Can Permanent Residents Buy Property In Australia? A Guide for Expats
Thursday,14 June 2018

Owning a little slice of real estate is known as the ‘Great Australian Dream’. But it’s not just born and bred Australians that aspire to home ownership. Permanent and temporary residents often want to get in on the act too. But do foreign investment rules allow them to buy property?

CAN PERMANENT RESIDENTS BUY PROPERTY IN AUSTRALIA?

Yes, permanent residents are permitted to buy property in Australia. The rules are the same as those for Australian citizens. Permanent residents can choose between existing or new dwellings and can purchase multiple properties as their place of residence and as investment properties.

Permanent Resident Home Loans

The lending policies for permanent residents to gain a mortgage are similar to those of Australian citizens. Residents and citizens can borrow up to 95% of the property’s value with proof of income.

Is FHOG available to Permanent Residents?

Yes, permanent residents can access the First Home Owners Grant (FHOG) and other benefits. Contact the Western Australian Department of Finance or call 1300 363 211 for more information.

CAN TEMPORARY RESIDENTS BUY PROPERTY IN AUSTRALIA?

The rules around temporary residents owning property are stricter than the rules for permanent residents.

A temporary resident may:

  • Buy one established dwelling to live in

  • Buy new dwellings or vacant land to build new dwelling/s (subject to conditions)

However, a temporary resident is not permitted to buy established dwellings as investment properties as this does not add to Australia’s housing stock.

A person on a student visa buying property in Australia may need the help of their parents particularly if they need a loan to fund the purchase.

There are strict conditions around temporary residents buying property. The house must be vacant on settlement date and must be used as their principal place of residence so no part of the property may be rented out. The property must be sold within three months of leaving the residence.

An application needs to be made to The Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) to gain approval before purchasing a property and the Australian Tax Office must be notified of the purchase.

Temporary Resident Home Loans

Temporary residents with a 457 visa and proof of income are usually able to gain a home loan. Most lenders require a minimum deposit of 20% of the property’s value.

Temporary residents are not eligible for the FHOG unless they are purchasing the property jointly with their partner who is an Australian citizen or permanent resident.

CAN NON-RESIDENTS BUY PROPERTY IN AUSTRALIA?

Like temporary residents, non-residents have restrictions and conditions around buying Australian property. Foreign people are required to make an application for purchase to the FIRB. You can read more about Residential Real Estate for Foreign Non-Residents on the FIRB website. Non-residents must also notify theAustralian Tax Office of their intention to purchase a property.

A non-resident may:

  • Buy an established dwelling only if it’s for redevelopment purposes and will add to the housing stock

  • Buy vacant land for development (subject to conditions)

  • Buy new dwellings, off the plan dwellings that are either under construction or yet to be built

Non-Resident Home Loans

Not all Australian banks lend to non-residents. There is the risk of a temporary resident’s visa not being extended and defaulting on the home loan.

The banks may assess applications based on the type of visa a non-resident is holding. The amount available for borrowing is usually less (maximum 80% of the property’s value) than what a permanent resident or citizen may be able to borrow (up to 95% of the property’s value).

CAN NEW ZEALANDERS BUY PROPERTY IN AUSTRALIA?

The rules for New Zealanders wanting to buy Australian property are more relaxed than residents of other countries. New Zealand citizens who have been to Australia at least once are not required to gain FIRB approval to buy property. Also, New Zealand citizens and permanent residents are often able to borrow more funds than other nationalities.

New Zealand purchasers are exempt from paying the Foreign Citizen Stamp Duty, depending on where the property is located. The duty is calculated differently by individual state governments.

If you would like any assistance in purchasing a new property, ask a Start Right Homes consultant by calling (08) 6189 8795 or contact us online.