Research and having the right people to help you are the keys when investing in property.

It definitely pays to do your homework on the property market before you dive in, and we’re thrilled to be on board to help you when it comes to financing your decision. Recent share market slides, tight rental markets in most capital cities and a whiff of increase in property prices are seeing many mum and dad investors retreat to bricks and mortar.

Generally, property in Australia is still considered to be a sound investment due to steady and consistent increases over time.

But it’s not a quick win. Property usually has a seven to ten year cycle, with highs, lows and steady stints in between.

Fortunately, an ongoing housing shortage in Australia and a tax system that allows negative gearing on property (where any investment losses can be claimed as tax deductions) continue to favour housing as a solid, long-term investment.

But credit has tightened in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis so lenders are more cautious about who borrows and for what. Your broker is your best ally in finding the right lender and loan for your circumstances in this new environment. They can also wade through the many investment loan options on offer, leaving you more time to find the ideal property.

Want to talk investing?

Whatever your circumstances, your AFG broker will find the deal that’s right for you, not the lender. We can arrange for a mortgage broker near you to get in touch.

Here are some tips to help you find the right rental and reap the most rewards.

Unit or house?

House prices often increase in bigger strides than units, offering more potential for capital gain over time. But a rental home also comes with added responsibilities, including gardens and lawns (and sometimes a pool) to maintain.

A unit or townhouse may not increase in value as quickly, but they are generally easier to maintain and may even be easier to rent for that very reason, depending on location, condition and size.

Location, location.

Of course, you’ve heard this before. But location can mean different things when it comes to rental properties. Renters are often looking for maximum convenience so consider properties near schools, major shopping centres and public transport.

Spend plenty of time researching target areas, including recent property price movements and future predictions, rental vacancy rates and any proposed infrastructure improvements. You should also do some scouting as if you were a renter to get a first-hand look at the local market.

Remove the emotion

One of the worst mistakes you can make with any investment is to buy with your heart instead of your head. Remember, your rental property is not your ‘home sweet home’.

A well-presented property is desirable, but think sensible, not swank.

Ideally, you want a neutral interior colour scheme, serviceable and resilient flooring and window coverings, a low-maintenance yard and good storage. And if buying an older style unit, look for one with an internal laundry, a garage or car space and few stairs (unless there’s a great view to be had higher up, which can add to the property value).

Don't forget the extras

An investment property requires regular financial commitment beyond the loan repayments. Make sure you have the capacity to cover land and water rates and any maintenance and repair costs. Tenants are entitled to repairs or replacements as quickly as possible under their rental agreement, so you will need to have the means to pay.

Apartments or units also come with body corporate fees, which can run to thousands in some modern complexes with professional landscaping and shared amenities, such as swimming pools.

Cover your investment

Make sure you take out landlord’s insurance. This will cover you for damage caused by a tenant and unpaid rent if a tenant skips out, in addition to other standard risks, such as a house fire or a storm.

If you invest in a strata title property, make sure the body corporate has sufficient building insurance to cover the cost of rebuilding the complex in today’s prices. It’s often hard to work out what you need to cover versus what the body corporate covers. A good rule of thumb is everything from the wall paint inward is yours and everything outside of that is covered by the body corporate.

Any interest?

Many property investors take advantage of interest-only loans because interest payments are tax deductible. That means you’re taking a punt that the property’s value will increase over time, leaving you with a financial gain in the long run.

This is a good strategy for high income earners who are taking advantage of negative gearing. If you choose to positive gear your investment (i.e. generate a profit from the rental income after costs), you might want to consider a principal and interest loan and use the profit to shave off the principal.

Just remember, you will pay tax on any income from your investment. Talk to your accountant about your tax situation so your broker can find the right loan.

Taking ownership

Couples taking advantage of negative gearing should put the investment property mostly or fully in the name of the highest earner to reduce their taxable income. If you need both incomes to be considered in the lending equation, speak with your broker to get the right advice on the best ownership equation for your circumstances.

Appreciate depreciation

The ATO will give you a discount off your tax bill for wear and tear on property. It’s known as depreciation, and can be a very handy windfall for investors, especially if you buy a new property.

