Do you hold a foreign country passport and are you planning to invest in Australia? Approvals by Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) may be required prior to finalising your investment decision.

Purchasing residential real estate

Under Australia’s foreign investment framework, foreign persons generally need to apply for FIRB approval before purchasing residential real estate in Australia. Residential real estate can include established dwellings, new dwellings, vacant land and redevelopments and there are different rules governing the FIRB approvals for each different type of residential real estate.


The Government requires certain proposed investments to be notified and a no objections notification be issued before the investment can be made. Examples of investments that require prior approvals or no objections notifications are: investment in agribusiness that is more than $57 million, agricultural land holdings with a cumulative value that is more than $15 million, vacant commercial real estate of any value and acquisition of an interest of 20 per cent or more in any business valued at over $261 million.

The thresholds for agricultural land do not apply to certain acquisitions of agricultural land by owners or operators of wind or solar power stations.


In residential real estate, persons that meet certain criteria do not need FIRB approval before purchasing residential real estate in Australia. For example, an Australian citizen, a New Zealand citizen, the holder of an Australian permanent visa or foreign persons purchasing property as joint tenants with their Australian citizen spouse, New Zealand citizen spouse or Australian permanent resident spouse.

Regardless of citizenship or residency, no approval is required for the purchase of a new or near new dwelling from a developer that holds an exemption certificate, an aged care facility, retirement village or certain student accommodation provided the interest is within the threshold, a time share scheme with a total entitlement of no more than four weeks per year and acquisitions acquired by inheritance through operation of will or estate.

Exemptions may apply for other acquisitions in certain circumstances, including for moneylending agreements, certain interests held by foreign custodian corporations, land acquired from government and certain investments in financial sector companies.


Need Help?

For any assistance with respect to your investment in Australia whether as an individual, company, trustee or beneficiary, please contact Quinn Lawyers who can assist you with compliance with foreign investment obligations by submitting an online enquiry or phoning us.