Can NZ citizens buy property in Australia?
This page is for New Zealand citizens or New Zealand permanent residents (PR) living in either Australia or New Zealand, who would like to apply for a mortgage to invest in real estate in Australia.
The property must be in Australia so we cannot help you with buying a house in New Zealand from Australia.
How much can I borrow in Australia?
The amount that you can borrow and the banks that will lend to you will vary depending on your situation:
- Living in Australia: New Zealand citizens living in Australia can borrow up to 95% of the property value.
- Non-NZ citizens living in Australia: Non-New Zealanders on a 461 visa (New Zealand Citizen Family Relationship Visa) can borrow up to 95% of the property value. Read more in the section below.
- Living in NZ: Some of our lenders will allow you to borrow up to 85% of the property value.
- Living in another country: Some of our lenders will allow you to borrow up to 80% of the property value.
- Mortgage discount packages: One of our lenders can offer NZ citizens and NZ permanent residents the same professional package discounts that are available to Australian citizens.
Please call us on 1300 889 743 (+61 2 9194 1700 if overseas) or complete our free assessment form to discover if you qualify for a New Zealand citizen home loan.
Do I qualify for a 461 visa home loan?
The New Zealand Citizen Family Relationship (Temporary) visa (subclass 461) allows non-New Zealanders to live and work in Australia for up to 5 years.
To qualify, you must be a part of the ‘family unit’ of a New Zealand citizen living and working in Australia on a temporary Special Category visa (subclass 444) or SCV.
Alternatively, they could be travelling with you to Australia and will be granted a 444 visa on arrival.
Bear in mind, the bank will want you to be fully approved for the 461 visa when you apply for your home loan.
What does a ‘family member’ mean?
You could be related to the 444 visa holder in the follow ways:
- Married or in a de facto relationship.
- The child or step-child of either the NZ citizen or their partner.
This is one of the only ways that a foreign citizen can borrow up to 95% of the property value!
Choice of lenders matters!
In a scenario where one of the joint borrowers holds a 461 visa and the other, a 444 visa, some lenders will focus their approval decision on the 461 visa. Some lenders decline your loan or limit you to borrowing 70% of the property value whereas some of our lenders will approve up to 95%.
Will I pay a higher interest rate as an NZ citizen?
Some lenders charge a higher interest rate if you are not an Australian citizen.
This is particularly true if you are living in NZ or another country outside of Australia.
However, in most cases, we can get you the same interest rates as an Australian citizen, even if you are borrowing 95% of the property value!
Please call us on +61 2 9194 1700 from overseas, on 1300 889 743 from within Australia or complete our free assessment form and one of our specialist mortgage brokers will call you to discuss your options.
NZ citizens living in other countries
Australian lenders consider your ties to Australia when approving a mortgage. Clearly if you are living in Australia then you are a lower risk borrower than a NZ citizen living in NZ.
What about NZ citizens living in other countries?
The problem for Australian lenders is that a NZ citizen living in Hong Kong, Singapore, the UK or the UAE is seen as having no ties to Australia.
We have some lenders that will consider a NZ citizen living in any country on a case by case basis.
This includes not only the above but also:
- United States
Is Australian government approval required?
No, Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) approval is not required for those with New Zealand citizenship.
Note, New Zealand permanent residents (i.e. not an Australian or NZ citizen) require FIRB approval as they do not have the ability to live in Australia permanently.
Why are so many NZ citizens investing in Australia?
In October 2016, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand put a ‘speed limit’ on their banks that has reduced the number of loans they can approve for investors who have less than a 40% of the purchase price as a deposit.
As a result, NZ property investors have increasingly turned to Australia because they can still buy a property with a small deposit.
What is the Non-Resident Withholding Tax (NRWT)?
If you’re living in NZ and paying interest to someone that lives outside of NZ then you may be liable to pay additional taxes.
This is a complex issue that you should discuss with your accountant.
For the purposes of investing in Australian property you either have to choose a lender who meets certain criteria so that you don’t have to pay the tax or be forced to pay the tax yourself.
If you had an interest rate of 4.00%, you’d effectively be paying 4.40% because of the tax.
In some cases, we can choose a lender that allows you to buy with a small deposit.
We can then refinance in 2-3 years time with a lender that meets the criteria so you can avoid paying the additional tax.
Can you avoid the stamp duty surcharge?
In 2016, the Government introduced a stamp duty surcharge or FPAD (foreign purchase additional duty) for foreigners that want to buy property in Australia.
When New Zealand citizens arrive in Australia, they are automatically granted a special visa known as a Special Category Visa (Subclass 444).
This visa may exempt you from having to pay the stamp duty surcharge which applies in New South Wales (NSW), Victoria (VIC), Queensland (QLD), Western Australia (WA), South Australia (SA), the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and Tasmania (TAS), but be careful!
In New South Wales, for instance, you need to be in the country for at least 200 days and at the time of contract exchange in order to avoid the stamp duty surcharge.
However, other states, like QLD, will still apply the stamp duty surcharge if they find that you entered Australia just for the purpose of purchasing a property.
It’s likely that your state’s revenue office will liaise with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection to identify borrowers that have travelled between Australia and New Zealand in a short space of time.
It’s also important to keep in mind that the 444 visa expires if you’re outside of Australia when the Department completes a Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) check.
