General / Jun 02, 2016

Property Valuations

Brent Jones
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SMSF Property Valuations can be confusing. This is partly because there are no hard and fast rules. The ATO has produced guidelines but these are open to some interpretation. Factors to consider include the domain expertise of the Trustee, and the expectations of the ATO and Fund Auditor.

Why assets need to be valued

Financial Statements Preparation

SMSF Financial Accounts are in some ways unique in that they require the market valuation of assets to be done each year.

Reasons for this are so that the SMSF financial reports and member statements are more meaningful to members and allow for decisions to be made (Eg retirement etc). It is also useful for a SMSF to be able to compare its investment returns against the wider superannuation investment sector.

Other events requiring Valuation

Certain events may require a valuation at the time of that specific event, for example:

  • where Business Real Property is acquired from, or disposed to a related party to ensure the transaction is at arms length.
  • when determining the value of assets that fund a member’s pension.

When to have an independent Valuation for Real Property

An external valuation of real property is not required each year, but the decision as to whether to seek an independent valuation should be at least reviewed every year. The valuation approach will be examined by the fund auditor each year.

A general rule of thumb is that it would appear reasonable to have an independent external valuation at least every 3 years.

In determining whether an external valuation is required more often the things to consider are:

  • The value of the property in proportion to the fund’s overall value.
  • significant changes in market conditions,
  • an event has that may have affected the value of the property such as a natural disaster.

Who can provide a valuation?

The valuation may be undertaken by anyone as long as it is based on objective and supportable data.

When valuing real property, relevant factors and considerations may include:

  1. comparison to similar properties
  2. Sales history for the property
  3. independent appraisals
  4. value of any improvements
  5. net income yields.

An independent valuation can be provided through a number of methods. According to the ATO publication Valuation guidelines for self-managed superannuation funds:

“A valuation undertaken by a property valuation service provider, including online services or real estate agent would be acceptable.”

A Trustee can provide a valuation if they can demonstrate that they have a sufficient level of knowledge and can support their valuation with factual data that can be reasonably interpreted by a 3rd party.  For most Trustees this method may suffice for years when an independent valuation hasn’t been sought. For example, the trustee may be able to find statistical evidence that market conditions have not changed significantly as support for their decision to maintain a  prior year external independent valuation.

If a Trustee arranges an external independent valuation every 3 years supplemented by an annual internal valuation with objective supporting data then in general the requirements will be met to the satisfaction of the Auditor and the ATO.

SMSF Engine Online Property Valuation Service

Members can obtain an independent online property valuation for residential properties that meets the ATO valuation guidelines for $99.  The online service produces a report that lists the property sales history and provides a valuation amount/range, rent estimate and yield estimate based on key market data and comparable properties.

The property valuation can be requested when you submit your fund for audit or can be done as an independent service

Click here for details

Title Search

Trustees have the responsibility of protecting the assets of an SMSF which would include ensuring the fund has full legal ownership

It is generally an audit requirement that a title search is done to confirm that the property held in the super fund is, or still is, in the name of the Trustees and is unencumbered.

Common errors that could be picked up are:

  • Change of Trustees but the old trustee is shown on the title
  • SMSF Property incorrectly being used as security for a personal loan

SMSF Engine Title Search

Members can obtain a title search from $55

The title search can be requested when you submit your fund for audit or can be done as an independent service


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