Are you a New Zealander wanting to buy a house in Australia?

Yes you can! If you’re an NZ citizen buying property in Australia everything works the same as if you were an Australian citizen buying property in Australia. You may even be eligible for the first home owners grant.

However, if you are not a NZ citizen there are some restrictions for foreigners wanting to buy property in Australia, depending on your visa and residence status.

Find below some advice on how you can buy your dream home in Australia and some smart tips to avoid paying more than you need to in fees and charges.

What you will read on this page:

Can foreigners buy property in Australia?

Yes you can as an NZ citizen. However, there are some restrictions if you are not an NZ or Australia citizen.

Non-residents have to get approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) before they can buy a property. However, the house must be for yourself as a home and be your primary residence. This does not apply to NZ citizens.

If you don’t intend to live there full time, or if you’re buying several properties in Australia as an investment, they must be new-build properties. These laws are designed to ensure that there is a sufficient supply of new housing stock across the country.

Home Price Guide

When you are buying a home it’s important to do your research. In terms of getting comprehensive comparative sales information, it’s hard to go past the Home Price Guide, available from Australian Property Monitors (APM), a joint venture between HWW Limited, the publishers of Your Mortgage Magazine, and John Fairfax & Sons.

The Home Price Guide list sales details of individual residential properties. Each standard guide lists monitored sales in the previous 12 months in the postcode of your choice. If the property you are purchasing is in the database, you can see how much the current owners paid for it, whether it has been put to auction since it was purchased, and in some cases what the highest bid at an auction was.

What deposit will I have to pay?

Your deposit amount will vary depending on if you are living in NZ or Australia. If you are living in NZ your deposit will be 20-25%. If you have moved over and are living in Australia you should be able to buy a property with only 5% deposit. If you are living elsewhere its pretty difficult to buy a property in Australia as its considered non-resident lending.

Banks in Australia can’t lend on property in New Zealand, so if you have an existing property in NZ you want to leverage off, you’re going to have to talk to your NZ bank or a mortgage broker in NZ. Read more below.

Do New Zealanders have to pay a higher interest rate?

No. If you are a New Zealand citizen living in NZ or Australia your interest rates will be the same as the open market, e.g. the same as if you were an Australian citizen.

First Home Owners Grant (FHOG)

The First Home Owners Grant (FHOG) in Australia is designed to encourage and assist home ownership across the country, and for eligible borrowers it’s a great start to life as a property owner.

The grant differs in each state and territory and in most places it applies to new homes only and is valued between $7,000-$26,000.

The Australian government’s First Home Owners Grant (FHOG) and other benefits are available to permanent residents, as if they are citizens of Australia. Because NZ citizens are considered to be permanent residents of Australia they are eligible for the grant.

Read more here: https://www.movingtoaustralia.co.nz/are-new-zealand-citizens-eligible-for-australias-first-home-owners-grant/.

Getting a mortgage in Australia

Getting a mortgage in Australia is pretty similar to New Zealand. You will need to figure out how much you can borrow based on your income and expenses. You will need a deposit, which is usually a minimum 5 per cent of the value of the property. You also need to pay for stamp duty on the property, which will cost several thousands of dollars, depending on which state you live in.

Like NZ, different borrowers in the market off different deals, so make sure you do your research. Be proactive and contact lenders directly about deals on offer. Whether it’s a lower interest rate, zero establishment fees, frequent flyer points or other value-adds, the more you know about the current home-loan market, the better your negotiation skills when it comes to asking your lender for more product features or a lower interest rate.

Financial institutions in Australia will usually check your credit rating in New Zealand. If you are not sure where you stand, you can get a free copy of your credit file from Equifax: https://www.equifax.co.nz/personal.

What documents do you need to apply for a loan?

In order to get your application processed in the quickest time frame possible, it is important to have all your paperwork ready. You’ll need:

  • Bank statement
  • Payslips
  • Meet identification requirements

Read more about identity checks and what identity requirements you will need to meet: https://auspost.com.au/id-and-document-services/identity-checks-for-property-transfers/identity-checks-for-buyers-and-sellers.

Accessing the equity of your property in NZ

If you own a property in NZ and want to leverage off that. You need to get your NZ bank to release the equity in your NZ property (refinance your mortgage) so it can then be used as a deposit for your property in Australia.

