Overseas Buyer

What Property can you Purchase?

In normal circumstances, no purchase of Australian property by a foreign citizen can be made without approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) and they will only provide approval in respect of a specific property (i.e. you cannot obtain a “general” approval). You must not commit yourself to any purchase without such an approval, although contracts may be signed if they are clearly subject to FIRB approval, and we strongly recommend the involvement of a solicitor in these situations. Approvals can be applied for online and a response will be received within 30 days. 

Foreign citizens cannot normally purchase established (i.e. second-hand) properties as either homes or investment properties. Two relatively narrow exceptions exist. Foreign citizens may, if given approval, buy established dwellings for redevelopment (involving a demolition of the existing dwelling and a new build) where this involves an increase in Australia’s housing stock. Approvals in this situation are usually subject to specific conditions. Additionally, foreign citizens who operate substantial businesses in Australia may obtain approval to purchase established dwellings to house their Australian-based staff, but these approvals are normally given subject to conditions requiring the sale of the property in circumstances where, for example, the dwelling is unused for certain period of time. Foreign citizens can however apply to purchase new dwellings and these proposals are normally approved without conditions. Proposals for the purchase of vacant land will also normally be approved, subject to the construction of a dwelling commencing within a period of 24 months.

What is a “New” Dwelling?

“A dwelling that has not been previously sold by the developer and has not been previously occupied (such as, by tenants) for more than 12 months.”

New dwellings include those that are part of extensively refurbished buildings where the building’s use has undergone a change from non-residential (for example, office or warehouse) to residential.

Proposed FIRB Application Fees

In May 2015 the Australian Government announce the introduction of application fees for FIRB approvals and that henceforth the ATO would be responsible for managing compliance in terms of foreign investment in residential real estate and the enforcement provisions – including significantly higher penalties for breaching foreign investment laws. These new provisions, including the new application fees illustrated in the Table below will come into effect on December 1, 2015.

Get in touch

Shop 37A, Benowa Gardens Shopping Centre
203 Ashmore Road, Benowa QLD 4217

Phone 07 5570 3300

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