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Expats Keen to Still Call Australia Home Drive Up Property Prices

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  • Post published:October 16, 2020
  • Post category:News


A rush of expats coming home to the relatively safe shores of Australia is tipped to drive increased demand in the property market, pushing up prices.

The return home has already begun for many of the one million Australians who live and work overseas, with thousands flying back into the country each week to ride out the economic turmoil caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to John Fitzgerald, the chief executive of Custodian, a property investment company.

Local estate Ray White agent Christine Rudolph says she is fielding as least one inquiry a week from expats ready and wanting to buy in Australia, and Brisbane in particular.

She said a realisation that global business can be conducted from home, was driving expats to reassess where they were living and where they wanted to reside long-term if they had to choose.

James Fitzgerald, chief executive of Custodian, a property investment company

She said Brisbane was increasingly seen by the expat, interstate and international communities as being the city of the future, ahead of Melbourne or Sydney.

“People want to be somewhere they know is safe and secure, and the appeal of Brisbane is that it’s an easy city, with low crime rates, a steady climate and offers amazing value for money.

Ms Rudolph said people are doing their homework and seeing that the Brisbane market is less volatile than Sydney or Melbourne, so in terms of safety and security, it is best place to be.

Susie O’Neil recently sold her Queensland house.

Mr Fitzgerald, the author of 7 Steps to Wealth, discussed the impact of expats on the future of the Australian property market with demographer Bernard Salt this month.

Mr Salt said in the early weeks of the pandemic many thousands of expats returned to Australia.

“And when they came home, many brought US dollars or English pounds and entered the property market,” he said.

“Expats are often early- to mid-career, which means they have the means to enter the property market to rent or buy in Australia.”

While international immigration is expected to slow this year, Mr Salt predicts it will return once borders reopen to international flights and as the economy recovers.


Ray White estate agent Christine Rudolph says she is fielding at least one call a week from expats wanting to return home. Photo: Steve Pohlner

Custodian’s spring report predicts that, in the meantime, returning expats will have an immediate impact on the property market.

Mr Fitzgerald said the return of expats and the unexpected postponements by those who had planned to leave Australia to work overseas has already helped keep vacancy rates low.

“As more people return looking for somewhere to live after they make it out of hotel quarantine, there is no doubt there will be increased pressure on the rental market and property market.

“Vacancy rates have dropped in almost every capital city in Australia, with the exception of Melbourne in the past month.

“The majority of vacancy rates in capital cities throughout Australia are now well below 3 per cent which normally reflects a balanced rental market.

“Those figures are good news for investors. It means their properties will rent and the demand should keep weekly rents steady, if not push them higher.”

Mr Salt said Australia was popular with immigrants and entrepreneurs after previous global calamities such as World War II and so the same trend could be expected in the post COVID-19 decade.

“I think that Australians have every reason to be confident in the future,” he said.

“Ultimately, I think we will return to strong levels of immigration and strong levels of demand for residential property.”