Australia banks are unable to lend off New Zealand property. Even though we have similar banks in both countries, their systems are completely different and they don’t talk to each other. So you are going to have to apply for a loan in NZ and a loan in Australia to be able to leverage the equity.

Stamp Duty

Stamp duty is a tax on a property transaction that is charged by each state and territory and goes straight to the state government. The amounts can and do vary. The stamp duty rate will depend on factors such as the value of the property, if it is your primary residence and your residency status.

You can calculate the stamp duty you may have to pay on your property using this stamp Duty Calculator: https://www.realestate.com.au/home-loans/stamp-duty-calculator.

Stamp Duty Waiver

First home owners, purchasing for the first time in Australia will more than likely be eligible for a stamp duty waiver. However, it will take into account if you own or have owned any property anywhere incl New Zealand. So if you do own, or have owned a property previously, then you won’t be eligible for the tamp duty waiver.

There are different purchase amounts that need to be adhered to depending on the state you are buying in, e.g. in Queensland if you purchase a home for $500,000 or less you will pay no stamp duty. If you are purchasing a property between $500,000 and $550,000 you get a discount.

Stamp duty varies state to state. You can read more about the stamp duty in the sate you are planning to move to and its exemptions and concessions here: https://www.homeloans.com.au/news/getting-most-out-stamp-duty-exemptions-state.

Capital Gains Tax (CGT)

If you own an asset overseas, you may have to pay Australian tax when you sell the asset. You need to keep appropriate records.

If you acquired an overseas asset before you became an Australian resident, you are taken to have acquired the asset at the time you became a resident.

Similarly, if you stop being an Australian resident while holding an overseas asset, you are deemed to have disposed of that asset at the time you stop being a resident.

To accurately calculate the capital gain or loss, ensure you keep a record of the value of your asset at these times. This is a complex area of tax law and exemptions may apply.

Therefore, if you plan on renting your home while you settle in Australia, you will have to pay CGT when you sell it. If you sold it before you left you wouldn’t.

However, your accountant can make you a temporary resident for tax purposes, which would make you exempt from tax on their overseas income. Read more here: https://www.beyondaccountancy.com.au/something-every-kiwi-in-australia-needs-to-know/.

How to get the best foreign exchange rate and save on fees

If you already own a home in New Zealand and are planning on selling it and buying in Australia, then educating yourself on foreign exchange is a must. Same goes if you are transferring any money from NZ to Australia. Why throw away your hard earned cash.

To give you an idea of how much you could save, XE have done a recent comparison with three New Zealand major banks for a $1,200,000 NZD / AUD transfer. Depending on which bank you use, XE would have saved you between $9,070 and $25,870.

XE-BankRateComparison

**This comparison was made on 21.08.17, by speaking to the foreign exchange teams at 3 of the leading banks.

You will save a lot of money by using an online foreign exchange company, e.g. OFX or XE, to exchange your NZ Dollars into Australian Dollars, then deposit them in your Australian bank account. Banks will charge you a great deal to convert and transfer your money.

Find out more about using an online foreign exchange company and how it online money transfer works.

Where to search for your new home

Of course you can start looking for your new home from NZ. The below websites are the top real estate sites in Australia:

Still got unanswered questions?

Ask them below in the ‘reply’ section and I will get back to you asap. You might also find the answers in the questions other visitors have asked.

16 Comments

  1. Danielle

    March 21, 2021 at 7:16 pm

    Hi,
    Can you please tell me if I have this correct?

    Permanent residents – dont pay foreign buyers tax but do pay tax on foreign income earned.
    Temporary residents – pay FB tax but not tax on foreign income.

    I am wanting to move to Queensland to buy a house to live in permanently, but my income will always be from NZ only.
    So I would be a temporary resident as my income is earned in NZ and it makes better sense to pay tax on NZ income to NZ.

    That means when buying a property, I’d have to pay 7% fb tax plus any state tax plus the cost of “investment” as I wouldn’t be a permanent resident and so it cant be classed as an owner occupied property even though I’ll be living there permanently?
    But yes, I would be entitled to the First home owners grant if building new! Anywhere between 7k and 26k.

    Is all of this correct? And is there anything I’ve missed?

    Thanks so much for all of the info. Most appreciated

    Reply
    • JJ Smith

      March 21, 2021 at 8:25 pm

      Hi Danielle,
      Thanks for your comment.
      Yes that sounds right but I’m no tax expert so I’ve CC’d in Stela at TaxBack for her to check with her team.
      TaxBack will also be able to get you a Australian Tax File Number (TFN) for free after you’ve moved – https://www.movingtoaustralia.co.nz/australian-tax-what-you-need-to-know/.
      Please feel free to email me back any further questions you have.
      Good luck with your move.

