Most people on a 457 visa have a misconception that they are unable to purchase property in Australia while they are on a temporary visa but this is just not the case. A 457 visa holder or other temporary visa holders can easily purchase property although they do need to seek Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) approval. The FIRB policies have changed a few times over the past five years but at present people can apply for approval as long as the property is a residential property and they intend to live in the property. If the purchase is for investment then it needs to be a brand new property. The approval is on the property and not the applicant, so an approval is required for each property you are looking at purchasing.
457 Visa Mortgages and Bank policies
Prior to setting up CBM Mortgages I worked for one of Australia's leading banks and created their home loan policies for temporary visa holders, specifically their 457 visa home loan policy which many brokers use today. My job was to make it easier for someone migrating to Australia purchase property. Previously the banks looked at potential mortgage applicants as citizens or non citizens and unfortunately temporary visa holders specifically on a 457 visa were unable to access the same policies as Australians and were treated the same as someone living overseas. After producing a report it was demonstrated that selected visa types are for highly skilled individuals that have moved to Australia to work and many to start a new life. It was shown that although these 457 visa holders do not hold citizenship, their occupations are on the Australian department of immigrations skilled occupation list (SOL) and they generally command a high salary and are quite a safe bet when purchasing property. If they were to lose their job then they it should not be too hard for them to find new employment due to their occupation. Also due to them not receiving any First home Owners benefits (FHOG) unless they purchase with an Australian permanent resident or citizen, the chances of them leaving and walking away from a property they have had to make a considerable contribution is slim. The policy for these applicants was introduced and 457 visa mortgage applicants could go as high as a 97% lending to value ratio (LVR) on selected properties if approved by the banks credit department. This was lowered to a 90% LVR at the start of the GFC when the bank pulled back many of it's credit policies.
So presently applicants can purchase a property with a 10% deposit plus money for their costs (stamp duty and lenders mortgage insurance premium). This is still a great opportunity for temporary visa holders as nearly all banks require at least a 20% deposit plus costs. Applicants would still need to be approved by the banks credit department and they normally like to see a minimum of 6 months with their current employer and a minimum of 12 months left on their visa. Each application is assessed on a case by case basis though and looked at on it's merits.
Current 457 visa approval levels and forecasts
At present the Department of immigration are approving just over 30,000 new 457 visa applications per year with the department of immigration forecasting this to rise to 52,000 in 2016. After calculating the 457 visa holders returning home this leaves a net migration of approximately 22,000 for 2012 with forecasts up to approximately 26,000 in 2016. The 457 visa is normally between 3 months and 4 years with the majority being 4 years. If the applicant still qualifies then these ncould be extended for a further 4 years. Unconfirmed sources estimate there to be as many as 100,000 457 visa holders currently in Australia. This means there are many people in Australia currently on a 457 visa and potentially looking to extend their stay in Australia and purchase property in Australia.