Buying property in Australia as non-resident. What you need to know

Roberto Efflandrin

Whether you’re considering moving to Australia and hope to buy a home or are interested in investing in the Australian property market while remaining overseas, you’ve no doubt got many questions about how this all works.

In this guide, we’ve researched and collected all the essential information you’ll need to understand how to buy property in Australia as a foreigner or non-resident.

We’ll outline what you need to know about the property-buying process in Australia. Covering the rules and restrictions placed on foreign property investment to property costs in major cities, accessing finance, applicable taxes and more.

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Note: This article is purely for general information purposes and is not to be taken as financial advice. We recommend that you obtain independent financial advice before making any form of decision.

Can foreigners/non-residents buy property or real estate in Australia?

The short answer is yes, they can. Foreigners, non-residents and temporary residents are permitted under Australian law to buy real estate in Australia.¹

However, this is only possible through adherence to a specific set of conditions.

One of these conditions is that you must gain permission from the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) before purchasing a property.

The FIRB oversees all foreign investment in Australia and legislates a strict set of rules that must be satisfied for a purchase to be approved.² Approval from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) may also be required in some cases.

Types of property non-residents can purchase in Australia

Generally, foreigners can purchase new dwellings or off-plan properties, such as apartments and houses, that have not yet been lived in. Vacant land that can be developed is also permitted to be purchased as a non-resident.³

Unless you meet specific criteria, buying an established or ‘lived-in’ property as a foreigner is not usually permitted.

Commercial property acquisitions may also be permitted for some non-residents or investors, however, for this guide, we will be focusing on residential property.

What are the rules for non-residents buying property in Australia?

As indicated above, the primary rules for foreigners buying property relate to:

  • The types of property they are permitted to purchase and
  • That approval must be sought through FIRB in advance of purchasing of property

The FIRB process

To obtain approval from FIRB as per the rules for foreign investment, you will need to submit an application through FIRB’s Online Services for foreign investors portal.⁴

A separate application is necessary for each property you are considering purchasing and a fee must be paid for each application that is lodged.

These fees, which are typically in the thousands or tens of thousands, must be paid at the time of lodgement. They are determined using a tiered system with costs increasing based on the value of the property in question.⁵

Once submitted, processing time varies, but it can take up to 30 days to receive an answer. ⁴

Other legal requirements for buying property in Australia as a non-resident

Following approval and successful purchasing of a property as a non-permanent resident, you will also need to complete some additional steps to remain compliant with Australian legislation.

These include⁶:

It is strongly recommended to engage a skilled accountant who is familiar with foreign property investment to navigate this properly.

Read more: Tax Implications of Transferring Money from Overseas to Australia

What’s the property market like in Australia?

The Australian property market has seen significant and rapid growth over the past few years. A shortage of rental properties and a low supply of housing compared with increased population growth is partly responsible for this.

In the 12 months between December 2021 and December 2022 alone, property prices across Australia rose by 23.7% with continued growth into 2023-2024.⁷

This makes for a highly competitive market for buyers.

Property prices for different types of property in different locations

So what can you expect to pay for a residential property in Australia?

As a base indication, as of March 2024, the median house price in Australia’s combined capital cities was AUD$949,410.⁸

Comparatively, the median price for an apartment or flat in Australia’s combined capital cities was AUD$654,163.

Keep in mind that being a vast country, property prices can vary considerably between regions and cities and based on the property type in question.

The following table shows the average house and apartment/unit prices in the capital city of each state or territory in Australia, based on the most recent data.⁸

City, State/Territory Property Type Median Price
Sydney, New South Wales (NSW) Apartment




Brisbane, Queensland (QLD) Apartment




Melbourne, Victoria Apartment




Canberra, Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Apartment




Hobart, Tasmania (TAS) Apartment




Adelaide, South Australia (SA) Apartment




Perth, Western Australia (WA) Apartment




Darwin, Northern Territory (NT) Apartment




As seen on 03 April 2024

How to find property to buy in Australia

There are a few ways to hunt down your ideal property in Australia. The most common of these is to use online property listing websites or to speak with local real estate agents.

Real estate Agencies and agents in Australia

In Australia, the real estate industry is heavily regulated, with all agents and agencies requiring formal licensing to operate.

This means you can confidently approach any licensed agency of your choosing for advice and assistance. Keep in mind that if acting as a Buyer’s Agent on your behalf, fees may apply for this service.

Australian property websites

Within Australia, there are two primary online resources for finding current property listings, these are:

Both of these sites feature properties in every state and territory of Australia. They allow you to refine your search criteria in detail for easy filtering of suitable properties and make it easy to connect with the selling agent as needed.

How to choose the right property to buy in Australia. What to consider

Aside from the obvious criteria such as location, number of rooms or bathrooms, proximity to schools, transport or similar, you should also do the following.

This will help to ensure you’re buying well and avoid any potential pitfalls.

  • Attend at least one in-person viewing of the property
  • Arrange for a pre-purchase pest and building inspection to rule out any issues with the property’s condition or structure
  • Source information on ongoing property costs such as council rates or utilities (gas, water, electricity)
  • Understand your obligations regarding strata fees or similar when buying an apartment or townhouse

Your chosen legal representative, namely a conveyancer or solicitor, can help you to source some of these details and explain them as needed.

