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2024 Australia House Buying Tips and Procedures

Australia is recognised as the world’s most livable place, and this year, it has attracted many domestic buyers to purchase property in Australia. Whether for self-occupation or as a fixed investment, you must do a lot of homework before buying a house. I will introduce information on Australian property and the buying policy and process. This article also applies to Sydney and Melbourne.

The Main Types of Houses in Australia

House: Independent villa with land, that is, the domestic villa. Permanent property rights and inheritance for generations. After purchasing real estate in Australia, the land up to 800 metres in the sky and 800 metres below the ground belongs to the individual forever. Even if gold is found under the ground, it belongs to the individual’s assets.

Duplex: also a type of house, but two families share a piece of land. And the house has a common wall.

Townhouse: Where several or dozens of houses are connected and share a piece of land. This one needs to pay strata (property management fee).

Unit: somewhat similar to the domestic low-rise flats, usually only three floors, no lift, usually older houses have.

Apartment: 4 floors or above, with lift, you must pay strata (property management fee).

Who Do I Need to Buy a Property in Australia?

Firstly, a reliable real estate agent

Secondly, a lawyer/conveyancer. These professionals are needed when signing a contract, applying for FIRB, paying the fees, and handing over the property.

Australian Property Buying Policies

Whether you are an Australian citizen, a permanent resident, a temporary resident or an expatriate, you can buy a property in Australia. Temporary residents and purely overseas persons must fulfil additional conditions before purchasing a home in Australia.

What is a Temporary Resident? What is a Pure Overseas Person?

Temporary Resident

Hold a temporary visa valid for a continuous stay of more than 12 months in Australia (regardless of the time left on the visa).

Resides in Australia and has lodged an application for a Permanent Resident Visa and holds a Bridging Visa that allows him/her to remain in Australia until the Permanent Visa application is complete.

Temporary residents will include the following Australian visa holders:

  • All temporary visas
  • Temporary Skilled Shortage Visa (Class 482)
  • Business Innovation and Investment (Temporary) Visa (Class 888 or Class 188)
  • Student visas for 12 months or longer (Class 500 or Class 590)
  • Temporary Postgraduate Visa (Class 485)
  • Remote Sponsored Skilled Migration (Temporary Visa) (Class 489)

Overseas Persons

  • Overseas persons who do not reside in Australia
  • or who do not hold an Australian visa
  • or hold a temporary Australian visa valid for less than 12 months, such as a tourist visa.

What Types of Houses Can Buy in Australia?

There is no limit to the number of new homes that a temporary resident in Australia can purchase for ownership or investment. Temporary residents can buy a second home as their primary residence and then buy a new home as an investment. An application must be made to the FIRB for each new home to be purchased and will usually be approved without conditions.

Overseas persons, short-term visa holders can only buy a new home, i.e. a brand new house or a pre-fabricated building. Or they can apply to buy a vacant lot. If a second-hand property must be purchased, holders of long-term visas (12 months or more) (e.g. TR visas, work visas, student visas, etc.) can apply to buy second-hand real estate under stringent terms. And they must sell the home when they leave Australia at the end of their visa. In addition, large-scale companies run by expatriates who provide accommodation for their employees in Australia can purchase a completed home.


FIRB is the Foreign Investment Review Board. According to the current regulations, overseas people who want to buy a house in Australia must be approved by FIRB.

In addition, according to Australian law, a permanent resident (PR) and a foreigner (e.g. a non-PR Chinese citizen) can jointly purchase a property in Australia.

Joint names can be categorised into joint tenancy and tenancy in common;

The FIRB application fee of AUD 5000 will not be reduced by the foreigner’s share of the purchase;

If a loan is required, the foreigner’s portion of the loan is likely to be significantly restricted;

The Overseas Buyer’s Special Stamp Duty (OBSD) still applies to foreigners;

The First Time Buyer’s Allowance and Stamp Duty Relief still apply to PRs.

