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Can I use my super to buy a house?

14 February 2023

With housing prices rising over the past decade, the Great Aussie Dream of owning a home can seem just that – a dream. But did you know you can use your super account to help save for your first house deposit?

In this episode, host Anne Fuchs and super educator Megan Ashenden break down how the First Home Super Saver Scheme works and the pros and cons of taking money from your super to buy your first home.

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Hello and welcome to

Super Insider

Australian Retirement Trust's podcast series on the economy, investments

and all things impacting your superannuation.

My name is Anne Fuchs

I'm Head of Advice at Australian Retirement Trust.

The team and I help our members, day in, day out, 2 million of them, plus

hopefully all of them are making really good decisions

about their retirement savings because it's so very important.

Today I'm sitting here on Turrbal and Yuggera country

so I'd like to pay respects to Elders past, present, and emerging

and with me is Megan Ashenden, she's one of our Member Education Officers.

It's wonderful to have you here. Thank you, I'm so excited to be here.

Welcome to Super Insider podcast

we have a lot of fun here

so, you know, I hope you've got your sort of

belts and braces on as we

strap in and have a good Absolutely. I've watched all

the podcasts and I am so excited to be part of it.

Okay, great.

Now today we are talking about

using superannuation to buy your first home

but before we do that, we have to make sure we meet

our, sort of, tick a box, with the not tick a box Compliance people

we would never tick a box. No, we wouldn't tick a box.

We love doing a general advice warning.

Absolutely. Wonderful.

So before we start, I do need to just let everyone know that

what we're going to be talking about today is general information only.

So any advice doesn't take into account your personal situation.

You should consider your circumstances and think about

getting personal advice before acting on anything we discuss.

Now, of course, you can always

get copies of our Product Disclosure Statements on our website

or by calling us on 13 11 84

if you have a Super Savings account

or 1300 360 750 if you have a QSuper account.

Bravo. That's fantastic.

Now we are talking, you know, superannuation and buying a house

I know there's been, there was, lots of research that’s

come out over the last year or so about people

that, when they retire, if they own a home they’re

in a much better position than if you aren't a homeowner

so I guess this is a really important thing to weigh up.

Yeah, absolutely. It's so topical.

So topical.

And look, you and I, before we started recording

we were talking about kids starting school

my youngest is starting high school

and, you know, we bought our house

you know, we were probably 30, I think, our first home

so I'm well and truly past thinking about buying a first home

I'm in a different phase of life

but, you know, if I can ask a personal question, have you

did you use superannuation to buy your first home?

I didn't, and was because the scheme didn't actually exist

so I think it was introduced, I think, six months after

we bought our first home and so I couldn't take

advantage of it, which you know, it was a little disappointing

but, I now get to help others understand it and obviously

be able to use that information so that they can hopefully buy

their first home. So when they announced it

you were probably in your head going "Oh no, I could have done with that."

Yes, yes it would have been very, very helpful

but, you know, obviously,

they were the rules back then, so we made it work

and, as I said, now I just get to help other people take advantage of it.


And so I guess today we're talking about weighing up

the pros and cons because that's the reality,

everyone's situation is really different as per the general advice warning


And so we're going to just uncover what you should be thinking about

what are the advantages

disadvantages and what you need to do next

if you think it might be something you should do.

But I guess starting with

if you look at superannuation, it is a long-term investment

so what are the, you know, using

but so is, also is, your first home I guess, property ownership

so when you heard that announcement

and you thought, “What is cool about using super to buy your first home?”

Well, I think it's really important to understand that it's, you know

it's not necessarily detracting from the purposes of super

which is for retirement, because employer contributions

can't be accessed.

But overall, super, one of the really great benefits

are the tax concessions, we can pay less tax in super

and so we can use this scheme to, again, pay less tax

allow us to contribute personally into super

and if we're paying less tax

we have more money, we can save faster

we can get that money for the house deposit sooner

so that we can actually get onto the property ladder.

So I'm sure you had a few people's ears prick up with less tax.

Less tax, yes. And property

so, maybe for our younger listeners, where superannuation is still maybe

a new thing, do you want to explain that concept of you

can't use your employer, you use personal

what does that mean?

So whatever your employer has to pay

and right now, as it currently stands

that's usually a minimum of 10 and a half percent of your salary

so employer contributions can't be withdrawn for the purposes of super.

So you're still going to have that money being invested

and growing, and that’s going

to be there for you in retirement.

