Located in the growing Sunshine Coast suburb of Mount Coolum, this investment property was purchased Home Scouts for…
A Canadian’s guide to buying a home on the Sunshine Coast.
The Sunshine Coast has long been a sought-after destination for not only Australians but also for international buyers. Moving across the world can be daunting, but with the right preparation and knowledge, it can also be an exciting adventure. If you’re considering moving from Canada to Queensland, there are several key factors to keep in mind before you embark on your Sunshine Coast home buying journey.
1. Research, research, research
Before diving into the property market on the Sunshine Coast, it’s crucial to conduct thorough research. Begin by familiarising yourself with the various suburbs and neighbourhoods within the region. Each area has its own unique charm, amenities, and property market trends. Consider what lifestyle factors are important to you and whether you want to be close to the beach, in the hinterland, or near urban conveniences.
2.Understand the property market and dynamics
The property market on the Sunshine Coast has experienced some extreme cycles over the years.
These cycles can change quickly, so it’s critical as a Canadian buying a home on the Sunshine Coast to understand the current market conditions, recent trends in prices, comparable sales of similar properties you’re looking at, and projected growth. Working with a local buyer’s agent who is on the ground, experienced and knowledgeable about the local market can provide you with valuable insights and help you make informed decisions.
3.Legal and regulatory considerations
As a Canadian buying a home on the Sunshine Coast, there are legal and regulatory considerations you need to be aware of when purchasing property in Australia. This is general information only and does not replace qualified legal advice, so it’s important to consult with legal experts who specialise in property transactions involving foreign buyers.
The Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) has specific rules for foreign nationals buying property. Generally, all overseas buyers hoping to purchase a piece of real estate in Australia must apply first with the FIRB.
According to the Australian Government’s Treasury Department, when you buy or sell residential land you must also notify the Register of Foreign Ownership of Australian Assets.
You will also need to pay an annual vacancy fee if your property is not residentially occupied or genuinely available for rent for more than 183 days (approximately six months) during a year.
If you buy residential land to use for a non‑residential purpose, such as, redevelopment for commercial use, it will generally be subject to development conditions, as assessed on a case‑by‑case basis.
4. Additional duties (Foreign Acquirer Duty)
The Government has introduced a stamp duty surcharge or Additional Foreign Acquirer Duty for foreigners that want to buy property in Australia (currently an additional 7% of the purchase price applies in Queensland).
If you are a specified foreign retiree, you may be exempt from AFAD on your principal place of residence purchased on or after 1 January 2023. A specified foreign retiree is an individual (not an agent) who:
- holds a retirement visa (subclass 405 or 410)
- applied for a parent visa (subclass 103) or contributory parent visa (subclass 143) on or after 8 May 2018 and the application is pending, and the last substantive visa held before applying is a retirement visa (subclass 405 or 410).
To keep the benefit of this AFAD exemption in full, you must not dispose of the property (e.g. sell or rent 1 or more rooms) before occupying it, or within 1 year of occupying it.
Again, this is general information only and does not replace qualified legal advice, so it’s important to consult with legal experts regarding your particular situation.
5. Financing options
Understanding your financing options is crucial as a Canadian buying a home on the Sunshine Coast. Determine whether you’ll be financing the purchase with a mortgage or using cash.
Australian banks have different lending criteria for non-resident buyers, and interest rates may vary. Exploring different financing options with an experienced mortgage broker and getting pre-approved for a loan will streamline the buying process for you.
6. Engage a reliable conveyancer
A local conveyancer or solicitor will play a pivotal role in ensuring a smooth home purchase. They will handle legal aspects such as title searches, contracts, and property checks. Choose a professional who is experienced in handling property transactions for foreign buyers and has a solid understanding of Queensland’s property laws.
7. Do your due diligence
Due diligence is as critical a part of your property purchase as the search, offer strategy and settlement.
It involves the investigation of every aspect of a property prior to purchase, as well of course as your preparedness to purchase. Problems identified during due diligence can be deal breakers, or alternatively, issues to negotiate in terms of price or correction of problems as a condition of settlement. A due diligence checklist can be found here.
8. Building and pest inspections
Before finalising any property purchase, it’s crucial to have a comprehensive building and pest inspection conducted. This will highlight any structural issues or pest infestations that might not be apparent during initial viewings. These inspections provide peace of mind and can help you negotiate the price if repairs are required.
9. Know the rules if you’re a Canadian buying a home on the Sunshine Coast to short term let
If you’re a Canadian buying a home on the Sunshine Coast to holiday let at times during the year, you need to be aware of Noosa Council’s Short Term Accommodation rules.
In February 2021, Noosa Council passed a new Local Law for Short Term Accommodation (STA) which affects investors who intend to Airbnb their property. The Council requires short stay and home hosted accommodation property owners to lodge an application for using residential properties for AIRBNB or short term rentals unless identified as exempt.
To determine if you can operate, or continue to operate short stay letting from the property you are planning to purchase you first need to determine in what town planning zone your property is located in. Further information on short term letting in Noosa is here.
10. Local lifestyle and amenities
One of the main reasons Canadians are drawn to the Sunshine Coast is its incredible lifestyle. The region offers a wide range of outdoor activities, cultural events, and a thriving culinary scene. Consider proximity to amenities, schools, healthcare facilities, and transportation options when selecting a property location that is right for you.
11. Engage a reputable buyer’s agent
Partnering with a reputable local, qualified buyer’s agent can make your property buying journey much smoother. A knowledgeable agent will have insights into the local market, guide you through the negotiation process, and ensure you’re well-informed at every step. Make sure they’re accredited with REBAA, the leading Industry Association for Buyer’s Agents who operate under strict codes of ethics and rules of conduct.
As a Canadian, buying a home on the Sunshine Coast can be an exciting opportunity, and a whole new lifestyle. By conducting thorough research, understanding the property market, and navigating legal considerations, you can make a well-informed decision that aligns with your lifestyle and financial goals.
Good luck, and if you need local advice or support or a complimentary initial consultation, we’re here to help.