Downsizing in retirement

30 January, 2023 | 4 min read

As you approach retirement, you may find that living in a family home is no longer practical or may not suit your needs.

Downsizing from the family home is a popular way to scale back and access money for many Australians. The Downsizer Contribution Schemes allows you to use proceeds from the sale of your home to boost your super balance and increase your income in retirement.

If you have money left from the sale of your home after you buy a new place, you may be able to contribute up to $300,000 to your super.*

The basics

Downsizing is the process of selling your current family home in favour of a smaller home. However, you don’t have to buy a smaller house or even purchase another property to qualify for the Downsizer Contribution Scheme

The scheme allows you a once-off opportunity to significantly increase your super balance beyond the usual contribution limits. You can do this by using the proceeds from the sale of your family home and investing it tax-free into your super account – which can help fund your retirement for longer.

As with most things, there are pros and cons to downsizing.

The benefit of the downsizer contribution is that you can increase your super without some of the usual restrictions associated with age and contribution limits: No tax is payable when a downsizer payment is made into super. The usual age limits on extra super contributions don’t apply – you can make a downsizer contribution from age 55. The contribution limitations on how much you can add to super per year don’t apply.

There are some eligibility criteria you and your partner need to meet, including:

  • You must be 55 or over when you contribute (if you’re making a couple’s contribution, you must both be 55 or over).
  • You (or your spouse) must have owned the home for ten years or more.
  • You can’t have made a downsizer contribution before.
  • The contribution to your super account(s) must be made within 90 days of receiving the sale proceeds (usually the settlement date).
The maximum contribution is $300,000 for individuals or $300,000 each for couples ($600,000 in total). You should also consider how it might affect your eligibility for the Age Pension, as the extra money will count towards the assets and income test. The downsizer contribution will also count towards the transfer balance cap, which applies when you move your super into the retirement phase.

Advantages of downsizing

  • You can buy a new home that better suits your current and future needs, whether that’s accessibility (with one floor or a lift), a smaller garden or less space to clean and maintain, or a more convenient location closer to shops or family and friends.
  • Your electricity or gas bills may be lower as you use less energy to warm or cool a smaller house.
  • You could save time and money on travel by being closer to shops, friends, family and social activities.
  • You can quickly boost your retirement savings.

Things to consider before downsizing

  • The cost of selling may outweigh the potential profit — factor in costs such as tidying up your current house, removalist, real estate agent and legal fees.
  • There may also be costs for purchasing a new home, such as stamp duty, building and pest inspections.
  • Decluttering, packing, and moving can be overwhelming. Consider your emotional and physical health before moving.
  • What kind of property will you be buying? Less space doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be paying less. Do your research on both the location and the type of house you want to buy
  • Selling the family home can be emotional. Your home holds many memories, and you might also move away from your friends and network.
  • Reducing the proportion of your overall wealth invested in your home could affect your eligibility for the Government’s Age Pension or other benefits such as the Pensioner Concession Card.

Getting help

You can request an appointment with a Vision Super Financial Planner to learn about eligibility and contribution caps. Bookings can also be made by calling 1300 300 820.

* ATO reference

Disclaimer
This is general information only that doesn’t take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs, so before acting on it, consider whether it is appropriate for you having regard to your own circumstances and obtain the appropriate Vision Super Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) and Target Market Determination (TMD) available from www.visionsuper.com.au before making any other decisions about Vision Super. Vision Super products are issued by Vision Super Pty Ltd ABN 50 082 924 561 AFSL 225054 RSE licence number L0000239 as the Trustee of the Local Authorities Superannuation Fund ABN 24 496 637 884.
31 January, 2023 | 4 min read

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