Foreign Investment Review Board
Foreign ownership of land in Australia is a prominent issue and sales of residential properties in Australia are now more closely monitored than in the past.
The Australian Government’s Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) decides whether a foreign buyer is eligible to acquire land in Australia.
In general, a foreign buyer of residential property (including vacant land) in Australia must obtain the FIRB’s approval of the purchase before entering into a contract of sale.
The FIRB’s powers to enforce this requirement are extensive (e.g. the FIRB can order a sale to be reversed). The buyer may also have to pay damages to the vendor for breach of contract if a sale is found to be void because the buyer failed to obtain the FIRB’s approval.
For more information about the FIRB, see www.firb.gov.au.
If a buyer of property in Victoria is not one of the following:
• an Australian citizen;
• the holder of a permanent visa;
• a New Zealand citizen holding a special category visa (sub-class 444),
then the SRO assesses the duty payable on the transfer and adds eight per cent of the land transfer duty on the purchase price of the property. This rate applies to contracts entered into on or after 1 July 2019.
A foreign buyer can be a natural person, a corporation, or a corporation acting as a trustee. If you are a foreign buyer, you may be entitled to an exemption from paying an additional duty if you purchase a principal place of residence jointly with yout spouse or domestic partner who is an Australian citizen or permanent resident or a New Zealand citizen who holds a sepcial category visa.