Choosing the right property at the right price

Investing in real estate is usually all about capital growth, so choosing a property that is more likely to increase in value is the most important decision you will make, so buying at the right price is absolutely critical.

Unlike buying shares where the value of a company is transparent, real estate is more difficult to price, this however provides you with the opportunity to acquire an asset below its real market value if you are patient, knowledgeable and get the right advice. The key for you is to do your research, work out what everything is selling for in and around the area. Never consider purchasing real estate in an area that you are unfamiliar with or have not done research on, particularly when you are approached by developers marketing offshore properties or off the plan, many of these real estate marketing companies are paid very high commissions resulting in the price of the property being hugely inflated. If you do find a property that you like and are unsure of its real value we’d suggest contacting us or another lender so you can arrange for an independent valuation to be done on behalf of a bank and once you are armed with this information you can often use this as a good negotiating tool.

You probably aren’t aware but lenders and mortgage insurers have valuable data on different locations and property developments and you should try and access this information to assist you to avoid picking the wrong investment property. Whatever you do, never make a decision to buy an investment property based on getting a tax deduction – always focus on making the right investment choice.

Ensuring that you have a steady rental income stream is also vital because this cash flow will make the holding of the asset more affordable and provide income.

Different classes of residential property – home units, houses and land – can outperform each other over time. For example, vacant land will provide no rental income but may appreciate more quickly if purchased in an area with limited supply. Investing in a home unit might mean less maintenance costs than investing in a freestanding weatherboard house. Some areas offer higher rental yields, but it is important that you do your homework as often these properties provide lower capital growth opportunities.

It is also important that your property suits the demographics of renters in the area. For example, if it is near a university more bedrooms will be in greater demand than a big backyard for kids to run around. A family home that is close to schools and parks on a quiet street will be more desirable than a property on a busy road.

Use the equity from another property

Leveraging equity in your home, or equity from another property investment, can be an effective way to buy an investment property. Equity is the amount of money in your home that you actually own. It can be calculated by working out the difference between what your property is worth and what you owe on the mortgage.

For example, if your home is currently worth $750,000, and you have $250,000 remaining to pay off on the mortgage, you have $500,000 worth of equity. Also, using the equity in your existing home can allow you to borrow more money against your investment property, which may increase your tax deductions.

Negative gearing

Negative gearing can offer property investors certain tax benefits if the cost of the investments exceeds income it produces. Australian law allows you to deduct your borrowing and maintenance costs for a property from your total income. However, you can only get a tax benefit if you earn other taxable income in the first place. So, while you are actually making a loss on the property, the advantage is that the loss can be used to reduce the amount if tax on your other earnings. However don’t buy an investment property just to get a tax deduction.

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