Are you a foreign investor and need a commercial loan?
Many foreign investors and temporaray residents living in Australia want to take advantage Australia’s booming commercial property market but aren’t sure whether they qualify for finance.
Not many people know that with government approval and the right lender, you can actually borrow up to the same amount and get the same commercial interest rates as an Australian citizen.
How much can I borrow?
Banks don’t actually have restrictions on approving a non-resident commercial loan.
- Borrow up to 80% of the property value for loans up to $1,000,000.
- Borrow up to 75% of the property value for loans up to $2,000,000.
- Borrow up to 70% of the property value for loans up to $5,000,000.
- Development: Borrow up to 75% of the land and construction costs.
- Commercial property loans from $5,000,000 to $50,000,000 are assessed on a case by case basis.
- Up to 5 years interest only depending on the Loan to Value Ratio (LVR).
- Full doc and low doc options available.
- Bad credit solutions available.
The trick to getting the bank to assess your application is to get approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB).
FIRB approval fees may apply depending on the value of the property you’re looking to buy.
Call us today on 1300 889 743 (+61 2 9194 1700 if you’re calling from outside of Australia) or +61 2 9194 1700 (if you’re calling from outside of Australia). Otherwise, you can complete our free assessment form to discover if you qualify for a non-resident commercial loan.
Can I get the same interest rates?
Yes! As long as you get approved by FIRB and you meet all other lending requirements of the bank, you can get the same interest rates and borrow up to the same limits as an Australian citizen.
Do I need FIRB approval?
Whether you’re a temporary resident living in Australia on a working visa or a foreign investor you may require FIRB approval under the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Act 1975.
As a general rule:
- Vacant land for development purposes: Approval required no matter the value of the land. Will usually be accepted by FIRB if development commences within 5 years of the date of approval and you do not sell the land until construction is complete.
- Developed commercial land: Only required if the value of the purchase is $252 million or higher. The threshold is $55 million for so-called ‘sensitive developed commercial land’.
- Agribusiness: only required where the value of the transaction is $55 million or more.
- Agricultural land: only required where value of the transaction is $15 million or more.
What if I’m an Australian expat?
You don’t require FIRB approval to buy a commercial property.
What if I’m buying with an Australian spouse or business partner?
You may need FIRB approval if you or your business partner or spouse are non-residents.
This is something that can catch a lot of commercial investors out, especially those buying in a company name.
If one of the directors is a non-resident, they are considered a beneficiary and FIRB approval may be needed.
Foreign Trade Agreement country exemptions
The threshold for FIRB approval is typically $1,094 million for country signatories of the Australian government’s Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
Bear in mind that this threshold can vary depending on whether the investment is you plan to buy a business, developed land, agricultural land or an investment that is otherwise classed as “sensitive”.
These countries include:
- New Zealand
- South Korea
- United States
Note: Exemption certificates don’t apply to foreign government investors.
What should I know about agricultural land?
As of 1 December 2015, foreigners who own, or have an interest in, Australian agricultural land are required to notify the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) of their interest. This is via the register of Foreign Ownership of Agricultural Land Act 2015.
If you’re required to seek FIRB approval on the sale of a commercial farm worth $15 million or more, you’ll be required to pay a non-refundable application fee of $100,000.
You can find out more information about this on the Farm Loan page.
Can I avoid this FIRB application fee?
Investors in the non-agricultural commercial sector will only face the maximum $100,000 fee if their prospective investment is worth more than $1 billion.
Will my nationality be accepted?
If you’re a foreign citizen living overseas, the following countries are generally accepted for a non-resident commercial loan.
Countries that fall outside of this list are accepted on a case by case basis:
- South Africa (subject to Exchange Control regulations)
- Belgium (you may need to pay Withholding Tax in Belgium)
- Cayman Islands
- East Timor
- Falkland Islands
- Hong Kong
- Iceland (subject to Withholding Tax Exemption)
- New Caledonia
- New Zealand
- Papua New Guinea
- Russia (subject to conditions)
- Saudi Arabia
- South Korea
- The Netherlands
- Trinidad & Tobago
- The United Kingdom (UK)
- The United Arab Emirates (UAE)
- The United States of America (USA)
Am I restricted to the type of properties I can purchase?
No! We can know lenders that can help you purchase vacant land for commercial development, agricultural land or an existing commercial property.
This is totally different to the purchase of residential property by non-residents, which is restricted to the purchase of new dwellings.
Alternatively, call us on 1300 889 743 (+61 2 9194 1700 if you’re calling from outside of Australia) or complete our free assessment form to speak with a non-resident commercial loan specialist today.
Proving my income
The requirements around providing financial evidence for your commercial purchase are not as strict as they are with residential home loans.
The reason is that commercial loans aren’t governed by the National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009.
Yes, there are low doc and no doc options available but it’s important to bear in mind that when it comes to your foreign income, most lenders will only accept up to 80% of your income for foreign exchange purposes.
What if I’m running the business?
If, for instance, you want to buy a freehold retail shop and run your business from your premises, you’ll need to present a business plan including revenue and cash flow forecasts for the business.
Approval for owner operator commercial properties like this are assessed on a case by case basis so it’s important to present strong evidence of your past experience in the same industry from a managerial perspective.
An accountant can help you draft a professional business plan to present to the lender.
Non-resident commercial loan FAQs
What are sensitive commercial properties?
Sensitive commercial properties typically relate to anything to do with the Australian military, security technologies and communications systems and the operation of nuclear facilities.
Other things may be considered sensitive by FIRB so it’s best to check their website.
Do I need a business visa?
In order to run a business in Australia as a non-resident, you need to apply for a Business Innovation and Investment Visa through the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.
Your expression of interest will be assessed by your state or territory government and if it’s approved you can apply for the visa.
If you’re approved, the visa will be valid for four years, after which you can apply for a Permanent Business Innovation and Investment visa.
Check out the Australian Business Licence Information Service (ABLIS) for licences you may require in order to begin operating.
How does tax work?
If you’re buying the property to eventually sell it and make a strong return on investment, be aware that the Australian government’s goods and services tax (GST) applies to the buying, selling, leasing or renting of commercial properties.
Visit the Australian Tax Office (ATO) website for more information and speak to a financial professional like an accountant or a financial advisor before making a decision to invest in commercial real estate.
Why buy a commercial property?
Many non-residents, including foreign investors, temporary residents and Australian expats, choose to invest in commercial property for their predictable rental income and low correlation to other assets like equities and bonds.
That’s according to the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), which found that around 25% of major commercial purchase have been acquired by foreign investors.
Foreigners have been most active in New South Wales, where the majority of the transactions have involved the redevelopment of old office buildings into new apartments.
Of course, the activity among Chinese investors in the agricultural land sector has been well reported and appetite hasn’t slowed.
There is a lot of opportunity in the Australian commercial real estate space which is why we want to help investors with their non-resident commercial loan needs.
Speak to a broker today!
Our mortgage brokers are non-resident commercial loan specialists with relationships with almost 40 different major banks and lenders.
We know the credit policies to match you with a lender that best suits your commercial investment and business needs.
We also know the key decision makers in the credit departments so we have a much better chance of getting tough loans approved.
Discover if you qualify for a non-resident commercial loan.
Call us on 1300 889 743 (+61 2 9194 1700 if you’re calling from outside of Australia) or complete our free assessment form today.
Check out the FIRB commercial real estate section for more crucial information.