Can Foreigners Buy Property in Australia? 

June 22, 2023
foreigners buying property in australia

One of the most common questions expats ask is, “can foreigners buy property in Australia?” The short answer is yes! 491 visa holders, bridging visa holders and international students can buy property in Australia.

Buying property in Australia is a solid investment, especially if you are looking to live here permanently, and 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 buying a house in Australia?

Who Can Buy Property In Australia?

Can foreigners buy property in Australia

Overseas buyers buying a house in Australia is very common. Such property might be for residential purposes or for investment. The process of buying property in Australia as a foreigner will be different from a resident, with a few extra administrative steps. Additionally, some people might consider citizenship by investment, where they might boost their chances of becoming an Australian citizen by making a large investment there.

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. 

As an Australian expat buying property in Australia, foreigners need to talk to the appropriate authority before purchasing a property in Australia.

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. 

They include:

  • Australian citizens
  • New Zealand citizens (New Zealanders buying property in Australia)
  • 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. Additionally, international students can also buy a house or apartment in Australia, as long as they have a valid visa.

Buying property in Australia from Overseas

Can foreigners buy property in Australia

If you’re buying property in Australia from overseas, you will need to undergo a few extra steps. 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 to buy a property in Australia so you know 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?

Can foreigners 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 for temporary residents through an Australian lender, you must get FIRB approval first. You will also need a foreign tax identifying number as part of the identification process for the loan.

The FIRB approval process for foreigners purchasing property in Australia

foreigners buying property in australia

Follow these steps to apply for FIRB approval. 

  1. Go to the FIRB website and check if you need approval to purchase a property.
  2. Start your application on the ATO website. Fill out your personal details, including name, passport number, nationality, age, etc., and any other required information.
  3. Provide the details of the property you are looking to buy
  4. Sign the declaration, click “submit”, and pay the associated fee (as described above)
  5. 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. 

Additionally, you can look into FIRB exemptions which could mean you do not have to undergo the approval process.

While some might think they can get PR if they buy property in Australia, this isn’t always the case. However, owning property in Australia could boost your chances of obtaining permanent residency.

Can foreigners buy property in Australia with loans?

Some people also wonder, can foreigners buy property in Australia with loans? The answer is yes. Foreigners can get a home loan in Australia which can help facilitate your property acquisition. House prices in Australia aren’t always low and you might need help with finances.

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. A conveyancer can especially come in handy when buying property in Australia from overseas.

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. 

Can you buy a house in Australia without PR?

Yes, you can buy a house in Australia without permanent residency (PR). However, you will need to obtain approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB). The FIRB is a government agency that regulates foreign investment in Australia. Buying a house as a non-resident is a little more complicated but it only takes a few more steps!

Can foreigners get a home loan in Australia?

Yes, foreigners can get home loans in Australia. However, the terms of the temporary resident home loan may be different for foreigners than for Australian citizens or permanent residents.

For example, when buying real estate in Australia, foreigners may have to pay a higher interest rate or provide a larger down payment. Foreign investors buying property in Australia can do so easily with just a few more steps in the home buying process.

Can New Zealanders buy property in Australia?

Yes, New Zealanders can buy property in Australia without any restrictions. This is because New Zealand and Australia have a special relationship called the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Agreement (TTMRA). The TTMRA allows New Zealanders to live, work, and study in Australia without any restrictions.

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