Becoming Real Estate Depreciation Wise

Jhai Mitchell

In terms of depreciation, what should you consider when making an investment property purchase decision?

If you are looking to purchase an investment property, it is worthwhile asking yourself a number of questions. While many investors consider location, purchase price and tenanting ability when contemplating an investment property purchase, they often overlook depreciation as an important factor.

Real estate depreciation can help unlock the cash flow potential within an investment property, often meaning the investor will have thousands of additional dollars each financial year. There are several factors for consideration that will enable the property owner to maximise tax depreciation benefits including:

  • The age of the property: both new and older properties will attract some depreciation deductions, although a property with an age between 1-20 years will provide higher depreciation than an older property.
  • The type of property: if the property is part of a strata complex or community title development, each unit is entitled to claim common property benefits in addition to the unit's depreciation benefits.
  • The amount of common property: common property items within a strata or community title complex such as lifts and swimming pools are included in the depreciation report. The more common property there is, usually results in higher depreciation claims.
  • The amount if plant and equipment are items that can easily be removed from the property as opposed to items that are permanently fixed to the structure. Plant and equipment includes items such as light shades, stoves, air conditioning systems, blinds and carpet. These items can be depreciated at a higher rate and add significantly to the depreciation claim. More plant and equipment generally means higher depreciation claims.

Once you have purchased an investment property, what can you do to increase your depreciation deductions?

In order to maximise the tax benefit your investment property will attract, you will require the services of a recognized Quality Surveyor with specific property tax depreciation skills and experience.

To ensure you claim all your entitled depreciation deductions a site inspection will need to be carried out as this will accurately identify all items of plant and equipment. These specific items attract higher depreciation rates than what is applied to the building. An over-capitalized property with more expensive fittings such as ducted air conditioning and stainless steel oven, cooktop and rangehood will have a higher depreciation claim than less expensive fittings such as split air conditioning and an upright stove.

We advise all property investors to seek independent advice from their own taxation specialist.