How exciting for you and your family to be moving to a new country to live! A big decision you need to make before you arrive in Australia is the location where you want to live, and whether you will rent or purchase your first Aussie home. Home ownership is an interesting challenge for newly arrived migrants, so these are the two main facts you need to know.
Are There Restrictions On Home Ownership Based On Visa Type?
The first thing you need to know about buying a home in Australia is there are restrictions on what you can and cannot purchase. The Foreign Investment Review Board is the government agency tasked with making sure that foreign investment in Australian property is kept at a level which does not inflate the cost of house prices and keeps home ownership within reach of the average Australian. FIRB rules regarding home ownership in Australia include:
- Any person wanting to buy a residential home in Australia who is not a permanent resident must apply for approval from FIRB before signing a real estate purchase contract. Special category visa holders, such as New Zealand citizens, are exempt from this approval.
- Purchasing a home with FIRB approval is limited to certain types of property. For example, you can purchase a vacant block of land provided you start building a home on it within 12 months. Or, you can purchase a brand new property in a new development provided it has never been occupied before.
- What you cannot do is purchase an existing residential property unless you plan to redevelop it in a way that will lead to an increase in the supply of housing on the Australian market. While the redevelopment is being done, you cannot live in the property.
An application to the FIRB is done by completing an online approval form and it can take up to 30 days for approval to be granted. If the FIRB declines your application, you will need to rent a property until you obtain permanent residency status. Permanent residency is not granted until you have lived in Australia for two years. Once you obtain permanent residency status, you can buy and sell any type of property without approval being needed.
How Do You Arrange Finance for a House Purchase?
Once you have FIRB approval to purchase a house, you need to find a lender who is prepared to give a mortgage to a person who has just arrived and has limited credit history built up in the country. So, what do you need to know when you've found a property you love but don't have enough money to pay for it?
- The most important step is to ensure you use a mortgage broker who has experience in working with new migrants as they know which lenders will consider your finance application. Since not all lenders will consider applicants who are not permanent residents, you don't want to waste time applying to those financiers.
- Be prepared to pay a larger deposit as a temporary resident visa holder. You may be asked for 10% deposit rather than the 5% available to permanent residents.
- You will still need to meet normal lending criteria such as having employment and a good credit standing on any current loans or credit cards you have.
- You cannot apply for the First Home Owners Grant unless you or your partner have permanent residency status.
As you can see, home ownership is a choice open to you upon your arrival in Australia if you follow the FIRB application rules and locate a lender who is willing to work with a newly arrived migrant. For more tips or assistance on making this happen, contact companies like Migrant Finance.