Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Transparency on Foreign Buyers in Australia

Shining a light on foreign real estate investment
In December 2008, the Rudd government announced a change to legislation that it claimed was designed to ‘streamline’ some of the administrative requirements for the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB). As part of these changes, temporary residents could purchase real estate in Australia without having to report or gain approval from the FIRB, allowing the FIRB to concentrate on larger issues in the ‘national interest’.
By March 2010, the media was flooded with articles on Australians being outbid by an army of Chinese residents, effectively pricing Australians out of their own housing market. But the ‘streamlining of administrative requirements’ actually meant no records were kept, or more specifically it would seem that these foreign temporary residents no longer needed to lodge applications with the FIRB. There was public outcry and no real data to support just how big or small this issue actually was.
By April 24, 2010 the rules were back in place. And the latest FIRB report shows just under 10k applications approved totalling just under $42 billion.
From the report:
The real estate sector recorded 9,771approvals, compared with the 3,897approvals in 2009-10. The increase is largely attributable to the reintroduction from 24 April 2010 of the screening of temporary residents purchasing residential real estate.
The mineral exploration and development sector was the largest destination by value, with approvals in 2010-11 of $54.9billion. In 2010-11, the other major destinations were: services, with approved proposed investment of $47.5 billion; and real estate, with approved proposed investment of $41.5 billion (see above).
Take a look at the report. This is such a night and day difference with Canada whose government can't even pretend interest in collecting simple statistics.

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