The Top 14 Depreciation Law Questions Arising from the Budget Changes

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:
• Ovens
• Dishwashers
• Lights
• Air-conditioners
• Televisions
• Carpets
• Lounge suites
• Blinds
• 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’.

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2. How do these new changes affect purchasers of non-residential property like offices and industrial suites?

The proposed changes only relate to residential property. Commercial, industrial, retail and other non-residential properties are not affected in the slightest.

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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.

Now would be a good time to get a quote for your depreciation schedule.

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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.
Go figure!

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5. If I buy a property in a trust or company will I get around these laws?

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.

This is interesting and I suspect a lot more people will start buying properties in company tax structures.

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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.

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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.

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8. What happens if I buy a unit that’s 3 months old where the developer has already found a tenant and is selling it “as new”. Can I claim both the plant and equipment and the building allowance?

In this case, the answer is yes. The new legislation allows a developer 6 months to find a tenant and sell it as a leased investment without nullifying the depreciation claim to the incoming buyer.

This was a late change to the legislation and occurred after industry consultation between the treasury department and the property industry (including myself).

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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.

If you own an overseas investment property, start claiming the deductions, we do many reports worldwide.

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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.

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11. What happens when you sell the property that you bought after the 2017 budget?

The Budget statement words it like this: ‘Acquisitions of existing plant and equipment items will be reflected in the cost base for capital gains tax purposes for subsequent Investors.’

This video explains the changes and also outlines our new report offering:

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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:

Scenario 1:

An investor buys a brand new unit or house for $850,000.
Depreciation Budget Changes

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.

Scenario 2:

An investor buys a residential house or unit for $850,000 that was built in the year 2000.

Depreciation Budget Changes

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.

Scenario 3:

An investor buys a residential house or unit for $850,000 that was built prior to 1987 – that hasn’t been renovated.

Rental Property Depreciation Budget Changes

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.

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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.

Go figure.

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.

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14. I have been asked this many times: “Tyron, what do you think about the changes?”

I agree that the constant revaluing of plant & equipment items on very old properties made no sense and needed refinement.

However, I think the approach the Government has taken in disallowing depreciation on properties that are near new doesn’t make a lot of sense and could’ve been rolled out far more logically.

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The Budget Change And How It Affects Our Rental Property

rental 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 Depreciation Quote Schedulemoved 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):

Depreciation Calculator“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. “

 

Note worthy:

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.

Your Guide to Commercial Property Investment

Commercial Property Investment

If you’re looking to invest in real estate, commercial properties present plenty of opportunities. However, you need to consider the risks and market drivers. This commercial property investment guide will help you.

You must think about more than the property investment basics when investing in commercial real estate. There are many complex market issues at work, which means you take on more risk.

Understanding these issues will play a role in the success of your investment in real estate. Commercial properties come in all shapes and sizes, which you must account for. This commercial property guide will equip you with the tools you need to succeed.

The Market Drivers

Several drivers affect the state of the commercial real estate market. You must understand what these drivers are before you can invest successfully. They include the following:

The Risks

There are also several risk factors to consider when you invest in commercial property. Here are some of the most important:

The Lease

A poorly-constructed lease could lead to the failure of your commercial investment. These are the factors to consider when creating your leases:

What Else Should You Consider?

Depreciation CalculatorFurther to this, you need to arrange proper financing for your purchase. Many residential lenders can’t help you with commercial properties. As a result, you may have to locate a specialty lender. Furthermore, you may not be able to borrow more than 70% of the property’s value.

You’ll also deal with a commercial agent, rather than a real estate agent. These professionals specialise in attracting the right businesses to your property. They’ll also help you to create attractive deals for potential tenants.

The Final Word

As you can see, commercial investment is a complex subject. This commercial property guide will equip you with the tools you need to succeed.

The team at Washington Brown can also help you to claim depreciation on your commercial property. Contact us today to speak to a Quantity Surveyor.

