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Jul 16, 2013

Buying costs are moderate in Australia


How high are realtors’ and lawyers’ fees in Australia? What about other property purchase costs?

Transaction Costs

Who Pays?
Stamp Duty 1.25% - 6.75% buyer
Registration Fee 0.01% - 0.6% buyer
Conveyance Fees 0.5% - 2.00%
0.4% - 2.00%
buyer
seller
Real Estate Agent’s Fee 1.6% - 9.80% seller
Costs paid by buyer 1.76% - 9.35%
Costs paid by seller 2.0% - 11.80%
ROUNDTRIP TRANSACTION COSTS 3.76% - 21.15%
See Footnotes
Source: Global Property Guide

How difficult is the property purchase process in Australia?

The policy of the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia in regards to residential real estate is an inward-looking, conservative one, to say the least. Acquisition of residential real estate by foreign nationals and corporations is subject to Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) approval. FIRB approval is not required by Australian citizens resident abroad, or for acquisitions in residential-zoned properties by foreign nationals holding permanent resident or “special category” visas (i.e. New Zealand citizens), or by foreign nationals purchasing with their Australian spouse as joint tenant.

Australia realestate housesPriority is given to foreign investment in areas that would directly increase housing stock. Not only would the quantity of the housing stock would be affected, it would also bring benefits to the local construction industry and their suppliers. The wariness of the government on foreign influx in developed residential real estate stems from a desire to avoid excess demand, create greater stability of housing prices as well as encourage the supply of new dwellings that would benefit Australians, whether through ownership or lease.

Since government approval is obligatory in acquiring residential real estate in Australia, it is inadvisable to sign a contract before securing approval from the FIRB, unless the contract allows for a grace period for securing government approval, prior to completion.

Buying property involves the following steps:

  1. The seller must secure a title search, plans, easements and covenants recorded in title from the Land and Property Information department. These documents must be attached to the Contract of Sale.
  2. The seller should also secure a Zoning Certificate from the Municipal Council as well as Drainage Diagram from the Local Water Authority.
  3. The solicitor for the buyer must then prepare a transfer form (given that there are no outstanding interests in the property) for execution of the sale.
  4. The contract and transfer form must then be sent to the Office of State Revenue, where it is stamped and duties settled.
  5. The transfer form and certificate of title are then sent to the Land and Property Information Department for registration.





Footnote to Transaction Costs Table

The round trip transaction costs include all costs of buying and then re-selling a property – lawyers’ fees, notaries’ fees, registration fees, taxes, agents’ fees, etc.

Stamp Duty:
Stamp duty depends on the value of the property and follows a sliding scale. Stamp duty is paid by the buyer when the contract is sent to Office of State Revenue. If the contract is not stamped within 3 months, an exchange penalty is due on the amount of stamp duty payable at the rate of 12.78% per year.

For easier reference, the Sunday Morning Herald has an online stamp duty calculator.
http://www.smh.com.au/business/money/tools/tax/stampduty.html

Stamp duty on property transfers varies by State, thus:

VALUE OF THE PROPERTY, AU$

DUTIABLE VALUE, AU$ (US$) MARGINAL STAMP DUTY RATE
New South Wales (Sydney)
Up to 14,000 (US$12,731) 1.25%
14,000 – 30,000 (US$27,281) 1.5% on band over US$12,731
30,000 – 80,000 (US$72,750) 1.75% on band over US$27,281
80,000 – 300,000 (US$272,814) 3.5% on band over US$72,750
300,000 – 1,000,000 (US$909,380) 4.5% on band over $272,814
1,000,000 – 3,000,000 (US$2,728,141) 5.5% on band over US$909,380
Over 3,000,000 (US$2,728,141) 7% on all value over US$2,728,141
Australian Capital Territory (Canberra)
Up to 100,000 (US$90,938) 2%
100,000 – 200,000 (US$181,876) 3.5% on band over US$90,938
200,000 – 300,000 (US$272,814) 4% on band over US$181,876
300,000 – 500,000 (US$454,690) 5.5% on band over US$272,814
500,000 – 1,000,000 (US$909,380) 5.75% on band over US$454,690
Over 1,000,000 (US$909,380) 6.75% on all value over US$909,380
Victoria
Up to 25,000 (US$22,735) 1.4%
25,000 – 130,000 (US$118,219) 2.4% on band over US$22,735
130,000 – 440,000 (US$400,127) 5% on band over US$118,219
440,000 – 550,000 (US$500,159) 6% on band over US$400,127
550,000 – 960,000 (US$873,005) 6% on band over US$500,159
Over 960,000 (US$873,005) 5.5% on all value over US$873,005
Queensland
Up to 5,000 (US$4,547) 0%
5,000 – 105,000 (US$95,485) 1.5% on band over US$4,547
105,000 – 480,000 (US$436,503) 3.5% on band over US$95,485
480,000 – 980,000 (US$891,193) 4.5% on band over US$436,503
Over 980,000 (US$891,193) 5.25% on all value over US$891,193
South Australia
Up to 12,000 (US$10,913) 1%
12,000 – 30,000 (US$27,281) 2% on band over US$10,913
30,000 – 50,000 (US$45,469) 3% on band over US$27,281
50,000 – 100,000 (US$90,938) 3.5% on band over US$45,469
100,000 – 200,000 (US$181,876) 4% on band over US$90,938
200,000 – 250,000 (US$227,345) 4.25% on band over US$181,876
250,000 – 300,000 (US$272,814) 4.75% on band over US$227,345
300,000 – 500,000 (US$454,690) 5% on band over US$272,814
Over 500,000 (US$454,690) 5.5% on all value over US$454,690
Western Australia
Up to 120,000 (US$109,126) 1.9%
120,000 – 150,000 (US$136,407) 2.85% on band over US$109,126
150,000 – 360,000 (US$327,377) 3.8% on band over US$136,407
360,000 – 725,000 (US$659,301) 4.75% on band over US$327,377
Over 725,000 (US$659,301) 5.15% on all value over US$659,301
Tasmania
Up to 1,300 (US$1,182) AUD20 (US$21)
1,300 – 10,000 (US$9,094) 1.5% on band over US$1,182
10,000 – 30,000 (US$27,281) 2% on band over US$9,094
30,000 – 75,000 (US$68,204) 2.5% on band over US$27,281
75,000 – 150,000 (US$136,407) 3% on band over US$68,204
150,000 – 225,000 (US$204,611) 3.5% on band over US$136,407
Over 225,000 (US$204,611) 4% on all value over US$204,611
Northern Territory
Up to 525,000 (US$477,425)

