Obtaining a Mortgage in Sydney


There are many lenders including banks, credit unions and non-bank lenders operating in the Australian property market and offering finance to purchase Australian property.

Of these lenders, they will have many different loan products with their own features and benefits, some of which are more appropriate to different objectives. Navigating the finance and product options is time consuming trying to work out what is best for you.

Alycia and the team at Stoneturn Mortgages have written a guide to assist with the complexities of choosing the best option including:

  • Understanding the Finance Process
  • Pre-qualification and Credit Advice
  • Pre-Approval
  • Valuations
  • Post Settlement

To read this guide click here:

Looking into Buying Trends in 2019

Australia is experiencing a dip in consumer confidence at the moment.

As we can see, we are still above the historical average. But what does this mean for the Sydney property market?

Retail credit is still hard to come by (except for Expatland service providers) but is the rest of the Sydney population thinking its credit crunch 2.0? 2008 was a decade ago now and many are saying that we may dip again below the trending average in 2019. The Sydney property market is watching 2019 through a lens of skepticism.

The political sphere is driving this down with a March state election where the Premier is not handling her team well while no-one knows the name of the opposition leader. What’s going to happen? I know that treasury is screaming from the reduced forecast of stamp duty revenue.

What are they to do?

Federally we have a new PM that wants to reduce population growth and an opposition leader that wants to run on the premise of getting rid of negative-gearing? Do any of our leaders really want to foster a growth environment again?

What I do know is this? Buy low. Sell high.

The increased interest in doing deals in Sydney right now on both residential and commercial property is rife. We are negotiating on several investment properties for our clients in which the developer needs to sell remaining product or product with settlement risk with a 5-15% discount. Additionally, our clients are capitalising on buying established home’s for repatriation due to the pressure on some homeowners to sell.

One Sydney expat client from Hong Kong called to get some advice as she was not scheduled to come back to Sydney for another few years but wanted to take advantage of the current market and find her home for retirement. Over the New Year period, three private inspections will happen via Skype.

So don’t let the consumer sentiment get you down, take advantage of the counter market cycle and use the Christmas and New Year periods to reflect and plan for the next year or years ahead.


Temporary Residents – Australia’s Tax Concessions for Expats

A range of income tax concessions are available to individuals who become resident of Australia and who qualify as temporary resident.

Many have the impression that Australia is a very high taxing country with very few tax concessions.

While that may be true in many cases, Australia also has very generous tax concessions in relation to temporary residents.

Australia, being a worldwide tax regime, taxes its residents on their worldwide income.

This means that if you move to Australia any foreign investment income your have will be taxable here.

Can you be a “temporary resident”?

If you are the holder of a “temporary resident” visa, and provided your spouse is also not an Australian citizen or permanent resident then you will qualify as a temporary resident and you can take advantage of these generous concessions.

This would mean that you would not be required to pay tax on your foreign investment income in Australia, even if you bring that income in Australia.

It is also the case that you would only be subject to capital gains tax in Australia on a very narrow range of assets, which would typically only include Australian real estate investments.

Foreign sourced capital gains would not be taxable in Australia.

This makes Australia a very compelling jurisdiction for foreign nationals to move to on a temporary basis without having to worry about all the complexity associated with bringing foreign investment “on shore”.

However, if you move to Australia and then decide to become permanent resident or if your spouse becomes an Australian citizen then you would cease being a temporary resident for tax purposes.

Note that the definition of “spouse” includes a person who you are legally married to or who you live with on a genuine domestic basis as a couple.

If you have questions about your eligibility to this very important tax concession, please reach out to CST Tax in Sydney and we would be happy to advise you further.

Expatland Finance – Being Prepared in Your New City


The cost of living is of major importance to you and your family in looking at whether you will be better off in Expatland. The cost of living in different parts of Expatland varies widely and is affected by many factors beyond your control.

Just one of these, for example, is, say, the effect of tax rises in Expatland.

Those countries in Expatland that may have higher national debt as a percentage of GDP might seek to raise taxes shortly after your arrival. This tax rise – whether indirect or direct – may affect your cost of living in a very short period of time.

It is therefore important for you to prepare a budget. Our E-Team members, XE have written a guide on ensuring you are well equipped to deal with your move financially. It is an essential read and will assist any expat with moving to their new home.

To download our guide please click here:

Utilising Your Australian Super to Fund Life Insurance – Considerations for Australian Expats


We see many Australians living overseas unaware that they can use their super to fund their cash flow and asset protection. Buying Life Insurance through super can be a convenient and affordable way to get the cover you need.

Further, Australian life products are often more affordable compared to the local options and the definitions are world leading.

There are, however, a number of things you need to consider before you decide how you want to structure your Life Insurance.

What type of insurance can you access through super?