Costs and Taxes of Buying a House in Australia

In addition to the house payment and bank interest rate, there are also some taxes and fees to be paid when buying a house in Australia:

FIRB (Foreign Investment Review Board) overseas person investment application fee:

Property under $ 1 million: $ 5,700

A$1,000,000 to $1,999,999 property: $11,500

$ 2 million to $2,999,999: $23,100

$3,000,000 to $3,999,999: $34,600

4 million to $ 4,999,999: $ 46,200

$5 million to $5,999,999 property: $57,700

$ 6 million to $ 6,999,999 property: $ 69,300

7 million to $ 7,999,999 property: $ 80,900

$ 8 million to $ 8,999,999 property: $ 92,600

$9,000,000 to $9,999,999 property: $104,100

Stamp Duty

Whether you are an Australian citizen, a permanent resident, a temporary resident or an expatriate, you must pay stamp duty when you buy a property in Australia. The amount of stamp duty varies from state to state. Temporary residents and expatriates must pay an additional percentage of stamp duty on top of the stamp duty.

The additional stamp duty (percentage multiplied by the price of the property) varies from state to state:

Victoria 8 per cent

New South Wales 8 per cent

Queensland’s 7 per cent

South Australia 7 per cent

Western Australia 7 per cent

Tasmania 3 per cent

Land tax: Land tax must be paid annually, but local people are exempted from it for their houses. If you buy a home from overseas, the land tax will be slightly higher. If you buy a flat, since all the owners own the land together, the share to each owner’s head is minimal, almost negligible. Since 1 July 2017, the annual land tax paid by overseas investors has increased from 0.75% to 2%.

Property management fees: flats, townhouses, etc., need to pay property management fees, while the land of the independent house does not need to pay property management fees. Each property is different, about a few hundred Australian dollars per quarter.

Municipal fees (council rate): Different properties are not the same, generally about $ 1200 per year, but sometimes the developer will provide it.

Sewage charges (Water rate): $1000-1200 per year, but sometimes the developer will provide it.

Lawyer’s fee: generally $600-1000.

Other miscellaneous fees: home delivery, loan, and other miscellaneous fees, as well as a one-time payment, are very little and can be ignored.

Australia Buys House Loan Details

Nowadays, the four central banks in Australia do not open loans to overseas people, but a few banks can lend, such as HSBC, Singapore UOB, etc. At the same time, some property developers can provide loans. There are also brokers (loan brokers) who will help you to apply for loans from financial institutions other than banks.

Overseas people can borrow up to 70-80% of the loan. Usually, 70% is more common. As a result, you may have to pay another 20% down payment before handing over the property.

The loan’s interest rate is between 4-5%, a little higher for overseas people and higher for financial institutions other than banks, which your broker will handle for you.

You have to fulfil the following conditions to apply for a home buyer’s loan in Australia:

Be at least 18 years old, have a total capacity for civil behaviour, and have legal and valid proof of identity;

Have a stable income and the ability to repay the loan principal and interest on time;

Agree to use the property purchased as collateral;

Have signed a real estate sale and purchase contract with the developer.

The formalities required are:

Proof of overseas income;

A copy of the person’s passport and identity card;

Provide proof of ability to pay 10%, such as a 10% bank cashier’s cheque already drawn.

Recommended Websites and Apps for Buying Property in Australia

Real Estate

Real Estate

【Website Address】: https://www.realestate.com.au/buy

【Website Introduction】: Real estate is the most authoritative real estate vertical website in Australia, providing online enquiry on house prices, house rental and sale, land development and commercial property. Popularity is the most popular among the property websites in Australia. Buyers can find information about properties offered by real estate agents and home sellers.

Real estate attracts real estate agents to enter, providing specific information on the property with the broker’s contact information so that buyers and real estate agents can communicate directly with the contact. Real estate has a calculator to help buyers calculate Australia’s mortgage, stamp duty, and renovation costs. In addition, real estate offers a wide range of first-time buyers and investment and renovation tips to help buyers get the most out of their first purchase, making it an industry leader.



