With thousands of Australians becoming expats each year in search of new opportunities and adventures in countries near and far, it’s common for many to meet and enter into relationships with people from all of the world. As a result, one of the common questions that we’re asked as the Australian expat mortgage brokers is:

“How can I buy an investment property in Australia with my partner and avoid the foreign buyer surcharges if my partner isn’t an Australian citizen or Permanent Resident..?”

It’s certainly an understandable and important question to ask, as if we consider just some of the common foreign buyer surcharges, these can add up to significant amounts. For example, foreign buyers in New South Wales who purchase residential properties, must pay an additional 8% stamp duty on top of the existing stamp duty. This is in addition to the Land Tax surcharge of an additional 2% every year. These figures are subject to change and can vary between the states, so it’s important to do your research here and make sure that you’re relying on the most up to date figures.

Thankfully, there are a couple of possible solutions that you may wish to consider.

Option 1

The first option, and often the simplest as most lenders will accept this set up is to have both the loan or mortgage and the property title in the name of the Australian citizen only. This means that the serviceability would typically be based on the household expenses and the income of the Australian citizen only, so this may rule out this first option for some households, particularly if the Australian citizen is not the main breadwinner of the household.

To put this in perspective, let’s consider a simple example. John and Samantha are married and are currently living and working in Spain. John is an Australian citizen and working in an IT company earning €65,000 per year, while Samantha is a partner of a law firm and is earning €210,000 per year. Using option 1, John would apply for the loan in his name only and would only declare his income to the bank or lender of choice. Assuming that serviceability was not an issue, the bank would provide John with the approval and he would buy the property in his name only.

Option 2

With some Australian banks and lenders, you can apply for the bank loan in the names of both partners, while having the property title only in the name of the Australian citizen. This may be a more attractive option for many as it allows both incomes to be used for the loan assessment, while still minimising the impact of the foreign buyer stamp duty and land tax surcharges. It’s important to consult your mortgage broker here as not all lenders will allow this set up, and it’s important to be clear on what benefit the foreign partner is gaining from entering into the arrangement. Here we would certainly suggesting consulting a solicitor to ensure that both parties are clear on the obligations and implications of such a set up.

If we head back to our previous example, here both John and Samantha would apply for the loan together as joint applicants. In this case, the property title would be in John’s name only to minimise the impact of the foreign buyer surcharges. In this case, both John and Samantha’s income could be included in the loan application, which would likely have a significant impact on their overall borrowing capacity and likely improve their chances of having the loan approved.

The overall structuring of the property ownership has both legal and tax implications, so it’s important to consult both your financial planner and your solicitor to ensure that you’re well informed of the impacts of any decisions that you make.


LoanSuite Pty Ltd is your lending partner for all of your home loan, investment property, business and commercial financing needs. With our wide range of lending solutions, expertise in financial planning and investment strategies, and extensive experience in working with both Australian residents and Australian expats, we are your partners for your lending needs.

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LoanSuite Pty Ltd is an Authorised Credit Representative (Credit Representative Number – 494608) of My Local Broker (Australian Credit License – 481374). Important Disclaimer: Your complete financial situation will need to be assessed before acceptance of any proposal or product.