Through super, you have access to three important types of insurance cover:

  1. Income Protection which provides an income stream for a specified period if you can’t work due to temporary disability or illness.
  2. Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) which provides a lump sum benefit if you become seriously disabled and are unable to ever work again.
  3. Life Insurance provides your beneficiaries with a lump sum benefit if you die.

What are the advantages of taking out Life Insurance through super?

Using your superannuation to pay for your Life Insurance can be a good way to help you afford the cover you need, without eating into your budget.

You also have the opportunity to make before-tax contributions to super to pay for your insurance (e.g. through salary sacrifice), which may help reduce the amount of tax you pay.

What are the disadvantages of taking out Life Insurance through super?

If you don’t make additional super contributions to pay your insurance premiums, your retirement savings will reduce. Also, there are different rules around Life Insurance policies owned through super that may make benefit payments less tax-effective for your beneficiaries.

What else should expats consider?

Buying insurance through super may seem like the perfect solution, but there are some things you should consider first:

Keep track of your insurances through super
If you have more than one super fund you may be paying for more than one policy.

Not all benefits are tax-free
Tax may be payable on some benefits, depending on who receives the benefit and when it is paid out. If your beneficiary is not a dependant, there may be tax implications.

There can be delays in benefit payment
Insurers will pay the benefit to your fund’s Trustee, who will then distribute onto you or your beneficiaries.

Consider your beneficiaries

If you do not make a binding beneficiary nomination, or your fund does not offer binding nominations, the super trustee will decide who receives your benefits when you die. Usually, benefits are paid to dependents, after taking your wishes into consideration.

Using your super to fund your life insurance is a perfectly viable strategy but being aware of the various considerations is critical. Seeking advice from an Australian Life insurance Specialist key.


Written by: IMFG

How Much Do I Need to Buy a Property in Singapore?


So you’ve settled in Singapore and decided it’s time to buy a home rather than rent.  With a reputation of having some of the most expensive real estate in the world, how much do you need to have saved before this is even possible?

To work this out, lets take a look at a hypothetical scenario of two British Expats purchasing a condo for $1.5m in Katong on the east coast.


Under the most recently revised Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) regulations, for your first property purchase as a foreigner you should be able to borrow up to 75% of the proposed property purchase price.

On our scenario of $1.5m above, you will need to have 25% as an initial deposit which would come to $325,000.


As a foreigner, you are subject to two levels of Stamp Duty.

The first is called Buyers Stamp Duty (BSD) and is paid by all purchasers of property in Singapore.

The amount charged is progressive and the rates as of Feb 2018 are:

  • 1% on the first $180,000
  • 2% on the next $180,000
  • 3% on the next $640,000
  • 4% on the remaining amount

The second, and most significant, cost for foreigners purchasing property is the Additional Buyer Stamp Duty (ABSD).

This rate is a flat 20% against the whole purchase price of the property and can be the biggest inhibitor to purchase property in Singapore.

PLEASE NOTE:  Expats from the United States, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland are exempt from the 20% additional stamp duty charge due to the Free Trade Agreements Singapore has with these countries.

So for our British expats looking to buy, their stamp duty costs would come to:

BSD –    $44,600

ABSD –  $300,000

Total –  $344,600

So the total up-front cash our couple would need to purchase their $1.5m condo would come to $669,600.

This can be a significant amount of money for any couple. Depending on your long-term plans and personal situation though, buying can still make sense as the Singapore property has a long-term history of strong returns.

Also, if you apply and are successful in obtaining Singapore Permanent Resident Status (PR), this can bring the ABSD rate down to 5%.

If you’d like to review your borrowing options and see what is possible, don’t hesitate to get in contact with us through www.aexphl.com

Article by:

Tim Raes, Founder and Managing Director

Aussie Expat Home Loans – Singapore


*  This advice is general and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider whether the advice is suitable for you and your personal circumstances.   Before you make any decision about whether to acquire a certain product, you should obtain and read the relevant product disclosure statements and seek personalised advice

Surcharge Purchaser Duty for Foreigners in NSW


The 2016 NSW Budget introduced a four per cent surcharge purchaser duty (surcharge) on the purchase of residential real estate by foreign persons from 21 June 2016. Further to this, the 2017 NSW Budget, increased the surcharge rate from four per cent to eight per cent for agreements entered into on or after 1 July 2017.

The surcharge is in addition to the duty payable on the purchase of residential property. The surcharge does not apply to Permanent visa holders, New Zealand citizens who hold a special category visa (subclass 444) or Partner (provisional) visa holders (subclass 309 or 820).

However, it does apply to persons who are, the three types of individuals listed above, who do not meet the 200 day rule (200 days or more in Australia immediately prior to the contract date) or temporary visa holders, who are persons who hold Australian temporary visas which are subject to limitation, such as an end date, and are considered to be foreign persons, regardless of whether they meet the 200 day rule. Unfortunately, this cannot be overcome by the incorporation of a company or establishment of a trust.

