Property Newsletter – July

Keeping up with claims: the tax deductions investors miss

With end of financial year almost upon us, property investors are no doubt turning their attention towards this year’s tax return. It’s a crucial period for investors, and one that plays a key role in maximising their wealth creation.

Every year, Australian investors run the risk of losing thousands of dollars’ worth of easy tax savings by failing to claim lucrative deductions. Whilst many are aware of their basic entitlements, it’s often the finer details that end up costing them in the long run. So, what are the common property tax claims investors overlook?

Investment property tax

Depreciation of the building
One of the biggest, and possibly most lucrative, deductible claims that investors often miss is depreciation on their investment property. As a property’s structure devalues over time, this decline in value can be offset against an investor’s annual income, substantially reducing their tax bill come end of financial year. This is known as a capital works deduction, and it applies to the structural features of a property such as bricks, walls and fixed wiring. It’s also one of the only non-cash deductions investors can make come tax time, meaning they don’t actually have to spend money in a given year to claim this tax benefit.

The confusion for many investors comes when determining when they can (and can’t) make a depreciation claim. This rule varies slightly between commercial and residential property owners. For commercial property investors, capital works deductions can only be claimed for properties constructed after 20 July 1982. With residential rental properties, on the other hand, a capital works deduction can be claimed for properties that commenced construction after 15 September 1987. However, even if an investment property was built prior to these respective dates, this doesn’t mean there isn’t a claim to make at all. In cases where a property has been renovated and structural elements have been added further down the line, these improvements and alternations may also be eligible for depreciation. Investors who have undertaken renovations should have the alterations assessed by a licensed quantity surveyor, who can then draw up a tax depreciation schedule.

Depreciation of plant and equipment
In addition to depreciation on the structural elements of their asset, investors may also be eligible to claim depreciation for the declining value of the plant and equipment installed within their property. This typically refers to fixtures and fittings that can be easily removed from the property, and includes items such as carpets, blinds, ovens, and air conditioning units. As with capital works allowance, the exact laws for claiming depreciable items differ between commercial and residential property. While commercial property owners are able to claim depreciation for all eligible plant and equipment within their property, regardless of whether these items were installed by themselves or the previous owner, this is no longer the case for residential property investors. In light of the 2017 Federal Budget, residential property investors who acquired a property for income-producing purposes after 9th May 2017 aren’t able to claim depreciation for second-hand plant and equipment. Only investors who have bought the property new or installed the plant and equipment themselves are able to make a depreciation claim.

Borrowing expenses
It’s common investor knowledge that interest on investment loans can be claimed as an immediate tax deduction, but this doesn’t stop investors missing out on the long-term claim associated with borrowing money for a loan. Borrowing expenses refer to any costs associated with borrowing the money needed to purchase a property, and includes items such as loan establishment costs, lenders’ mortgage insurance, stamp duty on the mortgage and mortgage broker fees. These costs aren’t immediately tax deductible, but can be claimed as a property tax deduction over a period of five years or over the term of the loan, depending on which is shorter.

Property management fees
Property managers can be an incredibly valuable asset when it comes to helping investors maximise their rental returns and keeping their property aligned with tenants’ needs. What some investors don’t realise, however, is that these property management fees can be claimed as a tax deduction come end of financial year. Providing investors use their property for income-producing purposes, any fees paid for the management of the property will be classified as part of the overall expenses of the property for that year, and can therefore be offset against their annual taxable income. If a property has only been rented out for half of that year, a deduction can still be claimed for the period during which the property was used for rental purposes, but not beyond this.

Travel expenses
Another common deduction that over gets overlooked by investors is the travel expenses relating to the management of their investment property. This applies to commercial investors who need to travel to inspect, maintain or collect rent for their commercial rental property. Whilst these travel costs were once also deductible for owners of residential rental properties, the 2017 Federal Budget saw the overturning of this law. This was largely driven by the concern that investors were claiming travel deductions for private travel purposes and not correctly apportioning costs. Whilst this change impacts investors who opt to self-manage a residential property, it doesn’t impact their ability to claim a tax deduction for third-party property management.

