Tax and legal advice

Is it time to change negative gearing?

By Jack Needham

Axing negative gearing will have broader consequences for the property market, but many investors have indicated their willingness to accept alterations to the policy.

The removal of negative gearing might push rental prices up and drive investors out of the market, according to responses to Smart Property Investment’s Facebook question this week.

We asked what abolishing the long-held government policy would mean for property investment, following a report from Deloitte earlier this week that indicated the removal of negative gearing wouldn't have an impact on rental prices.

The Loan Lady believes that axing negative gearing will have the most impact on young investors, with seasoned property buyers unlikely to be deterred by any change.

“I have a range of clients including first-time property buyers and serious, experienced property portfolio investors. I think the elimination of negative gearing will make it harder for a young property investor to invest in property,” she commented.

WarwickWarwick, WA Warwick, QLD Jacques stated that removing the policy would create widespread issues for affordable housing supply.

“No amount of tinkering with the tax regime on investment properties will be of any benefit to the people renting homes because the numbers of properties available for rent will drop, causing rents to rise. This will also put pressure on government and local authority housing, therefore it would be best left alone,” he commented.

Mike Hosking cited the previous removal of the policy for a short period during the 1980s as precedent for the damage such a move could inflict.

“I don't know whether I'm the last of the dinosaurs, but I was around when the Labor government tried to do away with negative gearing in 1985. They had to reintroduce it less than two years later; the only people hurt by its abolition were the very people it was meant to help. Investors withdrew from the market, resulting in fewer rental properties available; rents skyrocketed,” he commented. 

But not all investors were as vehement in their defence of the policy.

Facebook user Ultan Mooney is in favour of the government restricting the policy to new dwellings to increase housing supply.

“It's exactly what they should do – just like APRA was way behind the eight-ball about I/O lending, and the RBA was way behind the eight-ball in enforcing responsible lending, our lawmakers are also way behind on negative gearing policy. Negative gearing is used by far too many people to subsidise existing supply – failing to create enough new supply. Negative gearing should not be removed, but the policy should be adjusted so that it delivers the policy outcomes it was always meant to deliver – creating new rental supply in sufficient numbers,” he commented.

Altering the application of negative gearing policy is a sentiment other investors agreed with.

“We should have negative gearing for the first five years of ownership. Allow owner time to get it to a positive situation. An easier solution is to cap lending at 80 per cent LVR on investment property, as over time it would become positively geared,” David McGuiggan commented.

“A better solution is to allow negative gearing on your primary place of residence. That would make it easier for people to get into their own home, and then treat investment property as it should be treated, as a free market business,” Jody Wall wrote.

To see the full conversation on negative gearing, click here. 

Read more: 

Price growth to decline by up to 15% 

Higher or lower - can you guess the price? 

Lending crackdown increasing investor risk 

Buyers respond to new challenges 

Has the economic downturn in WA been overplayed? 

 

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The practice of property investment firms sharing undisclosed kickbacks among the supply chain involved in development sales will be outlawed in NSW on 1 July this year under the Real Estate Reform being handed down by regulators in NSW.

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Property commentator and valuer, Suburbanite’s Anna Porter, said the reform will address conflicts of interest.

She said they arise when a mortgage broker, accountant or financial planner receives part of the commission from the property firm, who receive their fees from the developer or seller.

“This puts the broker into a position by which they are being paid on both sides of the fence,” she said.

“Until now this has been a grey area and there was nothing stopping this practice.” 

Ms Porter said this has been a common practice in the industry.

"Some well-known mortgage broking firms openly admit to receiving $5,000–$10,000 per referral in their pocket.”

She also said this process has been going on for decades.

"Property investment firms commonly pass some of their commission on to the mortgage broker, accountant or financial planner as a reward to them for passing on the referral. This means that many brokers or financial service providers are making significant amounts of money just to refer on to a property firm, often totalling hundreds of thousands of dollars a year," Anna Porter said.

Ms Porter said the Property, Stock and Business Agents Amendment (Property Industry Reform) Bill 2017 will be in force from July this year, and will prohibit this practice unless the broker or referring partner also holds a real estate industry license.

"Under the new laws, if the broker takes a referral fee from the property firm, they will have to be a licensed real estate agent and also hold a corporation’s license,” she said. 

“Subsequently, every transaction that they receive a referral fee from, they will be putting their license up against the transaction and taking full liability for the conduct, practices and outcome of that transaction, even if they have little to do with the transaction; they are a party to it financially and therefore take as much risk as everyone else in the transaction.”

Mr Porter said where a referrer holds a real estate license, and receives a part of the sale commission, they may find themselves in breach of the ethical requirements under the act.

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New data from Mortgage Choice shows that property buyers continue to choose variable rate home loan products, as demand for fixed rate home loans fell for the eighth consecutive month. 

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According to the company’s latest national home loan approval data, variable rate home loans accounted for over 82 per cent of all home loans written throughout May 2018 — up over 2 per cent from the month prior, and almost 7 per cent higher than the 12-month average.

Mortgage Choice CEO, Susan Mitchell, said this trend will continue as borrowers develop apathy towards the RBA’s stagnant cash rate.

“Indeed, we continue to see borrowers opt for the flexible nature of variable rate home loans which may offer a redraw facility, offset accounts and the ability to make extra repayments. These features are not typically associated with fixed rate loans.

“While a fixed rate product provides repayment certainty, variable home loan rates have been relatively stable for a prolonged period of time giving borrowers little incentive to fix.”

This week’s Housing Finance data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics found that 52,116 home loans were approved throughout April, down 1.4 per cent from the previous month.

Ms Mitchell said she is unsurprised that the value of investment loans dipped — falling 0.9 of a percentage point to $10.7 billion in April.

She said this could reflect tighter lending standards and serviceability policies.

“However, May data may show an increase in investment loans following APRA lifting the cap on investor loan growth at the end of April,” said Ms Mitchell.

Ms Mitchell also noted that the number of first home buyer commitments as a percentage of total owner-occupied housing finance commitments rose to 17.6 per cent in April 2018, from 13.7 per cent in January 2018.

“This increase is significant and first home buyers seem to be propping up the market.”

Ms Mitchell said she expected home loan demand would be maintained.

“[Due to] a combination of factors, such as historically low interest rates, easing property prices and access to FHOGs.”

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Buyer ‘apathy’ behind mortgage preferences
object(stdClass)#1208 (52) {
  ["id"]=>
  string(5) "18158"
  ["title"]=>
  string(57) "The benefits of investing in a decreasing property market"
  ["alias"]=>
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  ["introtext"]=>
  string(150) "

The Australian property market is arguably in a softening phase, and this can have both positive and negative effects for property investors.

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In this episode of the Smart Property Investment show, Real Estate Gym’s Tom Panos joins host Phil Tarrant to discuss how investors can take advantage of this decreasing market by leveraging off of the reduced urgency in the sales process.  He also discusses the importance of researching up to date sales data before investing and looks at the state of the Australian property market as a whole.

With many property investors also selling property throughout their journey Tom reveals the best months to buy property in Australia, shares his thoughts on why an auction is not always the best method of sale and how as a purchasing decision it can lead to over-paying.

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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Hobart

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The benefits of investing in a decreasing property market

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