This will depend on your particular circumstances when applying for a home loan. If you’re applying for a home loan as an Australian citizen who is not currently living in Australia, the ease with which you’ll be able to get a loan will differ from if you are a foreign national wishing to invest in Australian real estate.
On the other hand, you may be living in Australia, but be a non-resident in legal terms – for instance, if you’re living in the country on a temporary visa. In these circumstances, the requirements for applying for a home loan are very different. Fortunately, there are many companies specialising in non-resident lending in Australia.
Australian citizens living overseas
If you’re an Australian citizen who happens to be living overseas (called an expatriate, commonly known as expats) you should have no legal problems applying for a home loan to buy a property in Australia. You won’t have to return to Australia to sign documentation, as e-signatures are used on most loan documents.
The interest rate you may be offered should be comparable to the interest rate offered to you if you were living in Australia, although some lenders do charge a slightly higher interest rate for expats. Savvy can help you in your home loan journey, comparing interest rates and home loans so you can find a loan that is just right for your individual needs.
You won’t need to apply to the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) because you aren’t considered a foreign national or a non-resident by legal definition. Some of the larger banks also allow citizens living overseas who receive their salary in another currency (particularly American dollars, or other major currencies such as the British pound or the Euro) to pay some or all of their loan repayments in the currency in which they’re paid, avoiding currency conversion fees.
If you’re living in Australia but aren’t an Australian citizen
If you’re a non-resident in legal terms but are living in Australia on a visa, the ease with which you can get a non-resident mortgage in Australia will depend on your visa category. Traditionally, migrants holding a temporary skilled work visa were eligible to be approved for home loans as long as their visa had at least 12 months remaining.
However, the temporary skilled work visa has been replaced with the Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa, although this visa category was closed down by the Australian government during COVID-19 restrictions and, as of February 2022, has not yet been re-opened.
Because visa regulations are subject to frequent change, it’s best to consult a visa specialist or a trusted financial advisor to find out if you are eligible to buy property in Australia on your current visa. This also applies to legal non-residents who are partnered with Australian citizens and wish to make a joint home loan application. Additionally, you should discuss with your lender prior to applying which visas are accepted for home loan applications.
If you’re a foreign national (not living in Australia) wishing to invest in the Australian property market
If you are a foreign national, you can buy property in Australia as an investment, but there are certain restrictions and you’ll need to apply to FIRB to have your application approved. The Australian government encourages foreign investors to buy new properties or vacant land to build on. If you do wish to buy land ready for development, there will probably be a stipulation that you build on that vacant block within four years. There are also restrictions on re-selling investment property: you won’t be permitted to sell a residential development until it’s completed.
If you’re a New Zealand citizen and resident of Australia
Because Australia and New Zealand have long had a free-trade agreement (which was first established in 1966), New Zealand citizens can get a non-resident home loan in Australia just as if they were Australian citizens. This is because when New Zealanders arrive in Australia, they are automatically granted a Special Category Visa (also known as a 444 visa) which provides almost the same rights as an Australian citizen. Therefore, you’ll be eligible to apply for cheap home loans and receive the same interest rate as if you were an Australian citizen, although you’ll find it easier to get home loan approval if you are living in Australia at the time you apply for your loan.
If you’re a New Zealand citizen living in New Zealand when you wish to purchase Australian property, you may need to apply to a lender who specialises in providing non-resident mortgages in Australia.