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8.75

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2.77

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8.66

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3.68

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$458

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Learn more about superannuation

Buying a home is – for many of us – the biggest purchase we will ever make in our lifetimes. For many Australians, getting together the money for the deposit on a home loan is a lengthy process, full of sacrifice and uncertainty.

You may have wondered on more than one occasion if it is possible to use your superannuation fund to pay for a home loan, especially if you are nearing retirement age. After all, a superannuation fund generally functions similarly to a savings account, accumulating money over time and keeping your wealth secure.

The short answer is yes, you can use your superannuation to pay for a home loan, but not in the way you might think. Here’s what you need to know about superannuation home loans:

Can I use my current superannuation balance to fund a home loan?

If you have not yet reached your reservation age and retired, the answer here is an almost definite “no”. Superannuation in Australia is subject to strict regulations – including when and how funds can be withdrawn.

Before you retire, you can only withdraw funds from your superannuation in emergency circumstances, such as if you’re facing terminal illness, permanent incapacitation, or severe financial hardship.

If you have an existing home loan, you may be able to make a withdrawal from your super to make a mortgage repayment to avoid losing your house, as this falls under the banner of compassionate grounds, which also covers medical and funeral expenses.

After you’ve retired, you may be able to use money from your super fund to put a deposit on a home loan. It’s often more difficult for retirees to successfully apply for a mortgage, though some banks and other lenders specialise in loans for mature Australians.

So how can I use my superannuation fund to save for a mortgage deposit?

As of July 2017, first home buyers can now start making contributions to their super funds to save towards a home loan.

This is called the First Home Super Saver Scheme (FHSSS) and it allows voluntary contributions to be made by individuals to their super funds, which can be withdrawn as of 1 July 2018.

In addition to offering a secure way to save a deposit where you won’t be tempted to spend your saved money, the main appeal of this scheme is the tax offset applied to these contributions. There is a significant reduction in the amount of tax payable on super contributions when you make a withdrawal, potentially making it easier and faster for Australians to save for a home loan using the First Home super scheme.

Super funds with home loan offers

As well as securing your money for retirement, many super funds offer a range of extra features and benefits, which may appeal to selected Australian households.

Some Australian super funds are affiliated with home loan providers, including banks and non-bank lenders. Members of these super funds may be able to enjoy special home loan offers, such as discounted interest rates or waived fees on their mortgage. While you won’t be able to use the savings in your super fund to pay for your mortgage, joining one of these funds may allow you to enjoy a better home loan deal than you’d otherwise be eligible for, and add some flexibility to your household budget.

A mortgage and superannuation are two of the most significant investments than many Australians may make in their lifetimes, so it’s important to compare your options and carefully consider the costs and benefits before selecting the best super fund or home loan for you.

Buying property through a self-managed super fund

One of the few circumstances in which you can use your superannuation fund to buy property is if you have a self-managed super fund, or SMSF. These super funds require significantly more time and effort to manage, as you are responsible for controlling your retirement money, including how it’s invested.

Unlike a regular super fund, you can use your SMSF to fund a home loan for residential or commercial property, provided you comply with the following rules:

  • You can only purchase an investment property, solely for providing retirement benefits to fund members (that’s you)
  • It can’t be lived in or rented by a fund member (that’s you) or any fund members’ related parties (that's your family and friends)
  • Returns from the investment property are to go back into the SMSF as part of your retirement savings.

Before you commit to a self-managed super fund, it’s important to compare your available options, and read up on SMSF rules at the Australian Tax Office (ATO). Consider contacting a qualified financial adviser, who can help you work out if a self-managed fund may be the best super fund option for you to get a home loan.

Should I use my superannuation to fund a home loan?

Using superannuation schemes or benefits is certainly one way to fund your home loan. For first home buyers, the First Home Super Saver Scheme could be a great way to save for your home loan faster. Like all schemes, it is subject to regulations and caps on the amount you can save or withdraw, so make sure to keep abreast of the current regulations.

Self-Managed Super Fund property loans are more complicated than many other mortgages, but so too are self-managed super funds themselves. Make sure to do your research on eligibility, fees and regulations for this type of home loan and super fund.

Frequently asked questions

Can I buy a house with my superannuation?

