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Over the past few years, Perth has evolved into a spectacular city. The region itself is a great place to settle down so you can easily explore West Australia. In addition to forests with trees nearly 1000 years old, the area surrounding Perth has some of the best beaches in the world. Not only does it have fantastic landscapes, but the region is known for its excellent wines as well. The Margaret River region is one of many places which produce award-winning bottles.

If you have decided to move to Perth then it’s a great real-estate decision, as buying and renting property down under is relatively simple for Kiwis. You don’t need approval to buy a home from the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB), which makes things far easier and more accessible.

house in perth

The rental market in Perth

The real estate rental market in Perth has picked up recently, and rental vacancies are down to nearly 4.0% today as compared to 5.2% a year ago. However, while surveying the market for a decision, you should keep in mind that things move rapidly in the city. If you have a preference and you find it, then the quicker you get the wheels rolling on the deal, the better. The competition for suitable rental housing is fairly strong. If you are going down this route, keep your financial documents, visa or residence permit, and bank information handy for the property owner so you get sign off on the paperwork quickly. Sometimes you might be asked for your most recent tax returns, but it’s not compulsory. Perth has some of the cheapest rents when it comes to the big cities in Australia. The rents aren’t exorbitantly high, and prices have fallen in the last five years.

Buying a home in Perth

If you are looking to buy property instead, then there are a variety of options available, from family homes to apartments. The local newspaper recently reported that as of the first quarter of 2019, property values had declined by nearly 0.4%, which is a lot less of a drop than Sydney or Melbourne have been experiencing. This is good news for prospective home buyers such as yourself as the prices are expected to remain reasonable for some time.

However, experts forecast that this slump is mainly due to an oversupply of housing, which will course correct in a few years. So, if you are looking to buy property in Perth, now is the best time to act on that decision.

Searching for a good suburb or neighbourhood

The bustling Perth CBD is home to the business district and the stock exchange, and a range of apartments. If you’re looking for a family home, you might want to look for quieter neighbourhoods like Fremantle or Joondalup instead. There are multiple options and the best one for you will depend entirely on you. For example, if you are trying to decide between a standalone house and an apartment, the value of the latter will fall if a newer apartment complex is built. A standalone house on the other hand will retain its value irrespective of new properties cropping up. The value might go up, but will seldom go down. So, if you are looking for a long-term investment, then a standalone house is a better option than an apartment.

The price of a standalone house dwarfs the rent of one but worst case scenario you can pick up some property in Calista for $250,000 and pay it off within a few years. The three best sites to find Perth property are:

  1. www.raywhite.com
  2. www.realestate.com.au
  3. REIWA

Sans the third one, these websites should only act as a guide. REIWA, on the other hand, is one of the best real estate associations in Western Australia. Its property search engine is powerful and contains a treasure trove of information regarding buying and renting properties in Perth.

However, the final decision should be based on other vital factors also such as available facilities, jobs, and climate preferences. In our opinion, Fremantle is one of the best places to set down your roots, just like the Swan River colonists did years ago. Wanneroo is another place you can consider as the population is mostly comprised of residents who were born outside Australia.

Buying property in Perth

If you decide to buy, then there are multiple kinds of available housing to choose from in Perth. Ranging from a modest and compact low maintenance townhouse to a sprawling four-bedroom home, there is a little something for everyone.

As far as costs go, the median house price in Perth as of January 2019 was $388,195 which is supposed to hold steady for the time being. You may be able to pick something up at a lower price, but that would likely be located at the outskirts of town. The more expensive suburbs have median house prices of $1 - $2 million.

Once you have decided on a place, financing it isn’t difficult. The entire process is quite similar to New Zealand, and there is no approval required from the FIRB, which makes things a tad easier. You’ll need a 20% deposit, and you can get a mortgage from a bank, much the same as in NZ. Most houses are sold through auctions, but you can go down other routes if you know an owner personally.

In a nutshell, buying property in Perth is pretty simple, and very similar to New Zealand’s process.

the city of perth wa

Taxes and other payables

Just like NZ, there are certain taxes and other payables which you may be required to pay. Some of these can be avoided if you are retaining your NZ property, so seek financial advice before making any decisions.

Stamp duty is a tax on purchase of a home. It may be waived if you are a first home buyer and this will be your intended place of residence.

  • Purchase price of $0 – $80,000 you’ll pay 1.90 per $100 or part thereof on stamp duty
  • Purchase price of $80,001 – $100,000 you’ll pay $1,520 + $2.85 per $100 or part thereof above $80,000
  • Purchase price of $100,001 – $250,000 you’ll pay $2,090 + $3.80 per $100 or part thereof above $100,000
  • Purchase price of $250,001 – $500,000 you’ll pay $7,790 + $4.75 per $100 or part thereof above $250,000
  • Purchase price of $500,001 and upwards you’ll pay $19,665 + $5.15 per $100 or part thereof above $500,000

There is an additional Capital Gains Tax which is only applied if you sell your property in New Zealand after moving to Australia. However, if you had sold that property before you moved over the ditch, then rest easy - this tax doesn’t apply to you.

The Bright line test is something which comes into effect if you had sold a home in NZ and owned it for less than five years or did not use it as your primary family home. So, if you are renting out your property back home, ensure you comply with Australian tax laws. Again, an experienced accountant would be of great help in such situations.

The Non-Resident Withholding Tax (NRWT) is payable only if you are living in NZ and paying back a lender in Australia. You can get out of paying this if your lender follows a certain set of criteria. Before you approach a lender, think about these ramifications.

The process for finding a rental in Perth

There are multiple rental opportunities in the city at affordable prices. It’s advisable to temporarily rent out a home for a few months, giving you the opportunity to scope out the place and see if it is suitable for you or your family. Take your time finding a neighbourhood you love, as moving is an expensive and time consuming process.

Most of the challenges lie in understanding the area in detail including its average current prices. Speaking to residents and sound research will give you a clear idea of both. In Perth, suburban properties are generally better for renting as they are bigger than the ones back home in NZ, but with lower costs. Scope out all the local suburbs and see which ones you like. 

Then, submit a tenancy application. You need to have ‘100 points’ worth of documentation ready to go, which is comprised of ID proof, payslips, car rego, and utilities bills. Once you’ve submitted that, your application will be considered.

After approval, you will need to submit a bond payment, which is generally two to four weeks’ worth of rent. In WA you need to submit this to the BondsOnline system, it does not sit with the landlord. Additionally, if you have a pet, there might be a pet bond payment which can be requested by your prospective landlord. All of these costs mean you should have an ample funds ready in your account before starting the tenancy process.

As far as rentals go, the median in Perth is around $395 per week for a home, to $132 for a single room in an apartment. The boarding for a single room in a house is a lot cheaper at $78 per week.

Should you buy or rent in Perth?

At the end of the day, it’s up to you to decide which route works for you. If you are financially strong and thinking of settling in Perth, then buying may be the best option. However, your current situation in NZ and if you need to pay stamp duty or the Bright line test may influence the outcome too.

On the other hand, if you aren’t ready to purchase property just yet, the city has enough rental options to keep you going until you get your bearings. Furthermore, always remember, in addition to all the taxes and property costs, or rent, you need to keep resources aside for insurance, food, travel, and utility bills.

Once you have decided on the best course of action which suits your circumstances, begin your research and start your journey to Perth today. It’s an exciting, vibrant town that is full of opportunities for you and your family.

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