With Patricia Bakker
Australia is a popular destination for migrants seeking to take advantage of some of the diverse characteristics this “lucky” country has to offer. Australia has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, many world heritage listed properties, and a gorgeous landscape filled with flora and fauna that has long had appeal with many visitors to this country. Australia is also found to be attractive in that, while it is the 6th largest country in the world, it also has the lowest population density and provides an enviable lifestyle with great opportunities for business and employment.
It is perhaps not surprising that many people from other countries seek to migrate to Australia. South Africa is known to be one of the top 10 countries from which migrants are coming from.
And in doing so seek to achieve what for years has been known as “the great Aussie dream” – owning your own home.
So what do you need to know about buying real estate in Australia.
One of the first things you will need to consider is foreign investment approval through the Foreign Investment Approval Board (FIRB).
Australian citizens do not have to apply for approval unless they are purchasing through a foreign incorporated company or foreign registered trust. For this purpose, a company incorporated in Australia or a trust registered in Australia will be considered “foreign” where 15% or more of shares or units are owned by foreign persons.
Australian permanent residents are also exempt from the approval process unless they are purchasing residential property through a foreign incorporated company or foreign trust but there is a condition that the property must be zoned residential.
So unless you are an Australian citizen or an Australian permanent resident, most purchases of residential real estate will require prior foreign investment approval. Purchase of commercial real estate and/or shares and other business assets will also need foreign investment approval subject to certain monetary thresholds.
Australian citizens and their foreign spouses (including de facto partners) do not have to apply if the property is zoned residential and is purchased as joint tenants.
It is always important to remember that the FIRB conditions attached to any approval must be adhered to and that the FIRB must be notified if there are