News - Changes for Foreign Investors Buying Property In Australia

The Australia Government has made amendments to the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Act 1975 and also introduced the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Fees Imposition Act 2015 which  affect foreign investors buying property in Australia. Certain changes also affect foreign investors who have previously purchased property in Australia.  Foreign investors should be aware that: 

  • Applications can only be lodged on-line via the FIRB website http://firb.gov.au  You must have all information required (contract, passport, visa particulars) readily available to upload to the application.
  • A non-refundable minimum application fee of $5,600.00 is payable when purchasing a residential property for $1,000,000.00 or less.  You should access the FIRB fee calculator at http://firb.gov.au/fee%20estimator/ for current fees and fee applicable for purchases over $1,000,000.00.
  • Approval to purchase vacant land is subject to a dwelling being constructed on the land within 4 years from the settlement date.  The FIRB must be notified immediately once construction is complete. A ‘Vacancy Fee Return’ must be lodged annually thereafter.
  • In addition to State transfer duty, Additional Foreign Acquirer Duty (AFAD) is payable.  AFAD is currently calculated at 7% of the purchase price.
  • You must also register the property on the Land and Water Register within 30 days of settlement. 

The FIRB has imposed further obligations on foreign investors by requiring them to annually submit a Vacancy Fee Return form. The purpose is to identify and charge a fee where dwellings are vacant for a period of 6 months or more.  All foreign investors should note: 

  • Regardless of whether the property has been occupied for 6 months or more, you must lodge a Vacancy Fee Return each year in the approved form.
  • If you fail to lodge a Vacancy Fee Return by the due date you will automatically be charged the vacancy fee.
  • If the property has not been occupied at all, or has been occupied for less than 6 months, you will be charged a vacancy fee. 
  • The vacancy fee will usually be equivalent to the application fee paid with the initial FIRB application.    
  • Some exemptions apply to vacant land owners and where a dwelling is considered uninhabitable or undergoing major renovations.  Please check the website at https://firb.gov.au/resources/guidance/gn48/ for further information on exemptions.
  • Vacant land owners do not need to submit a Vacancy Fee Return until construction of a new dwelling has been completed. 

For further information, please contact our Conveyancing Manager Leisa Godfrey.

Phone:   +61 7 4031 7133    Email:     email/leisa)(oreillystevens.com