FIRB – Foreign Investment Review Board

Table of Contents

There are restrictions upon the ownership of Australian property by foreigners. Foreign citizens must submit an application to the Government’s Foreign Investment Review Board (“FIRB”) for approval to purchase real estate in Australia.

Some of the exemptions include

  • New Zealand citizens purchasing residential property
  • Permanent residents purchasing residential property
  • The purchase of new dwellings from the developer, where the developer has pre-approval to sell those dwellings to foreign persons

Second Hand/ Established Dwellings

These are properties that have been previously owned/ occupied for more than 12 months.

Foreign persons including temporary residents are prohibited from acquiring established dwellings for investment purposes.

However, temporary residents may apply to purchase a single established dwelling to use as their residence in Australia. Approval is usually provided subject to a condition that the temporary resident sells the dwelling as soon as it ceases to be their residence.

Proposals by foreign companies to purchase residential property for use by their Australian-based staff are normally approved provided that the company sells or rents the property as soon as it is expected to remain vacant for 6 months or more.

New Dwellings

New properties that are acquired “off the plan” or after construction has been completed are normally approved if:

  • The property has not been sold previously; and
  • The property has not been occupied for more than 12 months.

This category includes properties that have been extensively refurbished provided that the building’s use has been converted from non-residential to residential. This category does not apply to established residential property that has been renovated or refurbished.


FIRB routinely monitors compliance with these restrictions. Penalties include forced sale, fines or imprisonment.

The information above is to be used as a general guide only and does not apply to a specific transaction. For further information relating to your particular circumstances, you should obtain legal advice.

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Buyers Domain property buyers agents are leading Sydney buyers agents. Familiar with the FIRB requirements, Buyers Domain property buyers agents routinely assist overseas investors to source suitable properties in Sydney. If you are thinking of purchasing a property in Sydney, call Buyers Domain on 02 9568 6330 today.

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