Can a Foreign National Buy Real Estate?
The following acquisitions require approval, irrespective of the value or the nationality of the investor (unless you are exempt):
- vacant non-residential land;
- residential real estate;
- shares or units in Australian urban land corporations or trust estates; and
- direct investments by foreign governments or their agencies.
Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) Review
The Government puts all applications from other than an Australian citizen, an approved migrant, a permanent resident of Australia, a foreign national holding a permanent visa (or a person who, despite being a foreign citizen, is entitled to permanent residence status in Australia e.g. NZ citizens) to buy residential real estate (already built, to be developed, redeveloped, of-the-plan or existing at plan stage) to the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) regardless of the value. The FIRB review takes 30 days. If the FIRB feels that the residential real estate in question is only being purchased only for the purpose of renting it out, or because the purchaser wants to speculate on the property’s future value, permission to purchase will be refused.
Residential Property - FIRB typically approves applications where the applicant:
- is residing in Australia on the basis of a Temporary Entry Visa (with more than 12 months validity) and is wanting to buy a residence for themselves - as long as the property is sold when the person no longer lives in Australia Applicants who are entitled to purchase on these terms include students over 18 studying at a recognised tertiary institution for more than one year who need accommodation, but a general limit of $300,000 applies to the value of any such property acquired by a student temporarily resident in Australia. Other applicants entitled to purchase are long stay retirees and people in Australia for work reasons who need accommodation. Any property must be sold when these categories of buyers no longer live in Australia. This category does not cover people with visitor or bridging visas.
- is a foreign company wanting to provide housing for its executive staff while they are posted to Australia for more than 12 months. Any property must be sold when the executive employees no longer live in Australia. - again, as long as the property is sold when the employee is no longer living in Australia. These senior executives have to be specifically named. Usually, the purchase of 2 houses per corporation are permitted. The purchase of another residence, such as a "weekender" for recreational use, is not approved under any of the above circumstances.