Can foreigners buy property in Australia? Yes, here’s how

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How to buy a property in Australia?

Are you looking to join the long list of foreign buyers searching for a slice of the Australian dream? You might be wondering, are you even allowed to buy property in Australia as a foreign buyer? 

Typically you need to be a permanent resident or citizen to buy property in Australia and if you need to fund it with a home loan, many of the available home loans also require you to meet the same criteria. But foreigners can still buy. However, the property has to be a new dwelling, vacant land, or off-the-plan property and you need government approval to get it.

Let’s take a closer look.

How to buy a property in Australia as a foreigner?

Firstly, as a foreigner, you’ll need to submit an application to the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB), which assesses non-Australian citizens who want to buy or invest in Australian property.

If you get approved for an investment property, there are a couple of things to keep in mind:

  • It must be a new property or vacant land to build a new property.
  • The investment property cannot be an established dwelling.

If you do buy an established dwelling, you’re required to live in it and then sell it once you no longer live there. 

Fees for foreigners buying property in Australia

The FIRB charges an application fee, an amount that depends on the value of the property you plan on buying. So this figure can vary a bit depending on the value of the property. You need to double check this before purchasing - the FIRB has some guidance on it.

The current fees from 1 July 2023 to 30 June 2024 are:

Amount
Fee 
Less than $75,000
$4,200
$1 million or less
$14,100
$2 million or less
$28,200
$3 million or less
$56,400
$4 million or less
$84,600
$5 million or less
$112,800

*Source: Australian Taxation Office website

There is also the Foreign Citizen Stamp Duty you’ll have to pay on top of all the usual house-buying fees. This particular stamp duty is an 8% surcharge in NSW, for example, that goes on top of theusual stamp duty (also called transfer duty) that all property buyers are required to pay when they purchase a property. Apart from the Northern Territory, each state and territory will charge additional stamp duty for foreigners. 

State
Additional surcharge
New South Wales
8% stamp duty surcharge + 2% land tax
Victoria
8% foreign purchase additional duty
Queensland
7% stamp duty surcharge
Western Australia
7% foreign citizen stamp duty surcharge
South Australia
7% stamp duty surcharge
Tasmania
8% Foreign Investor Duty Surcharge
Australian Capital Territory
0.75% land tax surcharge

Aside from those extra bits, the process of buying a home and applying for a home loan is pretty much the same as if you were a local.

What if you buy a property without FIRB permission?

There are serious consequences if you are found in breach of FIRB rules. If you’re a non-resident or temporary resident who purchases a property without FIRB approval, you could face fines depending on the number of penalty units that your breach constitutes. You could also face prison time, depending on your breach action.

If you’re found in breach of FIRB rules, how much would you end up paying? Every penalty unit is worth $222 and each breach action constitutes a differing number of penalty units. For instance, you may receive 100 penalty units, meaning that you need to pay $22,200.

Can temporary residents buy property in Australia?

If you are on a temporary visa, such as a partnership visa, 457 work visa, temporary skills shortage visa or student visa, you’ll still need approval from the FIRB to purchase property in Australia. This is because you are still classified as a foreigner when it comes to buying property and must follow the same criteria as above.

Who is exempt from seeking FIRB approval?

There are a few instances where you’ll find exemptions from FIRB approval. If you’re an Australian citizen, you can still purchase property if you live outside of the country. Permanent residents are also exempt from FIRB approval.

If you’re a New Zealand citizen, you won’t have to worry about all the extra rules other foreigners have to deal with as Kiwi nationals tend to be given the same rights as Aussie home buyers when buying Australian property. Although, if you’re purchasing property from outside of the country, you may need to pay foreign citizen stamp duty.

Also, if you’re purchasing a house as a joint tenant with a spouse who is an Australian or New Zealand citizen, you won’t have to look for FIRB approval. 

Can I get Australian home loans for my property purchase?

Yes, but it’s not that straightforward. Many Australian lenders have strict rules that you must be an Aussie or a permanent resident to qualify for a home loan. And those who do lend to foreigners tend to impose tighter lending criteria like:

  • Paying a higher interest rate
  • Needing a larger deposit (around 30-40%)
  • Imposing restrictions on foreign income used to pay the loan
  • Having to obtain approval from the FIRB.

Don’t let this deter you though! There are plenty of options out there such as internationally recognised banks that operate in Australia that offer home loans like HSBC and Citibank.

If you are looking to buy a new home in Australia check out our home loan guides

FAQs

Who has the best home loans in Australia?

Every year Mozo announces the Mozo Experts Choice Home Loans Awards to help borrowers discover worthwhile home loan options when looking to buy property. 

Keep in mind that only some of the winners will offer foreigners home loans. Be sure to do your own research before applying.

Is buying property in Australia expensive?

Like anywhere else in the world, the cost of property depends on several factors, such as location, size and type, to name a few. It’s essential to research and set a budget before buying a house Down Under.

Home loan comparisons on Mozo

Mozo may receive payment if you click the products below. We don’t compare the entire market, but you can search our database of 473 home loans.
Last updated 20 June 2024 Important disclosures and comparison rate warning*
  • Unloan Variable

    • Owner Occupier
    • LVR <80%
    Interest rate
    5.99 % p.a.
    Variable
    Comparison rate
    5.90 % p.a.
    Initial monthly repayment
    $2,995
    Go to site

    Built by CommBank, the Unloan is the first home loan with an increasing discount (conditions apply) for borrowers. No application or banking fees. No monthly account keeping or early exit fees. Apply online in minutes.