【Website Address】: https://www.domain.com.au/

【Website Introduction】: Domain is Australia’s leading property vertical website. Compared with Real Estate, although it is a bit inferior, Domain still has its highlights. Similar to Real estate, Domain uses real estate agents to provide a platform for buyers and sellers to communicate with each other. Unlike real estate, Domain doesn’t limit itself to just photos and text. It also shoots small videos to give buyers a comprehensive view of the property. Like Real estate, Domain uses the real estate agent format to provide a platform for buyers and sellers to communicate with each other. The difference is that Domain doesn’t limit itself to text and photos but instead shoots small videos to give buyers a comprehensive view of the property.

Moreover, Domain has a built-in home loan function, providing property buyers with a secure home loan platform. After filling out detailed information and passing the vetting process, buyers will receive enquiries and assistance from Domain’s mortgage experts, who provide buyers with experience in purchasing, investing, renovating, designing and purchasing home appliances so that buyers can get the most direct advice at the first time.

Australian Property Buying Process

Selecting a Property

Before you buy a property, you need to ask yourself, are you buying a property for self-occupation or investment?

Do you need short-term or long-term returns if it is an investment property?

  • Short-term return, rental return, convenient transport, easy to rent, close to the city centre or schools, flats or townhouses.
  • Long-term return, price and land appreciation, size of the land, investment by the regional government, and population growth in the area.

If it is a homeowner’s home, is there an urgency to move in?

  • If you are in a hurry, you can usually move in within 1-2 months.
  • Buying land and building a house, you can design it according to your needs, which usually takes 6-12 months.

As there are many different types of flats in Australia, even in the same building, buyers should visit the property in person if they prefer to buy an existing home. You can also do your homework in advance by checking the relevant property information on significant property websites in Australia.

Paying the Deposit

After choosing a house you are satisfied with, you can pay an EOI deposit (Expression of Interest) to the agent/developer, usually AUD2,000. In Sydney, it is AUD3,000-5,000 and applies to the agent/developer to reserve the house. If the buyer abandons the purchase after considering it, the deposit will be refunded to the buyer during the cooling-off period (the required period is 14 days).

 Apply for a Foreign Individual Residence Permit (FIRB)

Overseas buyers are required to apply to the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) before buying a property in Australia. The application must be made for an overseas buyer who intends to purchase a particular property.

Overseas buyers must either obtain FIRB approval or sign the contract as a Subject to FIRB before signing the purchase contract. Otherwise, they will be considered to be in breach of the FIRB rules, which can result in fines and even more severe penalties. This process can be done with the assistance of the buyer’s lawyer.

Signing the Purchase Contract

The agent/developer provides a purchase contract to the homebuyer’s attorney. The purchaser will sign the contract after consulting with his/her solicitor and fully understanding the contract. The developer also signs the purchase contract and provides the purchaser with a copy of the signed contract. The purchase contract is validated.

Some houses and projects, i.e. buy a piece of land and get a builder to build your home. This kind has two contracts, one for the land and one for the building.

Payment of a 10 per cent Deposit

The buyer must pay 10% of the purchase price as a deposit within the time specified in the contract, usually 5-7 working days. This deposit can be paid into the developer’s trust account or the buyer’s account with a guarantee issued by their bank.


A 10% deposit is recommended to go to the bank to issue a bank cheque, which will be exchanged between the purchaser’s agent and the developer’s agent;

The bank cheque must be from a local Australian bank, i.e. the purchaser himself needs to have a local Australian bank account;

Because the down payment is usually more than 50,000 Australian dollars, even if the overseas personal transfer can not be reached, you need to use the overseas company account transfer because the ceiling is high. Suppose an individual pays a 10% large booking down payment. In that case, The hose buyer comes to Sydney once, meets with a lawyer, interprets the contract and signs it directly. Then opens an account in an Australian bank and writes a cheque from an Australian bank. At the same time, it is convenient to pay the final payment later.

