July 27, 2023 By Eryan Haddon

Mastering Property Investment through Self Managed Super Funds: A Comprehensive Guide


Self Managed Super Funds (SMSF) essentially provide you the reins to your own superannuation fund. Unlike the conventional industry or retail super funds managed by professionals, with an SMSF, you make your own investment decisions.

With a Self Managed Super Fund, the option to purchase property is one such decision you can make. This strategy involves your Self Managed Super Fund purchasing an investment property, which could be residential property or commercial property.

A shift towards super fund property investing

We've seen a recent shift towards Australians using their Self Managed Superannuation Fund (SMSFs) for property purchases. It seems there isn't a one-size-fits-all explanation, rather a blend of elements at play.

The recent performance of the stock market, limitations on our outer-super borrowing capabilities, certain tax advantages, our innate trust in property, and the need for considerable deposits for personal investments contribute to this trend.

Ready to buy property? Here's the benefits

Buying property with your SMSF offers some distinct benefits. One of the biggest is the capital gains tax benefits upon retirement.

SMSF property investments offer several tax advantages when it comes to capital gains tax liability (CGT) upon retirement. During the accumulation phase, rental income generated from the property is generally taxed at a concessional rate of 15%. Furthermore, if the property is held for over 12 months, the CGT is effectively 10%.

Once you retire and your SMSF enters the pension phase, there can be even more notable tax benefits. In the pension stage, rental income from the property can become tax-free. There is a possibility of incurring zero CGT upon selling the property in this phase.

However, keep in mind that SMSF property investments are subject to strict superannuation rule guidelines, and you must make your investments to benefit each fund member of the SMSF. It is advised to carefully consider any potential CGT implications when transferring property between an SMSF each fund member.

Another important aspect to note is the financial independence of your SMSF property from your personal investments, causing minimal impact on your personal borrowing capacity.

However, despite its numerous advantages, it's crucial to note that investing in real estate through an Self Managed Super Fund is no light matter. There's a list of potential risks and drawbacks that need to be taken into account. Therefore, we advise due diligence and thorough research before diving in.

Reports and calculator for budgeting finance for new investment property


Navigating the Ins and Outs of SMSF Property Investments

In the realm of SMSF property investments, your paths are guided by specific lead marks. The 'sole-purpose' test plays the lighthouse, emphasizing that property investments should be solely providing retirement benefits.

Keeping a checklist of do's and don'ts can serve as your constant guide:

  • Avoid purchasing from or renting to any individual related to a fund member/ fund members.

  • Maintain an investment-only approach; To buy property for personal usage for a fund member/ fund members is off-limits.

  • Buying commercial property opens a window of opportunity, allowing you to lease them to a related business (including those owned by a fund member/ fund members) at market rates.

  • Seek professional advice before even considering borrowing money to buy property with your SMSF.

Free download: SMSF Borrowing for Property Investment   Packed with insights to help you ace the game – grab our guide and understand the risks, crunch the costs, seize the benefits, and capitalize on opportunities. Just hit that download button and you're all set! 


Eligibility and restrictions of SMSF property investment

Let's further dissect the eligibility and restrictions of residential and commercial properties in SMSFs:

  • Sole Purpose Test: Whether residential or commercial, the investment property needs to underscore retirement benefits.

  • Related Party Transactions: Strictly no-SMSF related individual can buy or rent the property. Yet, commercial properties open avenues for legitimate business interactions at market rates.

  • Occupancy Limits and Borrowing Constraints: An 'investment only' mandate drives the occupancy limits. Similarly, borrowings come tethered with the aim to protect the SMSF assets.

  • Improvements and Maintenance: While upkeep is on the cards, major restructuring ventures don't align with the rules.

Residential vs Commercial Property Investments

So, what's the difference between a residential versus commercial investment property through your SMSF? Are there separate rules or considerations? Let's jump right into a detailed comparison, clarifying unique rules and financial implications associated with both areas.

Residential property through your SMSF

Venturing into the territory of buying Residential Property through your SMSF unveils opportunities for substantial, long-term capital growth. Making this choice often necessitates a lower initial investment, creating a more financially approachable gateway for enterprising investors.

However, this option works strictly based on an investment principle. In simple terms, there's no 'vacation or dream home' scenario. Any related party to the SMSF can neither inhabit nor rent this residential property – the core intention is to boost your retirement nest egg. Keep in mind the recurring costs for property management, maintenance, and insurance to ensure its sustained growth.

Commercial property through your SMSF

Comparatively, the journey to invest in Commercial Property through your SMSF reveals a different vantage point. For those owning businesses, these investments serve as an innovative pathway, enabling your business to funnel rent directly into the SMSF - an interesting and efficient way to contribute to your fund!

Besides securing higher rental returns than residential properties, these investments provide the added allure of potential tax benefits. The flip side, however, include a steeper upfront investment and the occasional inevitability of longer vacancy periods.

Arial view of australian property market suburb


Compliance and tax consequences of buying and renting property through an SMSF

The tax landscape of SMSFs plays a vital role in the decision-making process for property investments. Picking out a property to purchase through your SMSF, you inevitably engage with specific tax obligations.

