One of the most common questions expats ask is, “can foreigners buy property in Australia?” The short answer is Yes! Properties in Australia are great investments, especially if you are looking to live here permanently.
Australian real estate has been a prime investment opportunity for many foreigners for several years.
However, foreign investors must follow certain laid out regulations when buying property in Australia.
This article will answer the question “can foreigners buy property in Australia” and show you how to go about it.
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Who Can Buy Property In Australia?
One way foreigners can make Australia their home is by purchasing property here. Such property might be for residential purposes or for investment.
As long as you are not Australian or you don’t have a residence permit in the country, you cannot purchase property on a whim.
Foreigners need to talk to the appropriate authority before purchasing a property.
However, to be sure that there is no confusion, below is a list of individuals who can legally purchase property without seeing any government authority.
- Australian citizens
- New Zealand citizens
- Individuals who have permanent Australian residency
- Individuals who are married to any of the individuals mentioned above
- Individuals who are to become joint tenants or co-owners with any of the individuals mentioned above
If you do not fall into any of the above categories, you are considered a foreigner.
Buying property in Australia from Overseas
As a foreigner or non-resident, the right authority that you can speak to is the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB). The FIRB oversees overseas real estate purchases and has its own application process.
When you visit the FIRB, they will tell you what documentation you need to provide and every other step to take.
But first, we will share how this process works to give you a heads up on what to expect.
First, you should know the kind of buildings available to foreigners buying property in Australia. You can either purchase new buildings or vacant land.
However, there are a few conditions attached to this. Let’s look at them.
- For new buildings: When buying a new home, there are usually no conditions attached.
- For vacant land: When purchasing vacant land, the key stipulation is that you must construct a home on the property within four years. You can’t merely acquire and hold vacant land for as long as you want.
On the other hand, it’s a different story with established residences or buildings that are not new.
Foreign investors are not permitted to purchase existing homes unless they meet the following criteria:
- When purchasing a house to use as a temporary residence, you must sell it whenever you leave the country unless you become a permanent resident or citizen.
- When purchasing an existing home to demolish it and build new homes: Because the goal of the foreign investment regime is to encourage the development of new housing, you can apply to buy an existing home if you intend to demolish and rebuild. The condition is that you must construct and supply additional new housing.
How can non-residents buy property in Australia?
As we said earlier, as foreigners and non-residents, you have to go through the FIRB before lawfully acquiring property in Australia.
After you have found the property you want to buy, you would need a permit from the FIRB. To get this permit, you would need to pay a fee.
The cost of the FIRB fee is determined by the price point of the property you want to buy.
The estimated fees are:
- For $1 million or less, you will pay $5,800
- $1 million to $1,999,999 you will pay $11,700
- $2 million to $2,999,999 you will pay $23,500
- $3 million to $3,999,999 you will pay $32,500
- $4 million to $4,999,999 you will pay $47,000
- $5 million to $5,999,999 you will pay $58,800
- $6 million to $6,999,999 you will pay $70,600
- $7 million to $7,999,999 you will pay $82,400
- $8 million to $8,999,999 you will pay $94,300
- $9 million to $9,999,999 you will pay $106,000
For a property cost of $10 million and above, you will need to contact the FIRB directly.
If you want to apply for a home loan through an Australian lender, you must get FIRB approval first.
The FIRB approval process for foreigners purchasing property in Australia
Follow these steps to apply for FIRB approval.
- Go to the FIRB website and check if you need approval to purchase a property.
- Start your application on the ATO website. Fill out your personal details, including name, passport number, nationality, age, etc., and any other required information.
- Provide the details of the property you are looking to buy
- Sign the declaration, click “submit”, and pay the associated fee (as described above)
- You will be informed of the status of your application within or a little after 30 days.
Once you get approved, you can now acquire the property you want. You should find an Australian conveyancer or real estate lawyer to guide you in all of these processes.
They will give you advice based on the country’s laws, but they will also help make sure that you do everything the right way to avoid penalties.
They can also help you acquire mortgage loans if you need them.
Can foreigners buy property in Australia with loans?
Some people also wonder, can foreigners buy property in Australia with loans? The answer is yes. These loans can help facilitate your property acquisition.
However, you need a conveyancer because these loans are not easy for a foreigner to get, but with the right guidance, you can get them.
You can exchange contracts after your loan has been properly authorized and your solicitor or conveyancer has given you the green light.
Normally, you’ll be required to put down a 10% deposit, but the amount is flexible and varies depending on the Australian state.
Please get legal advice before signing any contracts or paying your deposit since once you’ve committed to a property, you can’t back out.
After you make payments and have exchanged ownership, you can go ahead and live your Australian dreams for as long as you want.
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