So what you are able to access

for the First Home Super Saver Scheme

which is an absolute mouthful

but for the first home scheme, any personal contributions

that you, yourself make into super

subject to some limits and all of those rules

but, you know, the contributions that you make,

they can then be withdrawn if you meet the eligibility criteria

and it can be put towards

that sort of deposit to be able to buy the first home.

So the benefits, you mentioned

so if you’re, the tax component and there's probably compounding

interest and investments versus term deposits

so let's actually break this up.

Yes, so step one is obviously adding money in, in the first place

and so where it can be really

helpful is to use the power of a salary sacrifice scheme

or tax-deductible contributions, because generally in super

those kind of personal contributions are only being taxed at a rate of 15%

and for most of us

our marginal tax rate is a lot higher.

So if we're paying more in tax

we don't have as much every payday, after tax, to save

but if we're able to pay less tax, then it's going to, theoretically

give us more take-home pay, which will allow us to save more

faster, to hit our savings goal.

Okay, yes. So we're saving on tax

then of course, that money is contributed into the super

environment and that gets invested

and compounding earnings and all of that

and in terms of growing over a long-time frame.

So typically

there's sort of some deemed earnings that are applied to these monies

that are being contributed, and that can actually be greater

than what you would get back as a term deposit

or as interest rates, for example

so we've got, you know, two advantages here

we're able to pay less tax

save more faster. Potentially have it grow more as well

and then the third benefit is that, and this is something

that would have been really helpful for me

is that we're not able to withdraw

those funds until we're ready to go and buy the house.

So if you think about it, you know if you're saving

You can't go on a holiday because you've changed your mind.

Right. You can't just suddenly make a withdrawal, do an online transfer.

Oops I bought something. Correct.


So that can actually be a big benefit for some

because it's that sort of out of sight, out of mind

And it's only when you're ready

because there is some admin and, you know, some extra steps involved

but yeah, locking it away and it's the same concept of superannuation

we can't typically access it until we retire and that

might not seem that great at the time

but out of sight, out of mind, have it grow, have it contribute

it's just there in the background working hard for us

we've got more in retirement

same concept for the First Home Super Saver Scheme

just on a shorter time frame.

We've had Brian Parker on Super Insider

talking about the 2023 outlook

and talking about superannuation being a long-term investment

what would you say if you have one of our younger members

you know, obviously if someone's really young

and they've got a lot, they're going to be

they're five years out from buying a house, probably something different

to someone who's maybe a year or two away

what would be your just, sort of, top tips around the timeframe around using this?

Yes, absolutely

so, and again

this is probably

where we need to talk about the rules

because there's always rules with super.

So there are maximum amounts that you can

personally contribute into super for the purpose of the first home scheme.

Yes let's get into, yes.

So remember employer contributions you can't access

it's the personal contributions that are actually coming from your

your money effectively, and so that you're able to contribute

a maximum of $15,000 per financial year. Which is a lot of money.

It is a lot.

Some of us actually may be in a position

where we're able to save more than that

So remember First Home Super Savers Scheme's

possibly not going to be just in isolation alone

it would be a bit of a combination of first home and other savings

so if you've got the capacity to save more

we can do that outside of super.

So $15,000 going into super per year

and we do have to remember that the ordinary contribution limits

do apply for both before and after-tax contributions.

So $15,000 in every year and then the maximum amount

that can actually be withdrawn in total is $50,000.

So it does mean it's not a you know, it's not a

a quick sort of process.

Now, obviously, if you're wanting to buy that house

sooner, you can just withdraw whatever funds have been contributed

but to get the maximum benefit 15, 15, 15, and then a little bit more

theoretically, it would be over about three and a half years.

And I think a lot of members probably with cost of living and, you know,

everyone's tightening their belt, saving $15,000 is

It's difficult. It's hard, it's challenging

so, yeah, it's you know, you're not necessarily going to be able

to buy your own home overnight, but slow and steady wins the race

and then again, especially to help with these cost-of-living challenges

if we can pay less tax, we're able to save more money faster.

But what about if the members are worried about

if they're putting the money in and there's some

and there's still this volatility in investment performance

and there's a further downcycle and they think, oh, well,

my money's going to go backwards

where at least if I put it in a cash account, that's not going to happen?

Yeah, that's correct

and you know like all things in life

there are pros and cons and considerations,

but in terms of the earnings that are applied for the

First Home Super Saver Scheme I told you it was a mouthful

there's a deemed earning rate

that's actually applied. Okay, and what is that deemed earning rate?

