Buying property in Australia

Buying property in Australia
Updated 2019-07-26 13:33

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.

Types of property and where to buy

The best way to view properties that you are interested in buying is online through popular websites such as Real Estate, Domain or Property. These sites cover all states in Australia, and you can filter your search by type of accommodation (apartment, house, townhouse, studio), price, bedrooms, area, and cosmetic things such as garages or balconies. Apartments will always tend to be cheaper unless they are centrally located. You will be able to view when the property is either having an auction or if it is a private sale. An auction will be a day and time when everyone who is interested in the property will go to view it then bid against it. A private sale will be bids put to the owner. It is said a private sale is better, simply because an auction can push the property's price up.

The general rule of thumb is, the further away you go from the city centre, the cheaper and bigger the property will be. Australia has witnessed a considerable property boom with median house prices for Sydney and Melbourne being over one million. This has caused a lot of Australians to either resign to the fact of never owning or moving far away from the city centre. Up and coming areas are always good to keep an eye on, and the above websites can sometimes assist you with this. Otherwise, a simple Google search will give you some recommendations. It is believed that South Australia and Tasmania are the cheapest states to buy in.

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 Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB), if you hold a visa which allows you to stay in Australia for 12 months or less. FIRB is a governmental regulatory body, created to ensure that property sales in Australia to non-residents are made in accordance with the law. However, foreign residents can purchase other types of Australian residential property, including new dwellings, vacant land, and property that is to be redeveloped, but you must first get approval from the FIRB. Applications and application fees 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 FIRB. 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. Also, 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 AUD 800,000 or less.

Permanent residency in Australia

Once you obtain permanent residency, you have full property purchasing rights. You can 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.


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

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.