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Mortgages for Expats in Australia

Author: Jim Newham
Submitted: July 2013

Having decided where you want to live, the next stage of buying a property is finding the money to pay for it. For anyone except the very rich, this will involve taking out a mortgage.

Your first question is whether to apply for funds from an Australian lender or from one in your home country. Mortgage interest rates are high in Australia, at around 5-6%, so obtaining funding from elsewhere may enable you to save money on repayments. However, foreign currency mortgages must be in the same currency as your income. The maximum loan-to-value ratio (LTV) for such a mortgage is 60%, and other restrictions may apply.

Gaining access to mortgage funds from Australian lenders should be reasonably easy. Some lending institutions prefer not to deal with non-residents, but there are plenty who are happy to do so. How much you will be expected to pay as deposit depends on your immigration status in Australia. If you are a permanent resident, lenders may offer you an LTV of up to 95%. If you have a less permanent immigration status, you will generally be expected to pay at least 20% of the property prices as a deposit.

Mortgage Product

Australia has a full range of mortgage products, so a great deal of flexibility is possible when arranging a loan. For example, both variable rate and fixed-rate mortgages are available. Other product features include flexible repayment options and current account / credit card / mortgage combined accounts.

Mortgage Application

It may be a good idea to arrange a mortgage before making any commitment to buying a house. Finding yourself a mortgage broker should be the first stage of a mortgage application. These brokers will find you the best deal from a selection of lenders and help you during the mortgage application process. As mortgage brokers are paid by the lender, their services are free to you, and using one does not affect the total cost of the loan.

Your finances must be in a good state for you to be considered suitable to get a mortgage loan. You must demonstrate your ability to repay the mortgage, your assets and liabilities must be assessed favourably and your Australian credit history must be good. In addition, your employment and your employment history should be stable.

At least the following documents will be required to make your mortgage application:

  • Passport
  • Payslips and tax returns
  • Bank statements

Fees and other payments

The main charges you will have to meet during your house purchase are as follows.

  • legal fees - AS$800-2,000
  • arrangement fees – up to AS$900
  • Mortgage Registration Fee - around AS$100, depending on the state
  • Land Transfer Fee - from AS$133 to AS$2,457, depending on the state
  • property inspection fees – up to AS$600
  • Stamp Duty (see below)

Stamp duty varies between the different Australian states in its amount and method of calculation. As a rough guide, stamp duty ranges from 1.25% to 6.75% of the property price. For a calculation of the amount of stamp duty you can expect to pay, see this website:

https://www.varcalc.com.au/calculators/main/640AU/stampduty.asp

 

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