In Australia, residential real estate can be purchased by foreign investors however this only applies to vacant land or units being sold “off the plan” or being constructed or completed but not yet occupied or rented and not established houses. The rules are very specific and can be viewed in detail on www.firb.gov.au Timeframes are strict for building on vacant land. All proposed acquisition by foreign interests of residential real estate should be submitted for examination, regardless of dollar value. Applications are not required where the purchaser is an Australian citizen, permanent resident, approved migrant or a foreign national having entitlement to take up or retain permanent residence in Australia, such as a New Zealand citizen.
Developed Residential Real Estate
Developed Residential Real Estate is a term used to describe existing houses, flats or units. A new house which has previously been occupied or sold is regarded as an existing dwelling. Acquisitions of developed residential real estate by foreign interests are normally prohibited. However, the Government as a concession has been prepared to grant approval for certain types of purchasers, namely:
- Foreign Companies seeking accommodation for their senior executives resident in Australia, provided the residence is sold when no longer required for that purpose. (Unless there are special circumstances, an upper limit of two houses per company applies.)
- Foreign Nationals who are resident in Australia on a temporary entry visa valid for more that 12 months, seeking to purchase a dwelling for use as their principal place of residence while in Australia (and not for rental purposes), subject to the sale of the property when they cease to reside in Australia.
- Long stay retirees;
- Students aged 18 years or more, studying courses of more than 12 months duration at recognized tertiary institutions, wanting accommodation for their own use whilst staying in Australia. Normally approval is granted readily where the property is valued at less than $300,000 and provided it is reasonably proximal to the tertiary institution.
- Persons here for employment reasons again holding a temporary entry visa valid for more than 12 months, seeking to purchase a dwelling for use as their principal place of residence while in Australia (and not for rental purposes), subject to the sale of the property when they cease to reside in Australia.
In all of the above cases, approval is given for only one property (ie principal place of residence) to be acquired. Holiday homes will not be approved under these categories.
Intergrated Tourism Resorts
Acquisitions of residential real estate within a resort which has been designated by the Government as an “Integrated Tourism Resort” do not require foreign investment approval. For example in Port Douglas this includes places such as The Sheraton Mirage Resort.
All contracts by foreign persons to acquire interests in Australian residential real estate must be mad conditional upon approval being given by the Government under its foreign investment policy. It is generally sufficient for the contract to allow about 30 days for a decision to be made under foreign investment policy.