Purchasing Property in Australia
Australia is known for its excellent quality of life, thriving economy, beaches, culturally alive cities and incomparable wildlife. All of these reasons and many more make Australia an attractive place for foreigners to consider buying their next property. And close geographical proximity to other desirable locations, such as Singapore and New Zealand, make Australia an in-demand locale for foreign investors.
Australian real estate in major cities like Sydney and Melbourne is booming, and mortgage lending is protected by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) to ensure that even temporary residents receive the same fair treatment from lenders as any Australian citizen.
This page will provide specific details into the process of buying property in Australia as a non-resident or foreign-based buyer.
Can Foreigners Buy Property in Australia?
While Australian property is accessible to all kinds of buyers, from a permanent resident to a student visa holder, different rules and restrictions apply for various real estate and purchasers. One of the first steps when thinking about buying property in Australia is to understand the regulations set forth by Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB).
The FIRB is the government agency responsible for protecting and stewarding the interests of both vacant land and established dwellings in Australian territories. FIRB approval is needed for expats to purchase property in Australia and move forward with home loan proceedings. The following sections offer insights into specific parts of the property buying process as a foreigner.
The Australian Property Buying Process for Foreigners
The Australian property market represents a vast and varied landscape. However, every type of property may not be immediately available to every buyer, as there are laws in place governing what non-residents can and cannot apply to purchase.
If you are looking to buy an Australian home as an investment property, there are separate rules applicable to land investments and those relating to business investments.
FIRB approval for any purchase is mandatory unless you become an Australian citizen, not just a permanent resident. At times, restrictions may apply to the types of property that foreigners on a temporary visa can access. Temporary visa holders might be limited to the purchase or lease of new dwellings only, contingent on guidelines affecting transfer of established dwellings in their territory.
A “new dwelling” is typically classified as one that has never been lived in before or has been occupied after its initial sale for less than 12 months in total. The great news here is that Australia offers a New or Near-New Dwelling Exemption guideline that may allow an Australian vendor to sell property to a non-resident without the non-resident having to file for their own FIRB approval.
A great place to start collecting what you will need to complete your FIRB application is the FIRB checklist. There is an application fee associated with every FIRB application that depends on the transaction/area, which can be accessed through the FIRB portal.