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Considerations for purchasing a property through an SMSF

It is vital for those with a self-managed super fund (SMSF) to carry out all the necessary checks before purchasing a property in their SMSF, especially when borrowing is involved.

Investment strategy
The SMSF’s investment strategy must be considered. If the purchase of a property will cause the fund’s other investments to be out of alignment, trustees should consider amending the investment strategy before purchasing a property.

Resources
Trustees need to consider whether the fund will have the resources to purchase the property. For example, will the SMSF purchase the property using its available resources or would it be wiser to purchase a property of greater value using borrowed funds.

Structure
Once trustees have decided on the property to be purchased, the next step is to consider the structure in which the property will be owned. For example, SMSF trustees can own the property or organise to for their SMSF to own units in a unit trust that will own the property.

Borrowing
After deciding on the structure in which the SMSF trustee will own the property, the next decision is often whether the fund will enter into an SMSF limited recourse borrowing arrangement (LRBA). Trustees should determine whether the borrowing will be from a bank, another financial institution or a related party. The amount available for purchase under the borrowing also needs to be determined.

Management
Once the SMSF has purchased an asset like property, trustees need to consider what would happen in the event of the death of a member. For example, the property may need to be sold or transferred to beneficiaries. Or, if a surviving spouse is to be the recipient of the death benefits, then the funds could remain in the SMSF to provide a pension to the surviving spouse.

Liquidity
When determining what would happen in the event of the death of a member, trustees should also consider other events, such as the disability of a member. Planning for this should take place at the time of purchase, as SMSFs can incur significant financial difficulties if a member becomes disabled.

Posted on 26 July '16 by , under Super.

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Superfund categories and what they mean

There are four different categories of super funds. These have different primary features and are more applicable to certain people than they are to others.

Retail super funds

Anyone can join retail funds. They are mostly run by banks and investment companies:

  • Allow for a wide range of investment options.
  • Financial advisors may recommend this type of fund as they receive commissions or might get paid fees for them.
  • Although they usually range from medium to high cost, there may be low-cost alternatives.
  • The companies that own these funds will aim to keep some of the profit they yield

Industry super funds

Anyone can join bigger industry funds, but smaller ones may only be open to people in certain industries i.e. health.

  • Most are accumulation funds but some older ones may have defined benefit members
  • Range from low to medium cost
  • Not-for-profit, so all profits are put back into the fund

Public sector super funds

Only available for government employees

  • Employers contribute more than the 9.5% minimum
  • Modest range of investment choices
  • Newer members are usually in an accumulation fund, but many of the long-term members have defined benefits
  • Low fees
  • Profits are put back into the fund

Corporate super funds

Arranged by employers for employees. Large companies may operate corporate funds under the board of trustees. Some corporate funds are operated by retail or industry funds, but availability is restricted to employees

  • If managed by bigger fund, wide range of investment options
  • Older funds have defined benefits, but most are accumulation funds
  • Low to medium costs for large employers, could be high cost for small employers

Self-managed super funds

Private super fund you manage yourself. Many more nuances to this type of fund. Most prominent feature is the autonomy over investment.

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