(0.065 x V2) +
21V where V = property value/ 1,000

525,000 – 3,000,000 (US$2,728,141) 4.95% on band over US$477,425
Over 3,000,000 (US$2,728,141) 5.45% on all value over US$2,728,141
Source: Global Property Guide

Registration Fee:
Paid to the Land Titles Office (in NSW and NT), this fee is for the transfer of ownership to the buyer. It varies from state to state, with certain states imposing a fixed fee while others impose a variable fee based on the purchase price. The solicitor or conveyancer typically pays this on behalf of the buyer. The registration fee is paid to the Department of Natural Resources in Queensland or Department of Land Administration in Western Australia.

In New South Wales, registration fee is AUD75 (US$68) regardless of size or value of property. In South Australia, registration fee for properties worth above AUD40,000 (US$36,375) is AUD194 (US$176) plus 0.6% of value above AUD50,000 (US$45,469).

Conveyance Fee:
Solicitor’s or Conveyancer’s fees are paid for the documentation necessary for a property purchase. Property conveyance can be done by a solicitor (lawyer), a conveyancer (a land broker, land agent or settlement agent), or even the buyer and the seller. In the Canberra, Queensland and Tasmania, solicitors have a monopoly on conveyance, while in Victoria a conveyancer must work with a solicitor. In other states, the parties are free to choose.

Solicitor´s fee are generally negotiable and can be a fixed amount, an hourly rate (with or without ceiling), or a percentage of the property value (typically around 1% to 2%). GST is always paid, thus, it is worth asking if the fixed fee is already inclusive of the GST.

Some lenders provide property conveyance as a free service to borrowers. Separate conveyance fees are usually paid by both the buyer and the seller (in some states the buyer’s costs are higher, as there’s more work involved).

Real Estate Agent’s Fee
Except for Queensland, real estate agent´s fee is negotiable in all states.


REAL ESTATE AGENT´S FEE

Property Location Rate in Main Cities Rate in Suburbs
New South Wales 2% - 2.5% 2.5% - 3.5%
Australian Capital Territory 2.5% 2.5% - 4%
Victoria 1.6% - 2.5% 2.5% - 3%
South Australia 2% - 2.75% 2.75% - 3%
Western Australia 3 - 3.25%
New Territories 2.5% - 4%
Source: Global Property Guide

Agent´s commission in Queensland is set by the government at a maximum of 5% of the first AUD18,000 (US$16,369) of the sale price and 2.5% of the balance of the sale price (plus 10% GST).

In Tasmania, real estate agent’s fee is freely negotiable, nevertheless, the Real Estate Institute of Tasmania recommends the schedule below (inclusive of GST, as of July 2007).


TASMANIA: REAL ESTATE AGENT´S COMMISSION

PROPERTY VALUE, AU$ (US$) RATE
Up to 10,000 (US$9,094) 9.81%, minimum of AUD100 (US$105)
10,000 - 50,000 (US$45,469) 5.35% on band over US$9,094
50,000 - 100,000 (US$90,938) 3.75% on band US$45,469
Over 100,000 (US$90,938) 3.55% on all value over US$90,938
Source: Global Property Guide





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