Jane Slack-Smith | 27 November 2012

How to use equity in your home to buy an investment property: Jane Slack-Smith

How to use equity in your home to buy an investment property: Jane Slack-Smith

Cross-collaterisation is a topic that often confuses many people. There are benefits of using this structure for a property purchase, but if you are thinking about building a portfolio you need to know the risks associated with it.

It is easy to be amazed at how your friends or work colleagues are buying investment properties, especially when they are on similar salaries and have similar lifestyles to you. There is no secret. What many do is use the equity they have built up in their home to give them a kick start. Over the last 10 years home values throughout Australia have increased, and in some instances doubled. This essentially provides every home owner a source of funds that they can now use. Some have used these funds to upgrade their homes, buy new cars, or make an investment, be it superannuation, shares or property.

Equity is the difference between the value of a property and the loans against the property. In this article we will be looking at using your available equity so that you too can purchase an investment property. Available equity is the actual amount of your equity that you can take out and use. Most lenders require you to keep 20% of the house value quarantined as a buffer. There are few ways that you can then access this available equity, putting it to work for you rather than letting it remain dormant. Two of these methods are discussed below:

1. Cross collaterisation. You can use the equity available in your home to purchase an investment property by securing the new purchase with both your home and the new property. Essentially this means you put no money down and the lender combines your home and investment together, giving you a new loan for the purchase price and the costs of purchase, i.e. the new loan is higher than the purchase price of the new property. The very important thing to remember with this strategy is that your home is directly linked to your investment property and the lender will take the title over your home to secure the new loan as well as the title over the new property.

2. Separate loans. This allows you to access only as much equity as you need to cover the deposit and costs of the new property as a top-up loan or line of credit against your home. Once this is done a separate loan, which may even be with another lender, is taken for the remaining funds required to complete the purchase on the new property. Once again there is no money down required from you, however the titles of your properties are separated and you have greater flexibility. Another advantage of doing it this way is you may find you have enough equity and serviceability to complete a second purchase.

There are positives and negatives with each of these structures. Those using cross-collaterisation will find that over time, lenders invariably start dictating terms, which you may not be comfortable with. For example, they will only lend you money based on the new investment loan being principal and interest, rather than the norm for investors, which is interest only. One of the main issues is that your only portfolio growth may have to stop as the bank will not lend you anymore funds. Imagine you have a house in Perth and over the last few years the value increased from $250,000 to $300,000, meaning you have greater equity to tap into. Now let’s assume you also have a two-bedroom unit in Western Sydney that  was worth $250,000 five years ago, but today it is only worth $200,000.