Five Secrets to Improving Investment Property Cashflow

Investment Property Cashflow

Cashflow can become a major problem with your property investment. For beginners, slow cashflow could prevent you from building your portfolio as quickly as you’d like. Happily, there are some tricks you can use to make improvements to your investment property cashflow.

So, you’ve got what you think is a great investment property. You’ve followed all the property investment basics, but your cashflow is tighter than you expected. At times, it can be a real struggle to pull together the money to pay for the property’s expenses.

This is a common problem, no matter how well you’ve followed investment property tips. Beginners, in particular, tend to struggle with getting their cashflow up to the level they’d hoped for.

All is not lost. There are a few tips you can follow to improve your investment property cashflow.

Tip #1 – Raise the Rent

It may seem like a simple tip, but it’s one that many beginners don’t think about when they’re dealing with cashflow issues. Raising the rent on your property can offer a short-term solution while you look at the bigger problems.

Of course, you can’t do this every time you face a cashflow issue. Constant rent increases will drive your tenants away. However, it becomes an option if you haven’t re-examined your rents for some time. In such cases, you may be charging less than other investors in the area.

You must also remember your tenancy agreement, along with the laws of your state. Either may prevent you from raising your rents. That’s why many investors wait until the end of a tenant’s lease period before increasing the rent. With some luck, you can secure the tenant on a longer fixed lease at the new rate.

Tip #2 – Take a Look at Your Home Loan

Depreciation CalculatorDo you still have the same home loan you applied for when you bought your investment property? Australia has dozens of lenders who offer hundreds of mortgage products between them. Take advantage of that fact to secure a better home loan.

Work with a mortgage broker to find out what other products are out there. You may find that switching your loan gives you access to lower interest rates and some useful new features.

Alternatively, you could use the information you find as leverage against your current lender. Most lenders want to keep reliable clients. If you’ve made on-time repayments, you may find that your existing lender offers a better deal when you threaten to leave.

Those are some long-term options. You could also switch your home loan to interest-only periods for a short while. This will help you to deal with more immediate cashflow concerns.

Tip #3 – Look at Other Income Streams

The property investment basics don’t always cover the other income streams your property may have to offer.

Take some time to think about how you could use your property to generate more than the rental income.

For example, you could lease the side of the building as advertising space if your property is near a busy road. Alternatively, you could lease out any unused parking spaces. Each offers a little extra income beyond your property’s rental income. Remember, that every little bit can help when you have cashflow problems.

Tip #4 – Examine Your Outgoings

Reducing costs is a crucial part of property investment. For beginners, this means taking a detailed look at your figures. You may find that you’re paying too much for your insurance. Or, you could negotiate a better deal with your property managers.

Many who encounter cashflow issues find that they’re paying too much for various services. You may also be paying for things you don’t need. For example, you could handle some basic maintenance issues yourself, rather than hiring somebody to do it for you.

Again, this frees up small amounts of cash. Nevertheless, you’ll improve your cashflow with each positive change to your outgoings.

Tip #5 – Get on Top of Depreciation

Depreciation Quote ScheduleIt’s amazing to think about how many new investors don’t think about rental property depreciation rates. They don’t investigate the claims they could make on their assets. Instead, they keep plugging away without a depreciation report. Alternatively, they assume their accountants have factored depreciation into their tax returns.

You need a depreciation schedule. If you don’t have one, you’re cheating yourself out of thousands of dollars.

Hire a quality Quantity Surveyor to draft a full depreciation schedule. Your surveyor will ensure you claim the maximum amount over the lifetime of each asset. Furthermore, you’ll learn more about tax compliance in your state.

Your Next Step

You’ll make both short and long-term improvements to your cashflow if you follow these tips. You can handle the first four with the help of an accountant and mortgage broker. However, you need additional help to create a depreciation schedule.

Washington Brown has the answer. Speak to one of our Quantity Surveyors today to get a quote.

 

The Five Things Your Tax Depreciation Schedule Must Contain

Tax Depreciation Schedule

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.

Item #1 – Common Indoor Items

(Deductions for these plant and equipment items may only apply if you bought the property prior to May 9, 2017 – Read about the Budget changes here).