  • Basic Home Loan

    • Owner Occupier
    • LVR<60%
    • Principal & Interest
    Interest rate
    6.14 % p.a.
    Variable
    Comparison rate
    6.16 % p.a.
    Initial monthly repayment
    $3,043
    Go to site

    Enjoy a low rate home loan with $0 application fee and $0 ongoing fees. Flexibility to split your loan and set different repayment types. Fee free redraw from your loan using online banking. Flexible ways to repay. 40% Deposit required.

  • Offset Home Loan

    • Owner Occupier
    • LVR<60%
    • Principal & Interest
    Interest rate
    6.14 % p.a.
    Variable
    Comparison rate
    6.39 % p.a.
    Initial monthly repayment
    $3,043
    Go to site

    Ability to open up to 10 offset accounts per loan account. Fast online application. Linked Debit Mastercard® with fee-free access at ATMs across Australia. Package a credit card with your home loan and the annual card fee will be waived (T&Cs apply). 40% deposit required.

  • Unloan Variable

    • Owner Occupier
    • LVR <80%
    Interest rate
    5.99 % p.a.
    Variable
    Comparison rate
    5.90 % p.a.
    Initial monthly repayment
    $2,995
    Go to site

    Built by CommBank, the Unloan is the first home loan with an increasing discount (conditions apply) for borrowers. No application or banking fees. No monthly account keeping or early exit fees. Apply online in minutes.

  • Discount Variable Home Loan

    • Owner Occupier
    • LVR<70%
    Interest rate
    5.99 % p.a.
    Variable
    Comparison rate
    6.01 % p.a.
    Initial monthly repayment
    $2,995
    Go to site

    A low rate home loan for owner-occupiers packed with great features including unlimited extra repayments, free online redraw, no application or monthly admin fees. Rate will vary depending on LVR. Winner of a Mozo Experts Choice 2024 Low Cost Home Loan Award^

  • Variable Home Loan 90

    • Principal and Interest
    • LVR <90%
    Interest rate
    6.04 % p.a.
    Variable
    Comparison rate
    6.06 % p.a.
    Initial monthly repayment
    $3,011
    Go to site

    Affordable home loan rate for buyers or refinancers. No monthly or ongoing fees. Option to add an offset for 0.10%. Access to savings with unlimited redraws available. Minimum 10% deposit required.

  • The Better Home Loan Special Offer

    • Owner Occupier
    • Principal & Interest
    • LVR<80%
    Interest rate
    6.14 % p.a.
    Variable
    Comparison rate
    6.14 % p.a.
    Initial monthly repayment
    $3,043
    Go to site

    Enjoy a variable rate home loan with a bunch of features from Police Credit Union. Make extra repayments at any time without penalty. No monthly, annual or upfront fees. Free online redraw. Minimum 20% deposit. Qualifying criteria applies. Minimum loan amount is 200K. For new customers only. Mozo Experts Choice Home Lender Credit Union of the Year 2023.

  • Basic Home Loan

    • Owner Occupier
    • LVR<60%
    • Principal & Interest
    Interest rate
    6.14 % p.a.
    Variable
    Comparison rate
    6.16 % p.a.
    Initial monthly repayment
    $3,043
    Go to site

    Enjoy a low rate home loan with $0 application fee and $0 ongoing fees. Flexibility to split your loan and set different repayment types. Fee free redraw from your loan using online banking. Flexible ways to repay. 40% Deposit required.

  • Mortgage Simplifier

    • LVR<80%
    • Owner Occupier
    • Principal & Interest
    Interest rate
    6.14 % p.a.
    Variable
    Comparison rate
    6.17 % p.a.
    Initial monthly repayment
    $3,043

    Get a competitive variable rate with ING’s Mortgage Simplifier. Free extra repayments, no monthly or annual fees. Freedom to make free extra repayments or redraws.

  • Offset Home Loan

    • Owner Occupier
    • LVR<60%
    • Principal & Interest
    Interest rate
    6.14 % p.a.
    Variable
    Comparison rate
    6.39 % p.a.
    Initial monthly repayment
    $3,043
    Go to site

    Ability to open up to 10 offset accounts per loan account. Fast online application. Linked Debit Mastercard® with fee-free access at ATMs across Australia. Package a credit card with your home loan and the annual card fee will be waived (T&Cs apply). 40% deposit required.

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Need help with refinancing?

You might have questions that need personal answers. We’ve teamed up with the mortgage brokers at Lendi to get you the answers you need, and a home loan deal you deserve.

Learn more

* WARNING: This comparison rate applies only to the example or examples given. Different amounts and terms will result in different comparison rates. Costs such as redraw fees or early repayment fees, and cost savings such as fee waivers, are not included in the comparison rate but may influence the cost of the loan. The comparison rate displayed is for a secured loan with monthly principal and interest repayments for $150,000 over 25 years.

** Initial monthly repayment figures are estimates only, based on the advertised rate. You can change the loan amount and term in the input boxes at the top of this table. Rates, fees and charges and therefore the total cost of the loan may vary depending on your loan amount, loan term, and credit history. Actual repayments will depend on your individual circumstances and interest rate changes.

^See information about the Mozo Experts Choice Home Loan Awards

Mozo provides general product information. We don't consider your personal objectives, financial situation or needs and we aren't recommending any specific product to you. You should make your own decision after reading the PDS or offer documentation, or seeking independent advice.

While we pride ourselves on covering a wide range of products, we don't cover every product in the market. If you decide to apply for a product through our website, you will be dealing directly with the provider of that product and not with Mozo.