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If you’re planning a long term or permanent move to Australia, purchasing property may be something you consider for yourself and your family. If you’re not a permanent resident in Australia, you may still buy property in Australia, but restrictions apply.

Foreign residents in Australia

If you are a foreign resident, you cannot buy an established residential dwelling in Australia, either directly in your name or through a trust relationship or business. Severe penalties can apply for breaking this law. You are classified as a foreign non-resident, by the FIRB, if you hold a visa which allows you to stay in Australia for 12 months or less.

However, foreign residents can purchase other types of Australian residential property, including new dwellings and vacant land and property that is to be redeveloped, but you must first get approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB). FIRB is a governmental regulatory body, created to ensure that property sales in Australia to non-residents are made in accordance with the law. Application and application fee are required to have your situation reviewed by the board before a purchase can be made.

Temporary residents in Australia

If you are a temporary resident you can buy an established dwelling to live in as your sole residence in Australia, after first getting approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board. The property cannot be rented out as an investment property while you are a temporary resident, and you may be required to sell the property if you leave Australia permanently.

You are classified as a temporary resident if you hold a temporary visa, which allows you to remain in Australia for more than 12 months, and/or if you are residing in Australia and have applied for a permanent visa, while on a bridging visa until a decision has been made on your application.

First-time home buyers grants

Some states offer first-time homebuyer incentives or grants. Unfortunately, temporary residents do not qualify for these promotions. Some states, including NSW, Queensland, and Victoria, also charge a higher rate of stamp duty, or purchase tax, to non-resident home buyers, to cut back on non-residents buying property. Therefore, if you are eligible to qualify for permanent residency soon, or your spouse or partner will be, sometimes it is worth waiting before making a purchase.

To be eligible for a first-time home buyers grant, generally you must be purchasing a property in Australia for the first time, you must be buying the property to live in, not as an investment, you must be a permanent resident or citizen, and the property value may have to be under a specific dollar amount. In NSW, the value is currently $800,000 AUD or less.

Permanent residency

Once you obtain permanent residency, you have full property purchasing rights. You are able to purchase property for your sole use, or as an investment. Permanent residents are also eligible to qualify for first-time home buyers grants, if they are available in your state of residence.

FIRB approval is not required for these purchases, and permanent residents may have more opportunity in obtaining homeowner loans than non-residents.

 Good to know:

If you intend to buy a property in Australia, know that many taxes apply (insurance, stamp duty, local taxes, etc.).

  Useful links:

Foreign Investment Review Board
Department of Lands – Land ownership
Stamp Duty Calculator

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.