New tool allows SMSFs to buy shares in properties

Zoe FieldingMarch 31, 20140 min read

A recently launched investment tool is giving self-managed superannuation fund members access to invest in real property with a lower capital outlay.

The Fractional Property Investment Platform, released by DomaCom in early March, allows investors to buy shares in any property on the market through an Australian Securities and Investments Commission-registered managed investment scheme (MIS).

“We are targeting the SMSF sector because that’s the sector that we know wants to invest,” DomaCom general manager of sales and marketing Warren Gibson said.

The average SMSF balance was just over $1 million at the end of the December 2013, according to Australian Taxation Office data. The median balance for the funds is around half that figure.

Gibson told Property Observer that the high cost to buy real estate meant most SMSFs wishing to invest in the asset class had to borrow to do so or invest through a syndicate or managed fund. Funds that did not wish to borrow risked having an undiversified portfolio.

“Syndicates are costly to set up, once you are in the syndicate you are there for the duration and there’s no liquidity for the structure. What we set about doing was introducing equity market concepts into the product,” Gibson said.

Investors can choose from the 18,320 properties already been listed on the Fractional Property Investment Platform, or request that any other property for sale be included. Around 17,000 of the properties currently listed are residential, 1,000 are commercial and 300 are rural.

The company aims to increase the number of listing to around 100,000 by the end of the year and eventually have all properties for sale listed, Gibson said.

After selecting a property, the investor bids on what proportion they would like to hold and a price range they believe it is worth.

The platform allows them to create a book build to buy the property with other investors who also wish to purchase a stake. When enough investors have joined the book build to account for the expected full value, DomaCom engages a buyers’ agent to acquire the property. Property valuers and conveyancers are also engaged.

After purchase, the property is placed into an MIS with sub-accounts set up for each investor. Rent and property-related costs are allocated to each investor in proportion to their holding.

The minimum amount to open an account is $20,000 but investors can put as little as $2,000 into each property.

Management fees to DomaCom are around 1% a year.

Gibson said the DomaCom platform also offered a secondary market where investors could sell their holdings in the MIS to others.

Investors can only access the structure through financial planners, who must be accredited to advise on the products.

DomaCom is also working on a product that will allow home owners to sell part of the equity in their property to investors. Gibson said the company hoped to release that product in the third quarter of this calendar year. 

Zoe Fielding

I am a freelance journalist and editor with more than 15 years experience specialising in personal finance, property, financial services and financial technology. A skilled writer and researcher, I have extensive experience producing high quality content for corporate and media clients. I am used to working to tight deadlines and tailoring the pieces I produce to suit a variety of audiences and formats.
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