How to Qualify for an SMSF Loan

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Key Takeaways

Self managed super fund loans or SMSF Loans have become increasingly popular as Australians take greater control over their retirement savings. These loans offer a pathway to diversify investments, particularly in real estate, within the superannuation framework. Understanding how to qualify for an SMSF loan is an important step to leveraging your investment returns.

1. Understanding SMSF Loans

SMSF loans are a unique type of borrowing that supports SMSFs to purchase investment properties within their SMSF. Unlike traditional home loans, SMSF loans must comply with specific regulations under the Superannuation Industry Supervision Act 1993 (SIS Act). The key benefits of investing in property through your super include potential tax advantages and limited recourse borrowing, which protect other assets in the event of default.

2. Eligibility Criteria for SMSF Loans

Qualifying for an SMSF loan involves meeting specific eligibility requirements, which ensure that the loan benefits the members’ retirement savings and adheres to legal standards.

Legal Requirements:

  • The SMSF must be compliant with the SIS Act.
  • Investments must align with the fund’s investment strategy.
  • Borrowing must be through a limited recourse borrowing arrangement (LRBA), meaning the lender’s recourse is limited to the asset purchased with the loan.

Financial Requirements:

  • The SMSF must have a sufficient balance to meet loan repayments and associated costs.  This amount can vary significantly between lenders and can determine lender selection.
  • The fund must demonstrate sufficient cash flow to meet loan repayments although some lenders will allow additional contributions above those made in the past to assist with servicing.

3. Setting Up a Self-Managed Super Fund (SMSF)

Before applying for an SMSF loan, setting up your SMSF correctly is essential. Here are the steps to establish an SMSF:

Establish the Fund:

  • Choose individual trustees or a corporate trustee structure.
  • Create the trust deed, outlining the rules for operating the fund.

Register the SMSF:

  • Obtain an Australian Business Number (ABN) and a Tax File Number (TFN) for the SMSF.
  • Register with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

Set Up a Bank Account:

  • Open a bank account in the name of the SMSF to manage contributions, earnings, and expenses.

Develop an Investment Strategy:

  • Outline the fund’s investment objectives, including diversification, risk, and liquidity.

Compliance and Regulation:

  • Ensure ongoing compliance with regulatory requirements and maintain accurate records.

It is recommended to use a professional SMSF advisor to assist you with the setup of your fund.

4. Preparing Your SMSF for a Loan Application

To improve your chances of qualifying for an SMSF loan, it’s crucial to prepare your fund meticulously:

Clear Investment Strategy:

  • Your SMSF should have a clear investment strategy that includes leveraging via borrowing.

Financial Documentation:

  • Prepare comprehensive financial statements, including balance sheets, income statements, and tax returns.

Professional Advice:

  • Engage with a financial advisor or SMSF specialist to ensure your fund meets all eligibility criteria and is financially sound.

5. The SMSF Loan Application Process

Applying for an SMSF loan involves several steps:

Choosing the Right Lender:

  • Select a lender with the lowest rates and fees that matches your funds circumstances.  This will mean that your SMSF’s balance and contributions align with the lender’s policy or the lender allows additional contributions to meet servicing requirements.

Submitting the Application:

  • Your SMSF loan broker should help you complete your application and the lender’s serviceability calculator.  Documentation required will usually include a certified trust deed for your SMSF, a certified trust deed for your Bare Trust and 12 months of statements demonstrating contributions to the fund.  If the SMSF’s trustees are individuals and not corporate trustees you will need to provide proof of income and position for all individuals.

Approval Process:

  • Assuming the property you wish to purchase is acceptable security, the lender will assess the application ensuring the SMSF’s compliance, capacity to service the loan requested and that your fund has sufficient liquidity in line with the policy.

Limited Recourse Borrowing Arrangement:

  • The loan will be structured as an LRBA, where the lender’s recourse is limited to the asset purchased with the loan.

6. Common Challenges and How to Overcome Them

Qualifying for an SMSF loan can present several challenges:

Compliance Issues:

  • Ensure all aspects of your SMSF comply with the SIS Act and ATO regulations to avoid disqualification.

Ability to meet servicing:

  • Your fund should have sufficient evidence that is has the required cash flow to meet servicing – this can be in the form of member contributions to the fund (or previous retail fund if your SMSF is new) and rental income from the property.  Some lenders will allow additional contributions into the fund to meet servicing, which is an excellent workaround in the event contributions and rental income alone are not sufficient to meet the loan assessment requirements.


  • Sometimes the documentation is not completed correctly.  Make sure all trust deeds are certified, signed and dated and statements provided are for the date ranges requested by your SMSF loan broker or lender.

FAQs about SMSF Loans

What is the eligibility criteria for SMSF loans?

Eligibility criteria include compliance with the SIS Act, the property to be financed is acceptable security to your chosen lender, there is sufficient liquidity (balance) in your super fund and cash flow, in the form of contributions and rental income are sufficient to meet loan repayments.  Some lenders allow additional contributions to meet servicing requirements.

Can my SMSF borrow money to invest in property?

Yes, provided the borrowing is through a LRBA and complies with the SIS Act.

How can I improve my chances of qualifying for an SMSF loan?

Ensure your SMSF is compliant, has sufficient cash flow to make loan repayments and a sufficient balance after settlement to meet the lender’s liquidity requirements.

For more information on qualifying for SMSF loans and tailored financial advice, contact Dark Horse Financial today.

Disclaimer: The information on this page is not financial or personal advice and should not be relied upon for any purpose.

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