Prep for SMSF loan changes, practitioners told

SMSF trustees should consider accumulating a larger cash amount for their loan in case SMSF lending conditions change before they purchase a property, one mortgage and loans expert says.

Omniwealth managing partner of mortgage and finance James Grima says while the lending conditions offered by the banks for SMSF loans have stayed relatively steady this year, after some of the major changes that occurred in 2016, SMSF practitioners and trustees shouldn’t be complacent.

“There’s nothing at the moment that suggests that [lending conditions] are going to change, but when you’re talking about people’s superannuation, I’m always hesitant about more changes down the track,” he said.

Mr Grima said he has seen examples where the client received a pre-approval but the bank subsequently changed the loan conditions at the last minute when the client had already committed to a property.

“This potentially means that the deal cannot go ahead and the client loses their deposit,” he said.

Off-the-plan property purchases are a particular issue because the property may not settle till the next year.

“That’s what we’ve found with those big changes last year, properties were purchased off-the-plan and they were approved, and when the approval expires it has to fall under the new rules and the clients can’t meet that,” Mr Grima said.

“That’s why we leave a bit of a buffer now from where we are so that we’ve got a bit of room up our sleeve to cover anything. We just don’t want to expose the client. So if the bank wants 10 per cent [cash in reserve], we’ll have 20 per cent just in case.”

This warning follows significant interest rate changes on SMSF loans from major providers, such as Westpac, amid a spate of interest rate hikes on investor loans across Australia. 

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