The formula is quite complex and depends on the age of your property, building materials and the various fittings. That’s where a professional quantity surveyor comes in. For a fee (often around $600), they’ll assess the property and complete a Tax Depreciation Schedule, which your accountant will incorporate in your tax return.

Manage your investment

Managing a property takes time and energy. If you don’t have much to spare of either, you should get a professional property manager to advertise the rental, screen and select tenants, collect and pay the rent, co-ordinate repairs and maintenance, provide condition reports and manage any disputes. Ask other local landlords for referrals for reputable managers.

You should also conduct twice-yearly inspections yourself. Any associated costs, including travel and accommodation, are tax deductible.

If you decide to self-manage, you will need to be well-versed on tenancy laws and prepared to organise repairs, including those that arise after hours.

AFG understands every borrower has unique circumstances – and that some are more complex than others. Our brokers know from vast experience which lenders will work with investment customers who have more complicated requirements, and will negotiate on your behalf.

Investing FAQs

Why invest in property?

Australians are among the most active property investors in the world, with an average of one in every three new mortgages each month arranged for investors. Most of these investors are ordinary people with ordinary jobs earning ordinary incomes. So, why is property investment so popular?

Capital growth. Capital growth is the increase in value of property over time and the long term average growth rate for Australian residential property is about 9% a year. Importantly, because property markets move in cycles, property values go through periods of stagnation as well as decline. This is why taking an investment view of at least 10 years is important. Note: if your investment property increases by 7.5% a year, over a 10 year period it will double in value.

Rental income. Rental income, also known as yield, is the rent an investment property generates. You can calculate this by dividing the annual rent by the price paid for the property and multiplying it by 100 to produce a percentage figure. As a general rule, more expensive properties generate lower yields than more moderately priced properties. There is also usually a direct, inverse relationship between capital growth and rental income. Those properties producing a lower rental yield will often deliver greater capital growth over the long term.

Tax benefits. The Federal Government allows you to offset against your taxable income any losses you incur from owning an investment property. For example, if the amount you receive in rent from tenants is $5,000 less than the cost of servicing the mortgage, and paying rates, water and other fees associated with the property, at the end of the year you can add that $5,000 to the amount of income on which you don’t have to pay tax. If you work as an employee, with income tax automatically deducted from your pay, this means you’ll receive a refund from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) after the end of the financial year.

Low volatility. Property values generally fluctuate less than the stock market. Many investors say they experience greater peace of mind for this reason.

Leverage. Property enables far greater leverage than many other investments. For example, if you have $100,000 in savings, you could invest it in a portfolio of shares, or use it to buy a property worth $500,000 by taking out a mortgage for $400,000. If shares go up by 10% during the year, your share portfolio would be worth $110,000 and you would have gained $10,000. If property goes up by 10% during that same year, your property would be worth $550,000 and you would have gained $50,000.

You don’t need a big salary to invest. If you are buying to invest, lenders will take rental income as well as your own income into their assessment. If you already own your own home and have some equity in it, you may be able to use this as a deposit, meaning that you can buy an investment property without having to find any additional cash. If you don’t own your own home and feel you may never be able to afford one, buying an investment property may be a good stepping stone to one day being able to afford your own home.

What’s the difference between an investment loan and an ordinary home loan?

Most of the same types of home loans and loan features apply for investors as for owner occupiers. Some lenders may charge higher rates for investment properties if the associated risks are higher.

Can I use equity in my home as a deposit for an investment property?

Many an investor has started out by utilsing the equity of their own home. Banks will usually accept equity in a home (or other property) as additional collateral against which they are prepared to lend. This means you could potentially borrow the full purchase price of the property, as well as all costs (stamp duty and other fees) without having to contribute any cash. The risk in using your home as collateral is that if you can’t fund the mortgage for the investment property, the investment property and your home are at risk. Contact an AFG broker to discuss your options.

What is negative gearing?

This is when the cost of owning a property is higher than the income it produces. If the rent you get for an investment property is less than the interest repayments, strata fees, maintenance and other costs, your investment is negatively geared, or making a loss. This loss can be offset against your income, reducing your income tax bill.