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

Depreciation CalculatorLet’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. Depreciation Quote Schedule

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.

Things To Know Before Buying an Investment Property

know before buying an investment property

Six Things To Know Before Buying an Investment Property:

You may be thinking about buying an investment property. Australia has a strong property market, which attracts a lot of buyers. However, there are some property investment basics to keep in mind.

The attractive Australian house market has many people investing in property. For beginners, this means learning the property investment basics that will lead them to success. After all, property isn’t a sure thing. It may offer more security than investing in stocks, but you have to put the work in to generate an income.

So what do you need to learn before you invest in a property? Here are some things you must know about property investment for beginners.

Issues #1 –How Much You Can Borrow

You need to know how much you have to spend before looking for an investment property. If you don’t, you run the risk of finding the perfect property, only to discover that you can’t afford it.

You can get a general idea for how much money you need when buying an investment property.

Calculator websites allow you to enter some figures to produce a rough estimate. They’ll ask about your income, in addition to any expenses you currently incur. These include everything from your debts, through to the dog food you buy each week.

However, you won’t know for certain until you speak to a lender. Most importantly, you must find out how much of the property value you can borrow. This will tell you how much money you must raise for your deposit.

Issue #2 – Your Investment Plan

Most people approach property investment with a simple end goal. They want to make enough money from their property to quit their jobs. However, many don’t really understand what this means. Enough money for one person may not be enough for another. Depreciation Calculator

So, you need to have a plan in place before you start investing. Work out how much income you need your investments to generate before you can live off the proceeds.

This is your real goal. A vague notion of early retirement won’t keep you focused. You need to know exactly what you’re shooting toward before you invest your money.

Issue #3 – The Different Types of Gearing

You may have heard of gearing, without really understanding the concept. You need to learn what gearing is to create a strong investment plan.

There are three types of gearing: positive, negative, and neutral. Positive gearing means that your property generates enough income to cover its expenses, with money left over. You have to pay tax on your income when you have a positively geared property.

Negative gearing means your property doesn’t generate enough money to cover its costs. This may sound like a bad thing. However, you can use negative gearing to your advantage. Many investors offset the losses their properties make against other income sources, such as their salaries.

As the name suggests, neutral gearing means the income covers the costs. You don’t make any profit, but you don’t lose money either.

Issue #4 – The Choice Between City and Rural

There’s a huge difference between city and rural properties. City properties give you access to more people, which makes it easier to fill vacancies. However, rural properties allow you to charge higher rents. You can also buy rural properties for less money.

So, which do you choose? It all comes down to what you want to achieve. City properties tend to enjoy higher capital growth than rural properties. However, it’s easier to positively gear a rural property.

You need to do your research before creating any property investment strategies. Australia offers all sorts of opportunities. Consider area population, local economies, as well as demand when choosing where to buy your property.

Issue #5 – Who Provides Legal Advice?

You’ll have a choice between conveyancers and solicitors when looking for legal advice. Both work in law, but they’re slightly different.

Conveyancers focus solely on property law. They’re highly specialised, but won’t be able to help you with any issues that aren’t directly related to the property. Solicitors offer well-rounded knowledge on a range of issues. However, they also cost more money.

Your choice depends on the property. If you anticipate a lot of legal issues, hire a solicitor. This usually costs between $2,000 and $3,000.

A conveyancer costs approximately $1,000. Use these professionals if you anticipate a simple transaction.

Issue #6 – Your Exit Strategy

Depreciation Quote ScheduleYou should achieve success with proper planning. However, that doesn’t mean that you don’t need an exit strategy.

Your exit strategy determines how you’ll generate a profit from your investment. For example, you could decide to sell after a set amount of years to take advantage of capital gains.

Alternatively, your exit plan may involve benefitting from the rental yield until you retire. Upon retirement, you could move into the property, rather than sell it.

The main point is that you need to know how you’ll exit the investment. If you don’t, you can’t take full advantage of the property during your ownership period.

