Finance advice

Why living off equity is dangerous

By Victor Kumar

One of the strategies that is regularly advocated in the property investment sphere is living off equity. However, I believe this strategy is fundamentally flawed and here is why.

Your debt keeps growing

Firstly, your debt is forever escalating.

Plus, there will come a point in time — such as now for example — when the lenders might turn around and simply say “no” and that means there is no more money for you to live off on.

Secondly, it basically locks you into a job, because the first criteria banks look at is your ability to repay the loans.

The thing is this strategy was developed when low-doc loans were easy to get approved, but that is no longer the case.

Property selection was also paramount — as it always is — because it had to grow strongly to be able to extract the equity.

As an example, let’s consider someone with a portfolio of five properties that each grows in value by $100,000 per annum.

The strategy supposedly works by extracting $80,000 from one property one year and then the next year you do the same with the second property and so on and so forth.

The thing is it works perfectly — but only on paper.

Wealth reduction

However, what happens when there is a GFC or the debt is so high that your rental yield drops to one or two per cent? How are you going to service the debt, because at the end of the day you will need to pay the loan down?

That is the biggest flaw with this non-strategy because you’re basically funding your lifestyle with debt. What you’re doing is actually spending your wealth rather than your cash flow. You’re slowly eroding your net wealth.

I would rather that you maintain your wealth and spend your cash flow, which involves paying down the loans or not touching them at all.

That’s because over a period of time, when you hit that inflection point where the rent surpasses the expenditure, you’re preserving the original loan amount while your property continues to grow in value.

Eventually, you’ll have positive cash flow to fund your lifestyle.

As an example, the very first property I bought was $137,000 and the rent was $285 per week. Today, 20 years later, that property is probably worth about $700,000 and the rent is $440 per week.

If I had preserved my debt, then the rent more than services the debt and there is still money left over, too.

If you have multiple of those scenarios, you could obviously live off that income — but you would need a large number of properties to do so.

So, to reduce the number of properties required to do that, instead of waiting for that inflection point, you could force the loans down by either developing or selling some to reduce the debt.

Then you can live off the income, rather than living off the equity.

At the end of the day, if you’re double-dipping into your equity, by the time you retire there is no significant wealth left. Plus, if there was another GFC, then you’re pretty much cactus.

You always must be mindful of the strategy that you’re undertaking to ensure that it will weather every market cycle.

That way you’re able to sell yourself out of trouble, but more importantly you’ll be able to hold your portfolio over the long term with your current cash flow — regardless of the market conditions at that point in time.

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About the Blogger

Victor Kumar

Victor Kumar

Nearly 15 years ago Victor and his wife came to Australia from Fiji with just $4,500 in their pockets. They worked hard as radiographers but realised this was not the way to prosperity. Victor embarked on a process of building wealth through property. He has amassed a substantial property portfolio, and is still actively buying and renovating property. His recommendations are based on what works in today’s market, not what used to be effective a year or more ago.

Victor’s experience, finance background, and financial planning qualifications mean he is well equipped to negotiate with banks – helping them find ways to say “Yes”. He has also invested significant time and money in learning from other property investment experts and knows how to make a portfolio work.

Of course, Victor has made a few mistakes along the way but these have made him wiser – and he’ll let you learn from his mistakes so you don’t need to make them. His goal is to help you achieve your financial goals by sharing his extensive knowledge about financial structures and investment property.

Victor is now sought after as a keynote speaker at several property investment seminars and is acknowledged by his peers as an expert in the industry.

http://www.rightpropertygroup.com.au/

FROM THE WEB

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With the softening market impacting property values in many parts of Australia, Sally Dale, Opteon state director for NSW, ACT and Qld joins us to discuss the importance of valuations in the current property market

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Joining host Phil Tarrant, Sally will draw on her 25 years of experience in valuation and discuss the processes involved in arriving at a value for a particular property. She will also share how that process differs between commercial and residential properties and the difficulties which regional property valuations can present.

Sally will unpack the importance and cost of regular valuations on your properties, discuss whether presentation and owner input can sway a valuation and share what you should look for when seeking a reputable property valuer.

If you like this episode, show your support by rating us or leaving a review on iTunes (The Smart Property Investment Show) and by following Smart Property Investment on social media: FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

If you have any questions about what you heard today, any topics of interest you have in mind, or if you’d like to lend your voice to the show, email [email protected] for more insights!

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Sydney
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A softening market can be a difficult time for a property investor with finance approval tightening and property capital growth slowing, and while many real estate agents are also feeling the squeeze McGrath Brighton Le Sands' Bill Tsounias claims it is simply the market returning to normal.

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In this episode of the Smart Property Investment Show, Bill joins host Phil Tarrant to share his thoughts on the current Sydney property market, and to share the shifts that he has seen in house and unit sale prices following their worst quarter in the past decade.

Bill will unpack why properties are spending longer on market, share what he believes property investors are doing wrong when trying to sell their properties and share the secrets to getting the best out of a real estate agent and an auction in the current softening market.

If you like this episode, show your support by rating us or leaving a review on iTunes (The Smart Property Investment Show) and by following Smart Property Investment on social media: FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

If you have any questions about what you heard today, any topics of interest you have in mind, or if you’d like to lend your voice to the show, email [email protected] for more insights!

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Gavin Kemp and his now-fiancé bought their first property together after only six months of dating. They weren’t even living together at the time. Now, two years on, the pair have bought five properties, sold two and have a solid plan in place for their ongoing property journey. 

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In this episode of the Smart Property Investment Show, Gavin joins host Phil Tarrant to discuss how he chose the locations where he decided to invest and how, due to the initial lack of education (something that he now values highly), he lost money on his first two investments.

Gavin will share his thoughts on the current property market, reveal the people who he has leaned on throughout his property journey and discuss why his strategy employs a zero procrastination rule.

If you like this episode, show your support by rating us or leaving a review on iTunes (The Smart Property Investment Show) and by following Smart Property Investment on social media: FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

If you have any questions about what you heard today, any topics of interest you have in mind, or if you’d like to lend your voice to the show, email [email protected] for more insights!

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Launceston
Raceview

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A joint property portfolio before they were even living together

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