top of page
  • Writer's pictureAlison Wong

Choosing Between New and Old Properties in Australia: Stamp Duty Rates for 2023

Updated: Apr 11

Australia's real estate market has sound laws and regulations, high transparency, and protects personal property (which is sacred and inviolable). Such characteristics make wealthy people all over the world regard Australian real estate as an important part of asset allocation.

Everyone can buy a property in Australia, and all enjoy freehold property rights (except the capital Canberra). There is no limit to purchase, and you can buy as many houses as you want. But many people are hesitant about whether it is better to buy a first-hand property or a second-hand property. This article mainly makes some comparisons in terms of policies and regulations, so that investors know what to expect.

Are first-hand properties in Australia more expensive than second-hand properties?

When many people mention buying property in Australia, they will have an inherent impression. That is: first-hand property in Australia is more expensive than second-hand property, so locals like to buy second-hand properties, while foreigners can only buy brand-new properties.

This is actually a misconception.

First of all, many people don’t know that Australian locals also like to buy first-hand properties, and the Australian government most definitely encourages its own residents to buy first-hand properties.

The various state governments of Australia provide an endless stream of first-hand housing subsidies throughout the year. For example, when Australians buy first-hand properties, there will be stamp duty relief, new housing subsidies, construction subsidies, etc. In 2021, some state governments launched the "New Housing Guarantee Scheme", so that many local Australians only need a 5% down payment.

Secondly, first-hand property in Australia is not necessarily more expensive than second-hand property. Because the price of the first-hand property market in Australia is transparent, there is not much room for a premium. Second-hand properties in Australia are different, especially when investors are buying auction properties; they are easily influenced by the atmosphere of the scene and make impulsive decisions. Many people will buy second-hand properties at a price far higher than the average market price. Because the premium is too high, even if the Australian property market rises sharply, they will not be able to make money for a long time.

Third, this is not to say that Australia's first-hand housing prices are lower. In fact, when we compare the price of first-hand property in Australia with the same type of second-hand property in Australia in the same area, the price of first-hand properties is higher. This is because new houses usually involve newer construction techniques and materials, and the quality is generally better. These factors will inevitably make the price of new houses relatively high.

Do foreigners have to buy a first-hand property in Australia?

Foreigners can usually only buy first-hand properties in Australia, but there are exceptions depending on the type of visa. Specifically:

  1. Pure overseas people can only buy first-hand properties in Australia A pure overseas person refers to a person who does not live in Australia or does not hold an Australian visa. Strictly speaking, it refers to a person who holds a visa for less than 12 months, such as a person who holds an Australian tourist visa, and is also a pure overseas person.

  1. Temporary residents may buy a second-hand building for self-occupation

Holders of Australian long-term visas (allowing them to stay legally in Australia for more than 12 months) are recognized as temporary residents of Australia and can buy a second-hand house for self-occupancy (that is, the resident must use the property as their main residence in Australia).

However, when Australian temporary residents purchase second-hand properties, there are many restrictions:

  • They need to sell it within 3 months of their visa expiration or departure (that is, sell the property within 3 months after the resident stops using the property as his main residence);

  • They all need to apply for FIRB review, and the application fee varies according to the housing price. The application fee for a house within $1 million is $13,200 Australian dollars; and

  • They are not allowed to rent or sublet, otherwise it will be considered a violation of FIRB regulations (that is, the resident shall not rent out the property or any part of it, and at the same time, it is necessary to ensure that the property is vacant and no one lives in it during the property transaction period).

The legal difference between overseas people buying first-hand properties and second-hand properties in Australia

Generally speaking, first-hand properties and off-plan properties in Australia are sold at a fixed price, whilst second-hand properties are generally sold through bids or auctions. Simply put, the one with the highest price wins.

At the same time, if a home buyer submits a FIRB application for an overseas person to buy a house in order to purchase a second-hand building, but fails to buy the second-hand building in the end, the FIRB application fee is non-refundable.

If you are buying a second-hand property in Australia via auction, there are certain risks. For example, the current FIRB approval letter will indicate the maximum price limit for purchasing the property. If the final auction price exceeds the FIRB approval letter, you may face additional fees. Therefore, overseas people may need to master more skills and preparations when purchasing second-hand properties.