The Final Word

Investing in property could help you to enjoy a greater level of financial comfort. However, poor preparation will lead to mistakes and potential losses. You need to know how to maximise your investment before you commit your money to a property.

Washington Brown can help you with that. Our Quantity Surveyors can help you to calculate how much you can claim in depreciation. Get in touch today to find out more.

Discounted Properties: The Six Things You Need to Watch Out For

Discounted Properties

When trying to figure out how to invest in property with little money, many new investors look toward discounted properties. However, there are some risks you must keep in mind.

Foreclosure is an ever-present risk for Australian homeowners. Failure to meet your mortgage repayments could result in your lender taking possession of your property. It’s an issue that affects thousands of people every year. In Victoria alone, almost 1,000 people had their homes repossessed between 2014 and 2015.

Foreclosed, or discounted, properties present an opportunity for property investment for beginners. In fact, many make discounted homes their first investment property in Australia.

However, buying a foreclosed home is not always simple. Here are six things you must watch out for when purchasing a discounted property.

Issue #1 – Your Own Finances

When a lender forecloses on a property, they take ownership of it. As a result, you buy discounted properties directly from the previous owner’s lender.

What does this mean for you? For one, you can expect the lender to want to get the transaction over with as quickly as possible. You’ll have to deal with a shorter settlement period, and the lender will want to see that you have your finances in order. Furthermore, having pre-approval on a home loan isn’t always enough. You need to have more concrete evidence that you have the money to spend.

Make sure your finances are in order before trying to buy a discounted investment property in Australia.

Issue #2 –The Quick Settlement

As mentioned, you’ll deal with a quick settlement period when buying a discounted investment property in Australia. This is because the lender needs to get the property into somebody else’s hands. The longer that takes, the more time the lender has to wait before recouping their costs. Depreciation Quote Schedule

Prepare yourself for this ahead of time. Make sure you have a solicitor in place who will prioritise the transaction’s paperwork for you. Furthermore, work closely with your own lender to ensure nothing can go wrong with your mortgage application.

Failure to meet the conditions of the settlement could lead to you paying penalty fees. Suddenly, your discounted property costs more than you expected.

Issue #3 – The Need to Make Repairs

Foreclosures are not pleasant situations. The previous owners will have vacated the property quickly. They will also have been going through some financial difficulties. As a result, maintaining the property would not have been a priority.

Expect to make repairs to several fixtures and fittings. It’s also likely that you’ll have to clean up before you can start using the house as an investment property in Australia. Worst case scenario, you’ll have to renovate extensively.

Factor this into your budgeting before you buy the property. You won’t be able to use your discounted property to generate an income if it’s in a state of disrepair.

Issue #4 – The Effects of Unruly Previous Owners

Those undergoing foreclosure will feel a lot of stress. After all, they’re facing financial issues and the prospect of losing their home.

In some cases, the previous owner may have lashed out against the property itself. There are reports of investors buying discounted properties, only to find extensive damage. You become responsible for fixing this damage as soon as you take ownership of the property.

You can avoid this problem if you arrange a building inspection. Have an inspector ready to go as soon as you make contact with the lender who owns the property. This ensures that you find any deal-breaking issues before the transaction reaches settlement.

Issue #5 – The Location

Depreciation CalculatorBuying a discounted property doesn’t mean you should forget about the location. Checking the property’s location is one of the property investment basics.

Take some time to visit the area, so you can get a feel for the neighbourhood. Also, remember that the pictures you see aren’t fully representative of the property. The seller uses those images to make the property look as attractive as possible.

As a result, you need to visit the property yourself at least once before making your offer. If the location isn’t suitable, no discount is worth the risk.

Issue #6 – Your Research

You may forget to do your research in your rush to buy a discounted property. The faster settlement doesn’t help with this. You have a lot of pressure on your shoulders to get the deal done quickly.

Some investors use this as an excuse to research less thoroughly. Don’t fall into that trap. You need to know if the property has the potential to contribute to your portfolio.

