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Buying property in Australia

Australia is an excellent place to buy property, but the process can be complicated. Read through our guide below to learn about purchasing Australian property.

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Thinking of purchasing an Australian property?

Australia is the most popular country in the world for British expats, and it’s a firm favourite among holidaymakers too. The climate ranges from temperate to tropical, the landscape is spectacular, and there’s no need to learn a new language.

As such, Australia is an excellent place to buy a property, whether you want to rent it out for an income or move overseas for the clement weather and laidback lifestyle.

If you are considering purchasing property in Australia then it’s important you understand the process and the costs, as well as some ways you could save money. In this guide we cover the key things you need to be aware of, including how you can get the best exchange rate when transferring funds overseas.

The process of buying a property in Australia.

While the process can vary slightly from state to state, there are certain key stages you’ll work through when buying property in Australia.

Budget and finance

Begin with a budget, being sure to research all the possible costs. It’s a good idea to get financial advice and perhaps speak to a mortgage broker.

Searching for a property

Use property portals and local estate agents to search for properties. A specialised buyer’s agent can be incredibly useful, though they do charge a fee.

Legal considerations

Apply for approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) to buy a property and hire a solicitor or conveyancer to advise you.

Make an offer

It’s good to negotiate with the seller when you make an offer, and you may need to pay a small holding deposit.

Sign the contract

When the offer is accepted, get your legal advisor to check the sales contract before you sign it, and then pay the full deposit.

Settlement

You and the seller then fulfil any contractual obligations, such as surveying the property. Once the checks are complete, you can settle the sale.

Best places to buy property in Australia.

Australia’s six states offer a diverse range of properties, landscapes and climates, from the tropical north coast to the temperate island of Tasmania.

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Melbourne, Victoria

Jostling with Sydney for the title of Australia’s cultural capital, Melbourne is a multicultural melting pot with a vibrant expat community.

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Sydney, New South Wales

Sydney is Australia’s most populous city and economic powerhouse. Property prices may be higher here, but they can be a good investment.

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Adelaide, South Australia

A popular choice among retirees, with its reputation for slow living and beautiful landscapes, Adelaide is one of the most affordable of Australia’s major cities.

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Cairns, Queensland

The gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, this tropical coastal city is a hotspot for international tourists – perfect for a rental investment, holiday home, or retirement property.

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Hobart, Tasmania

Hobart is Tasmania’s capital city. House prices here are much cheaper than the mainland, and the island is known for its laidback living and rugged landscape.

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Perth, Western Australia

Perhaps the most affordable major state capital in Australia, Perth is a sprawling, welcoming city with a huge community of UK expats.

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Save money on currency transfers when buying a property in Australia.

As part of your property purchasing journey, it’s likely you’ll need to send money overseas.

With currency transfers, it’s vital that you get a strong exchange rate, particularly when sending large sums. The Australian dollar is also notoriously volatile, which can make it hard to time your transfer for when the market’s in your favour.

At Currencies Direct, we offer highly competitive exchange rates and we don’t charge transfer fees. We’ll also monitor the market for you and provide expert support to help you secure a strong exchange rate.

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Simplifying the buying process.

Although buying a property abroad can seem complicated, sending money overseas is simple.

You’ll have your own personal account manager who’s there to answer your questions and guide you through the process.

You can also store money in your digital currency wallet, which speeds up transactions in the future. And you can check live rates, track your transfers, and send money 24/7 using your online account or in our app.

Create a Currencies Direct account.

Thinking about buying property abroad? Create a free Currencies Direct account in minutes. You can then start sending money overseas or talk through your transfer needs with a friendly currency expert.

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The costs of buying a property in Australia.

In addition to the price of the property and a deposit, which is often around 30% for a foreign buyer, there are some other key costs you’ll need to budget for.

Taxes

As the buyer, you’ll need to pay stamp duty in Australia, which ranges from 4% to 5%, with possible extra charges of up to 8%. Additional land tax and foreign buyer surcharges vary by state, so do your homework or seek advice.

Fees

The biggest fee is the FIRB application fee, which ranges from AU$4000 to upwards of AU$100,000 depending on the property price. Legal fees tend to be from AU$700 to AU$2500, and agents often charge 1% to 3%.

Currency exchange

When sending money to Australia for the property purchase, be aware of currency exchange costs. In particular, currency volatility can significantly impact how much you receive. Planning ahead and expert support can help minimise the risk, and we're here to help.

Ongoing costs

Owning a property means regular expenses like mortgage payments, maintenance costs, bills, and local taxes. Council fees and annual land tax vary by area. Also, properties vacant for over six months each year may face an annual vacancy charge.

Finding a property in Australia.

Finding a property on the other side of the world can bring challenges, but fortunately there are ways you can simplify your search.

Online websites

There are plenty of online property portals you can use to find a property, and you can narrow the results down by different criteria.

Estate agents

Another option is to contact local estate agents. They’ll be able to put forward properties that match your preferences and budget.

Buyer's agents

You can also opt for a buyer’s agent. For a fee, they’ll help find the right property, carry out due diligence and negotiate on price.