First home buyers are the only people who can use their superannuation to buy a property. The federal government has created the First Home Super Saver Scheme to help first home buyers save for a deposit. First home buyers can make voluntary contributions of up to $15,000 per year, and $30,000 in total, to their superannuation account. These contributions are taxed at 15 per cent, along with deemed earnings. Withdrawals are taxed at marginal tax rates minus a tax offset of 30 percentage points.

Voluntary contributions to the First Home Super Saver Scheme are not exempt from the $25,000 annual limit on concessional contributions. So if you pay $15,000 per year into the First Home Super Saver Scheme, you have to make sure that you don’t receive more than $10,000 in superannuation payments from your employer and any salary sacrificing.

How do I set up an SMSF?

Setting up an SMSF takes more work than registering with an ordinary superannuation fund. 

An SMSF is a type of trust, so if you want to create an SMSF, you first have to create a trust.

To create a trust, you will need trustees, who must sign a trustee declaration. You will also need identifiable beneficiaries and assets for the fund – although these can be as little as a few dollars.

You will also need to create a trust deed, which is a document that lays out the rules of your SMSF. The trust deed must be prepared by a qualified professional and signed by all trustees.

To qualify as an Australian superannuation fund, the SMSF must meet these three criteria:

  • The fund must be established in Australia – or at least one of its assets must be located in Australia
  • The central management and control of the fund must ordinarily be in Australia
  • The fund must have active members who are Australian residents and who hold at least 50 per cent of the fund’s assets – or it must have no active members

Once your SMSF is established and all trustees have signed a trustee declaration, you have 60 days to apply for an Australian Business Number (ABN).

When completing the ABN application, you should ask for a tax file number for your fund. You should also ask for the fund to be regulated by the Australian Taxation Office – otherwise it won’t receive tax concessions.

Your next step is to open a bank account in your fund’s name. This account must be kept separated from the accounts held by the trustees and any related employers.

Your SMSF will also need an electronic service address, so it can receive contributions.

Finally, you will need to create an investment strategy, which explains how your fund will invest its money, and an exit strategy, which explains how and why it would ever close.

Please note that you can pay an adviser to set up your SMSF. You might also want to take the Self-Managed Superannuation Fund Trustee Education Program, which is a free program that has been created by CPA Australia and Chartered Accountants Australia & New Zealand.

What is an SMSF investment strategy?

All SMSFs are required to have an investment strategy, which should explain what assets the fund will buy and what objectives it will pursue. This strategy must be reviewed regularly.

Issues to consider include how much risk the SMSF will take, how easily its assets can be converted into cash and how it will pay out benefits.

What contributions can SMSFs accept?

SMSFs can accept mandated employer contributions from an employer at any time (Funds need an electronic service address to receive the contributions).

However, SMSFs can’t accept contributions from members who don’t have tax file numbers.

Also, they generally can’t accept assets as contributions from members and they generally can’t accept non-mandated contributions for members who are 75 or older.

How are SMSFs allowed to invest their funds?

SMSFs can invest in conventional assets such as shares, term deposits, managed funds and property.

SMSFs can also buy ‘collectibles’ such as artwork, jewellery, antiques, coins, stamps, vintage cars and wine – although there are special rules that apply to collectibles.

Investments must be made on an arm’s length basis, which means that assets must be bought and sold at market prices, while income must reflect the market rate of return.

As a general rule, SMSFs can’t buy assets from members or related parties.

What are the risks and challenges of an SMSF?

  • SMSFs have high set-up and running costs
  • They come with complicated compliance obligations
  • It takes a lot of time to research investment options
  • It can be difficult to make such big financial decisions

What should I know before getting an SMSF?

Four questions to ask yourself before taking out an SMSF include:

  1. Do I have enough superannuation to justify the higher set-up and running costs?
  2. Am I able to handle complicated compliance obligations?
  3. Am I willing to spend lots of time researching investment options?
  4. Do I have the skill to make big financial decisions?

It’s also worth remembering that ordinary superannuation funds usually offer discounted life insurance and disability insurance. These discounts would no longer be available if you decided to manage your own super.

How are SMSFs taxed?

Funds that follow the rules are taxed at the concessional rate of 15 per cent. Funds that don’t follow the rules are taxed at the highest marginal tax rate.

Can I carry on a business in an SMSF?

SMSFs are allowed to carry on a business under two conditions.