Apply for a Loan

Buyers who need to apply for a loan need to note that in Australia, the loan is paid from the delivery of the property. Therefore, applying for a loan well in advance is essential before the delivery of the property.

Existing home buyers can apply for a pre-approved loan from a bank or lending agent before signing the purchase contract. Or they can start preparing the documents to apply for a loan after signing the contract.

For a buyer of a preconstruction property, we recommend that you start working on your loan three months before the estimated delivery date. You will need to keep track of the progress of the home’s construction, usually through an agent who keeps the information up-to-date and a lawyer who does not track the progress of the building.

Delivery and Inspection

Before handing over the property, the buyer must make an appointment with the estate agent to do a final inspection. If there are problems, the buyer’s and seller’s solicitors can be notified to negotiate a resolution. If there are no significant problems, the property will usually be delivered as usual, provided there is a way to resolve the issues after delivery. It is common practice for the buyer’s solicitor to instruct the agent to hold a portion of the deposit and to release it if the seller resolves the problem within a certain period after delivery.

As a reminder, the buyer cannot usually delay delivery on the grounds of an unsatisfactory inspection unless a structural problem is identified by a third-party professional inspection organisation or a significant reduction in area (over 5%). While the seller or developer must fulfil the contractual obligation and commitment to complete the repairs within the stipulated warranty period, the buyer may not breach the contract by refusing delivery.

Failure to deliver can result in the seller charging penalties and interest (commonly 12% per annum or higher) daily, additional attorney’s fees (at least in the hundreds), etc. For delays of more than 14 days, the seller has the right to terminate the contract, forfeit the deposit, sue for additional damages, if any, and withhold possession of the property.

Payment of the Final Instalment and Successful Delivery

On the day of delivery, the buyer must pay the final payment amount, including stamp duty, as well as government and third-party fees such as water boards, property companies, etc. Overseas persons are also required to pay additional surcharges.

Purchase of Insurance

Purchasing insurance for your home can reduce losses and preserve the value of your property in the event of accidental damage to your home. The insurance company will follow up on specific costs.

Cooling off Period in Australian

Australia has a statutory cooling-off period before a property contract is signed, giving investors extra time to decide.

Statutory Cooling-Off Periods: These are granted by Acts and automatically occur once a contract to purchase a residential property is signed with the seller, i.e. when the contract comes into force. And there is no need to specify a cooling-off period. In NSW, the cooling-off period is five working days; in Victoria, it is three.

Right of Repudiation: Compared to 10% of the house price plus additional damages for breach of contract termination outside of the cooling off period, there is only a relatively small compensation to be paid to the seller if the contract is cancelled during the period. In New South Wales, the compensation for cancellation is 0.25% of the house price. In Victoria, it is 0.2% of the house price.

Compare the Differences Between Buying a House in Australia and China


China: The property right of a residential building is seventy years old and does not include ownership.

Australia: Australia has the economic foundation of private property ownership, and the law stipulates that the owner has various homeownership rights, such as freehold, sub-deeded property rights and community property rights.

Freehold /Torrens Title: A detached house enjoys freehold title to the land. This means you own the land and can legally inherit it for generations. You can also make alterations to the land and the house and demolish it with the government’s permission.

Strata Title: This title is usually for flats and townhouses or units. This type of title means that a piece of land is divided into multiple parcels, and although the buyer legally owns the home, the buyer cannot make changes to the house without permission, nor can the land be subdivided. This title type comes with an escrow agreement, usually with a property company that takes care of the common facilities and spaces. The tenants also share in the cost of the property.

Community Title: Usually a large, consolidated subdivision, this property is similar to a subdivided title. However, it has larger public spaces like parks, roads, and natural landscapes. A property company also manages it.

Down Payment and Capital Risk

China: Generally, 30% or more of the purchase price is required as a down payment when signing the purchase contract, which is paid directly to the developer. In the event of problems with the developer, the buyer’s funds will be challenging to secure.

