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How to make your investment property cash flow positive

Take advantage of negative gearing with your investment property

Buying an investment property comes with a range of benefits, including rental income, potential capital gains and tax advantages that can be achieved through negative gearing.

Find out how to make your investment cash flow positive, the ins and outs of negative gearing and how to compare investment home loans.

How does a home loan fit into your negative gearing plans?

As interest repayments will make up the lion’s share of the costs of your investment property, you should try to minimise the interest rate you pay. The below example demonstrates how to retain the benefits of negative gearing while maintaining a positive cash flow.

Case study - Dimitri’s investment loan lesson

Dimitri has purchased a property in Sydney. He takes out an interest-only home loan of $400,000 at a rate of 5.50%p.a. His tenant moves in and pays $400 in rent each week.

Below is his current annual situation:

  • Annual rental income: $20,800 ($400 x 52)
  • Home loan repayments: $22,000
  • Strata costs and other fees: $2,000
  • Total cashflow position = - $3,200

Depreciation allowance: $4,000

= -$7,200 negatively geared

As you can see, Dimitri’s property is currently negatively geared and it is a negative cashflow property.

If Dimitri compared home loans and found himself one with a lower rate of 4.50%p.a, and continued interest-only repayments, the property would still be negatively geared. However, his property would be a positive cashflow property due to the lower interest repayments on his home loan.

  • Annual rental income: $20,800 ($400 x 52)
  • Home loan repayments: $18,000
  • Strata costs and other fees: $2,000
  • Total cashflow position = +$800

Depreciation allowance: $4000

= -$3,200 negatively geared

Dimitri can reduce his assessable income by $3,200 as a result. However, he will still be ahead by $800 a year rather than being out of pocket by $3,200 before depreciation is taken into account.

Dimitri is at least $2,040 better off as a result of the reduction to home loan interest, as the $4,000 in additional interest in the first scenario provides a maximum tax benefit of $1,960 if Dimitri is at the top tax rate of over $180k income (45% + Medicare 2% + budget repair levy 2%).

The benefit of negative gearing is tied to your income, so remember to consult your accountant before changing your investment strategy, as your tax situation could change.

Compare refinancing home loans

How can I compare investment property home loans?

As you can see in the example above, Dimitri can get the tax deductions which come with a negatively geared property alongside a property which pays him an income.

He might also get other benefits if he chooses the right loan. Here’s how to compare investment home loans before signing on the dotted line:

  • Interest rate. The key takeaway from the scenario above is that with a lower interest rate, you can benefit from increased income from your rental property, so you should carefully consider the interest rate of any home loan you’re looking at. When doing so, look at the comparison rate, as this will take into account the fees you’ll be paying and reflects the true cost of your loan.
  • Fees. Carefully review the fees of the home loan. If you’re comparing home loans, ensure that the fees aren’t too high, otherwise this may offset the benefit of a lower interest rate. In particular, look at the upfront costs: fees such as application, valuation and settlement charges. Also, see if the loan has any ongoing fees or fees for offset accounts or redraw facilities if you use these features.
  • Features. Home loans today come with a range of features which can help those looking to invest. These include 100% offset accounts, which are transaction accounts designed to help minimise the interest you pay when you leave funds in the account; interest-only options for as long as 10 years, which remove the principal component of your loan repayments to reduce payments and increase tax savings; and the ability to split your rate between fixed and variable portions, so you can have more control over the costs of your repayments.

Home loan comparison

Compare some of the loans below to see how you might be able to save money by refinancing to a more competitive loan. By clicking the headings on the top of the table you can order home loans by interest rate, comparison rate, fees, maximum loan to value ratio (LVR), and monthly payment. Note that the monthly payment shown in the table will be for a principal and interest loan, and not an interest-only loan as shown in the scenario.

Note that the monthly payment shown in the table will be for a principal and interest loan, and not an interest-only loan as shown in the scenario.

