Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Negative gearing or positive cash flow?

There's no easy answer to the much-debated question: do negatively geared or positive cash flow properties make the better investment choice?
There are many investors who swear by negative gearing, which is when the cost of the property, including interest on the loan used to buy it, outweigh the returns it generates. This loss can be claimed on tax, which is where the appeal of negative gearing lies.

Others strongly believe having a positive cash flow is a wiser choice because it means you have more income than expenses and cash in your pocket every week. This is achieved either through positive gearing - where your property's rent returns are high in proportion to the purchase price and cover all the expenses. Alternatively you can achieve a positive cash flow with a property when its outgoings (loan interest, body corporate fees etc) are lower than the income you earn through rent and tax deductions (from claiming expenses and depreciation).
The reason for the divide in opinion is that there is no shortage of successful investors who can vouch for one or other of the strategies or those who have even used a combination of both. Much of the success of property investment depends on individual choice, circumstance and goals, which means that while something works for one, it may not for the next.

The beauty of a positive cash flow property is that it won't burn a hole in your wallet but you'll have to work hard to find one that also delivers good capital growth.
Keep in mind that any profit you make on the rental income is likely to be subject to capital gains tax (after depreciation and other tax deductions), so it's wise to put aside a component of your rent return to meet the tax bill.
Positive cash flow properties are suited to investors who are looking for a conservative investment strategy and are keen to use the extra cash in the pocket to pay down debt and/or increase their equity to make room for further investment.

Here are 10 top tips for finding positive cash flow property:

1. Buy a property that generates a strong rental yield (the return your property generates compared to the property's market value).

2. Know your statistics. Look for indicators that will drive rental prices upwards like a low tenant vacancy rate or suburbs with a shortage of properties for sale/lease.

3. Look for market cycles that are ready - places which have not grown for a while and get in at the right time.
4. Look for property that you can add-value to through renovation.

5. Regional areas are great places to find positive cash flow properties, but make sure your property is exactly what the market wants otherwise it won't make any capital growth. Thoroughly research both property and town: look for high employment rates, a spread of employment sectors and a growing population.

6. Look to buy in places where huge infrastructure spends are being projected.

7. Borrow as little as possible to fund the property. The interest cost on an investment loan can be one of the more significant expenses of a rental property, so the less you borrow, the lower the interest cost.

8. Don't give up on capital growth. In areas that command high rental yields, it's harder to find properties with good capital growth, but not impossible. It's still worth looking for locations where there are factors in place to support property price growth like shops, restaurants, transport links and job opportunities.

9. Buy new. A new property is more likely to provide a positive cashflow than an older dwelling due to its depreciation benefits.

10. Seek advice. Talk to real estate agents, property managers and other investors. The more advice you seek the more you will learn about growth areas and tenant demand. Contact us to find out how the right loan can play a key role in generating positive cash flow for your property.