Buying Property In Australia: A Guide for Foreigners
X

How To Buy Property In Australia

Buy property in Australia from overseas

Invest in an Australian property today!

When it comes to investments, there are a lot of options – businesses, the stock market and properties. However if you want a low risk profitable investment, choices are limited.

Why invest in Australian properties?

Investing in Australian properties has become popular with overseas investors looking for returns and stability not available in their own country.

This has become an attractive option for many reasons, including:

Stability

Australia’s property market has a proven record of stable prices. Overseas property markets such as Hong Kong or the USA have suffered significant crashes that are completely unheard of in Australia. Housing prices in volatile economies can drop up to 70% within a few weeks, leaving investors with huge losses.

Since 1900 when records began the Australian market has not suffered a fall in median house prices over 20% in one year. This is true even the Global Financial Crisis of 2009 / 2010 which saw property prices in the UK and USA fall significantly. Australian houses actually increased in value during this period.

Strong growth performance

Australian properties have enjoyed consistent capital growth over the last 100 years, with property prices doubling roughly every 7 to 10 years.

One of the reasons behind the growth is Australia’s chronic housing shortage in many of the major cities. Population is growing in a rate much faster than dwellings are being constructed.

Australia is a great place to live

Australia is well known for its diverse international cities and breathtaking natural beauty.

Queensland (QLD) is famous for its wonderful beaches and reefs, Victoria (VIC) for its stunning coast line stretching to South Australia (SA), The Northern Territory (NT) for its distinctive outback experience and New South Wales (NSW) for the tranquil Blue Mountains, beautiful coast and Sydney.

Stability and growth are not just features of residential houses, townhouses and units. Most commercial properties such as offices, factories and retail outlets have proven themselves to have excellent returns. Larger foreign investors tend to prefer commercial property, resorts, hotels or developments.

Thinking of investing in Australia? Call us on 1300 889 743 (+61 2 8068 2257 from outside of Australia) to speak to our specialist mortgage brokers who can guide you through the application process. Call us today or enquire online.

The buying process

Buying a property in Australia from countries like the UK or US can be difficult if you do not have the right information or enlist the services of the right people.

To make your purchase less stressful we have compiled a list of 10 steps that will help you get it right!

Budgeting and planning

It is essential that you research, plan and budget your property purchase in Australia.

You may have a location in mind, however it is always helpful to speak to a real estate agent who can offer you some local advice that will help you select an affordable area with great returns.

Making sure that you can afford the property is also important. Most banks will not lend to you if you cannot afford the debt, so you need to have a realistic and affordable budget in place.

Step 1 - Organise your team of professionals

Conveyancer

You will need a conveyancer or a solicitor to take care of the legal work for you. Keep in mind that your appointed conveyancer must be in the same state as the property you are buying or at least be licensed to deal with that state. For Western Australia (WA), they are called settlement agents.

Please view our list of recommended conveyancers if you do not have one already.

Mortgage broker

A good Australian mortgage broker, with experience in helping non-residents to apply for a loan, is an essential member of your team of experts. The mortgage broker can be anywhere in Australia. They don’t need to see the property you are buying. For most residential mortgages and loans, their services are free.

If you want to buy a property in Australia then speak to an expert Australian mortgage broker. We are specialists in non resident mortgages, hold an Australian Credit License and are also a member of both the MFAA and COSL.

We can finance properties Australia-wide and we regularly work with international borrowers. We have a panel of over 40 lenders to choose from which ensures that you are getting the best mortgage available.

If you need finance to purchase property in Australia then please call us on 1300 889 743 (+61 2 8068 2257 from outside Australia) or enquire online to discuss your options.

Accountant (if required)

You don’t need to appoint an accountant, but there are a few benefits in having one. Your accountant can help you structure your financials and save you on tax. If you would like to set up Australian companies or trusts to hold your investment, then you will need an accountant. Your appointed accountant can be located anywhere in Australia.

Buyer’s agent (if required)

A buyers agent is also very useful if you are located overseas and cannot physically inspect the real estate you are buying. The main job of a buyer’s agent is to source and negotiate the ideal property for you. They will deal with the real estate agents for you and will ensure that the property you are buying represents a good opportunity.

Your buyer’s agent must be licensed and have some presence in the state that you are buying a property in.

Keep in mind that a buyer’s agent should give independent and objective advice, so should not be selling his/her own properties. Some buyer’s agents will charge a fixed fee, while some other will charge an upfront fee as well as a percentage of the purchase price of the property.

Step 2 - Applying for a mortgage / loan

In order to obtain finance it is essential that you first apply for an Australian bank or lender. However, the lending criteria for non-residents can be very complex!

  • We have published a handy guide which shows the best available Australian interest rates for foreign investors.
  • Ensure that you prepare all necessary loan documents, such as payslips, tax returns or an employment letter to prove your income.

You can find specific lending guidelines for your situation here:

To ensure that you get approval, speak to us on 1300 889 743 (+61 2 8068 2257 from outside of Australia) or enquire online and our staff will get back to you.

Our mortgage brokers can offer free assistance and will help you with your loan application. Call today!

Step 3 - Get your loan pre-approved

It is essential for you to get your mortgage pre-approved before you begin looking for a property. Good properties don’t stay on the market long.

The buyer with a pre-approved loan usually snaps up the best investments while everyone else are putting their loan applications together. More importantly, you know that you are eligible for a loan and how much you can borrow.