Australia: Owners must only pay 10% of the purchase price when signing the contract. The down payment is escrowed by a lawyer to a third-party Trust Account, with the interest accruing to the buyer or shared between the buyer and the developer. In the event of problems with the developer, the funds will be returned by the Trust Account.

House Repayment

China: Buyers start repaying the loan with interest immediately after signing the purchase contract, which pressures the buyer to repay the loan and strains the cash flow. In many cases, the buyer will have to pay the interest to the bank for nothing before they get their current home.

Australia: Australian buyers start repaying the loan only after the delivery of the existing house, and within a certain period (a loan for 30 years), they can only repay the interest but not the principal. So, the pressure of repaying the loan is minor.

Legal Protection

China: Buying a house is usually handled at a property exchange without the involvement of a professional lawyer. If the investor does not understand the contract details, the investor can only look to the court to solve the problem if he/she is caught in a trap or dispute in the future.

Australia: Both buyers and sellers must hire a professional conveyancer or lawyer to deal with related legal affairs, including the purchase contract needs to go through your lawyer.

Can I Buy a Property in Australia and Migrate?

People who do not have the right of abode in Australia have the right to buy property, land, cars and other property in Australia. Still, it is impossible to rely on the purchase of property to qualify for immigration.

Australia’s immigration policy is not that liberal. Currently, Australia accepts foreigners who migrate into several categories, including refugees, relatives, business migrants, and skilled and labour migrants. It also accepts direct long-term residence migrants from a few countries but not Chinese citizens.

Relative migration requires reliable proof of immediate family members or spouses and a long-term inspection of the family situation. Business migration requires investment and entrepreneurship in Australia, holding over 33 per cent of the shares in a business with a turnover of more than 250,000 Australian dollars for two consecutive years. Skilled and employed migrants (including international students) are in short supply and require a reliable employer’s contract, vocational skills, and English language proficiency certificates such as IELTS.

In short, there is no such thing as “buy a house and you can migrate”.

What is the Down Payment for Buying a House in Australia?

The down payment for buying a house in Australia is only 10-20%. Depending on the project, the down payment percentage is different.

If you buy a property, you will repay the loan in one or two months after the down payment. Unlike domestic, an Australian loan is three months before the delivery of the house to start processing; the loan process is about 60 days, so the loan is down when also handed over the house. For example, if your home is to be delivered in October 2020, you will not start the loan process until July or August 2020, and you will not need to pay the developer while he is building the house. If you are an overseas person, you may need to pay at least a 30% down payment.

Experience and Precautions for Buying a House in Australia

It would help if you appointed a professional lawyer to handle the purchase procedure in Australia. You cannot do it alone—submit documents to the government and hand over the house. The bank settlement of the house payment is also arranged by lawyers, which differs from China.

It is vital to keep your eyes peeled when screening listings. You may encounter a “second landlord” online looking for a home. More and more unreliable “second landlords” will try to raise the subletting price of housing. Second, landlords are both Chinese and foreigners. Now, more and more agency websites have bad second landlords.

It is not very difficult to apply for a loan from a bank to buy a house in Australia. Even international students can apply for a loan. After professional guidance, they can usually apply for a 60%-80% loan. Australian banks offer numerous benefits, as well as services, to lenders.

Don’t choose the wrong home loan. There are many types of mortgages, so compare them and devise a plan to cover the worst-case scenario. Ensure you know the initial interest rates, mortgage rates, down payment amounts and penalties for late payments.

Don’t apply for too many credit card accounts. Having too many credit cards is equivalent to having a poor credit history, even if you consistently pay your debts on time. Therefore, applying for too many credit cards is the same as refusing a loan.

House type selection is essential when buying a house in Australia. When selecting a house type, you should try to choose a property with a distinctive design that is well laid out and has enough living space. Some properties are large but have very little usable space, which is undesirable. In addition, views are essential for property appreciation.

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