Expat property buyers: how to overcome your 10 most costly challenges

At any given time, there are many expats buying property in Sydney and they do so for a variety of reasons. They may be planning to buy a future home to live in when they return in a few years, or they may simply want a foothold in the Sydney market so they don’t get left behind financially. The thing is, it’s not that easy buying property in Sydney from overseas.

Why Sydney anyway? Well, it’s the strongest market in Australia and history has shown consistent growth can be expected if you choose location and property wisely. (Melbourne runs a fairly close second but there is a huge gap between these two cities and other capitals).

In recent years, Sydney property buyers have found it increasingly difficult to buy without expert help and this has been exacerbated by booming market conditions. For expats buying property in Sydney, there is the additional difficulty in managing the process from a distance.

Here are 10 specific challenges expats face when buying property in Sydney from overseas:

  • An inability to inspect property themselves
  • Lack of specific, up-to-date local market knowledge
  • A lack of insight into additional locations. For instance, if you want to buy in a different area to where you have lived previously, or it could be that you are not familiar with the areas that offer the best investment opportunities.
  • Timely access to information
  • You’re not sure about property values and how much to pay (or not pay!)
  • A lack of knowledge of where to get the information you need to make a good decision
  • An over-reliance on information provided by sales agents and real estate websites
  • A lack of relevant tax advice
  • You don’t want to burden your family and friends with the responsibility of searching/inspecting/recommending and buying
  • An inability to act fast in the event that another buyer makes an offer
  • Finding someone to bid at auction

These challenges can result in not buying at all. Or buying the wrong property. Neither of these outcomes is ideal. For overseas-based expats buying property in Sydney, an enormous amount of luck is needed to get it right.

For overseas-based expats buying property in Sydney, an enormous amount of luck is needed to get it right Click To Tweet

Engaging a buyers agent can be a great way to address these challenges. When buying property in Sydney from overseas, you want to be certain that you are getting timely, accurate and personalised advice. You will want to choose a buyers agent that satisfies these criteria:

  • Can fully understand your requirements so that the right property will be chosen
  • Has the ability to establish your trust in them – you need to be confident that the buyers agent will act in your best interests
  • Is able to find & thoroughly evaluate property
  • In-depth market knowledge and the ability to advise you accordingly
  • Strong negotiation skills

Specific questions to ask a prospective buyers agent include:

  • How can you ensure I buy the right property? You want to hear about their processes and the experiences of other clients. Ask for case studies, ask to speak with past clients.
  • What specific advice will you give me? Will they coordinate external resources such as a lawyer, property manager, building inspector…
  • How do you communicate with me throughout the process? You want to understand their systems, ask for examples.
  • What happens if I don’t end up buying something? You want to see how they manage your expectations, how they will educate you about the market, handle your fears (it’s only natural that you will have some – it’s a lot of money!)
  • For more detailed questions on their experience and qualifications, download these two questionnaires – one for the buyers agent and one to reference check them.

Expats buying property in Sydney need to be aware of the added risks that come from not being local. Buying property in Sydney from overseas is made much easier when you engage an experienced buyers agent.

Contact us now to find out how we can help you find the right property.

Further reading:

Sydney Buyers Agent Fees

Home buyers’ agent: what else you need to know

How to choose a good buyers agent: 12 questions to ask


Published: 1 November 2017

Updated: 4 September 2018

DISCLAIMER: Good Deeds blogs/buyers tips are intended to be of a general nature. Please contact us for advice that is specific to your individual circumstances. You may also need to get advice from other professionals such as an accountant, mortgage broker, financial planner or solicitor.

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