Aussie expats face property buying hurdles

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The general unrest in Europe has led nervous Australian expatriates wanting to rush back home, but lending clampdowns by banks coupled with low stock levels are making it increasingly tough for them to buy a home.

According to advocates and brokers representing offshore-based Australians, the tightened red tape has reduced enquiries across most of the market, and they are not expecting it to pick up anytime soon.

"But the problem that expats are facing at the moment is that the banks have really tightened up their lending to expats," said David McMillan, director of investment firm Performance Property Advisory. "Banks are looking for a minimum 30-40 per cent deposit, and they are looking at expats' income, depending on which currency it is, and they are discounting the currency aggressively."

But it is a different story on the luxury end as real estate agents brace for upcoming demand.

"At the upper end of the market, expats are very conscious of making sure they have secure investments, and working out what the implications could be if something happens," said buyers' advocate Nicole Jacobs. "A lot of them are already then finding out that they are coming back, so they are approaching us to secure a home before their children start the school year."

Aside from the Brexit and terrorist attacks in France that are making expat Aussies anxious to come home, the peak period for expat activity in Melbourne is also fast approaching.

"They want to set themselves up for January, so from August onwards that is when it begins," said prestige property agent Ross Savas. He anticipates a busy spring for these Australians returning home.

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