      Reply
  2. Trevor Sherwood

    February 10, 2021 at 7:28 am

    I am a New Zealander and live in New Zealand. My daughter is an Australian. She wants to buy an apartment in Sydney and has asked me if I would like to pay 50% of the purchase price and have 50% ownership rights. She would pay me a partial rental.
    Is it possible to arrange such a purchase and if so, what relevant costs would involved?

    Reply
    • JJ Smith

      February 11, 2021 at 9:07 pm

      Hi Trevor,
      Thanks for your comment.
      I can’t advise you on buying half a property in Australia from New Zealand, as haven’t been through the process. However, I’m sure Commonwealth Bank will be able to advise you, so I have CC’d in Ankur from CommBank.
      Ankur should be able to advise you on the buying process and what costs are involved.
      If you are looking into buying a new apartment, you may be eligible for the First Home Owners Grant (FHOG): https://www.movingtoaustralia.co.nz/are-new-zealand-citizens-eligible-for-australias-first-home-owners-grant/.
      I also advise that you look into opening either an XE or OFX account to transfer your deposit to Australia, as they give you the best rates with less margin and no fees: https://www.movingtoaustralia.co.nz/foreign-exchange-money-transfer/.
      Please let me know how you get on, as this information would be really helpful to other visitors.
      Feel free to email me back any further questions you have.

      Reply
  3. Shala Hall

    June 21, 2020 at 4:50 am

    Hello JJ Smith,
    Thank you for your newsletter!

    I am a Kiwi and a little backing story with me, I shifted to QLD in Dec 2009 and stayed till 2016 and returned back to NZ. In that time I had my own home in QLD and was entitled to the first home owners grant.I worked for some large Australian owned companies but found it near impossible to get citizenship as my trade wasnt one sought after and I wasn’t there before a certain date. My parents are getting older and I would like to go back in January and get a cheaper unit under $280K.
    My questions are-

    What is the least deposit I can get away with?
    Is there a grant for a home that isn’t a new build
    The typical rate for lenders insurance based on $250K
    Do I have to work for an Australian company or can I buy when working in NZ?
    Should I save my money monthly and transfer it over Via OFX or XE to my Australian Bank?
    Do I need to be there to get the unit or if not do I risk the 7% tax I read about ob previous threads?

    Thank you so much and trust you and the family have been keeping well.
    S

    Reply
    • JJ Smith

      October 14, 2020 at 10:38 pm

      Hi Shala,
      Thank you for your comment and sorry for the delay in replying.
      Unfortunately I am not a banking specialist, so can only give you my opinion.
      There isn’t a grant for buying an existing home and since you have already used the first home buyers grant you wouldn’t be eligible anyway.
      I recommend you read the below articles and get a mortgage brokers to answer your questions and help you:
      https://www.yourmortgage.com.au/mortgage-brokers/best-mortgage-brokers/
      https://www.theadviser.com.au/features/rankings/40017-top-25-brokerages
      From what I know of the Australian property market you do need to be there to buy he property, but a mortgage broker will be able to help advise you on that too.
      It would be up to you when you transfer your money to Australian, but I do recommend you register with XE and get to know exchange rates now so you can make an educated decision that could save you thousands. Their team are really awesome and can help you make the right decision for you: https://www.movingtoaustralia.co.nz/foreign-exchange-money-transfer/.
      Sorry I couldn’t be of much help.
      Please feel free to email me back any further questions you have.
      Good luck with your move, when you can move.

      Reply
  4. Liz

    May 24, 2020 at 12:34 am

    Hi we moved 10 months ago to Sydney. We were hoping to use our Kiwisaver to purchase our first home here in Australia. Unfortunately I’ve been advised I’m not able to and I could transfer to an Australian super fund. Do you have any recommendations?
    Kind regards
    Liz

