22 Aug 2016

21 August 2016
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“Buying multiple properties can be scary, but if you live in the worst house and rent out those with the most debt, you can fly,” says Tisha Huisken, a graphic designer who is about to own her home outright after investing and flipping a number of houses.

The 40-year-old is one of a number of Australians who has taken advantage of popular tax investor breaks and falling interest rates.

After starting out with a $20,000 deposit, she’s been able to flip five properties in 13 years, about half the lifespan of the average 30-year mortgage.

...longer term you’ve got population growth, so I don’t see investors disappearing although they may quieten down.

Nicki Hutley View Profile

“We’re in the middle of selling our last investment property which will allow us to pay off all our existing mortgage and own the family home outright,” she said.

“I just thought life’s too short, let’s own our house.

“My advice to others is have a plan, get educated on what you can and can’t do and be prepared to get uncomfortable.”

Ms Huisken’s family home on the New South Wales Central Coast is now worth an estimated $800,000, compared to $515,000 when it was bought five years ago.

“We are going to have to pay capital gains tax, plus real estate agent and legal fees, but it’s still financially worth it,” she said.

“We have always lived in the crappiest of our properties and the one with the cheapest loan to service. The idea is that when you have investment debt you can use it to minimise your personal tax.

“I’ve had a house and mortgage since I was in my 20s. But I’m not opposed to living in the most derelict house to become debt free.”

Ms Huisken will soon be among a reduced number of Australians who don’t have a mortgage, which on average stands at $357,300 across the country, according to product comparison website finder.com.au.

The latest housing occupancy data from the ABS shows that of 67 per cent of households which own a home, only 31 per cent owned their home without a mortgage in 2014, compared to 42 per cent in 1995.

“You have got to get uncomfortable. We’ve renovated five properties ourselves, so that’s been challenging at times. You have just got to look at your situation, your loans, debt and do what works for you.”

Ms Huisken’s also had to resist the urge to overspend on renovations.

“It’s often easy to use equity in your home to put in a beautiful new kitchen or a pool. But I try not to get attached to property and my tip is to spend less on renovations on investment properties and work at the tax benefits.”

Tax breaks such as negative gearing, which the Federal Opposition had targeted to scale back in its election campaign, allow investors to offset part of the cost of owning investment property against their taxable income.

Urbis chief economist Nicki Hutley says with rates where they are, good growth can still be expected in Sydney but apartment gluts will hurt prices in Brisbane and Melbourne and that may create opportunities for buyers.

“In terms of prices we’re at top of the market, but longer term you’ve got population growth, so I don’t see investors disappearing although they may quieten down. In terms of the flippers, it’s harder to say but it’s inevitable in this market that you have speculators getting in and out quickly but I would expect that to be less now given how toppy the market is.”