23 January 2013

Perth property market using new Australian visa to lure investment

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Property syndicates in the Western Australia capital are reportedly promoting the region's real estate opportunities to wealthy foreign investors as an opportunity to gain an Australian visa.

Australia visa

One Perth property syndicate is hoping to use the new visa category to lure wealthy investors to Western Australia.

The government unveiled the latest category of Australian visa - the Significant Investor visa - in November. Wealthy foreign citizens can live and work in the country provided they are willing to invest AU$5 million (£3.25 million) in the Australian economy.

The visa requires the investment to be made in government bonds, private companies or managed funds involving Australian assets. Holders of the visa are allowed to live in Australia for four years with the possibility of applying for permanent residency thereafter; applicants do not have to meet age or language requirements to be eligible.

One Perth-based property syndicate has seen the new category of visa an opportunity to boost real estate sales within the state. Otan Property Funds Management is staging road shows abroad to wealthy investors and migration companies to promote the opportunities on offer in WA.

Mark Butler, Otan's managing director, said at least 100 Chinese investors had so far shown an interest in Perth's property and the possibility of gaining residency in Australia.

Critics of the new visa category have claimed it allows the wealthiest to essential buy their way into Australia and Otan's efforts are only likely to have fuel to the critics' fire. However, Mr Butler says overseas investment will not push up property prices and an influx of wealthy investors will benefit the region.

"We are still in a post-GFC [global financial crisis] environment where the whole market is constrained," he said.

"This visa should add some capital into the market so we can build more properties because we do not have enough in WA.

This is all about getting fresh investment capital into Australia."

The Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) said no Significant Investor visas had been granted but that it had had 140 expressions of interest from potential investors.

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people lodge applications with the Australian Embassy.

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