    Reply
  5. John Bancroft

    October 30, 2019 at 1:06 am

    Hi
    I and my wife are looking to buy a new home in Australia. We have our belongings in storage here in NZ ready to ship and have made an offer to buy a flat. Our solicitor is saying we are liable to pay the AFAD (foreign buyers’) tax (of 7%!) in Queensland as we are not currently living in Australia and only entered the country to get a special visa and avoid being liable for this tax. We in fact visited to choose and then inspect the flat but have returned to NZ for a couple of months to effect our move. This sounds wrong to me as NZ citizens are supposed to be exempt from AFAD (or FIRB), unless the purchase is for investment purposes rather than to move into the property to live full time. What do you think?
    Regards
    John

    Reply
    • JJ Smith

      October 30, 2019 at 1:40 am

      Hi John,
      Thank you for your comment.
      Unfortunately I have come across this before. My brother had to fly to Australia to complete the purchase of their first Australian home. He then returned to NZ finished what he had to do and flew back with his family. It was cheaper than the 7%.
      Hope you transferred your money through XE or OFX, as they give you the best rates with less margin and no fees: https://www.movingtoaustralia.co.nz/foreign-exchange-money-transfer/.
      Hope the above helped.
      Please feel free to email me back any further questions you have.

      Reply
  6. Monique

    July 8, 2019 at 9:19 am

    Hi MTA! Thanks for an informative site.
    I currently have a rental property in New Zealand and am moving to Brisbane in about a month’s time.
    In what way will owning property in NZ affect buying real estate in Queensland?
    For example, capital gains tax?
    Can I use equity in my NZ property?
    Can I buy an existing home, or do I have to build, or buy brand new?

    Thanks for your assistance 🙂

    Reply
    • JJ Smith

      July 24, 2019 at 12:24 am

      Hi Monique,
      Thank you for your comment. It is a very good question!
      Owning a rental property in NZ won’t affect you buying a home in Australia or even applying for first home owners grant (FHOG). However, the FHOG only applies to new homes (https://www.movingtoaustralia.co.nz/are-new-zealand-citizens-eligible-for-australias-first-home-owners-grant/).
      You can release equity in a property in NZ to buy in Australia, but it will involve two separate home loans. Firstly, you need to refinance your mortgage in NZ in order to release equity. This is something you must get with your bank in New Zealand to complete. The other home loan will be in Australia with an Australian bank or lender to buy a property using the equity from your NZ property as a deposit. Read this post which explains the above in detail: https://www.homeloanexperts.com.au/non-resident-mortgages/new-zealand-citizen-mortgage/.
      Regarding tax obligations read this article: https://www.beyondaccountancy.com.au/something-every-kiwi-in-australia-needs-to-know/. It outlines the obligation of a Australia resident, temporary resident or non resident, including capital gains tax on NZ based rental properties. You see, temporary residents are generally exempt from tax on their overseas income. Contrast this with permanent residents or Australian citizens. As long as we remain residents for tax purposes we have to pay tax on any source of income, foreign or domestic.
      Another area you want to research is foreign exchange. As you are considering buying in Australia, you will save hundreds to thousands with rates that the banks will never match: https://www.movingtoaustralia.co.nz/money/foreign-exchange.
      Please feel free to email me back any further questions you have.
      Good luck with your move.

      Reply
      • Monique

        August 12, 2019 at 12:57 am

        Thanks so much for your reply. Thats a very useful link to the accountants site, thankyou, I will remember that. And good to know that all going well I won’t be taxed on capital gains or rental income in NZ. Sounds like I will have to get a good accountant to help me tho! I won’t be in Australia for ever, and will likely move back to NZ in a few years or so.
        Thanks so much for your other recommendations abut transfers etc.
        So kind of you to help people like myself!
        Thanks again
        Have a great weekend 🙂
        Kindest Regards
        Monique

        Reply
  7. Caroline

    June 26, 2019 at 2:51 am

    Hi,
    Thank you for this newsletter.
    We are starting to look at this aspect of things now.
    One thing I’d like to know: in NZ, we have leaky buildings and we do need to do our due diligence prior to purchasing the house.
    I guess it’s good practice to get a lawyer and a building inspection anyway, but is there anything suck as leaky buildings or suspicious builds that we need to be aware of?
    Thank you again for your help,
    Best regards

    Reply
    • JJ Smith

      June 26, 2019 at 2:52 am

      Hi Caroline,
      Thank you for your email.
      I have done some research and there are cases of leaky homes in Australia. Not to the same level as New Zealand and Canada.
      Therefore, I would recommend getting a building inspection before buying a home in Australia. It’s always best to know what your getting into when spending hundreds of thousands of dollars.
      Good luck with your move.

      Reply

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