Can foreigners buy property in Australia? Yes, here’s how

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Typically you need to be a permanent resident or citizen to buy property in Australia and many of the available home loans also require you to be Aussie. But don’t fret, foreigners can still buy: the property needs to be categorised as an investment and you need to get government approval.

Let’s take a closer look.

How to buy a property in Australia?

Firstly, as a foreigner you’ll need to submit an application to the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB), which is in charge of assessing foreigners who want to buy or invest in a home in Australia.

If you get approved for an investment property, there are a couple of things to keep in mind:

  • It must be a new property or vacant land to build a new property.
    The investment property cannot be an established dwelling.

Now, if you do buy an establishment dwelling you are required to live in it and then sell it once you no longer live there.

Fees for foreigners buying property

The FIRB charges an application fee, an amount that depends on the value of the property you plan on buying. So this figure can vary but if you’re purchasing a property under $1m, you’d be looking at somewhere in the vicinity of a $6,000 fee, while a property priced at say, $3m is going to demand a fee of about $38,000. You need  to double check this before purchasing – the FIRB has some guidance on it.

There is also the Foreign Citizen Stamp Duty you have to pay on top of all the usual house buying fees. This particular stamp duty is an 8% surcharge in NSW, for example, that goes on top of your usual stamp duty (also called transfer duty). Each state sets its own stamp duty amount, so be sure to check this.

Aside from those extra bits, the process of buying a home and applying for a home loan is pretty much the same as if you were a local.

Can temporary residents buy property?

If you are on a temporary visa, such as a partnership visa, 457 work visa, a temporary skills shortage visa or a student visa, you’ll still need approval from the FIRB. This is because you are still classified as a foreigner when it comes to buying property and must follow the same criteria as above.

The only time you won’t need a FIRB approval to buy a house is if you’re in a joint tenant agreement with an Australian that you’re in a spousal relationship with.

If you’re a temporary resident from New Zealand, you don’t have to worry about all the extra rules other foreigners have to deal with. Kiwis nationals tend to be given the same rights as Aussie home buyers, however if you try to buy Australian property while outside of the country, you may need to pay the foreign citizen stamp duty.

Can I get Australian home loans?

Yes, but it’s not that easy. Many Australian lenders have strict rules that you must be an Aussie to use them as your home loan provider. And those who do lend to foreigners tend to impose tighter lending criteria like:

  • Asking for a higher interest rate than normal
  • Needing a larger deposit (around 30-40%)
  • Imposing restrictions on foreign income used to pay the loan
  • Having to obtain approval from the FIRB.

Don’t let this deter you though! There are plenty of options out there such as internationally recognised banks that operate in Australia that offer home loans like HSBC and Citibank.

If you are looking to buy a new home in Australia check out our home loan guides. Also check out below our low interest rate home loan comparison table to find a loan that works for you.

* WARNING: This comparison rate applies only to the example or examples given. Different amounts and terms will result in different comparison rates. Costs such as redraw fees or early repayment fees, and cost savings such as fee waivers, are not included in the comparison rate but may influence the cost of the loan. The comparison rate displayed is for a secured loan with monthly principal and interest repayments for $150,000 over 25 years.

** Initial monthly repayment figures are estimates only, based on the advertised rate, loan amount and term entered. Rates, fees and charges and therefore the total cost of the loan may vary depending on your loan amount, loan term, and credit history. Actual repayments will depend on your individual circumstances and interest rate changes.

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