Can I buy an Australian
If you are an overseas developer or investor, you should familiarise yourself with Australia's foreign investment policy. The two most significant regulations are that:
- Acquisitions of residential real estate in Australia by foreign interests require prior foreign investment approval.
- All contracts of sale to acquire residential real estate by foreign interests must be made conditional on foreign investment approval and must allow at least 30 days for a decision to be granted.
The following is a very brief overview of the Government's foreign investment policy in relation to residential real estate acquisitions. A detailed policy can be found at the Foreign Investment Review Board web site at www.firb.gov.au.
What if I'm not an Australian citizen but my spouse is?
Generally, all foreign persons not holding permanent residence in Australia must submit applications to acquire residential real estate for examination regardless of the value of the property. Acquisitions by Australian citizens and their foreign spouses to purchase residential property as joint tenants do not require foreign investment approval.
Can I buy developed residential real estate?
Developed residential real estate means houses, flats or units that have been occupied. Acquisitions of developed residential real estate by foreign are not normally approved except for:
- Foreign nationals temporarily resident in Australia for more than 12 months purchasing a residence for their principal place of residence while in Australia; and
- Foreign companies with an established substantial presence in Australia buying for their named senior executives resident in Australia for periods longer than 12 months.
Residential Real Estate Development Proposals
- Vacant Land Acquisitions are normally approved subject to a specific condition requiring ongoing construction to commence within 12 months of foreign investment approval, and provided that the equivalent of at least 50 per cent of the acquisition price of the land is expended on development.
- Redevelopment Applications involving acquiring existing residences for redevelopment may be approved provided that the proposal provides for substantial redevelopment.
In both cases, once the development condition has been fulfilled, there is no restriction on the subsequent use of the property by the foreign investor.
What about 'off the plan' purchases?
Foreign interests may apply to acquire home units, town houses, house/land packages etc off the plan, during the construction phase or when the dwelling is newly completed, provided, provided that it has never been occupied or sold and provided no more than 50 per cent of the dwellings in any one development are sold to foreign interests.
Developers of more than 10 units/townhouses may apply in advance to sell up to 50 per cent of the residences to foreign investors, so that individual foreign interests do not need to apply for approval.
How do I apply?
The Foreign Investment Review Board is unable to give 'In Principle' approval to persons wishing to acquire property, so an application for foreign investment approval must specify the particular property to be acquired.
Electronics lodgement of straightforward residential real estate applications should be available through the FIRB website in the near future, but in the meantime, write to:
The Executive Member
Foreign Investment Review Board
Department of Treasury
CANBERRA ACT 2600
Ph: (+61) 2 6263 3795
Fax: (+61) 2 6263 2940
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