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Thinking of emigrating?

Scores of people emigrate to Australia every year, looking for a new life in the sun. With its laid back lifestyle and great job opportunities, it could be your ideal haven, says overseas property expert Simon Conn.

Many Brits choose Australia as a holiday destination, then fall in love with the country and decide to sell up and relocate. It is easy to see why. Not only does it boast a fabulous climate, it offers an all-round outdoors life, with good-sized properties and gardens for your money.

Australia and its smaller islands make it the sixth largest country – and one of the wealthiest – in the world. When looking to buy in Australia, there are many places to choose from, whether you seek vibrant city life or somewhere smaller and quieter.

Offering all the benefits of a typical western lifestyle, Australia is a change of scene, but not too different from what we know. As they speak English, it may not seem as challenging as going to a country where you cannot speak the language.

The country boasts a wide range of rare animal and plant species which can only be found there and it has a strong Aboriginal history which is still evident.

Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney are all popular, although property can be expensive in the latter when compared to other locations. But it is ideal for single people and couples and has a lot to offer. Scores of people flock to its famous sites such as the Opera House and Sydney harbour.

Melbourne is a cheaper option than Sydney and is home to Australia’s manufacturing industry. Adelaide is another area which is not so expensive to live in, as is Geelong in Victoria where properties are available at reasonable prices and the healthcare and education offerings are good.

You must obtain a visa before going to Australia and I would urge you to seek advice from a solicitor before you consider buying a property. If you are not an Australian citizen, Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) approval must be received before you apply for finance or actually purchase a property.

The FIRB will normally respond promptly – a recent case was approved online in 24 hours – although the official guideline is within 40 days and can sometimes take longer. Contracts can be exchanged while you wait for an answer, but do check there is a caveat in case you are turned down, as you could be hit with a financial penalty.

Once an offer has been accepted, contracts are exchanged very quickly. You are asked to pay a 10% holding deposit, although 5% is often negotiable. Unlike in the UK, there is a five to 10-day cooling off period (only in the case of non-auction purchases) and the transaction is usually completed six weeks later.

The maximum mortgage term is 30 years and generally a maximum 80% Loan to Value is offered for non-Australians and up to 95% of value for Australian citizens.

Eligibility criteria for mortgages is generally quite good, and you can still generally borrow up to 80% of the value of a property if you are not an Australian national.

Interest rates in Australia start from 4.63% depending on loan size, on a variable rate, with 4.69% fixed for two years or 4.79% fixed for three years. These are on a repayment or interest only basis and the minimum loan is AUD $100,000.

A glance at Australian property – March 2014:

State and capital cityMedian price – housesGrowth year-on-year
NSW – Sydney$713,00015.6%
Victoria – Melbourne$555,00011.6%
Queensland – Brisbane$460,0004.8%
Western Australia – Perth$533,7504.7%
South Australia – Adelaide$411,7504.6%
Tasmania – Hobart$376,0000.9%
Northern Territory – Darwin$575,0003.8%
ACT – Canberra$562,8751.7%

This article was first published here

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Details correct when this article was originally posted on August 14, 2014.