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How can New Zealand Citizens buy Properties in Australia?


New Zealand Citizens buying Melbourne properties.

We've often been asked by our New Zealand clients about the process and possibility of buying properties in Melbourne and Australia. In this article, we will explain how New Zealand citizens can buy Australian properties, reveal what they can and cannot buy, and explain the tax considerations, various costs and process of buying.


How can New Zealanders Buy a Property in Australia?

Buying a house in Australia from New Zealand involves several steps, from understanding legal requirements to financing and property selection. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you navigate the process:


1. Research and Understand the Market

  • Market Analysis: Start by researching the Australian property market to identify the best locations for your investment. Consider factors like property prices, market trends, rental yields, and growth potential.

  • Local Regulations: Familiarize yourself with local regulations and property laws in the state or territory where you intend to buy.


2. Determine Your Budget

  • Financial Assessment: Assess your financial situation to determine how much you can afford. This includes savings, potential mortgage amounts, and additional costs.

  • Currency Exchange: Consider currency exchange rates and potential fluctuations, as this can affect the overall cost.


3. Legal Requirements

  • Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB): Check if you need approval from the FIRB. New Zealand citizens are typically exempt from needing FIRB approval for residential properties.

  • Legal Advice: Consult with a solicitor or conveyancer who is familiar with Australian property laws to help you navigate the legal requirements.


4. Financing Your Purchase

  • Mortgage Options: Explore mortgage options available to non-residents or expatriates. Some Australian banks and lenders offer mortgages to New Zealand citizens.

  • Pre-Approval: Obtain mortgage pre-approval to strengthen your position as a buyer and give you a clear understanding of your budget.


5. Engage Professionals

  • Real Estate Agent: Hire a local real estate agent to assist with property searches, negotiations, and inspections. They can provide valuable insights into the local market. However, do note that because they are always sharing commissions with the listing agent, they need to work to the best interest of the seller, obtaining the best (highest) possible price for the property. Thus, you need to be diligent with your due diligence.

  • Buyer’s Advocate: Consider engaging a buyer’s advocate who can represent your interests, especially if you are unfamiliar with the market or unable to visit properties in person. Genuine independent Buyers Advocates are the exact opposite of a real estate sales agent. They work for the best interest of the buyers, often finding the best property for the buyer at the best (lowest) possible price.


6. Property Search and Inspection

  • Online Listings: Use online property portals like realestate.com.au and domain.com.au to search for properties.

  • Virtual Tours: Take advantage of virtual tours and video walkthroughs if you cannot visit properties in person.

  • Inspections: Arrange for building and pest inspections to ensure the property is in good condition and free of major defects.


7. Making an Offer

  • Offer and Negotiation: Work with your real estate agent to make a competitive offer. Be prepared to negotiate terms and price.

  • Contract of Sale: Once your offer is accepted, review the contract of sale with your solicitor or conveyancer. Ensure all conditions are clear and agreeable.


8. Settlement Process

  • Deposit: Pay the deposit as stipulated in the contract of sale.

  • Finalizing Mortgage: Finalize your mortgage application and ensure all financial arrangements are in place.

  • Settlement: Your solicitor or conveyancer will handle the settlement process, including transferring the title and ensuring all legal documents are in order.


9. After Settlement

  • Property Management: If you plan to rent out the property, consider hiring a property management company to handle tenant relations, maintenance, and rent collection.

  • Insurance: Arrange for property insurance to protect your investment.


Additional Tips for Buying Properties in Australia

Other considerations New Zealand buyers need to consider include:

  • Tax Considerations: Understand the tax implications of owning property in Australia, including capital gains tax and rental income tax. Consult with a tax advisor to ensure compliance with both Australian and New Zealand tax laws.

  • Currency Transfer: Use a reliable currency transfer service to exchange funds, aiming for favorable exchange rates and low transfer fees.


Visa Requirements

As a New Zealand citizen, you have specific privileges and visa arrangements when it comes to living and working in Australia:


1. Special Category Visa (Subclass 444):

  • Eligibility: Granted automatically upon arrival in Australia for New Zealand citizens.

  • Rights: Allows you to live, work, and study in Australia indefinitely.

  • Conditions: No formal application process or fees required, but you must meet health and character requirements.


2. Permanent Residency:

  • Pathways: Various pathways to apply for permanent residency if you plan to settle long-term in Australia.

  • Benefits: Access to additional rights and benefits, such as social security and Medicare.


Tax Requirements

As a New Zealand citizen buying property in Australia, you'll need to be aware of several tax obligations:


1. Stamp Duty:

  • What It Is: A state government tax on property transactions.

  • Rates: Vary by state and property value. For example, in Victoria, stamp duty on a $600,000 property could be around $31,070.

  • Calculators: Use state government calculators for precise amounts (e.g., Victoria State Revenue Office).


2. Goods and Services Tax (GST):

  • When It Applies: Generally not applicable to residential property purchases, but it can apply to new properties or commercial real estate.


3. Capital Gains Tax (CGT):

  • What It Is: Tax on the profit from the sale of an investment property.

  • Rates: Included in your income tax, with rates varying based on your total income and holding period of the property.

  • Exemptions: Main residence exemptions may apply, reducing or eliminating CGT for properties used as your primary home.


4. Income Tax on Rental Income:

  • Requirement: Must declare any rental income from Australian property in your tax returns.

  • Deductions: Eligible expenses like property management fees, repairs, and maintenance can be deducted from rental income.


5. Land Tax:

  • What It Is: Annual tax on the value of land owned.

  • Rates and Thresholds: Vary by state and territory. Exemptions may apply for principal places of residence.


6. Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) Approval:

  • Exemption: New Zealand citizens typically do not require FIRB approval for residential property purchases.

  • Commercial Property: If investing in commercial real estate, FIRB rules may differ, and approval might be needed. If you're buying through our purchase services, our conveyancers will provide the advice applicable to your individual situation.


Approval Costs

1. Legal and Conveyancing Fees:

  • Cost Range: $800 to $2,500.

  • Services Covered: Title searches, contract reviews, settlement handling. Ensures property is legally transferred into the new owner's name.


2. Building and Pest Inspections:

  • Cost Range: $500 to $600 per inspection, or $700 to $1,000 for combined services.

  • Importance: Ensures the property is structurally sound and free from pests.


3. Lender’s Mortgage Insurance (LMI):

  • When Required: If your deposit is less than 20% of the property value.

  • Cost: 1% to 3% of the loan amount. For a $500,000 loan, LMI could range from $8,000 to $15,000.


4. Mortgage Application and Valuation Fees:

These fees are often bundled in the mortgage.

  • Application Fee: $200 to $600.

  • Valuation Fee: $200 to $400.


5. Utility Connection Fees:

  • Cost: $50 to $200 per utility (electricity, gas, water, internet).


6. Insurance Costs:

  • Building Insurance: $1,000 to $2,000 annually.

  • Contents Insurance: $500 to $1,000 annually (if applicable).


Summary

New Zealand citizens benefit from simplified visa requirements and typically do not need FIRB approval for residential properties when buying a house in Australia. However, navigating various tax obligations such as stamp duty, income tax on rental income, and potentially capital gains tax is essential. Engaging professionals like solicitors, conveyancers, and real estate agents can help manage these requirements and ensure a smooth transaction process.


By following these steps and engaging the right professionals, you can successfully purchase a house in Australia from New Zealand. Proper planning, thorough research, and professional advice are key to a smooth and successful transaction.

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