If you are interested in making an investment in Australia but do not know all the requirements or just need specific information on what are the steps to guarantee a successful outcome, then read our guide to purchasing property in Queensland!
The Four Most Common Reasons Why Foreigners Buy Real Property in Queensland
Most foreigners who consider purchasing real property in Australia do so for one of the following reasons:
- Education: Australia’s education system is a magnet for some foreigners. For families looking to send their children to school or to a University in Australia, it often makes more financial sense to buy property near the school in question than to pay boarding fees.
- Permanent residency: An application for permanent residency in Australia typically takes years to process. Many things are considered in deciding whether or not to grant residency. Property ownership can positively impact the application, in part because it helps establish financial viability of the applicant. For those who can afford it and want to skew the odds in their favor, buying real property is an obvious choice.
- Low cost properties and good financial returns: Compared to many other locations, Australia’s property prices are low. When combined with generally low vacancy rates, the result for investors is consistent and strong returns, typically 5 – 6%. Adding to the appeal, some loan instruments include variable finance rates below 5%.
- Need for a part-time residence: Some people do not live full time in Australia, but do visit it very regularly. Owning a part-time residence can be a sensible alternative to hotels for people who routinely engage in business or social activities locally.
The Three Main Types of Foreign Investment Properties
- Residential Apartments: Typically, an investor purchases a single apartment in a complex. For some investors, the appeal is that there is usually on-site staff to deal with the day-to-day details of caring for the property and renting it out. Such apartments may be rented out furnished or unfurnished. Furnished apartments charge a premium compared to unfurnished units.
- Detached Single-Family Houses: This can be an appealing option for an investor because you will only have to pay stamp duty on the value of the land you purchased with the house, rather than on the full value of the house plus the land. On a property with an overall value of $400,000, this constitutes a savings of around $8,000.
- Commercial Property: This includes things like office space, retail shops and warehouses. One reason this appeals to some investors is that leases are typically three or five years. Another reason that such properties can have appeal is that some of them do not require approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB).
The Foreign Investment Review Board Defines Legal Eligibility and Limitations for Foreign Investors
Foreign investors are subject to restrictions on the type and amount of existing or previously-occupied property that they can purchase. However, investment in new property is generally not subject to the same kinds of restrictions. Additionally, you will need a solicitor to file your application with the Australian Government. In most cases, the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) must pre-approve the intended purchase. For additional information, please see their website:
Common Requirements of Australian Lenders
Provided they meet certain criteria, it is possible for foreign investors to get local financing through an Australian financial institution. Typical lending criteria may include:
- The loan amount will be for no more than 80% of the property value.
- The investor must have secured approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board prior to loan approval.
- The loan cannot be longer than 30 years.
- The lender will first confirm your income. Some typical documents required for confirmation include tax returns, employment contract, and a letter from your employer.
Professional Advisors and Legal Expenses
Local law requires you to use a Queensland-based Solicitor or Conveyancing Officer. You can expect there to be legal expenses on the order of AU$1500 for each property.
If you plan to rent out the property, you will need an Australian Tax File Number. You will also need to file an annual income tax return in Australia. A local tax advisor can help you file your taxes properly and track tax deductible expenses, such as purchasing costs, loan interest, insurance costs and management fees.
The Stamp Duty
The Queensland State Government applies a transaction tax on all property acquisitions under its jurisdiction. This tax is called the Stamp Duty. Owner-occupiers effectively pay a lower rate than investors (landlords, who rent the property out). Here are some examples for comparison purposes only:
- On a new home with a total value of $400,000, the investor Stamp Duty would be $12,425, but the owner-occupier Stamp Duty would only be $5,250.
- In a case where the Stamp Duty is only due on the land value and its value is $180,000, the investor Stamp duty would be $4,725, but the owner-occupier Stamp Duty would only be $1,800.
Additional information on the stamp duty is available from the Queensland Office of State Revenue official website at www.osr.qld.gov.au. The website has tools that will allow you to calculate the duty by entering the purchase price.
The Capital Gains Tax
At time of sale, investment properties are subject to a Capital Gains Tax on any increase in value the property has seen during the time it was owned. However, the sale of one’s primary place of residence is exempt from the Capital Gains Tax. To get an idea of how much this tax is likely to be, you can visit the Australian Tax Office official website at www.ato.gov.au or consult a registered Taxation Advisor.