We advise our clients to speak with a qualified solicitor and your state’s revenue office to determine what rules apply because they can change on a regular basis.
If you can’t be in Australia at the time of settlement, you can avoid the FPAD by purchasing in the Northern Territory.
Are NZ citizens eligible for the First Home Owners Grant?
The Australian government’s First Home Owners Grant (FHOG) and other benefits are available to permanent residents, as if they are citizens of Australia.
The Australian Department of Immigration automatically grants New Zealanders living in Australia a Special Category Visa (SCV).
Because New Zealand citizens are considered – for all intents and purposes – to be permanent residents of Australia, they are eligible for the grant.
Again, in NSW, you need to be living in the country for at least 200 days before you can buy a property and, therefore, apply for the FHOG.
You can even potentially avoid stamp duty or at least qualify for stamp duty concessions if you can meet the following criteria:
- You’re a first home buyer.
- You’re buying a property to live in in NSW not to invest.
- The property you’re buying is worth $800,000 or less.
- You signed the contract after 1 July 2017.
- You’re a permanent resident or a 444 visa holder that has been living in the country for at least 200 days at the time of exchanging contracts.
- You must be in the country at the time of contract exchange and at the time of settlement.
Try the stamp duty calculator work out how much you could save.
We also recommend you check the NSW OSR website to stay up-to-date on further policy changes.
Please refer to your mortgage broker for information about which benefits are available in your state.
Do you need help with an Australian mortgage?
Please call us on +61 2 9194 1700 from overseas or on 1300 889 743 from within Australia.
Alternatively, complete our free assessment form and one of our Australian mortgage brokers will call you to discuss your situation.
Can I release equity in a property in NZ to buy in Australia?
Yes you can but, to be be clear, it will involve two separate home loans.
Firstly, you need to refinance your mortgage in NZ in order to release equity.
This is something we cannot assist with because our Australian credit licence (ACL) only allows us to deal with finance providers in Australia. You must seek assistance with your bank directly in New Zealand.
The other home loan will be in Australia with an Australian bank or lender to buy a property using the equity from your NZ property as a deposit.
- You can borrow up to 60% of the value of a NZ investment property.
- You can borrow up to 80% of the value of a NZ home, if you’re living in NZ.
- Borrowing more may be possible with specialist lenders at slightly higher interest rates.
- Please contact a mortgage broker or bank in NZ to help you release equity.
Once you’ve released the equity in your NZ property, you can contact us and we’ll help you to get approved for the remainder of the funds in Australia.
At the moment, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) is limiting the amount they will allow banks to lend for investment due the rapid growth of the NZ real estate market.
This legislation may change in the future in which case you’ll be able to borrow at higher LVR.
Can I buy a home or investment property?
Your loan can be used for any kind of residential housing. This includes both a home to live in or an investment property in Australia.
You can also apply for a home loan to refinance your existing loan, release equity or build a property in Australia. Commercial mortgages are available on a case by case basis.
Am I required to buy a new property?
Other foreign citizens are required to buy a new property to comply with Australian legislation.
However, NZ citizens are allowed to buy vacant land and existing properties as well.
Which banks have the most competitive home loans?
Before you look at which lenders have the most competitive interest rates, you need to consider which can actually approve your mortgage!
There isn’t much point in applying if you’re only going to have your application declined and damage your credit file.
In particular, if you’re living in NZ or are borrowing over 80% of the purchase price of your property, then not every lender will approve your home loan.
For this reason we use different methodology to find you the right lender.
We know which banks have flexible lending criteria for NZ citizen customers.
This means that you may qualify for a home loan from a reputable bank and will not need to apply with specialist or non-conforming lenders.
Why do special rules apply for NZ citizens?
Some Australian banks view New Zealand citizens more favourably because our governments have joint agreements for trade, residency and legal purposes.
In addition to this, our countries share the same credit reporting system known as VedaScore via Veda Advantage.
For these reasons several banks see NZ citizens as low risk borrowers, even when compared to UK or USA citizens.
What if I’m waiting to become an Australian citizen?
That’s great but it’s not a requirement to qualify for a home loan in Australia.
However, getting your Australian citizenship allows you to access certain social security payments that a SCV holder or permanent resident couldn’t.
You’ll also be in position to sponsor family members in New Zealand for permanent residence.
The good news is that if you were present in Australia on 26 February 2001 as the holder of an SCV, you’ll be eligible to apply for Australian citizenship.
What if I am a NZ Permanent Resident?
This is more complicated as fewer banks will accept your application.
It will also depend on which country you are living in at the time of application. Please contact us to discuss your situation.
What documents will I need to provide?
To find you the best lender for your situation we’ll need to obtain the full details of your situation, including supporting documents such as bank statements, payslips and identification.
We can then work out which lenders will approve your home loan, and let you choose the most suitable mortgage out of those available from these banks.
Apply for an Australian mortgage!
We are mortgage brokers who specialise NZ citizen home loans.
We know which banks can accept your application and which offer the best interest rates for non-residents.
If you would like to buy a property in Australia, please call us on +61 2 9194 1700 if you’re overseas or on 1300 889 743 if you’re in Australia.
Better yet, you can complete our free assessment form wherever you are in the world and one of our specialist brokers will get back you.