Please note: Momentum Wealth and its affiliated entities are not accountants or financial planners. While all information is provided in good faith, investors should seek their own independent advice in relation to all tax matters.

Case study: the importance of acting fast in a moving market

When property markets start to pick up after a downturn, entry into the recovery phase is often signaled by rises in property prices and increased levels of buying activity.

For investors, these changes in market conditions can have a very real impact on investor competition. As growing confidence in the market begins to drive increased interest from investors, buyers will need to act faster to snap up their investment property of choice and avoid missing out on key investment opportunities. This is something our buyer’s agents are starting to notice more and more as the Perth market shows increasing signs of recovery and stabilisation.

A case study: signs of a moving market
The case in point is a 3×1 property we recently identified in Willagee. This property was of particular interest because it was a corner block property with R40 zoning, meaning it held high potential for value add opportunities through development and subdivision.

Our buyer’s agents and research team first started monitoring this property back in October 2016. At the time, the property was listed for sale at $499,000, but was later taken off the market in February 2017 after a period of four months.

Fast forward a further fifteen months, and the property was relisted for sale in mid-May 2018, this time at $549,000. This marked a significant 10% increase on its original sales price. And this time round, the resulting outcome was extremely different. After just seven days on the market, the property had already sold for a significant $535,000. Same property, stronger market conditions, and a stark contrast in performance.

This isn’t the only case like this we have witnessed in recent months. In fact, our buyer’s agents are starting to see more and more properties attracting higher levels of competition from investors, with some properties receiving multiple offers after as little as just two days on the market. This, along with the clear improvement in sales performance demonstrated above, provides undeniable proof that the Perth market is moving forward, and we can only expect more of these situations to arise as the market heats up further in the coming months.

Staying one step ahead
As competition from both local and interstate begins to pick up, it’s inevitable that investors will need to act faster to secure high-performing properties. In situations like these, having the professional insights and guidance of a buyer’s agent could provide investors with a huge competitive advantage over fellow buyers.

At Momentum Wealth, our buyer’s agents work with real-time insights from our in-house research team to help investors identify high-performing properties as and when they hit the market. Through these insights, we are able to offer investors a unique advantage when it comes to selecting and securing highly desirable properties which are likely to attract high levels of competition from other investors.

If you are thinking about buying in Perth’s moving market and would like to speak to one of our buyer’s agent, get in touch with us to organise an obligation-free consultation with one of our dedicated property specialists.

Rentvesting: an affordable alternative for first-time investors?

It’s hard to consider investing in property as a young buyer without addressing the elephant in the room – housing affordability. For many young investors, the prospect of paying off a mortgage alongside kick-starting a career, travelling the world and paying back student debt just isn’t a possibility through the “traditional” avenue of home ownership. With property prices in high-demand suburbs becoming increasingly unaffordable, what was once deemed the Australian dream is also losing appeal amongst upcoming investors who still want to enjoy the benefits of the inner-city lifestyle while they’re young.

As a result, in recent years we’ve seen more and more first-time buyers forego the traditional home ownership model in favour of rent-vesting – renting somewhere to live whilst buying an investment property in a more affordable suburb. So what are the potential benefits of this investment strategy? And how could rent-vesting help first-time buyers break into the property market without giving up the new Australian dream?

Young investors 

Invest where you can afford, rent where you want to live
For many aspiring investors looking to enter the property market, buying a home in their dream location isn’t always a possibility. With affordability posing a greater issue in inner-city suburbs, becoming a home owner often means looking further afield and sacrificing perks such as proximity to work, nightlife and activity precincts. By becoming a rent-vestor, however, modern buyers don’t need to give up their dream location to get a foothold into the property market. Instead, they can enjoy the best of both worlds – investment in a more affordable area with high capital growth potential and renting a property in their ideal location. This can be a particularly beneficial strategy for those looking to rent with others and share the living costs. Most importantly, however, it gives first-time buyers the opportunity to get a head start on their investment journey whilst still enabling them to enjoy the perks of the lifestyle they love.