Examine the usual data. Check to see how local property prices have fluctuated over the last few years. Have a plan in place for what you’ll do with the property once you have it. It’s also worth checking tenant demand, assuming you wish to use the property to generate a rental income.

The Final Word

Buying discounted properties could help you to make a lot of money as an investor. However, you shouldn’t go into any deal without checking all the issues.

You also need to consider how you’ll claim deductions on your new property. Washington Brown can help, so contact us today to find out how much you can claim.

Depreciation and Natural Disasters

Depreciation and Natural Disasters

Depreciation and Natural Disasters: Everything You Need To Know

A natural disaster could have a devastating effect on your investment property in Australia. You may need to get a new depreciation schedule to account for any repairs you make. Here’s what you need to know.

You cannot underestimate the effects natural disasters can have on an investment property. Australia deals with such disasters, and other issues, on a near-yearly basis. If such an issue affects your property, you may have to undergo a period of rebuilding. You’ll need to replace any assets you’ve lost, and possibly renovate or rebuild parts of your investment property in Australia.

This could make you wonder how natural disasters affect your rental property depreciation rates. On the one hand, you may have to pay out of pocket to bring your property back up to code.

After all, your insurance policy may not cover unforeseen circumstances. On the other hand, any improvements you make to the property improve its value. Your construction work could allow you to make more tax deductions. Australia has various regulations that ensure full compliance in such situations.

There are three situations you may find yourself in following a natural disaster. You’ll usually have to do at least one of the following:

 

You must approach each situation differently to maximise your ability to claim depreciation. Let’s look at each individually. 

Repairing Your Assets

Repairing an asset involves any work you undertake to bring the asset back to its original condition. This generally includes minor work only.  Depreciation Quote Schedule

If you make any improvements to the asset, you cannot claim it as a repair. This includes any physical changes to its appearance, or altering the asset’s functionality. These are upgrades, and you must treat them as such.

So, what can you claim for when repairing an asset? It differs depending on whether you have insurance.

If you have insurance, you can claim for the cost of repairing the asset. However, you must also declare any sum you received from your insurance policy. This will have a direct effect on your tax deductions. Australia does not allow you to claim the full cost of the repair if you have insurance.

However, those without insurance can claim the full cost. This is because you won’t have received any help in making the repair.

Replacing Your Assets

On the face of it, replacing an asset seems simple. If you can’t repair your previous asset, you must purchase a replacement. You can then claim for this replacement on your tax returns.

However, the issue of improvement comes into play again. The asset you purchase must have the same specifications and functionality as the damaged asset. Any improvements move the asset into the final category, which changes how you claim for it. Simply put, if the replacement isn’t like-for-like, it’s an improvement.

If you have insurance, you have to make several adjustments to your depreciation report. You have to account for both Capital Allowance, and Individual Depreciable Assets.

Those without insurance must scrap the depreciation value of the previous asset. Replace this with the new forecast for the replacement asset.

Making Improvements or Upgrades

Depreciation CalculatorAnything that improves the original asset is either an improvement or an upgrade. This includes changes to appearance and functionality. You may also have to claim on the asset as an upgrade if it has different specifications to the original asset.

So, how do you handle the depreciation? If you have insurance, you take the same action as you would when replacing an asset. Adjust your depreciation report to account for the Capital Allowance. Don’t forget the Individual Depreciable Assets either.

If you haven’t got insurance, you must get arrange a new depreciation forecast for your improved asset.

Working with a Quantity Surveyor

In all cases, work with a Quantity Surveyor to make your adjustments. These professionals will help you to forecast your depreciation tax deductions. Australia is home to many Quantity Surveyors, so do some research before selecting somebody.

The role your Quality Surveyor plays depends on your previous actions. If you had your property assessed before the disaster, your surveyor will make minor adjustments to your previous report. This costs less than a full report.

However, you will need a full depreciation report if you didn’t already have one. This takes some more time and money. However, the report will ensure that you claim all the depreciation you’re eligible for.

