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Downsize Your Home and Boost your Super

With all the recent talk about superannuation guarantees and using the value of the family home to help people through retirement, we thought it was a good time to remind you about Downsizer contributions and how they can help boost your super.

Downsizer was introduced in 2017 and is one of the ways the federal government is hoping to reduce pressure on housing affordability.

Here’s how it works.

If you meet the eligibility requirements (see below), you can deposit the proceeds of the sale of your family home into your super. This will help to grow your retirement nest egg and the income you could receive when you start drawing a pension.

The benefits of downsizing are many, if it’s only you and/or your spouse in your family home the cleaning, maintenance and cost may be either too much or just more than you want for this time in your life. You may want to be closer to your friends and family or just fancy a change.

A change to a smaller home does come with associated costs, some things to look out for include stamp duty, legal fees, removalists and don’t forget the emotional cost. Leaving the family home and the memories created there could be a very emotional time.

If you’re moving to an apartment or other dwelling with shared facilities be prepared for strata fees and other communal expenses that may come. Also consider storage, parking and security, these could add to your costs. If you’re moving into an aged care facility, we have some useful tips in this article.

As with all superannuation programs, there is some fine print. For the full details visit the ATO website but we have summarised below.

Eligibility

You must 65 years or older to make a Downsizer contribution, and the house you are selling must be your (or your spouse’s) family home that you have lived in for 10 or more years. It must be a house you are selling, not a caravan, houseboat etc.

For singles, you can contribute up to $300,000 from the proceeds of the sale into super, for couples the amount is $600,000.

Rules

You can only use Downsizer contributions for the sale of one home. You should check that your super fund will accept Downsizer contributions and that you complete the necessary forms before you submit the funds. You have 90 days from receiving the proceeds to make the contribution, you can make instalment payments however you will still only have 90 days to make the payment.

Benefits

Downsizer contributions do not count towards contribution caps (currently $25,000 per financial year) and can be made whatever your super balance.

Currently, those aged over 75 aren’t able to contribute to super, but Downsizer contributions are exempt and can be made regardless of age.

What to watch out for

Any Downsizer contributions made into your super will be considered an asset. If you’re already in receipt of a Centrelink pension, this will be included in your means test so it’s important to seek financial advice before considering Downsizer contributions to ensure you’re getting the best outcome.

There is a lifetime cap on transferring money from super to pension, this is currently set at $1.6 million. So, while you can contribute the funds to your super, if you have more than $1.6 million when you start drawing a pension the excess funds will need to remain in your super.

If you meet the criteria and are ready to sell your family home, Downsizer contributions could be a great way to free up some cash and help you increase your income during retirement. As we mentioned, it can impact your Centrelink payments and there could be other unforeseen consequences, so we recommend speaking to a financial adviser before proceeding. Use the contact form below or give us a call if you’re thinking of downsizing.

It is very important that you understand that the information above is general in nature and does not take into account your personal situation. You should consider whether the information is appropriate to your needs, and where appropriate, seek professional advice from a financial adviser. It is also worth noting that the Australian financial and taxation system is ever changing, and the information above may no longer be relevant. Again, we suggest seeking professional advice from a financial adviser before proceeding.