FAQ For Buyers

​​Frequently Asked Questions For Buyers

General application enquiries

Q2.1. Can I lodge an application before finding a property?

No, approval is required for a specific property you wish to purchase. You cannot apply for a general or ‘in principle’ approval.

Q2.2. Can I apply for several properties at once?

Yes, but you must submit a separate application for each property you wish to purchase.

Q2.3. How many properties can I purchase?

There are no restrictions on the number of vacant land, new properties, or established dwellings for redevelopment that you can receive approval to buy.

Q2.4. If I buy a property, can I rent it out?

Established (or second‑hand) dwellings bought by temporary residents cannot be rented.

New dwellings and dwellings built on vacant land can be rented.

A dwelling purchased for redevelopment cannot be rented out prior to the redevelopment commencing.

Q2.5. If I buy a property, will I need approval to sell it?

Provided you have met any conditions attached to your approval such as developing vacant land, you do not require approval to sell the property.

If you have not met such conditions, you will require approval to sell the property. Approval to sell can be sought by sending a request outlining your circumstances to firbcompliance@treasury.gov.au.

Q2.6. Will you contact me about my application?

We will only contact you or the nominated contact person if we require more information in relation to your application.

The decision advice will be sent to the nominated contact person via email.

Q2.7. I have received an ‘approval’ email – will you also send me an ‘approval’ letter in the post?

No. The email is your approval.

Q2.8. What if I change my mind about purchasing the property?

If you no longer intend to proceed with a purchase, you should notify this to firbenquiries@treasury.gov.au.

Q2.9. What if I want to change or add a purchaser(s)?

Approval is granted for specific person(s) and will not apply to any other person(s). If a different foreign person(s) will be acquiring the property, they must submit a new application(s), unless exempt.

Q2.10. What if I want to change the property?

Approval is granted for a specific property and will not apply to any other property. If you wish to purchase a different property (or additional properties), you must submit a separate application(s) for each property.

Q2.11. My application included incorrect information or I applied under the wrong property type (e.g. applied as a new dwelling but it was an established dwelling), what should I do?

You should contact us as soon as possible outlining these circumstances at: firbcompliance@treasury.gov.au.

Q2.12. What if I become a permanent resident? Do existing conditions still apply?

You should notify this change of status to firbcompliance@treasury.gov.au. Once notified, conditions applied to acquisitions you made prior to becoming a permanent resident will no longer apply.

Q2.13. I was granted approval to acquire vacant land or established dwelling for redevelopment on condition that I commence construction within a particular timeframe. Can I apply for an extension?

Yes. If you are unable to comply with conditions attached to an approval, please contact us as soon as possible outlining the circumstances at: firbcompliance@treasury.gov.au.

Purchasing a property with an Australian citizen

Q2.14. I am a foreign person who has an Australian citizen spouse. Do I need to seek foreign investment approval?

Provided that you are buying the property jointly (i.e. as joint tenants and not tenants in common) with your Australian citizen spouse you do not need to seek foreign investment approval.

Q2.15. I bought a property as joint tenants with my Australian citizen spouse (I didn’t need approval at that time). Our relationship has ended, but we wish to retain the house in joint names. Do I need approval now?

No.

Q2.16. I bought a property as joint tenants with my Australian citizen spouse (I didn’t need approval at that time). Our relationship has ended and I wish to transfer the house solely into my name as part of the property settlement. Do I need approval?

It will depend on how this will happen. In such circumstances, you should contact us at: firbcompliance@treasury.gov.au.

Q2.17. I am a foreign person who regularly visits family in Australia. Can I buy an established (second-hand) dwelling with a family member or relative who is an Australian citizen or permanent resident?

No. As a foreign non-resident, you cannot buy an interest in an established (second-hand) dwelling, irrespective of whether you purchase it solely in your name or jointly with eligible persons (Australian citizens, permanent or temporary residents), unless the Australian citizen is your spouse and you are buying the property jointly (i.e. as joint tenants). Should you believe that there are special circumstances, you should contact us at: firbenquiries@treasury.gov.au outlining the circumstances.

Q2.18. I am an Australian citizen and I wish to purchase a property to live in as my permanent residence, but cannot afford to buy a property by myself. Can my foreign person parents (who live overseas) purchase an established (second-hand) property with me?

No. As foreign non‑residents, your parents are not permitted to acquire any interest in an established (second-hand) dwelling, irrespective of whether the property would be purchased solely in their name or jointly with eligible persons (Australian citizens, permanent or temporary residents).

Q2.19. What share structure requirement/percentage ownership is allowable if an Australian citizen is purchasing a second-hand house with foreign non-residents?

Generally, no share structure percentage ownership is allowable as non-resident foreign persons cannot buy established dwellingsas investment properties or as homes irrespective of their interest in the property. Foreign persons considering such arrangements should seek independent legal advice. If an Australian incorporated company or trust is considered a foreign person it is only eligible to apply for properties outlined in Q2.3.

Purchasing a property through a company or trust arrangement

Q2.20. Can I buy a property through an Australian company or a trust arrangement?

It is important to seek independent legal advice as to whether the Australian incorporated company or trust is considered a foreign person. If an Australian incorporate company or trust is considered a foreign person it is only eligible to apply for properties outlined in Q2.3.

Q2.21. I am a foreign non-resident, do I need approval to buy real estate through an Australian incorporated company or unit trust which has at least one Australian director or shareholder/unit holder?

Please refer to the response to Q2.19.

Source: http://www.firb.gov.au/content/faq.asp

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