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Investing in shares vs property in SMSFs

Shares and property are two popular investment options for those with a self-managed super fund (SMSF). However, they both have very different attributes and choosing the one that will achieve the best outcome for an SMSF depends on your personal goals and situation.

While the price of shares can vary drastically, property is a relatively stable asset, making it appealing to those who want more security and predictability. Property prices are also negotiable unlike shares, and you can generally borrow money at a lower rate for property purchases.

It may seem hard to find the perfect investment property, but older and undercapitalised properties can be renovated for profit. However, returns from property rentals can be dented due to factors such as land tax, utilities and rates, maintenance and tenancy vacancies.

Shares are more dynamic and volatile than property. One advantage is the accessibility of investing in shares, as you can enter the share market with a few thousand dollars – much less than what you need to invest in a property.

Maintaining a portfolio of quality shares that pay tax-effective dividends may be a good way to fund retirement. With the right portfolio allocation, shares also have the potential to provide a better, stronger income than property rentals, as long as that income is sustainable and increasing.

Property can generally be used as a wealth-creation tool, while shares can create a reliable retirement income. For those who can afford to put more money into investments, it may be a good idea to consider investing and diversifying in both. If you’re unsure about which investment option is right for you, seeking financial advice may be the best option.

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SMSF property investment regulations to keep in mind

June 2, 2020

Property is a common investment option for SMSFs, however, the ATO has a number of regulations SMSF owners need to be wary of. The ATO is particularly concerned with those using SMSF assets to invest in property in a way that is detrimental to retirement purposes.

To ensure you do not breach provisions of the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993 (SISA), here is a breakdown of the ATO’s common regulatory concerns:

Also keep in mind that you cannot improve a property or change the nature of a property while there is a loan in place. While you can look to make additional contributions to your SMSF to speed up the loan repayment process, you will be precluded from making further contributions to your SMSF if any outstanding loans in your super balance exceed $1.6 million.

In the case that any of the ATO’s regulatory concerns apply to you and your SMSF’s involvement with property investment, confirm your situation and report your circumstances to the ATO. Additional regulatory matters regarding income tax such as non-arm’s length income (NALI) provisions as well as GST need to be reported as well.