The easiest countries to buy property as an Aussie

Whether you’re dreaming of a private Chateau in the countryside of France or you’re visualising a permanent island getaway, the allure of living abroad continues to be mighty tempting.

While buying property overseas can be stressful (thanks foreign law, legal fees and taxes) there are a number of benefits to foreign investment.

These include everything from lower entrance points into the market, added cash flow in the form of foreign currency and most importantly – the option for overseas residency. Best of all, there are plenty of countries who’ve made it easy to snap up an international home to call your own. Here are just a few…

Canada

Thinking of buying up north? Well you’re in luck, because Canada just happens to be one of the easiest (and nicest) countries to consider when purchasing an overseas property. As Canada’s rules for foreign purchasers have nothing to do with citizenship, overseas buyers and investors essentially have the same rights as Canadian citizens. There is however a non-resident speculation tax of 15% of the purchase price of your new abode, however this is only applicable in a number of Canadian cities – not all.

What’s more, most Canadian lenders will finance non-residents, although you’ll find they typically ask for a larger deposit. Foreign buyers also pay the same land transfer taxes as Canadian residents. The only point you really need to consider (beyond where in Canada you actually want to live) is insurance. It can be difficult and costly for non-residents to get insurance for an investment property in Canada. Buyers are required to have insurance before they get their mortgage, so make sure you investigate this prior to making your offer.

France

Sure, the language barrier may be a bit of an issue, but for the most part foreign ownership in France is fairly straight forward. Foreign buyers can buy and sell their properties in France without any major restrictions. To help with the red tape and language issues, your best bet is to hire a property agent who can offer you a range of services, including preparing contracts and working with a notary to organise the legalities of your deal.

Once you’ve found your dream home, you can then make your offer, sign your contract (compromise de vente) and pay a 10% deposit to ensure the sale is secure. You’ll need to have the full mortgage funding in place, as well as cash leftover to pay for stamp duty and notary fees. Don’t forget – for anyone making an international payment it’s worth checking how much your bank is actually charging you for this and whether there’s a mark-up on the exchange rate. 

Malaysia

Known as the easiest place to buy property in Asia, Malaysia allows you to purchase a house (not just an apartment or condominium) in your own name without a corporate structure attached to the deal. There are however a few rules you’ll need to follow. Some Malaysian states will restrict where you can own land. Heritage properties also are restricted to local buyers only. It’s also worth noting that each Malaysian state has a minimum purchase price on properties for foreign buyers. This can range anywhere between $200,000 to $600,000 AUD.

USA

Good news! There are no major laws prohibiting Australians from buying or owning property in the US, so if you’re looking to enjoy a slice of American property pie, you’ll first need to complete and file a tax return back home and in the US. Your chosen property will also be subject to a number of requirements specified by the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act. As an Aussie resident, you’ll be taxed on your offshore bank accounts, capital gains on overseas assets and any rental income from the property you acquire. This also means you’ll need an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). An ITIN can be issued by the Internal Revenue Service or by an IRS-approved accountant.

You’ll also need to earn a stellar credit score before you can even apply for a US mortgage. This isn’t too hard to do. Simply open a US bank account and get a US credit card, which you can pay off in regular instalments. Once all the boring paperwork is sorted and you’ve found your dream home, your property will go into escrow. Once the property closes escrow, that’s when you’ll sign the remaining forms, take your keys and finally enjoy your new home.

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