This is where the Limited Recourse Borrowing Arrangement (LRBA) enters the scene as a game-changing element. An LRBA serves as a safeguard, ensuring that in an unfavorable financial scenario, the lenders have claim only over the property tied to the loan, leaving the rest of your SMSF assets untouched. It’s a vital strategy in risk management within your SMSF.

The 'Single Acquirable Asset' Concept

If your SMSF employs a Limited Recourse Borrowing Arrangement (LRBA), you need to understand about 'Single Acquirable Asset'. This concept signifies that your SMSF can use an LRBA to buy only one asset or a group of identical assets having the same market value. The crux is, the secured asset should be able to be sold off concurrently when needed.

Embarking on this journey of purchasing a property through your SMSF can seem complex, but with a careful and meticulous approach, you can ensure a smooth sail. Stay aware, stay informed and always align every action with the rules and regulations of SMSFs.

Navigating the labyrinth of Compliance and Legal Obligations is an irreplaceable aspect of managing your SMSF. Ensuring adherence to rules and regulations set by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is a necessity. These include strict borrowing criteria, annual audits, ensuring the property is purchased from an unrelated party, maintaining a clear boundary between personal space and fund assets. Compliance, in essence, is the backbone to a flourishing SMSF.

Real estate agent showing new investment property to pensioners

SMSF Property Investment: Understanding the Fees, Charges, and Financial Planning

Embarking on the venture of property investment through an SMSF can be rewarding. However, it's important to understand the fees and charges associated with this choice, coupled with the significance of robust financial planning from a licensed financial adviser.

Right from the start, initial purchase costs demand attention. But that's just the beginning, as ongoing property management expenses and loan repayment obligations become vital elements in your financial landscape. Furthermore, any renovation aspirations need to be funded outside of your SMSF, adding yet another dimension to your overall spending plan.

Deciphering SMSF Fees and Charges

Navigating the world of SMSF investment involves paying attention to the various fees and charges that accompany your property adventure. From setting up your SMSF to ongoing administration, together with auditor and financial adviser fees, it's essential to stay informed and prepared for these expenses.

Equipping yourself to meet regulatory requirements might seem daunting, but a dependable team of professionals, including financial planners, accountants, and other experts can help alleviate this burden.

Investing in such skilled assistance is indeed an essential part of your SMSF journey. While they contribute to your overall costs, their expertise can guide you efficiently through the complex SMSF landscape, ultimately leading you towards a well-planned, secure retirement.

Picture of new property outdoor barbeque area

Charting Success means striking the right balance

Let us take a moment to reflect on what we've discovered so far. Embarking upon property investments within your Self-Managed Super Fund (SMSF) can seem like charting unexplored territory. Determining whether this should be part of your SMSF investment strategy needs careful consideration. There's a balance between enticing rewards and inherent challenges. The key to success lies in understanding these aspects while embracing research and expert guidance.

SMSF property investments offers potential tax benefits, steady rental income, and diversified portfolios. Yet, it also involves navigating regulatory compliance, expenses, and loan intricacies. Striking the right balance is crucial for long-term success.

A Partner for your Journey: Trekk Advisory

At Trekk Advisory, we're passionate about understanding and supporting your aspirations. We prioritize relatability and innovation, sharing valuable ideas specific to your business needs. Trust in our expertise and genuine care as we walk alongside you on your path to financial success.

Free download: SMSF Borrowing for Property Investment   Packed with insights to help you ace the game – grab our guide and understand the risks, crunch the costs, seize the benefits, and capitalize on opportunities. Just hit that download button and you're all set! 

Important Disclaimer

HT Ventures Pty Ltd T/AS Trekk Advisory is a Corporate Authorised Representative (No. 1245336) of GPS Wealth Ltd | ABN 17 005 482 726 | AFSL 254 544 | Australian Credit Licence 254 544 | HT Ventures Ltd ABN 26 604 443 763

The information contained in this article has been provided as general advice only. The contents have been prepared without taking account of your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should, before you make any decision regarding any information, strategies or products mentioned on this website, consult your own financial advisor to consider whether that is appropriate having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs.

Whilst Trekk Advisory is of the view the contents of this article are based on information that is believed to be reliable, its accuracy and completeness are not guaranteed and no warranty of accuracy or reliability is given or implied and no responsibility for any loss or damage arising in any way for any representation, act or omission is accepted by Trekk Advisory or GPS Wealth Ltd or any officer, agent or employee of Trekk Advisory or GPS Wealth Ltd. 


About Author

Eryan Haddon

Eryan is an Director of Trekk Advisory and operates from our Townsville and Mount Isa offices. She's been in Public Practice for over 20 years because she loves working with business owners to achieve their version of success - whether its more profit, more cash, more time - It's all about being a part of a team and being able to share those 'F*ck yeah!' moments with her clients when we get results that make a difference. Outside of work, you will probably find her getting ready for a game at the netball courts or touch-field (OR in the car driving her two daughters from one sport to the next). Being active and sharing this with her daughters is something special, and she wouldn't have it any other way. Eryan is all about motivating her team, clients and herself - it's about being strong, confident and humble - so she'll often share little nuggets of wisdom. One of her fave pieces of advice is "Stand up for the things that matter, don't settle, don't apologise for who you are . . . Be f*cking brave" - Lisa Messenger and she loves a motivational podcast to get her going; Oprah's Super Soul, Crappy to Happy!

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