Foreign Investment

Find out if you can buy a property in Australia if you are not an Australian Citizen

This article provides general information on the Australian Government’s policy on purchases of estate by foreign interests. The information is provided as a guide only, and are extracts from the FIRB web site.

Proposed acquisitions of residential real estate are exempt from examination in the case of Australian citizens living abroad and foreign nationals who are the holders of permanent resident visas or are holders, or entitled to hold, a ‘special category visa’.

Proposed acquisitions of real estate for development (within 12 months) are normally approved unless they are considered contrary to the national interest.

Foreign interests are normally given approval to buy vacant residential land (on condition that continuous construction of a dwelling is commenced within 12 months) and to buy home units, townhouses, etc ‘off-the-plan’, under construction or newly constructed but never occupied (the ‘off-the-plan’ criteria only apply to new development projects or extensively refurbished commercial structures which have been converted to residential), on condition that no more than half of the units in any one development is sold to foreign interests.

Proposed acquisitions of residential property (both vacant land and existing dwellings) which are within the bounds of a resort that the Treasurer has designated as an ‘Integrated Tourism Resort’ are exempt from examination.

Proposed acquisitions of developed residential real estate by certain categories of foreign nationals temporarily resident in Australia for more than 12 months purchasing a residence for use as their principal place of residence while in Australia (and not for rental purposes) are normally approved. This category includes long-stay retirees.

All other proposals by foreign interests to acquire developed residential real estate are examinable and are not normally approved, except in the case of foreign companies, with an established substantial business in Australia, buying for named senior executives resident in Australia for periods longer than 12 months, provided the accommodation is sold when no longer required for this purpose.

Whether a company is eligible, and the number of properties that may be acquired under this category will depend upon the extent of the foreign company’s operations and assets in Australia.

Unless there are special circumstances, foreign companies normally will not be permitted to buy more than two houses under this category. Foreign companies would not be eligible under this category where the property would represent a significant proportion of its assets in Australia.
Proposed acquisitions of developed non-residential commercial real estate are normally approved unless they are contrary to the national interest.

Hotels and motels operating under one title are normally approved (unless considered contrary to the national interest) under the tourism sector policy, other accommodation facilities such as guest houses, holiday flats, strata titled hotels and motels are examined under policy applying to residential real estate sector.

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