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Emigrating to Australia.

Australia is known for having fairly tight rules on immigration. However, don’t let that deter you – it still has a sizeable immigrant population and is particularly beloved by British expats.

There are various different visa options available, most of which are based on work, family and investment. Likewise, if you want to apply for permanent residency you may need to be a skilled worker or have family links to the country.

Visa applications can be confusing, and you’ll need to provide evidence that you meet the eligibility criteria. You might want to consider hiring an immigration lawyer or advisor.

Moving into your Australian property.

So, your visa application has been accepted, you own an Australian property and you’re ready to move. There are a few tasks to tackle before you board a plane.

Documentation

Get all your documentation to hand. This includes your passport, along with any paperwork needed to prove you meet the visa requirements.

Shipping

Australia has strict customs laws, so check what you’re allowed to bring and arrange for your personal possessions to be shipped over.

Pets

If you want to bring a pet, they’ll need to be microchipped and vaccinated, and they’ll be quarantined on arrival in Australia.

Healthcare

Medicare in Australia covers some healthcare needs, but the Australian government encourages everyone to get private insurance.

Utilities

Ensure your utilities are up and running. If this wasn’t done as part of the sales process, you should be able to connect utilities online.

Finances

Organise your finances. Think about payments to or from the UK and your tax obligations, and perhaps open an Australian bank account.

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Seamless spending with our multi-currency card.

When you’re in Australia – whether you’re property hunting, holidaying, or you’ve moved their permanently – you’ll need a simple, straightforward way to pay for things.

With our multi-currency card, it’s easy to spend wherever you are. You can top up your AUD and GBP wallets in advance to secure a strong exchange rate, and draw from those funds when you’re out and about.

Other currency wallets are available, or you can convert currency on the spot to spend in any country where Mastercard is accepted.

checkLearn more about our multi-currency card

Selling a property in Australia.

There may come a time when you want to sell your Australian property. Here’s a brief outline of the process.

Prepare for the sale

Start by getting ready for the process ahead. Carry out maintenance on the property and get all your documentation in order.

Seek financial advice

A financial advisor may be able to assist you with things like tax law, while we can help you plan your currency transfer.

Choose an agent

Make sure you look at a range of estate agents. Consider their fees, whether they know your area, and how quickly they expect to sell.

Hire a conveyancer

You’ll likely need a property solicitor to guide you through the legalities. They can handle the paperwork, including drawing up the contract.

Sign the sales contract

Once you receive an offer, you and the buyer will sign the sales contract and the buyer will pay you the deposit.

Settlement

Finishing the sale typically takes around six weeks from when the sales contract is signed, and your conveyancer will oversee the settlement.

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Create a free Currencies Direct account to access excellent exchange rates, expert insights, and outstanding customer support.

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Frequently asked questions about buying a property in Australia.

As the buyer, you’ll be liable for the stamp duty, which is around 4% to 5% of the property price, and you may also need to pay an additional surcharge of up to 8%. You might also be charged a land tax, with another additional surcharge.

However, taxes and charges vary significantly from state to state. It’s important you research exactly what you’ll be charged in the region where you’re buying.

You don’t need to have an Australian bank account to buy property in the country, although if you’re moving to Australia then it may be best to set up an account before you move.

Yes, some Australian banks are happy to offer foreigners a home loan. However, these banks may have stricter rules on borrowing for foreigners, such as higher interest rates, restrictions on overseas income, and requiring a larger deposit.

The process can vary significantly, but generally speaking it can take one to three months from your offer being accepted to the settlement date.

It can also take a few months to find the right property to begin with, and FIRB approval typically takes around a month.

Overall, expect the process to take a minimum of two months, with four to six months being a more likely timeframe.

The first legal hurdle is to get FIRB approval. You’ll need to submit an application and pay a fee, and if you’re a non-resident you’ll only get approval for a new build or land to develop.

The exchange rate you get depends on your provider, the amount you transfer, and when you make the transaction.

This last point is particularly important with GBP/AUD transfers, as the Australian dollar is a very volatile currency. It’s not unusual for GBP/AUD to fluctuate by upwards of 0.5% in a day, and more than 3% in just one month.

To put that in perspective, a 3% change in the exchange rate on a £500,000 transfer would mean you got AU$15,000 less.

At Currencies Direct, there are many ways we can help you navigate currency volatility and transfer when the rate is strong, potentially saving you thousands.

Yes, you can use a forward contract to fix an exchange rate for up to a year ahead of making a transfer.

The best way to minimise risk is to plan your transfer in advance. This gives you more time to consider your transfer options. If the rate is strong, you can secure it in advance. If it’s weak, you can hold out for a stronger rate.

We can also help you minimise risk by offering different services, such as locking in an exchange rate ahead of a transfer or targeting a higher rate. And we can keep an eye on the market for you, alerting you to any significant movements or upcoming events that could impact GBP/AUD.

You can set up automated regular payments to go out on a monthly or quarterly basis. You can also use a forward contract to secure the exchange rate for six months, so you know exactly how much you’ll get for your regular transfers.