Instruct an independent lawyer in Australia
Buying a property in Australia will be a significant investment and, given the distance involved, matters can get complicated. Once you have decided to buy a property in Australia it is essential that you instruct an independent, reputable lawyer to guide you through the process and protect your interests. The law and practice of buying a property varies from state to state and so you should instruct a lawyer in the state in which you intend to buy.
Foreign Investment Review Board permission (FIRB)
If you are not a resident or citizen of Australia (or married to one) it is likely that you will need to obtain permission from the Foreign Investment Review Board to buy property there, especially if it is a residential property.
The FIRB is permitted to take up to 130 days to review your application and provide you with their decision. You can take steps to purchase a property before this is obtained but you should ensure that the purchase is made conditional upon this permission being received. Your lawyer will be able to advise you about this.
You will be required to have a visa to enter Australia. The type of visa you will need will depend on your specific circumstances and what you plan to do when your get there. Make sure you are aware of the visa options available to you and the costs and timescales associated with the application process.
If you apply for your visa through a lawyer or emigration agent make sure they are registered with the Migration Agents Registration Authority (MARA) and/or is a member of the Migration Institute of Australia (MIA).
Use An Experienced Mortgage Advisor
You should seek professional assistance from an experienced mortgage advisor with regard to financing your Australian property purchase as this may save you thousands in the long run.
They should also be able to advise you if you would be eligible for any funding to help with the property purchase. For example the First Home Owner Grant which provides a contribution to some purchasers if they have not bought property in Australia before, are building a new home, and are or will soon become an Australian Citizen or permanent resident (or are buying jointly with such a person).
You should also make sure you know how far your budget will stretch once you have accounted for legal fees, property taxes and visas.
Building and Pest Inspection
It is recommended to have at least a basic building and pest inspection carried out on the property you wish to purchase to make sure you don’t get any nasty surprises later on. You should instruct a licensed building and pest inspector in the area in which you intend to buy and make the property sale contract conditional on receiving a satisfactory building and pest inspection.
The Contract For Sale
The process of entering into a contract of sale varies from state to state. In some states, like Queensland, the contract is usually prepared by the real estate agent and is signed before the buyer consults a lawyer and before any searches are done. In that case, it is important to include special conditions ,which allow you to back out of the contract without penalty, if they are not satisfied. For example, you would make the contract subject to obtaining a satisfactory building and pest inspection report, FIRB permission, getting finance approved and any other matters that you may consider essential before you finally commit to going ahead with the purchase.
In other states, such as in New South Wales, the process is slower, and you will have a chance to show the contract to your lawyer, before finally signing it. Once your lawyer has completed all the relevant searches and investigations in relation to the property you wish to buy, the contract for sale will be signed and a deposit, usually around 10%, is paid.
Cooling Off Period
In most states of Australia there is a period of time after contracts have been exchanged where the buyer can pull out of the transaction without losing all their deposit, but you will usually lose an amount up to 0.25% of the purchase price if you exercise your right to pull out of the contract during the cooling off period. The length of the cooling off period varies from state to state, however it is usually between 3-10 days.
Once all the sale conditions have been met Completion of the property purchase (known as Settlement) takes place. The property will be formally transferred to the buyer and their ownership registered with the relevant State Land Registry, who will issue a certificate confirming the registration of your ownership . Settlement typically occurs one month after the contract is signed.
Information kindly supplied by Worldwide Lawyers. If you need help to find a lawyer to advise you in relation to your property purchase in Australia, contact Worldwide Lawyers on 01244 470 339 or email [email protected] to be put in touch with a reliable independent lawyer in Australia.