Why waste your time looking for a house or unit only to find out that you can’t get a loan?

If you are a non-resident or a temporary visa holder, you are legally required to get permission from the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) if you want to buy property in Australia.

Australian Citizens, Australian Permanent Residency holders and New Zealand (NZ) Citizens are exempt from obtaining FIRB approval.

Getting FIRB approval is a simple process and usually takes up to two weeks from the date the application is lodged.

Step 5 - Find a property to buy

Now is the time to visit Australia and begin your search for a property. The other option is to use a buyer’s agent (see above).

If you decided not to use a buyer’s agent, then it may be a good idea to order a valuation on the property to ensure that you are not over paying. Often the bank chosen by your mortgage broker will value the property however the banks often don’t tell you if the valuation comes in short!

Step 6 - Negotiate the purchase price

As a general rule, Australian properties usually sell for up to 10% less than their list price. This varies depending on the market, location and type of property.

Some real estate websites will publish the “discounting percentage” for particular suburbs, which is the average percentage below the listing price that a property sells for.

If you are using a buyer’s agent, then they will help you in negotiating the price.

You can ask for a contract before signing, and get your solicitor or conveyancer to look at the contract and add any additional conditions if necessary.

Each state of Australia has their own property laws, use your conveyancer or solicitor’s expertise to help guide you. If the vendor allows a cooling off period, in this case you can put a holding deposit and sign the contract.

Refer to your conveyancer or solicitor, they will let you know what checks you have to do before buying and will let you know when it is safe to sign the contract to buy the property.

If you are unable to get a loan during the cooling off period, your maximum penalty is the holding deposit, usually up to $1000, and again please check with your conveyancer or solicitor as this can vary across the different states.

Before you sign the contract prior to the cooling off period, ensure that the contract of sale includes the clause “subject to FIRB approval”, otherwise you will be breaching the law.

Step 7 - Obtain formal mortgage approval

When you’ve found a property to buy, you can then forward the contract of sale to the mortgage broker or bank to proceed with the formal approval.

Remember don’t commit yourself to buy a property until your mortgage is approved. If there’s a cooling off period, in which case it is okay to sign the contract, do not sign the contract until you know that you can get a loan.

Once you forward the contract of sale to the bank, usually the bank will issue a formal approval notice within a week.

Step 8 - Exchange contracts & pay your deposit

You can exchange your contract after your loan has been formally approved and your solicitor or conveyancer gives you the go ahead. Normally you will need to put down a 10% deposit.

The amount of the deposit is negotiable and differs between the states. Note that once you have exchanged contacts it is very difficult, if not impossible, to back out so please seek legal advice before signing any contracts or paying your deposit.

It is very important that the contract you are signing has the clause “subject to FIRB approval” and 30 days must be allowed for a FIRB decision. At this point it is vital to check with your conveyancer or solicitor that the clause is stated in such a way so as to ensure that if your FIRB proposal is rejected that you will not lose your deposit.

Step 9 - Final arrangements

Once you have exchanged the contract, forward a copy of the signed contract to FIRB for formal approval.

Your bank would have sent out the loan documents to you after formal approval.

You can ask your mortgage broker to go over it with you, or get help from your conveyancer or solicitor, you have the right to obtain legal advice about your loan contract.

To accept the loan offer, sign the appropriate sections and return the loan documents back to the bank.

Do a final inspection on your property before settlement. This can be completed by your buyers agent if you have hired one.

Step 10 - Settlement

Settlement is the term given to when the property actually changes hands and your loan is advanced.

This will be handled by your conveyancer or solicitor in conjunction with your bank & mortgage broker, you don’t need to be there for this to happen.

The title for the property is held by your lender for safe keeping and the keys are available for pick up from the selling real estate agent.

Costs of buying a property

As a general rule you should allow roughly 5% of the purchase price for various expenses associated with purchasing a property.

Expenses:

  • Legal fees – Often $800 to $2,000.
  • Loan establishment fees – Usually $0 to $895 depending on the lender.
  • Stamp duty (State government taxes, often this is the largest expense) – Please refer to our stamp duty calculator.
  • Property inspection fees- normally up to $600 in total for a building, pest and strata inspection.
  • Buyers agents fee – Varies depending on the nature of the services provided.
  • Other minor costs – Building insurance, council rates, water rates adjustments etc.

Refer to your conveyancer or solicitor for an exact breakdown of the costs associated with your real estate purchase.

Managing the property

If you are buying the property as an investment and intending to rent out your property, you have two options. You can either manager the property yourself, or you can use a property manager.

Professional managing agents will look after every aspect of your tenancy. Their job includes collecting the rent, maintaining financial records, conducting regular property inspections, handling any disputes and arranging all repairs that need to be done.

Most property managers charge a percentage of the weekly rent as management fee. Usually around 5-10%, however this is negotiable.

You should also expect to pay additional one off fees when they find a new tenant.

Last but not least, please make sure that the managing agent you are interested in using is licensed by the Office of Fair Trading (or state equivalent) before you enter into any formal agreement.

Their license will be displayed in their office or on their website.

Do you need help with a non-resident loan?

Our mortgage brokers specialise in lending to Australian expats, Foreign investors, Permenent Residents of Australia, Foreign Citizens living in Australia (Temporary Residents) and prospective Spouses or Defacto partners of Australian Citizens.

Please enquire online or call us on 1300 889 743 or +61 8068 2257 if you are outside Australia.