Buying a House in Australia

Buying a House in Australia

Rules apply on who is allowed to purchase property, although any Australian Citizen or Permanent Resident of Australia can a buy a house in Australia without any restrictions.

Each State has its own rules and regulations on purchasing property.

What may be correct procedure in one State may not be the same in another, so it is advisable to always check first, before assuming that what you have heard elsewhere actually applies.

One example of this is making an offer for the purchase of as property:

In some States, NSW being one, an offer is just that, it is an offer to purchase.

However, in other States, QLD being one, an offer to purchase a property is actually signed by the purchaser, and, if accepted by the seller, becomes a contract immediately.

Therefore make sure your offer is subject to your conditions.

The Real Estate agent should advise you on this, but the initial conditions you should request, as a minimum, are:

  • Subject to you getting suitable finance and
  • subject to satisfactory Pest Inspection and Building Report.

Always, when buying a house, have a Pest Inspection and Building Report done before completion.

Property Buying Restrictions:

Australian Citizen or Permanent Resident

  • No Restrictions

Temporary Resident, Retiree or Student

  • You can buy new property without restriction.
  • You can buy an established property provided it is your residence and it is sold when your visa expires.
  • Consent of the FIRB is normally required. (exceptions apply for some spouse / de facto partner.)

Foreign National or Foreign Corporation

  • Can buy new property.
  • Can buy vacant land as long as building commences within 12 months of purchase.
  • Can buy an established property only if an additional amount of no less than 50% of the original property cost is spent on improvements or additional construction.
  • Can buy up to 50% of new projects or apartments
  • Consent of the FIRB is required.

FIRB = Foreign Investment Review Board FIRB

Interesting Q&A fact sheet: FIRB faq

The FIRB FAQ site states: (as at Dec 2008)

A. Yes. Foreign persons temporarily resident in Australia for a period exceeding 12 months from the time of application for approval are eligible under foreign investment policy to acquire residential real estate. If the property being purchased is an established dwelling, that is, one that has been previously occupied or sold, foreign investment approval is still available provided that the dwelling is to be used as the persons principal place of residence, not for rental purposes and the property must be sold when their visa expires or they cease to reside in Australia.

Q18. I am an Australian citizen, but my spouse / de facto partner is a foreign person, do we require permission to purchase a house?

A. Australian citizens and their foreign spouses (which include de facto partners) are exempt from notification as long as the property is zoned residential and you are buying the property as joint tenants.