Flexibility to move around
Rent-vesting can be a great option for investors who want to take advantage of the flexible nature of renting. For younger buyers who aren’t ready to settle down in one location, this investment strategy provides a way to enter the property market whilst still allowing them the freedom to move around as they wish. Whilst perhaps not the strategy for families or investors who want to call their house their own, this can be an ideal scenario for young investors who still plan to travel or want the option to relocate for work. And this benefit isn’t just for young investors – rent-vesting is also gaining increasing appeal amongst busy professionals who move interstate or overseas to take advantage of career opportunities.

Tax incentives
By making their first purchase an investment property as opposed to a home, first-time buyers are able to take advantage of numerous investment tax benefits that aren’t applicable to owner-occupier properties. Whilst owner-occupier mortgage repayments can’t be deducted come tax time, the costs associated with owning an investment property can be. This includes expenses such as interest payments on investment loans, the costs of advertising for tenants, repairs and maintenance and more. These tax benefits can make the prospect of owning a property considerably more affordable for first-time investors.

Start your investment journey earlier
For investors looking to purchase a home in a location that suits their lifestyle, it can take years to save up a deposit, which often means putting long-term investment plans on hold. Rent-vesting provides a way for aspiring investors to enter the market earlier through a more affordable avenue so they can begin growing their wealth and building the equity they need to either buy that dream home or start expanding their property portfolio.

If you are a first-time investor looking to make your first purchase an investment property, it’s incredibly important to find a property that aligns with your long-term investment goals. As experts in property investment, our professional buyer’s agents can assist you in finding high-performing properties that fit your investment criteria and, most importantly, provide you with the best possible start in your property investment journey.

Contact us today to organise an obligation-free consultation with one of our property investment specialists.

Essential winter maintenance tips for your investment property

As an investor, it’s important not to underestimate the pivotal role that property maintenance plays in keeping your investment costs down and protecting your long-term wealth. As well as ensuring your tenants remain happy, looking after your property and preventing any issues before they arise could be key to avoiding costly damage that could take a serious bite out of your bottom line.

Whilst property maintenance is important all year round, properties always require that extra bit of attention during the winter months. During winter, the harsher weather will often highlight issues that weren’t previously visible in the warmer seasons, with minor damage at risk of becoming a serious problem with the rain and storms that winter brings. To prevent these small issues turning into costly repairs, here are some of the winter maintenance checks you should be organising to protect your investment property.

Winter maintenance

Inspect for wear and tear
During winter, problems that may have gone unnoticed during the warmer seasons such as minor leaks in gutters and rooves are easier to identify, meaning it’s a great time for investors to check their property for any issues that may need addressing. Problems such as water leaks can cause a substantial amount of damage in a short time-frame if left unrepaired, leading to costly issues such as mould, water stains and damaged walls. To prevent these problems arising, you should organise a professional maintenance check to identify any small leaks in gutters or lose roof tiles that could result in water damage. Whilst these checks may set you back around $180, this is relatively minor compared to the hundreds of dollars you may otherwise need to splash out to repair deteriorating eaves and water-damaged ceilings.

Clean your gutters
Gutters will often accumulate a lot of leaf and debris over the warmer months. Whilst not always a major issue in summer, this build-up of debris can become a bigger problem as the weather gets damper. To prevent blocked gutters causing water damage to your investment property, we recommend investors get gutters professionally cleaned to ensure rainwater is properly diverted during the wet weather.

Pool maintenance
Whilst they can be a drawcard for tenants in summer, properties with pools are often less appealing to tenants in winter. To get around this, our property managers usually recommend that investors include pool maintenance in their lease to reduce any potential hassle-factor to tenants. Although pools won’t be getting much use during winter, it’s important to keep them in good condition to ensure they stay clean and damage-free throughout the colder months. This is especially the case if you’re looking to re-lease their property in winter, as issues such as debris and algae can be off-putting for prospective tenants. Whilst it may cost to have the pool professionally cleaned, this is a relatively low cost investment compared to the huge outlays you could be spending further down the line should the pool incur damage from lack of maintenance, and that extra bit of care could see you making more from rental yields.