Oh you're really testing my memory bank right now.

It does vary

so the best place to find out what it is

currently would be on the ATO website there will be information there.



So what are the, I guess disadvantages if there's any?

Can you think of

Well the disadvantages can be, I mean that

if for whatever reason you don't end up going down the property route

in terms of purchasing the property, like all contributions

to super, you typically won't be able to access them until retirement.

So if you do, you know, save this money

and then obviously not access it.

Something changes in your life and you're not buying a house.

Correct, yes

the good news it will mean

more for you in retirement because you'll have those

compounding earnings.

Now, there are also some tax implications.

So it's not always right for everyone because if you're on a lower tax

rate, the tax savings or the tax rate super

versus outside of super may actually not stack up for you

so that's why getting advice, doing your research is really

really important.

It also must be used for the purchase

of a residential property

in other words

you've got to be owning and living in it,

so you can't use it for an investment property

also things like tiny homes, mobile homes, caravans,

houseboats, you can't do it.

It's got to be, you know, a bricks and mortar home.

The, you know

there's always just, I suppose the risk then as well of

you know, from a cash flow perspective

as I said, we've already talked about the rules changing but

admin there is a process involved, you've got to apply via the ATO

and like all things bureaucracy, there is a bit of a timeframe

so make sure that you allow that

in terms of

you're not going to get the money the very next day

so be aware of the timeframes

and if you do withdraw the money and you don't go through with

the property purchase, so you've got 12 months

typically once the money is in your bank account

to actually go and sign the contract and purchase the

home, you can get an extension if you need to

but if you don't actually use it towards buying your first home

then there will be additional tax that you have to pay.

So I suppose you want to be pretty sure that you're

ready and rearing to go. Correct.

Is there any impact for our low income members where the

government helps encourage people to put more money into super

is that something else in terms of a benefit?

Yes, so the co-contribution that you might get

what the government has paid in for you won't count as an eligible

contribution for withdrawal

but of course your personal contribution

that's enabled you to get the co-contribution

in the first place, obviously, will count.

Yes, because I was thinking some of our maybe financially

savvy members who are in that

situation where they can access

the co-contribution might be thinking

"Oh, cool, double."

No, no, unfortunately not

but overall, you know, this scheme can be quite positive.

So, you know, I like everything read the rules, make sure it works

for you and get some advice and really sort of get that finetuned

to make sure that you're sort of, you know, dotting the I's, crossing

the T's and taking advantage of it as it best suits your circumstances.

Where would you go if you're a member and you're thinking about this

where would be, where would you go to get some more information?

Well, firstly jump online.

So just onto the

Australian Retirement Trust

website and then we're going to

of course link you to the ATO as well.

So we'll have some information on our website

but at the end of the day it's an ATO administered scheme

so they are sort of the gospel truth

so there's information there and you'll be able to, you know

read over it and go through the process and understand it better

and then if you need advice, that's something that we can provide

yes, so utilise that. Yes, I guess could they

talk to their accountant or if they have their adviser as well?

Yes, absolutely

if they've got their own adviser, their own accountant

that they're already comfortable with

you know, it's they should be all over this scheme

and they'll be able to help them understand how it can work.

Look, I think, you know, it's hard for young people

to get into the property market. Really, really hard

so, you know, and as I said, there was this research

undertaken about the power of home ownership in terms

of actually having a dignified, financially secure retirement

so this is why I guess we've got this podcast series today

to help our members really have that financially secure retirement.

Yeah, absolutely

because, you know

outside of, the home is generally going to be one of our largest assets

and then we've got our super as well

and so that can really work in combination with one another

so yeah, being able to take advantage of these newer changes

can be really beneficial.

That's exciting.

Well, thank you so much for coming onto Super Insider.

Have you had fun?

I've had so much fun. Well, I hope you'll come back.

I will, absolutely. Okay.

Well, we hope our listeners that this has been useful again

Megan has suggested looking at our website at

going to the ATO website, picking up the phone

or speaking to your adviser or accountant.

If you like these podcasts please like us on your streaming

whether it's on Apple or Spotify and tell your friends about us.

Thank you for listening and we'll see you again soon.

This podcast is general information only and brought to you by Australian Retirement Trust Pty Ltd (ABN 88 010 720 840, AFSL No. 228975) as trustee for Australian Retirement Trust (ABN 60 905 115 063) (the Fund).