How much money can I borrow?

We’re all unique when it comes to our finances and borrowing needs. Get an estimate on how much you could borrow with our fast and clever loan options tool. Or contact an AFG broker who can help with calculations based on your circumstances.

How do I choose the loan that’s best for me?

Our guides to loan types and features will help you learn about the main options available. There are hundreds of different home loans available, so contact your AFG broker who can recommend the best loan(s) for you.

How much do I need for a deposit?

Usually between 5% – 10% of the value of a property, which you pay when signing a Contract of Sale. Speak to your AFG broker to discuss your best options for a deposit. You may be able to use the equity in your existing home or an investment property.

How much will regular repayments be?

Go to our Repayment Calculator for an estimate. Because there so many different loan products, some with lower introductory rates, contact an AFG broker for all the deals currently available and the right loan set-up for you.

How often do I make home loan repayments – weekly, fortnightly or monthly?

Most lenders offer flexible repayment options to suit your pay cycle. Aim for weekly or fortnightly repayments, instead of monthly, as you will make more payments in a year, which will shave dollars and time off your loan.

What fees/costs should I budget for?

There are a number of fees involved when buying a property. To avoid any surprises, the list below sets out all of the usual costs:

  • Stamp Duty – This is the big one. All other costs are relatively small by comparison. Stamp duty rates vary between state and territory governments and also depend on the value of the property you buy. You may also have to pay stamp duty on the mortgage itself. To find out your total Stamp Duty charge, visit our Stamp Duty Calculator.
    Legal/conveyancing fees – Generally around $1,000 – $1500, these fees cover all the legal rigour around your property purchase, including title searches.
  • Building inspection – This should be carried out by a qualified expert, such as a structural engineer, before you purchase the property. Your Contract of Sale should be subject to the building inspection, so if there are any structural problems you have the option to withdraw from the purchase without any significant financial penalties. A building inspection and report can cost up to $1,000, depending on the size of the property. Your conveyancer will usually arrange this inspection, and you will usually pay for it as part of their total invoice at settlement (in addition to the conveyancing fees).
  • Pest inspection – Also to be carried out before purchase to ensure the property is free of problems, such as white ants. Your Contract of Sale should be subject to the pest inspection, so if any unwanted crawlies are found you may have the option to withdraw from the purchase without any significant financial penalties. Allow up to $500 depending on the size of the property. Your real estate agent or conveyancer may arrange this inspection, and you will usually pay for it as part of their total invoice at settlement (in addition to the conveyancing fees).
    Lender costs – Most lenders charge establishment fees to help cover the costs of their own valuation as well as administration fees. Your AFG broker can let you know what your lender charges but allow about $600 to $800.
  • Moving costs – Don’t forget to factor in the cost of a removalist if you plan on using one.
  • Mortgage Insurance costs – If you borrow more than 80% of the purchase price of the property, you’ll also need to pay Lender Mortgage Insurance. You may also choose to take out Mortgage Protection Insurance. If you buy a strata title, regular strata fees are payable.
  • Ongoing costs – You will need to include council and water rates along with regular loan repayments. It is important to also take out building insurance and contents insurance. Your lender will probably require a minimum sum insured for the building to cover the loan, but make sure you actually take out enough building insurance to cover what it would cost if you had to rebuild. Likewise, make sure you have enough contents cover should you need to replace everything if the worst happens. AFG provides both home building and contents insurance. Speak with your AFG broker to obtain an estimate.
    Landlord’s insurance provides standard building and contents cover plus cover for theft or malicious damage to the property by tenants and covers loss of rent in certain circumstances. It also covers the owner’s liability (e.g. if a tradesperson is injured while working in the property). Landlord’s insurance is an affordable extra safeguard and strongly recommended for all investors. AFG provides competitive Landlords Insurance – speak with your AFG broker today for an estimate.

Need a home loan?

Whatever your circumstances, your AFG broker will find the deal that’s right for you, not the lender. We can arrange for a mortgage broker near you to get in touch.