Sometimes you visit a country and fall so in love you’re ready to pack up and move. Many die-hard travelers feel that way about the expansive Land Down Under. But can foreigners buy property in Australia? They certainly can!
Keep reading to learn the right process for buying property in Australia as a non-resident.
A Step-By-Step Guide to Buying Property in Australia for Expats
Buying property in Australia as a foreigner is easier than many other countries, but you must seek approval in the correct way. This step-by-step guide will help you avoid any mistakes during the process.
1. Plan and Budget for Your Move
You first need to do some research, make a plan, and decide on a budget for your new Australian property. Already have a place in mind? Speak with a local real estate agent to learn about the area and what to expect regarding pricing and the location.
The price is important because Australian banks will not lend to you if you cannot verify that you can take on the debt. A realistic budget is vital to obtaining a loan.
2. Build Your Expert Team
As an expat, buying property in Australia alone is nearly impossible. You need to build a team of experts to handle various part of the buying process.
First, you need to find a conveyancer or lawyer to perform all legal work. The conveyancer will perform background searches on the property, deal with the transfer of ownership, and go over the contract before signing. Remember that the conveyancer must work or, at least, hold a license in the same state as your desired property.
You also need a mortgage broker to help you apply for a mortgage. Many specialize in helping foreigners buy property in Australia. They do not need to view the property, so they may work from anywhere in the country.
Next, hiring an accountant is not required, but often recommended. They assist you in structuring all your financials and saving money on taxes since they understand the Australian tax system.
If you cannot get to Australia before your move, you should consider hiring a buyers agent to view potential properties. They’ll help find you a great property, work with real estate agents, and negotiate an affordable deal for you.
3. Obtain Pre-Approval for Your Loan
Before you start to look for a property, you must get your loan pre-approved from a lending institution like Quantum Finance. Great properties do not stay available for long. When you get your loan pre-approved, you do not need to wait for approval and risk losing the property to someone who already has their loan secured.
A pre-approved loan also guarantees that you’ll get the loan and makes clear how much you can borrow. With this in mind, avoid properties that settle more than 3 months from your loan approval date since. It will expire before the time is up and you may forfeit your deposit.
4. Apply for a Mortgage
Once you get your loan approved, you may start the mortgage application process. This is where your mortgage broker helps navigate the complicated guidelines depending on your current situation.
Lenders offer different loans depending on if you’re an investor or private owner and whether you plan to stay temporarily or long-term.
5. Get Permission from the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB)
If you have a temporary visa or are a non-resident, you must obtain permission from the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) before qualifying to buy property in Australia. Permanent residents do not need to worry about this step.
You do not need to apply for approval until finding a property, but be aware you will need to pay a fee after you do. Check the FIRB fee schedule for current fees based on the value of your property.
6. Search for a Property
Now you’re ready to begin your property search! Either begin investigating in person or hire a buyers agent.
7. Negotiate the Property’s Price
When negotiating the price for your wanted property, keep in mind that property in Australia generally goes for up to 10% less than the asking price. Of course, this varies by location, market, and the kind of property. Suburban homes often sell for more than the asking price.
Ask for a copy of the contract before you sign anything so your conveyancer can look it over and add any conditions if needed. One popular condition to include is that the purchase is “subject to FIRB approval.” This caveat permits you to cancel the contract in case you do not get approval.
8. Receive Formal Approval for Mortgage
Once you find a property and negotiate the conditions of the sale, it’s time to obtain your formal mortgage approval. Do not sign anything, or ask for a cooling off period with a caveat before signing, in case you do not get approval.
9. Exchange Contract and Pay Deposit
After receiving your mortgage approval and getting the okay from your conveyancer, you may exchange your contract. Most buyers ask for 10% down, but you may negotiate the deposit as well. Be aware the minimum deposit varies between states and once you commit to the property you cannot back out.
10. Obtain Approval from FIRB
Your contract should include the “subject to FIRB approval” clause with an allowance of 30 days for a decision. Make sure that the clause states you will not lose your deposit should they reject your FIRB proposal. Your conveyancer should take care of all of this for you.
11. Final Steps
After getting your FIRB approval, your bank or lending institution will send you the loan contract. Ask your mortgage broker or lawyer to review it before signing.
If you live abroad, you’ll need to visit the Australian consulate or embassy for identification and a contract witness. Or, you may give a local friend in Australia Power of Attorney to sign your loan contract for you.
12. Settlement and Receiving Your Loan
Finally, you’ve reached the settlement point where the bank advances your loan and the property enters into your hands. Your lender holds the property title until you pick up the keys. Always inspect the property one last time when you pick them up.
Find More Awesome Travel Advice Online
Thankful for this guide to buying property in Australia as an expat? Looking for more advice as a world traveler?
Travel enthusiasts should check out the Florida Independent’s blog for tons of excellent suggestions and tips. Learn how to deal with travel anxiety and lots of other travel hacks to make your next adventure even better!