Restrictions on Foreigners Buying Australian Property

Ever since the Romans and Vikings there has been a tendency for people to be concerned about non-residents coming over and taking up land.  Whether you are a non-Australian looking for a bit of action or an easily outraged Australian resident you should be aware of the Foreign Investment Review Board (“FIRB”).  The FIRB defends Australian real estate from overseas buyers.  

Non-Australians can invest in residential property.  But such investment is limited as follows:

Permanent residents can buy anything they want.

Non-residents need approval which is basically only given in four cases:

The intention of the Act is to allow foreigners to buy residential property where it creates jobs for Australians and/or increases the housing stock.  it is not just to wind intended migrants up although some may see it that way.

If you are selling to non-Australians then you can either tell them of the FIRB requirement or let them beg you for an extension of time when they find out.  The latter approach may be fun but can result in delay of your sale as even straightforward FIRB approval can take up to six weeks.  Foreigners should insist on FIRB approval being a condition of the sale contract.  

In contrast, commercial property is dealt with generally in a fairly easy way to encourage investment and promote business.

Isn’t it more complicated than this?  Well yes.  If you need more information or wish to develop a deep and morbid interest then www.firb.gov.au the government web site is for you.  Not only is it very helpful and easy to follow but open to all. 

© Paul.brennan@brennanlaw.com.au 2004.

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