Purchasing Property in Perth: Who acts on your behalf?

  • There is no cooling-off period when buying house in Perth, Western Australia.
  • The selling agent acts as a go-between to pass the messages from the seller to the buyer and vice versa. The selling agent is protecting the interests of the seller only.
  • The signed Contract prepared by the selling agent, who is paid by the seller, is legally binding once it reaches the settlement agents.
  • Once the Contract has reached the settlement agent, it is a done deal and thereafter it is very difficult for the buyer to change the terms and conditions.
Foreign investors
If you have no visa you are considered a foreign national. As such you are still able to purchase certain types of property in Western Australia although, in principle, you cannot buy an established property. The following types of properties are able to be purchased by foreign nationals in Western Australia:

  1. Brand new property. Foreign nationals can buy a brand new apartment, villa or house that has never been sold before or lived in and is offered for sale directly by the developer. A foreign investor is not allowed to buy an established home or a property that has previously been sold to a private individual or company as an ‘off-the-plan’ opportunity. The sale is required to come straight from the developer to be considered ‘brand new’ under the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) rule. The offer must be written subject to FIRB approval which is usually granted within 30 days. Please check https://firb.gov.au/residential-real-estate
  2. Vacant land for residential development. When buying land for redevelopment the foreign national needs to adhere to certain rules:
    • Vacant land can be purchased for a single residential dwelling. Such a development must be completed within four years from the date of approval. Foreign non-residents will not be approved to purchase an established dwelling to redevelop into a single new dwelling.
    • Foreign national are normally allowed to purchase an established dwelling for redevelopment of multiple dwellings in Australia; however, they cannot rent out the existing dwelling prior to demolition. They also have to prove that this redevelopment genuinely increases the housing stock. As is the case for single residential dwellings, developers need to complete the development within four years of the date of approval.
    • As with brand new properties, the Offer for purchase of land needs to be written subject to FIRB rule.

    Brand new properties or (developed) vacant land properties acquired under this category may be rented out or sold freely at any time.

Temporary residents
Foreign nationals residing in Western Australia on (temporary) working, student or bridging visas are considered temporary residents and, as such, have wider choices when buying property. Temporary residents are entitled to buy an established home, although for primary residency purposes only, not as an investment. Only one established property can be purchased by a temporary resident. This property has to be their principal place of residence in Australia.

If the temporary visa expires without being converted into a permanent residency visa, and the foreign national leaves Australia, the established property cannot be kept as an investment property. In order to comply with FIRB rules, an established property that is purchased under a temporary visa has to be sold within three months from when it ceases to be their principal place of residence.

FEES FOR FOREIGN INVESTORS AND TEMPORARY RESIDENTS: An application for approval to purchase residential real estate by foreign investors or temporary residents will not be considered until the relevant application fee has been paid in full.

Scale of fees for FIRB approval:

Property Value                                         Fee

Under $1m                                               $5,000

Between $1m and $2m                        $10,000

Between $2m and $3m                        $20,000

For each further $1m increment in value, add $10,000.

WA has introduced an additional stamp duty of 7% for foreign buyers as from 1st Jan 2019.

There is a new penalty regime for breaches of the rules that apply to residential real estate purchased by foreign nationals and temporary residents. 

Buying in Perth or Western Australia for the first time
In order to ensure more equitable representation and favourable outcomes for themselves, more Perth property buyers are appointing their own independent buyer’s representative. Are you considering buying property in Perth for the first time and wish to have a better understanding of the current system in Western Australia?

Let us know your specific buying requirements