Check heating systems
During winter, tenants will often make use of heating systems and appliances that have gone unused over the summer months. This change in temperature and increased usage will often require additional maintenance from investors. As the cold weather sets in, you will need to check key appliances such as heating and hot water systems to ensure they are working efficiently and adjusted to the correct setting. It’s also a great time to organise an annual service for your air conditioning system, as issues with split air conditioning often only become apparent when tenants start using them for heating. With the wetter weather also presenting ideal conditions for the build-up of unsightly issues such as mould, it’s also a good time to check that exhaust fans are in working order to ensure the property remains well ventilated, paying particular attention to damper areas such as the laundry and bathroom.

Professional asset management
As an investor, it’s important to remember that your investment strategy doesn’t just stop at the acquisition of a property. In order to make the most out of your investment property in the long-term, you also need to commit to ongoing maintenance to ensure your property remains appealing to tenants and avoid unexpected costs. As experienced property managers, our asset management team at Momentum Wealth aren’t just committed to taking care of the day-to-day maintenance of your investment property, we are committed to maximising your long-term results. Whether it’s helping you avoid costly repairs or identifying opportunities to add value to your rental property, our property management team are dedicated to protecting your long-term wealth and keeping your investment costs at a minimum through smart asset management.

If you would like to find out more about our asset management services, get in touch with Momentum Wealth’s property management team via our online contact form.

Premium suburbs leading the charge for Perth market

Suburbs in exclusive locations are helping support the recovery of Perth WAs property market, touting some big growth percentages.

The top suburbs, with nine out of ten having a median price of at least $1 million, are all located close to either a river or the ocean, according to Shane Kempton, chief operations officer for Professionals real estate group in Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

“These premium suburbs were either located close to the river or ocean. Applecross was the top performer with a median house price increase of 32.4 per cent over the past year rising to $1.6 million, while Dalkeith was ranked number tenth with a median house price of growth of 8.3 per cent, pushing its median house price in this suburb to $2.6 million,” Mr Kempton said.

“These price growth rates are significant when you consider the overall median house price in Perth fell by 1 per cent over the same period to $510,000.

“Traditionally, it is the top end of the real estate market that leads the recovery in the Perth property market and these figures confirm that Perth is now entering this recovery stage.”

The growth of these suburbs, he explained, can be attributed to two reasons; the recovery in the resources is sector is giving property buyers confidence to purchase premium property and as a result of this, stock has declined, which is driving prices up further.

Mr Kempton said when looking at historical data, when prices rise in Perth’s premium suburbs, a ripple effect is felt throughout the rest of the market over a one to two-year period.

“These second-tier suburbs include areas such as Booragoon, Melville, Manning, Como, NSWComo, WA, Floreat, Shenton Park, Subiaco, Wembley Downs and Woodlands,” he said.

“We should therefore see rising prices in other areas of Perth during the coming two years with the outer suburbs which have been worst affected by oversupply issues, being the last areas to benefit from this upward correction in property prices.

“In vast majority of areas in Perth, property prices are still at rock bottom and buyers should now move quickly to secure a property before the recovery in the market gains further momentum to avoid buyers’ regret.”

The top 10 premium suburbs in Perth, according to Professionals analysis and sourced from the Real Estate Institute of WA, are:

Rank Suburb Median sale price Growth over the last year (as a percentage)
1 Applecross $1,675,000 32.4%
2 Bicton $1,080,000 22.7%
3 North Freemantle $1,140,000 18.8%
4 Cottesloe $2,177,500 13.3%
5 Kallaroo $790,000 13.3%
6 Nedlands $1,655,000 13.2%
7 Mosman Park $1,400,000 9.8%
8 Ardross $1,050,000 9.4%
9 City Beach $1,800,000 8.6%
10 Dalkeith $2,600,000 8.3%



Coodanup, Greenfields among the Perth suburbs with the best rental return

SOME of Perth’s least desirable addresses are proving the most lucrative for savvy landlords.