Key steps to take to buy a house in Australia

As a foreign property buyer in Australia, we recommend doing the following to ensure a streamlined and compliant process.

  1. Engage a solicitor/conveyancer and accountant to advise on and manage the legal paperwork and tax implications of your purchase.
  2. Organise finance, you will need at least a 10% deposit available up-front, gaining pre-approval for a mortgage is also advisable
  3. Make sure you meet FIRB qualification criteria as a non-resident investor and that you are prepared to pay their application fees when ready
  4. Search for your ideal property, keeping in mind that you can only buy certain property types.
  5. Once you've found the right one, make an offer and be prepared to negotiate on price, researching recent sales of similar properties in the area can help you navigate this more successfully.
  6. If your offer is accepted, be sure the vendor is aware that this is subject to FIRB approval. Your solicitor can include a clause regarding this in the contract of sale to protect your interests and against loss of deposit
  7. Apply to FIRB for approval. Hefty fines apply for buying without approval, so don’t skip this step!
  8. Finalise mortgage approval
  9. Exchange contracts and pay your deposit
  10. Receive FIRB approval and proceed to settlement, your conveyancer will coordinate the transfer of ownership, final funds and other settlement details.

Can you get a mortgage in Australia as a non-resident

Yes, it is possible to secure a mortgage with an Australian bank or lender as a foreign citizen. However, some added restrictions or conditions may apply.

This may look like:

  • Fewer mortgage products to choose from
  • Less competitive financing options that levy higher interest rates or require a larger cash deposit upfront
  • Restrictions on loan amounts
  • A lower loan-to-value (LVR) ratio

It is recommended to start your mortgage research early, speaking to banks and lenders to find out your options. Engaging a specialist mortgage broker to assist with this can also be beneficial.

Documents needed for buying a property in Australia as a non-resident

Much like buying a property in your own country of residence, buying in Australia as a foreigner will require the provision of certain documentation.

While most of this paperwork will be similar to what you would expect in your home country, there are a few added extras for non-residents in Australia.

For your FIRB application, you will need³:

  • Evidence of your visa status
  • A prepared cover letter that meets FIRB requirements

Other documentation you may require for purchasing or mortgage approval include:

  • Approved identification such as a current passport or driver's license
  • Evidence of employment
  • Evidence of savings and continued earnings
  • Declarations/evidence of any existing debts and assets

What are the taxes and fees usually levied on property purchases in Australia

Aside from FIRB fees, there are several other fees and taxes you will need to pay when buying property in Australia.

Some of these are specific to you as a non-resident and others are standard costs paid on every Australian property purchase.

Outlined below are some of the additional costs you will need to cover, using an AUD$500,000 property in Queensland as an example.⁹

Fee/Tax Type Cost
Stamp Duty (property tax) AUD$8750
Additional Foreign Acquirer Duty (AFAD)¹⁰ AUD$35,000
Conveyancer/solicitor fees AUD$1800+
Mortgage application/establishment fees AUD$600+
Mortgage registration fee AUD$187
Transfer fee ($35 for every $10,000 over $180,000) AUD$1120
Lender’s mortgage insurance AUD$12,000

(Applicable when the loan is more than 80% of the purchase price)

Data collated by, accurate as of January 2023

Please note that these costs can vary significantly depending on the state or territory that you are purchasing in. Not all charges will apply depending on location or personal circumstances.

Avoiding scams when buying a property in Australia

While property scams are not a hugely common occurrence in Australia, you should still be mindful of the following to avoid being caught out:

  • Only deal with licensed real estate agents, accountants, solicitors/conveyancers and mortgage brokers.
  • Avoid private property sales found through social media or other non-property-specific websites that are not being handled by a licensed expert.
  • Never buy off-plan without having your solicitor/conveyancer perform proper checks first.
  • Do not use email payment links and always double-check bank transfer details via phone rather than email to avoid phishing scams.

By doing your due diligence and working with industry-regulated professionals, you can protect yourself and remain compliant while buying property as a non-resident in Australia.

What else to keep in mind

Buying property in Australia as a foreigner can be an excellent investment, however, it is not without its challenges and potential pitfalls. We recommend considering:

  • The ongoing costs, from maintenance to insurance, council and water rates owning property in Australia comes with continued expenses to be paid.
  • Vacancy fees, if your property is an investment that is not rented out consistently you may need to pay an annual fee.²
  • Tax obligations, each year you will need to lodge an Australian tax return to report any rental income where applicable.
  • If buying while on a temporary visa and residency or citizenship is not attained, you may be required to sell when leaving Australia, this may also see you paying capital gains tax

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This article is purely for general information purposes and is not to be taken as financial advice. We recommend that you obtain independent financial advice before making any form of decision.


  1. ATO - Planning To Invest In Australia
  2. FIRB - About
  3. ATO - Residential Property Application For Foreign Investors
  4. ATO - How To Apply For Investment Approval
  5. FIRB - Application Fees pg. 5
  6. ATO - Owning Property In Australia
  7. Australian Bureau Of Statistics - Property Data
  8. Property Update - Median Property Prices
  9. - Costs Of Buying A Home
  10. Queensland Revenue Office - AFAD

Sources checked on: 03 April 2024

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This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

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