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Buying Property In Australia

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.

Foreign buyers looking to purchase property in Australia will benefit greatly from, and in many cases be required to retain, the services of an Australian real estate professional. They are referred to the buyer’s agent, and this person will conduct in-person research to help you make an educated decision about where you want to live, what you can afford, and any other factors associated with your property purchase.

A buyer’s agent provides invaluable Australian market insight for non-resident buyers and is generally authorized to bid on your behalf at home auctions or other public sales. They can also help you understand fair property prices and any tax exemptions you may qualify for as a foreign buyer.

You will want to look for buyer’s agents in and around the areas where you are interested in living. Bear in mind that populous places like New South Wales (NSW) are likely to have far more buyer’s agencies to choose from than less densely populated regions like Western Australia. Even if your desired location is fairly remote, it is smart to search any nearby capital cities and major cultural thoroughfares like Canberra and Sydney to get a sense of what is available.

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Buying Australian Property Comes With Immigration Requirements

While some Australian home buyers investing at the top end of the real estate pyramid may gain “elite residency” by virtue of their large investment, most everyone else will still need to navigate Australia’s multi-tier visa system to become permanent residents.

All visas in Australia are handled through the Department of Home Affairs. The type of visa available or best suited to your needs might be factored against your employment, field of study, age and overall investment in the Australian economy. Although New Zealand is its own country and remains separate from Australia in governance and citizenship, there is a special NZeTA that can be applied for only by New Zealand citizens.

Permanent residency in Australia can be obtained through a number of visa streams. Permanent resident visas are commonly obtained through employment or workstream avenues, joining family members or life partners already set up in Australia, or through business investments of a significant size.

Relocate Advisors Are Here to Help With Questions About Australia

Relocate is an independent platform for global migration that allows expats considering Australia as their future home to browse qualified Advisors in Australia and submit specific questions to get answers. Whether you plan to settle in Queensland or put down roots in Perth, you can learn all you need to know about buying property in Australia by digging deeper and connecting with qualified Advisors on Relocate.

For your next potential move to the Land Down Under, get tailored consultations with licensed Australian Advisors who have the insights you need on housing, visas, buyer’s agents and more.

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