Foreign Investment Policy
Residential Real Estate
What is Residential Real Estate?
Who should apply?
Developed Residential Real Estate
Residential Real Estate for Development
Integrated Tourism Resorts
Australian Citizens and Foreign Spouses
Residential real estate means all Australian real property other than (1) commercial properties (i.e. offices, factories, warehouses, hotels, restaurants, shops, recreation facilities etc) and (ii) land which is integral to a farming business. Acquisitions of "hobby farms" and "rural residential" blocks by foreign interests are also examined under the policy applying to residential real estate.
All proposed acquisitions of residential real estate should be submitted for examination regardless of value unless the purchaser is an Australian citizen, permanent resident, approved migrant or a foreign national having an entitlement to take up or retain permanent residence in Australia (such as a New Zealand citizen). Other foreign persons wishing to purchase residential real estate (including temporary residents and the foreign spouses of Australian citizens and permanent residents) must apply in advance to the Government through the Foreign Investment Review Board for approval.
Developed residential real estate means existing houses, flats or units. Acquisitions of developed residential real estate by foreign interests are not normally approved except (i) in the case of foreign companies buying for their senior executives resident in Australia for periods longer than 12 months, and (ii) 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), subject to the sale of the property when they cease to reside in Australia. This latter category includes long-stay retirees and students 18 years of age and over studying courses of more than twelve mouths duration at recognised tertiary institutions.
Acquisition of residential real estate (including, vacant building allotments) for development by foreign interests are normally approved subject to a specific condition requiring construction to commence within 12 months. Applications to acquire existing residences for redevelopment may be approved under this category provided that the proposal provides for substantial redevelopment expenditure in relation to the acquisition cost of the property and/or an increase in the housing stock.
Once the development condition has been fulfilled, there is no restriction on the subsequent use of the property by the foreign investor, i.e. it may be rented out, sold or retained for the foreign investor's own use.
Foreign interests may apply to acquire home units, townhouses, house/land packages etc. in a new development, either "off-the-plan", during the construction phase or when the dwelling is newly completed, provided that it has never been occupied or sold and provided no more than 50 per cent of the dwellings in any one development are sold to foreign interests. Developers of such properties may apply in advance to sell up to 50 per cent of residences to foreign investors. Where such approval has been granted, it is not necessary for individual investors to apply. A property purchased under this category is not subject to any restriction on its subsequent use, i.e. it may be rented out, sold or retained for the foreign investor's own use. However, when the property is sold it is treated as developed residential real estate and its sale is subject to the restrictions applying to that category of residential real estate
Acquisitions of residential real estate within a resort which has been designated by the Government as an Integrated Tourism Resort do not require foreign investment approval. However, the operators of the resort are required to report annually to the Board providing details of the ownership of all accommodation within the resort.
Applications by Australian citizens and their foreign spouses to purchase residential property in their joint names are normally approved without conditions.
The Board is unable to give "in principle" approval to persons wishing to acquire property, so an application for foreign investment approval must specify the particular property to be acquired.
To make an application to purchase residential real estate, write to:
The Executive Member
Foreign Investment Review Board
C/o The Treasury
CANBERRA ACT 2600
Facsimile (02) 6263 2940