Investors unperturbed by slim capital gain prospects in battler suburbs are cashing in on cheap underlying land values to pocket rental yields approaching six per cent.

Houses in Mandurah’s Coodanup (5.8 per cent) and Greenfields (5.7 per cent) returned rental yields better than anywhere in Perth in the past 12 months, despite both locations ranking among the most disadvantaged.

According to Australian Bureau of Statistics data, median weekly household incomes in Coodanup ($830) and Greenfields ($948) are about half the WA average of $1595, and almost 11 per cent of adults in both suburbs have not completed Year 10, double the WA average.

It is a similar story in all of the REA Group’s top 10 suburbs for rental yield over the past year, all of which, other than Hilbert, fall into the ABS’ bottom 20 per cent of locations.

The average Coodanup home cost $245,000 and returned $14,300 a year in rent, for a rental yield of 5.8 per cent. That means owners would recoup the value of the home in about 18 years, just over half the length of a typical 30-year home loan. By contrast, the median home price in Applecross — one of the worst locations for rental yield at 1.6 per cent — was $1.65 million and returned $25,740 a year in rent. At that rate, it would take 64 years to recover the original cost of the property.

But Momentum Wealth research adviser Shaun Strickland warned against rushing out to snap up cheap homes based on rental yield alone.

“The potential for strong rental yields may be high, but long-term capital growth is limited by the low land values,” Mr Strickland said.

REA Group chief economist Nerida Conisbee said different strategies would appeal to different types of investors.

“Right now, the Perth market is in the early stages of recovery and blue-chip suburbs are starting to see price growth,” she said. “So for investors after capital growth, it would pay to look there. If you want yield, look to lower socio-economic locations.”

Seven common mistakes investors make

When it comes to winning big in real estate, many turn to property investment. But achieving success takes time and patience, with only a handful making it past their first investment.

To ensure you don’t fall into the property trap, we spoke to the experts from Momentum Wealth to discuss seven of the most common mistakes property investors make.

  1. Don’t buy in an overheated market

Momentum Wealth Research Advisor Shaun Strickland said many investors see reports of unprecedented growth in one area and assume this must be the next ‘boom’ suburb.

“If you are reading about a boom in the media, chances are it is already too late to be buying in the suburb. Instead, investors need to be identifying areas that are likely to outperform in the long-term, which is where the advice of a professional buyer’s agent could prove invaluable,” Mr Strickland said.

  1. Not doing enough homework

The property market is always changing, and you will never know EVERYTHING there is to know about real estate. But, doing your homework nonetheless is essential and studying the suburb you wish to buy in will make it worth your while.

Mr Strickland believes research is the cornerstone to a successful property investment.

“Identifying high-performing properties requires analysis of demand and supply, knowledge of the local demographic, consistent market monitoring and awareness of other key growth factors,” he said.

“Once investors have narrowed their search to a specific suburb, they will then need to assess the potential of individual streets and properties.”

Another common mistake investors make is that they tend to only research properties within five kilometres of their current location.

Mr Strickland also said “whilst it’s a natural reaction for investors to look in areas they are most familiar with, this could result in them missing out on key investment opportunities elsewhere.”

  1. No backup cash

According to Momentum Wealth Finance Team Leader Caylum Merrick, many investors fall into the trap of not saving up a sufficient cash buffer once they’ve actually acquired a property, which could leave them in a disadvantaged position should unexpected scenarios arise such as property repairs, rises in interest rates or tenants leaving a property.

Mr Merrick advises investors to set aside a cash buffer to cover unexpected costs for each property in their portfolio.

“We also advise investors to work with an experienced property manager to understand any of the potential costs that could occur for their particular property,” he said.

Find a property manager

  1. Cross-collateralisation

This is when more than one property is used as security for a loan or multiple loans.