The Final Word

A Quantity Surveyor can help you to maximise your depreciation claims after a natural disaster. Arrange a survey as soon as possible to ensure you don’t lose more money than you have to.

Washington Brown maintains a team of expert Quantity Surveyors. Contact us today to find out more.

The Secrets of Backdating Your Property’s Depreciation

Property’s DepreciationProperty depreciation is one of the largest tax deductions for homeowners in Australia. But did you know that you can backdate your property’s depreciation? Doing so could save you thousands of dollars every year.

As an investor, you need to take advantage of all the tax deductions Australia has to offer. Property depreciation deductions allow you to control your cash flow from your property. As a result, you can use them to enhance your property’s profitability.

Many who own an investment property in Australia claim depreciation yearly.

Unfortunately, some overlook these deductions entirely. Happily, you can backdate your depreciation claims. Firstly, let’s look at what property depreciation means.

What is Property Depreciation?

So, what counts as depreciation for your investment property in AustraliaDepreciation Calculator

You can claim for any loss of value resulting from the wear and tear of the property as it ages. Capital works are the building’s structural elements, and you can claim for all of them, including the roof tiles and the concrete used throughout the building.

You can also claim for the wear and tear of any equipment in the property. This includes things like the property’s fixtures, but extends to things like carpets and ceiling fans. (Deductions for these plant and equipment items may only apply if you bought the property prior to May 9, 2017 – Read about the Budget changes here).

Claiming for your property’s depreciation is one of the most effective tax deductions in Australia. It allows you to reduce your yearly taxable income, which means your tax bill also decreases. When used correctly, depreciation allows you to take home more money each year.

Behind the deductions you claim for interest expenses, depreciation is one of the largest tax deductions in Australia. However, many investors fail to claim for all their property depreciation. Some even forget about it entirely, which could result in the loss of thousands of dollars over the lifetime of your investment.

Using Backdating to Claim Depreciation

So, what can you do if you haven’t claimed for all of the depreciation you’re entitled to? This is where backdating can help you.

There are two key steps you must take to backdate depreciation properly:

  1. Work with a Quantity Surveyor to create a full depreciation schedule for your property. Your surveyor will inform you about every item you can make a claim for. They will also discuss rental property depreciation rates with you.
  2. Bring the surveyor’s depreciation schedule to your accountant. He or she will alter your tax returns so that you claim for all of the depreciation you’re entitled to.

In most cases, you can only backdate depreciation for two years.

What is a Tax Depreciation Schedule?

Depreciation Quote ScheduleIf you’ve never claimed for your property’s depreciation, you may not know what a tax depreciation schedule is.

The schedule your Quantity Surveyor creates, offers a summary of every item in your property that depreciates in value. Think of it as an investment property tax deductions calculator focused solely on depreciation. The schedule notes every item, and informs you of how much you can claim for each over the course of the next 40 years.

As noted, your accountant can use this schedule to backdate your tax returns for the previous two years. However, they will also use it to help them to complete your future tax returns. This ensures you claim properly for all future depreciation of your property’s capital works and equipment.

Can I Backdate for More Than Two Years?

In most cases, you can’t backdate your tax returns for over two years. The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has strict guidelines in place. These usually prevent you from exceeding the two-year limit.

However, that isn’t to say it is impossible. The ATO has different rules for companies than it does for individual investors. There are also different rules for those using a self-managed superannuation fund (SMSF), or a trust.

As a result, it’s worth speaking to your accountant to find out if your situation allows you to backdate for more than two years. It’s unlikely, but you may strike it lucky and be able to claim for even more depreciation than you expected.

Is Backdating Worth It?

Yes, it is. If you don’t account for your investment property depreciation, you could lose out on thousands of dollars every year. In fact, claiming for depreciation can turn a negatively geared property into a positive one.

On top of that, you can also claim the cost of your Quantity Surveyor as a tax deduction.

The Final Word

That’s everything you need to know about backdating depreciation. Speak to your accountant today to find out how far you can backdate your claims.

Washington Brown is here to help if you need a quality Quantity Surveyor. Contact us today to get a full depreciation schedule for your investment property.

