Overseas Property Investment Guide: Comparing purchase costs in Australia, New Zealand and England

Overseas Property Investment Guide: Comparing purchase costs in Australia, New Zealand and England

Many investors will simply look at the purchase price rather than the total purchase price of a property when making their investment calculations. This will improve the returns on paper, which will make the investor feel great, but it is not an accurate representation of what they will be paying.

In fact, when you buy an overseas property investment or any property for that matter, there are many other costs involved with the purchase, including:

Stamp Duty: This has different names in different countries. It is a tax levied on property purchases by the relevant government authority.

Registration and transfer fees: These are the costs associated with physically transferring ownership of the property into your name.

Mortgage arrangement fees: For many mortgages, there will be a cost associated with obtaining the mortgage.

Valuation fees: Mortgage providers typically require a valuation at the time that a property is purchased so that they can confirm the value of a property relative to the agreed purchase prices.

Legal fees: You will need to pay a lawyer or conveyancer to act on your behalf to register the sale and your interest in the property.

You need to account for these costs in your calculations, particularly when you are comparing properties from different countries, as the costs differ significantly depending on how you purchase, where the property is and the price you have paid.

In some scenarios. this cost could be up to 20% on top of the purchase price, so it’s a material consideration. Additionally, it is difficult to borrow this money in a mortgage, so you need to come up with the funds on top of any equity deposit required by your bank for a mortgage.

There are two reasons why using the total purchase price, not just the purchase price is so important:

Accurate costs: it gives you an accurate picture of the total cost of the investment allowing you to determine your return from the income you generate. Likewise, if you are thinking about selling, it gives you a real figure to work with so you can determine what your total gain will be if you sell.

Comparison: It allows you to compare apples with apples. You can’t accurately make a judgement between two investment properties without comparing two items: (1) the total purchase price and (2) the net operating income.

Overseas Property Investment – Variations in Purchase Costs

Purchase costs and taxes are incredibly important considerations for investors, particularly those purchasing offshore. Below we have set out a table with a comparison showing the variations in purchase costs.

 AustraliaNew ZealandEngland
Legal FeesBetween $750 and $1,500 depending on property and state. Between $750 and $1,500 depending on property and state.   £1,950 to £2,750 plus VAT and disbursements depending on the property.
Stamp Duty Progressive tax regime based on the purchase priceNilProgressive tax regime based on the purchase price.
First Home Buyer GrantsYesNoYes
Surcharge for Investor and Second Home BuyersNoNo3%
Surcharge on Non-Resident BuyerYes (depending on the state, up to 8%)No2% 
Transfer ChargesVaries depending on state and purchase price. $176 Between £190 and £910 depending on the purchase price.

To help put this into context we compare the cost of purchasing in each country based on purchase prices in USD, assuming you are an overseas property investor. Stamp Duty costs vary by state in Australia, I have included two-state (Australian Capital Territory) and New South Wales as examples.

To illustrate the difference between the countries I have also shown the stamp duty charges for purchasing at different price points.

New Zealand
United Kingdom
 FX Rate USD =
FX Rate USD =
FX Rate USD =
FX Rate USD =
USD 500,000AUD 680,000AUD 680,000NZD716,000£360,000
Stamp Duty*USD 14,606USD 59,5700USD 36,252
USD 1,000,000AUD 1,360,000AUD 1,360,000NZD1,432,000£720,000
Stamp Duty*USD 44,808USD 124,6600USD 88,605
USD 1,500,000AUD 2,040,000AUD2,040,000NZD2,148,000£1,080,000
Stamp Duty *USD 68,951USD 192,5920USD 147,190
* Stamp Duty Costs also include Land Registration Fee, Mortgage Registration and Transfer fees

To see the differential at different price points the chart below shows the cost of Stamp Duty in Australia (ACT and NSW), New Zealand and England and Northern Ireland, at different purchase prices between USD 500,000 and USD 1,500,000.


Overseas Property Investment

It’s obvious from the above that New Zealand has the lowest costs at the point of purchase.  But the performance of your investment is also determined by a raft of other factors including how expenses are treated, income tax, management fees, finance costs and rental income to name a few. You may find our recent article on how to compare investment properties in Australia, New Zealand and the UK useful.

Investing in overseas property

Whilst the costs and taxes at the time of purchase are important, they are not the only driver that will determine the performance of your overseas property.

Overseas Property Investment:  Comparing purchase costs

For investors, it’s incredibly difficult to map these variables in any meaningful way, particularly across different countries meaning it’s very difficult to compare the likely performance of different properties, after-tax.

Valuable resources for overseas investors

To help investors do just that, we are shortly launching a new proptech platform – designed for investors to enable you to forecast and compare the performance of properties across multiple countries. If you’re investing in overseas property, don’t miss it! Sign up to hear more at [email protected]

In the meantime, we have also produced a series of Buyer Guides and Country Guides, written specifically for overseas property investment.

Purchasing residential property off-plan is a complex process. There are many nuances between different countries in the terminology used, the process for purchasing, and the various market conventions.

Our experience is that market information is challenging to obtain and, in many situations, can be misleading. There is a lot of information available online, but not all of it is accurate. It is also difficult to find reference documents for multiple jurisdictions all in one place. That’s why we’ve written a series of Buyer’s Guides, designed to help property investors.

You can download our detailed Buyer Guides.

Australia Buyers Guide PropTech Pioneer Overseas Property Investment Guide: Comparing purchase costs in Australia, New Zealand and England
Overseas Property Investment

Important notice:  Proptech Pioneer and its associated companies seek to provide investors with guides, information and tools, but we cannot guarantee this information to be accurate or perfect.  You use the information at your own risk and accept no liability if you rely on this information.   Proptech Pioneer is not a tax advisor, accountant conveyancer, lawyer, financial advisor or mortgage advisor.  You should seek independent advice from independent professionals before making any investment decision.