As mentioned above, when overseas people buy second-hand property in Australia, they must be used for self-occupancy purposes and they are not allowed to rent or sublet. At the same time, they must sell the second-hand house 3 months before the visa expires. Not to mention that the selling price when in a hurry may not be ideal. If it catches up with the correction period of Australian house prices, you may face losses. More importantly, if you continue to hold the second-hand house after the visa expires, it will be considered illegal. According to the provisions of the law, if you are investigated, you will face a fine of up to $127,500 Australian dollars or three years in prison, and you may also be fined 25% of the purchase price.

2023 Australian property purchase stamp duty

Australia’s property stamp duty rates and regulations may vary across states and territories. But in general, the cost of stamp duty is determined by the taxable value of the property. The lower the value of the property, the lower the level of stamp duty and the less stamp duty the investor needs to pay.

To look at it another way, Australian property stamp duty is calculated by applying a sliding scale on the tax; a percentage that gradually increases according to the value of the property. The general rule is that the cheaper the property, the less tax you pay.

The following is an overview of stamp duties for home purchases in each state and territory of Australia in 2023:

Victoria: For first-time home buyers (Australian citizens and PRs alike), they can enjoy the policy of exempting stamp duty for houses with a purchase price of no more than $600,000 Australian dollars, and a partial reduction for properties in the $600,000 to $750,000 range. For non-first home buyers, stamp duty rates range from 1.5 to 5.5% in 2023 for properties purchased between $250,000 and $12 million.

New South Wales: For first-time home buyers to purchase properties below $650,000 Australian dollars, stamp duty is fully exempted. Part of the stamp duty is reduced for some properties in the $650,000-$800,000 Australian dollar range, and stamp duty is partially reduced for vacant land of between $350,000 and $450,000 Australian dollars.

At the same time, the NSW government allows first-time home buyers who purchase properties under A$1.5 million to choose to pay stamp duty once or pay land tax once a year.

For non-first home buyers, stamp duty rates range from 1.5 to 5.5% in 2023 for properties priced between $140,000 and $40 million.

Queensland: For first-time home buyers (Australian citizens and PRs alike), the purchase of a house that does not exceed $550,000 Australian dollars can enjoy a policy of exemption from stamp duty. For non-first home buyers, stamp duty rates range from 1.5 to 5.75% in 2023 for properties purchased between $55,000 and $11 million.

Western Australia: For first-time home buyers (Australian citizens and PRs alike), stamp duty is exempted for any residence with a purchase price of no more than $430,000 Australian dollars. For sales between $430,000 and $530,000 Australian dollars, you can enjoy a discount. Stamp duty rates range from 1.9 to 5.15% in 2023 for properties purchased between $80,000 and $30 million.

South Australia: Stamp duty rates range from 1.5 to 5.5% in 2023 for properties with a purchase price ranging from A$150,000 to A$50 million.

Northern Territory: Before June 30, 2023, if you buy vacant land to build a house or buy a second-hand building, if the value of the house does not exceed $650,000 Australian dollars, and if you live in it for more than 6 months, you can apply for stamp duty relief.

It should be noted that the above information is for reference only, and the specific Australian property stamp duty rates and regulations may vary due to annual policy adjustments or regional changes.

In addition, overseas people who buy property in Australia usually need to pay additional stamp duty surcharges, and the specific tax rates vary by state. Homebuyers should consult a professional real estate consultant or lawyer before purchasing a property for up-to-date and accurate information and advice.

You can also watch the video below to learn more about buying property in Australia:


Alison’s Story

Born in Hong Kong an moved to Australia, I have been associated with real estate all my life. As the plane slowly landed on the runway of Melbourne Airport, my life and career also changed to another runway. I changed from a Hong Kong real estate agent to an Australian real estate agent, and successfully obtained the Australian lawyer qualification.

When I was working in a law firm, I was surrounded by highly educated professionals. Even though their wages are very well, and they are absolutely the elites in society, but their lives are full of hard labor, and it’s hard for them to get rich through buying properties.

So I spend all my time and effort on learning financial and real estate investment knowledge, hoping to achieve financial freedom as soon as possible, and let my parents who have worked hard for many years live a good life.

Now I will share with you the knowledge and experience of investing in Australian real estate, and embark on the road to financial freedom together.

Alison Australian real estate information platform

The original intention of Miss Alison to establish is to provide neutral Australian real estate information through this platform and help investors establish the most suitable investment strategy.



bottom of page