Five Money-Draining Mistakes to Avoid as an Investor

Mistakes to Avoid as an Investor

Before starting your career as a property investor, you need to arm yourself with more than the property investment basics. If you don’t, you may end up making some costly mistakes.

Investing in property is more difficult than you might think. It’s certainly a more reliable way to generate an income than other types of investment. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any risks involved. In fact, approaching property investment without a plan could result in you losing a lot of money.

As a result, you need to learn more than the property investment basics before you move forward. There are all sorts of mistakes you could end up making when investing in property. For beginners, these mistakes could lead you to financial ruin.

Mistake #1 – Using Emotion to Make Decisions

Think back to when you bought your first home. What were you looking for? Most buyers look for something that draws them to the property. They may have specific features in mind, or they fall in love with the décor.

This leads to them making decisions based on emotion. This is fine when buying for yourself, but it causes major issues when buying investment property. Australia has millions of people who don’t think like you do. They’re your potential tenants, so you have to buy with them in mind, rather than yourself.

Basing your decisions on emotion means you may spend too much on the purchase. It also blinds you to what your prospective tenants would want. Instead, you need to think about the needs of your target market. If the property doesn’t cater to them, move onto the next opportunity.

Mistake #2 – Failing to Manage Your Cashflow

While the property investment basics often cover how to find a good property, they don’t always focus on issues like cashflow. The fact is that property investment is a business. As a result, it comes with the same pitfalls as operating a business. Depreciation Quote Schedule

You need to understand all the additional costs that come with your property. For example, you have to account for how much the property will cost when it’s unoccupied, as well as when it has tenants. Unexpected maintenance can also place a burden on your finances. Of course, there’s also the issue of tenants failing to pay on time. All these problems affect your cash flow.

Many investors recommend holding back a tenth of your property’s value to cover such issues. If you don’t, you may find that the unexpected costs lead to failure. An investment property cashflow calculator could help you to stay on track.

Mistake #3 – Going it Alone with the Mortgage

You may think you can handle the stress of finding a mortgage for your investment property. However, this is usually a mistake.

Going it alone often means that you miss out on some of the best financing options. Remember that lenders want what’s best for them, ahead of what’s best for you. The wrong financing can come back to bite you later on. You may end up paying more interest than you ought to. Or, you may not have access to special loan features that could help you.

As a result, it’s best to work with a mortgage broker when searching for a home loan. Their expertise may prove invaluable. Plus, they can often provide access to mortgage products you wouldn’t find on your own.

Mistake #4 – Not Finding Out About the Seller

The seller’s situation will affect how you approach negotiations. However, many investors don’t even try to find out more about the seller.

Most sellers won’t give you a direct answer if you ask why they’re selling their property. However, that doesn’t stop you from looking for clues. For example, you can use your property inspections to look for signs of poor maintenance. This often suggests that the seller is undergoing some personal or financial hardship.

You can use this information to strengthen your negotiating position. It may seem cruel, but remember that investment is a business. Don’t allow your emotions to prevent you from getting a great deal.

Mistake #5 – Not Doing Adequate Research

Depreciation CalculatorThe need for research is one of the property investment basics. However, plenty of investors fail to learn as much as they can about the property market before spending their money.

Reading a book or two won’t equip you with the knowledge you need. You have to learn about the specifics of the property’s area to stand any chance of success. Talk to local estate agents and people in the surrounding neighbourhood. Research property prices to ensure you’re getting a good deal. Most importantly, find out what the area has to offer that might appeal to your tenants.

This will take time, but it’s worth it. Quality research lowers your risks, which increases the chances of achieving success.

The Final Word

Many novices make some critical mistakes when entering the property investment sector. They only read about the property investment basics, which results in them crashing and burning. In the end, they end up losing thousands of dollars.

You must avoid these mistakes. Furthermore, you need to consider the tax implications of owning an investment property. That’s where Washington Brown can help. Speak to a Quantity Surveyor today to find out more about claiming for the depreciation of your assets.