Buying Australian Property as an Expat
Are you an expat Aussie living abroad and hoping to buy an investment property back home? Or perhaps you’re hoping to purchase a family home for when you return? Buying property as an expat can be a great investment, although it can pose a few challenges. We’ve put together a guide to assist you in buying a home back in Australia, and to help make the process as smooth as possible.
Why buy property in Australia?
If you’re planning to purchase a home for the family, which you’ll move into once you return to Australia, then buying a home as an expat makes perfect sense. But, as an investor, why should you consider buying property back in Australia? There are many benefits to owning property back home, including:
- Australia’s long history of housing price growth
- Our country’s sensible and ethical lending criteria
- Steady undersupply of housing in capital cities (leading to excellent investment growth)
- Australia’s housing market stability (we have never seen the housing market crash by more than 20% in a year, unlike other locations such as China and the United States)
- The lending and legal systems are familiar to you
- Makes moving back home easier (secure a home in the catchment area for your chosen schools, avoid having to find a rental property when you return, etc.)
Buying property in Australia, whether you plan on returning to the home and occupying it yourself, or simply purchasing it as an investment, makes a lot of sense for an Australian expat.
Where to buy?
If you’re looking to purchase an investment property back in Australia, you might be a little overwhelmed by the options. Should you buy in an area that you’re familiar with, or branch out to somewhere new? As with any investment decision, doing your research is important. The Australian property market continues to grow in leaps and bounds, and there are a number of up-and-coming areas that have great potential for investors.
The most important thing you can do when choosing an area to invest in, is to know what you’re hoping for out of the property. For example, are you hoping to rent out the property while you’re away, but move in to it with the family, once you return home? Consider local school catchment areas if you have school-aged children, as this will be an important factor in which location you choose. If you’re simply wishing to invest in Australia’s excellent property market, you might be open to considering a range of location options.
What type of property?
Are you interested in renovating the property yourself, when you return home? Or are you more interested in buying a ready-to-live-in apartment with all the mod-cons? If the home needs some work before you can rent it out, you might need to employ contractors to take care of this for you.
Be sure to come up with a list of requirements for your property before you begin the hunt, and consider whether you are going to want to live in the home when you return to Australia.
Consider your finance options
Financing a home loan while you’re living overseas can be a little tricky. Some banks will be hesitant to loan money to expats, however it’s definitely not impossible – especially if you’ve already own one of more properties within Australia.
As an expat, you will be classed as a non-standard borrower, and as a result, your lending criteria will be unlike that of someone living within Australia. You may be required to have a higher deposit, and your proof of income requirements may be slightly different. The best thing to do is contact a mortgage broker, who will help you to understand whether you qualify for a home loan, and what your criteria for borrowing will be. They will also let you know what your borrowing capacity might be.
Understand your tax obligations and benefits
Are you an Australian resident for tax purposes? Do you already own property in Australia? These questions may affect your decision to buy property back home in Australia, and will have an impact on your investment. Understanding your tax obligations, and also the benefits of purchasing property in Australia (such as your depreciation deduction) will help you to make the best investment decision. You might be able to save on taxes by purchasing land in a different state than any of your existing properties. Be sure to contact your accountant, or engage one within Australia if you don’t already have one, to assist you in understanding the taxation aspects of your investment.
Buying property, and making smart investment decisions, is hard enough when you live within Australia. Understanding the housing market, choosing the right property, and getting the best price, are difficult for most Australians; let alone for someone living outside the country. A buyer’s agent can assist you with their years of experience and intimate market knowledge, and can take care of much of the leg work for you.
Many Australian property buyers engage a buyer’s agent to help them with their property search. Expats in particular can benefit from having a local agent, who can liaise with sellers and other parties on their behalf; saving time, money and a lot of hassle. Your buyer’s agent will put together a list of suitable properties and will even inspect the properties for you. They can then assist you with formalities like building inspections, making offers, and acting as a witness on your legal documents. Find yourself a buyer’s agent before you begin your property search, and have a competitive advantage throughout the process.