Rates last updated August 24th, 2017
$
Loan purpose
Offset account
Loan type
Your filter criteria do not match any product
Interest Rate (p.a.) Comp Rate^ (p.a.) Application Fee Ongoing Fees Max LVR Monthly Payment
Newcastle Permanent Building Society Fixed Rate Home Loan - 2 Year Fixed (Owner Occupier Special Rate, P&I)
Owner-occupiers can lock in a competitive rate with no ongoing fees. Conditions apply.
3.74% 4.85% $0 $0 p.a. 95% Go to site More info
loans.com.au Essentials - Variable (Owner Occupier, P&I)
A basic home loan with a competitive rate and low fees.
3.64% 3.66% $0 $0 p.a. 80% Go to site More info
HSBC Home Value Loan - Resident Owner Occupier only
Enjoy a low variable rate with no ongoing fees and borrow up to 90% of the value of the property.
3.85% 3.86% $0 $0 p.a. 90% Go to site More info
Tic:Toc Live in Loan Variable Rate
A competitive variable rate product with low fees offered by a 100% online lender.
3.68% 3.69% $0 $0 p.a. 80% Go to site More info
Reduce Home Loans Rate Buster 100% Offset Variable Home Loan - Up to $750k (LVR <=80%)
Borrow up to 80% LVR with no ongoing fees and a 100% offset account.
3.54% 3.54% $440 $0 p.a. 80% Enquire now More info
loans.com.au Offset Variable - Up to 80% LVR (Owner Occupier P&I)
Take advantage of a 100% offset account along with no annual or application fees.
3.72% 3.74% $0 $0 p.a. 80% Go to site More info
IMB Budget Home Loan - Special LVR <=80% (Owner Occupier and Principal & Interest only)
A special limited time offer for owner occupiers. An IMB Transaction Account must be opened with this loan.
3.79% 3.84% $445 $0 p.a. 80% Go to site More info
Bank Australia Basic Home Loan - Variable (Owner Occupier)
Pay no ongoing fees on a competitive variable rate home loan.
3.86% 3.87% $0 $0 p.a. 80% Go to site More info
UBank UHomeLoan Variable Rate - Standard Variable Rate Value Offer (Owner Occupier P&I)
Combine a low variable interest rate and free redraw with no application or ongoing fees.
3.74% 3.74% $0 $0 p.a. 80% Go to site More info
NAB Choice Package Home Loan - 2 Year Fixed (Owner Occupier P&I) First Home Buyer Special
A special rate for first home buyers buying residential property and borrowing over $150K. 350K NAB Rewards Points offer available. Terms and conditions apply.
3.69% 4.86% $0 $395 p.a. 90% Go to site More info
St.George Basic Home Loan - Promotional Rate (Owner Occupier, P&I)
A no frills loan with a competitive rate and a maximum LVR of 95%.
3.80% 3.81% $0 $0 p.a. 95% Enquire now More info
IMB Budget Home Loan - LVR <=90% (Owner Occupier)
Get a competitive rate without features you may not use.
3.97% 4.02% $445 $0 p.a. 90% Go to site More info
Bank Australia Basic Home Loan - Special LVR <70% (Owner Occupier)
A special variable rate home loan with no application or ongoing fees.
3.74% 3.75% $0 $0 p.a. 70% Go to site More info
3.79% 4.07% $500 $0 p.a. 95% Go to site More info
Heritage Bank Discount Variable Home Loan - Special Rate Offer (Owner Occupier) New Customers Only
A great interest rate home loan offer with unlimited redraw and unlimited extra payments.
3.99% 4.04% $600 $0 p.a. 90% Go to site More info

Three things you should know about negative gearing with Brenton Tong

Brenton Tong

  • Brenton Tong is Head of Strategy at Financial Spectrum.
  • He's an expert in financial planning, estate planning, funds management, and insurance.
  • Financial Spectrum is a boutique fee-based financial planning firm, which means they don't take commissions.

What are your tips for borrowers looking to reap negative gearing benefits?

Make sure you do your numbers first – as the old saying goes, measure twice, cut once. Be conservative and if you're unsure, ask for help. It's important that you have an understanding of the basic rules of tax. For example, if you're using equity rather than savings, make sure you borrow everything, including the fees and charges – it's often tempting to put savings into an investment to make it perform better, but putting savings into non-deductible debt is always going to be better. Also, get a quantity surveyor's report for your property – don't guess on depreciation. You'll either miss out on valuable deductions, or overstate them and not be able to justify them to the ATO.

Also, get a quantity surveyor's report for your property – don't guess on depreciation. You'll either miss out on valuable deductions or overstate them and not be able to justify them to the ATO.

What should new property investors consider before entering in the property market?

Be prepared for what we call the two months of pain. If the total cost of getting into an investment property is, say,
$60,000, then make sure you've got that plus the first two months mortgage payments – plus the ability to save more. It is very rare that you buy an investment property and the rental payments instantly cover the cost of your mortgage. It's more likely, especially
if it's a new property, that you'll take a few weeks to find a tenant, you'll have a few out of pocket expenses and the first mortgage payment will hit before you've had an income. Ultimately, it's about making sure that the property that you're buying is
affordable both in the short and long term. Consider if you have any changes in circumstances coming up. An example may be if you're relying on two incomes to afford the investment property, but you're also considering starting a family and will therefore
lose one income and have additional costs. While you might be able to afford it when you buy it, you may face cash flow challenges in the near future.

Make sure you do your numbers first – as the old saying goes, measure twice, cut once. Be conservative and if you're unsure, ask for help.

How can investors decide whether or not property is a good investment?

It all comes down to your overall long term strategy and what you're trying to achieve. You need to have the time frame
to hang onto the asset in case it does not perform the way that you want it to, and you need to be prepared to handle the risks (both financially and emotionally) of things like rising interest rates, losing a tenant and a possible decline in value which could
see your deposit wiped out. Investing and gearing into property is an excellent investment choice for the right people, and many people have profited greatly from it, but it's not without it's risks.


If you’re investing in a property, chances are you’ve spent a lot of time carefully studying the market to find a property worthy of your time and money. This is why it’s crucial to ensure your property is financed by a home loan which is low cost, while providing features you can benefit from. Start a comparison of home loans today and you may reap savings.

Ready to invest? Compare investment loans here

Marc Terrano

A passionate publisher who loves to tell a story. Learning and teaching personal finance is his main lot at finder.com.au. Talk to him to find out more about home loans.

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2 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    VinceNovember 17, 2014

    I have approx 850k of equity across 2 properties and want to purchase another investment property. Because I have a low income, 50k banks won’t lend me money.
    How can I get all this equity working for me.

    • Staff
      ShirleyNovember 17, 2014Staff

      Hi Vince,

      Thanks for your question.

      Unfortunately we can only provide general advice regarding investment. You may want to consider speaking to a mortgage broker to see if they can help you find a lender who will let you release your equity.

      All the best,
      Shirley

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