 – Don’t Mention Your Budget
Remember that your seller’s agent is going to try and extract as much information as they can from you. After all, they want to secure the highest possible price for their clients.
Talking to the seller’s real estate agent can offer you more information. However, it can lead to you giving away information that the seller could use against you.
The key is to not let the seller know how much you’re willing to spend. If they have that figure, negotiations are going to start at a much higher price than you had hoped for. Play your cards close to your chest, while still making offers that show you’re a serious buyer.
Don’t Be Put Off Because You Can’t Explore The Property
There are many things you need to consider when buying an investment property in Australia. While the process may be exciting, it can also be confusing.
One of the main choices you need to make relates to the type of property you buy. Do you purchase an older property that has a track record of generating income, or a brand new property that may stand a better chance of meeting the demands of tenants?
What if we told you there’s another way? Instead of buying a property that already exists, you can buy one that’s under construction. This idea may stray away from the property investment basics that you’ve read about while working out the complexities of investing in property for beginners. However, we can offer six reasons for why an off-the-plan property could prove to be a wise investment.
Reason #1 – Earn Early Capital Growth
What’s one of the first investment property tips for beginners that you’ve heard? It’s probably to buy low now so you can make a profit later. Buying an off-the-plan property allows you to do just that. So how does it work? It’s simple. You pay a deposit to the developer, and this secures your ownership of the property.
However, the construction settlement date may be several years in the future. As a result, you can earn capital growth for the home, even during the period prior to construction. You won’t even have paid the full price of the property before it starts making money for you.
Reason #2 – Stamp Duty Savings
Buying an investment property in Australia comes with a lot of added fees. The largest of these is often stamp duty. In most states, you will have to pay thousands of dollars in stamp duty before you can take ownership of the property. Take Victoria as an example. For a property worth $500,000, you’ll have to pay almost $20,000 in stamp duty.
Buying off-the-plan can help to avoid this major fee. Most states don’t charge stamp duty on properties that don’t exist yet, which means you make thousands of dollars in savings from the beginning.
Reason #3 – Extra Saving Time
You only have to put down an initial deposit when you buy an off-the-plan property. As we mentioned before, you may have to wait for a couple of years before construction finishes.
This gives you plenty of time to save some money. Once construction ends, you could have thousands of dollars that you wouldn’t have had if you’d bought an existing house. You can then put this money toward your home loan, reducing the principal so that you pay less interest on the loan over time.
Reason #4 – You Can Claim Depreciation
You may be planning on renting out your off-the-plan property when construction ends. If so, you may be able to claim thousands of dollars in tax deductions in Australia on the property.
Make time to create a depreciation schedule with the help of a quantity surveyor. This will highlight all the things that you can claim as depreciation upon completion of the property. This may include the new furniture and fixtures that you add to the property before making it available to tenants. The higher the depreciation, the lower your holding costs.
Reason #5 – You Can Pick the Perfect Plot
Showing early interest in a new development comes with its own advantages. In addition to benefitting from the lower prices that developers often charge to their early investors, you also get to choose from the best plots of land.
This will benefit you monetarily when construction ends. Getting in early means you can pick the property that will have the best views or offers the amenities that your tenants will want. As a result, you can charge higher rents, so your property generates more income.
Reason #6 – Reductions in Other Costs
A brand new property does not come with the maintenance needs of an old property. That should go without saying. You won’t have to earmark thousands of dollars for repairs, as the property should be good to go from the moment construction ends.
However, did you know that off-the-plan properties could save you money in other areas? It’s all thanks to recent changes in the Australian Building Code. New properties must now meet several energy efficiency criteria. This means the cost of utilities falls, which benefits both you and your tenants.
The Final Word
Buying off-the-plan may seem scary at first. After all, you don’t have the opportunity to explore the property before you buy it.
However, it opens the door to savings that you wouldn’t have access to with an existing property. To find out more about buying an off-the-plan investment property in Australia, contact Washington Brown today.
The 6 must-know takeaways from these budget changes:
For residential property, you will only be able to claim depreciation on plant and equipment items (ovens, dishwashers etc.) when you buy a brand new property.
You will still be able to claim the building allowance (bricks, concrete etc.) on any residential property built after 1987.
If you bought a property built prior to The Budget on the 9th of May, 2017 when the changes were announced, you are not affected in the slightest.
There is no change at all to commercial or other non-residential property.
If you personally buy any item for your property after the settlement you can still claim the depreciation on that particular item.
Perhaps the most interesting point: Whilst investors purchasing second-hand property can now no longer claim depreciation on the existing plant and equipment, they will have the benefit of paying less capital gains tax when they sell the property, by claiming any unclaimed depreciation as a capital loss.
Moving forward, property investors will have a choice of ordering a building allowance report only, a CGT schedule or a combination, from Washington Brown.
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