First, this must be permitted under the trust deed.

Second, the sole purpose of the business must be to earn retirement benefits.

What compliance obligations does an SMSF have?

SMSFs must maintain comprehensive records and submit to annual audits.

How do I wind up an SMSF?

There are five things you must do if you want to close your SMSF:

  1. Fulfil any obligations listed in the trust deed
  2. Pay out or roll over all the superannuation
  3. Conduct a final audit
  4. Lodge a final annual return
  5. Close the fund’s bank account

What is an SMSF?

An SMSF is a self-managed superannuation fund. SMSFs have to follow the same rules and restrictions as ordinary superannuation funds.

SMSFs allow Australians to directly invest their superannuation, rather than let ordinary funds manage their money for them.

SMSFs are regulated by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). They can have up to four members. All members must be trustees (or directors if there is a corporate trustee).

Unlike with ordinary funds, SMSF members are responsible for meeting compliance obligations.

What age can I withdraw my superannuation?

You can withdraw your superannuation (or at least some of it) when you reach ‘preservation age’. The preservation age is based on date of birth. Here are the six different categories:

Date of birth Preservation age
Before 1 July 1960 55
1 July 1960 – 30 June 1961 56
1 July 1961 – 30 June 1962 57
1 July 1962 – 30 June 1963 58
1 July 1963 – 30 June 1964 59
From 1 July 1964 60

When you reach preservation age, you can withdraw all your superannuation if you’re retired. If you’re still working, you can begin a ‘transition to retirement’, which allows you to withdraw 10 per cent of their superannuation each financial year.

You can also withdraw all your superannuation once you reach 65 years.

How do you pay superannuation?

Superannuation is paid by employers to employees. Employers are required to pay superannuation to all their staff if the staff are:

  • Over 18 and earn more than $450 before tax in a calendar month
  • Under 18, work more than 30 hours per week and earn more than $450 before tax in a calendar month

This applies even if the staff are casual employees, part-time employees, contractors (provided the contract is mainly for their labour) or temporary residents.

Currently, the superannuation rate is currently 9.5 per cent of an employee’s ordinary time earnings. This is scheduled to rise to 10.0 per cent in 2021-22, 10.5 per cent in 2022-23, 11.0 per cent in 2023-24, 11.5 per cent in 2024-25 and 12.0 per cent in 2025-26.

Employers must pay superannuation at least four times per year. The due dates are 28 January, 28 April, 28 July and 28 October.

What are my superannuation obligations if I'm an employer?

Employers are required to pay superannuation to all their staff if the staff are:

  • Over 18 and earn more than $450 before tax in a calendar month
  • Under 18, work more than 30 hours per week and earn more than $450 before tax in a calendar month

This applies even if the staff are casual employees, part-time employees, contractors (provided the contract is mainly for their labour) or temporary residents.

How is superannuation calculated?

Superannuation is calculated at the rate of 9.5 per cent of your gross salary and wages. So if you had a salary of $50,000, your superannuation would be 9.5 per cent of that, or $4,750. This would be paid on top of your salary.

The ‘superannuation guarantee’, as it is known, has been at 9.5 per cent since the 2014-15 financial year. It is scheduled to rise to 10.0 per cent in 2021-22, 10.5 per cent in 2022-23, 11.0 per cent in 2023-24, 11.5 per cent in 2024-25 and 12.0 per cent in 2025-26.

How do I change my superannuation fund?

Changing superannuation funds is a common and straightforward process. You can do it through your MyGov account or by filling out a rollover form and sending it to your new fund. You’ll also have to provide proof of identity.

Is superannuation compulsory?

Superannuation is compulsory. Generally speaking, it can’t be touched until you’re at least 55 years old.

Am I entitled to superannuation if I'm a part-time employee?

As a part-time employee, you’re entitled to superannuation if:

  • You’re over 18 and earn more than $450 before tax in a calendar month
  • You’re under 18, you work more than 30 hours per week and you earn more than $450 before tax in a calendar month

Who can open a superannuation account?

Superannuation accounts can be opened by Australians, permanent residents and temporary residents. You’re automatically entitled to superannuation if:

  • You’re over 18 and earn more than $450 before tax in a calendar month
  • You’re under 18, you work more than 30 hours per week and you earn more than $450 before tax in a calendar month