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.