“Cross-collateralisation can significantly reduce an investor’s ability to borrow in the future, so it is especially important to seek the help of a mortgage specialist who fully understands their financial needs and long-term investment goals.

“Choosing the right loan strategy from the start can significantly maximise an investor’s borrowing capacity and give them more flexibility moving forward,” Mr Merrick said.

  1. No plan, no gain

All property investors have one goal – to build a lucrative property portfolio. However getting there without a plan or goal will backfire. As the old saying goes, if you fail to plan you plan to fail.

You need to have an end vision of where you want to end up and then follow a strategic plan to get there.

  1. Thinking with your heart not your head

With the Perth property market starting to show signs of recovery and stabilisation, interest will grow from property investors, meaning buyers need to act fast to secure their ideal property.

An investment should be look at as a business decision. Making an ’emotional purchase’ is to be avoided at all costs. A decision driven by your heart can lead you to over-capitalise rather than prioritise the best outcome for your investment goals.

Base your decision on facts, statistics and research.

  1. Choosing to self-manage

Seeking the advice of a professional can help you avoid making simple mistakes, and they can also play a vital role in helping investors identify opportunities to maximise rental returns.

“Property investment experts can assist investors in identifying properties with the highest growth prospects that a single investor may not be able to discover or analyse on his or her own,” Mr Strickland said.

It can be very daunting trying to handle all aspects of property investment on your own, especially if you have a portfolio of more than one or two properties.

Momentum Wealth Asset Management Advisor Clare Christiansen said property managers play an important role not only in the day-to-day running of properties, but also in supporting an investor’s overall investment strategy and protecting their long-term wealth.

“Property investment doesn’t stop at the acquisition of a property,” she said.

“Savvy investors will also realise that smart asset management is key to their long-term wealth strategy.”

Read more about why property managers are vital to a successful investment.

Or, to begin your investment journey, browse properties for sale in Perth, WA.

The most popular suburbs for rentals in Perth: REIWA

White Gum Valley, Scarborough and Shenton Park are among the 10 Perth suburbs where landlords are finding tenants for their rental properties the fastest, according to data released from the Real Estate Institute of Western Australia (REIWA).

REIWA President Hayden Groves said that while on average it takes Perth landlords 45 days to secure a tenant for their rental, many suburbs across the metro area were experiencing faster leasing times.

“In White Gum Valley for example, landlords are finding tenants for their rental properties in approximately 27 days – 18 days faster than the Perth Metro average, while in Scarborough and Shenton Park it takes 28 days and in Pearsall and Leederville 29 days,” Mr Groves said.

The data from REIWA shows all but one of the suburbs on the list have a median house rent price above the Perth Metro median of $350 per week.

This charming two-bedroom house is available for $430/week as featured on Image: Realmark Coastal

“Number six on the list, Floreat, has a median house rent of $543 per week, close to $200 more than the Perth Metro average,” Mr Groves said.

“Many of these suburbs are well-established areas, typically popular with the trade-up and luxury segment of the residential market. This suggests that tenants are finding good value in suburbs that might otherwise be considered out of their price range, and are acting fast when rentals become available for lease,” he said.

Source: REIWA

The data shows that all of the suburbs on the list, with the exception of Shenton Park, saw a notable improvement in average leasing days over the last year.

“The Vines and White Gum Valley had the biggest reduction in average leasing days, experiencing declines of 34 days and 26 days respectively between May 2017 and 2018,” Mr Groves said.

This sleek two-bedroom apartment is available for rent $400/week in Leederville, as featured on Image by Here Property.

“A combination of strong leasing activity levels and declining listings has caused the pendulum to start to swing in favour of landlords. This is particularly the case in those suburbs where we are observing quick leasing times.

Source: REIWA

“Prospective investors who are considering purchasing an investment property in one of these suburbs are in a very good position to secure a tenant quickly,” he said.

Find out more information on the rental market in Perth from the Perth Market Snapshot on the Real Estate Institute of Western Australia website.

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