A corporation and a trustee of a trust can be a foreign person in the following circumstances:

  • a corporation in which is an individual not ordinarily resident in Australia; or
  • a foreign corporation or a foreign government holds a substantial interest; or
  • a corporation in which two or more persons, each of whom is an individual not ordinarily resident in Australia, a foreign corporation or a foreign government, hold an aggregate substantial interest; or
  • the trustee of a trust in which an individual not ordinarily resident in Australia, a foreign corporation or a foreign government holds a substantial interest; or the trustee of a trust in which two or more persons, each of whom is an individual not ordinarily resident in Australia, a foreign corporation or a foreign government, hold an aggregate substantial interest; or
  • a foreign government; or
  • a general partner of a limited partnership where:
  • an individual not ordinarily resident in Australia, a foreign corporation or a foreign government holds at least 20 per cent in the limited partnership, or
  • two or more persons each of whom is an individual not ordinarily resident in Australia, a foreign corporation or a foreign government, hold an aggregate interest of at least 40 per cent in the limited partnership.

Should you be considering purchasing property in NSW and are unsure if the Surcharge Purchaser Duty applies to you, feel free to call Nicole on 9328 6917 for a consultation.

Article by: Nicole Leggat

Foreign Exchange in Expatland – What You Should Know


Whether you’ve just started your new life in Expatland or are looking to move back to your country of origin, the need will undoubtedly arise to exchange foreign currency.

Your personal circumstances will determine why you need to exchange currency, the frequency by which you transact and the volume. A currency need will typically arise from:

  • Transferring life savings
  • Selling and/or buying a property in your country of origin and/or Expatland
  • Pensions transfers
  • Repatriating income
  • Investing in assets domiciled in Expatland
  • Sending money home to friends and/or family

So what should you be aware of when converting your currency and sending or receiving cross-border payments?

  1. Are you really getting the best rate?

You trust your bank with your day-to-day banking needs so surely they must be the best option for your foreign currency and international payments needs? The reality is however, that for retail clients the daily buy/sell rates set by the banks often include a cost to transact plus additional sending and receiving fees.

By doing your research and venturing beyond the banking relationship to an alternative foreign exchange provider like XE Money Transfer, you’ll find that you will be able to take advantage of a much higher rate of exchange and no transfer fees – saving you thousands of dollars on your international money transfers.

  1. Protect yourself from currency risk on high value transactions

When making high value transactions that occur over a longer period of time, you may want to mitigate currency risk by locking in a favourable rate of exchange.

Currency risk refers to the uncertainties faced by fluctuating exchange rates and can have a significant effect on the outcome you achieve when it comes to executing your currency conversion.

Contrary to what you may think, you are not restricted to simply accepting the spot rate you are given on the day.

At XE, we provide a range of risk management transactions from Market Orders to Forward Exchange Contracts (FECs) and more complex structure options and our team will be able to advise you on the right strategy to ensure you are getting the best rate of exchange and are not left at the mercy of exchange rate movements.

Importance of Corporate Travel Insurance


It is highly recommended that any Expat whose business involves overseas travel, should effect a Corporate Travel Insurance Policy.

A Corporate Travel Policy will provide coverage for overseas trips up to a duration of 26 weeks.

The scope of cover provided under this type of policy include Medical Expenses, Death & Capital Benefits, Loss or damage to Baggage, Electronic Equipment, Loss of Credit Cards, Theft of Money, Hire Car Excess Expenses, Loss of Deposits and Cancellation Charges, Kidnap, Extortion and Ransom.

Below are actual case studies of recent Medical Expenses Travel Insurance losses incurred whilst claimants were overseas. This reinforces the absolute necessity to protect yourself and your business from these exposures whilst undertaking business and associated leisure travel.

David (an Australian Resident) was insured under a Corporate Travel Insurance Policy while he was on a short-term working assignment in the Solomon Islands.  On 12/09/2017 he started feeling unwell with abdominal pain and presented himself to a local clinic.

Provisional diagnosis was infectious Gastroenteritis, acute abdominal rupture and appendicitis. There were no clinics available for the claimant to undergo diagnostic imaging and hence he was placed in an air ambulance and evacuated back to Australia.  The total amount of the claim was $57,527.37.

Edward attended an international business conference in the Philippines.  At the conclusion of the conference he stayed on for an additional week’s holiday.

During that holiday he was struck by a motorcycle and sustained multiple soft tissue and musculoskeletal injuries including left clavicle fracture, multiple fractures to left and right ribs, crush fracture of the 12th thoracic vertebrae and right shoulder ligament ruptures.  The total amount of the claim was $23,428.57.

Gerard, a 73-year-old director of an IT company, planned a 6-week overseas trip with his wife, to the USA commencing June 2017.  Unbeknown to him, at the time of embarking on the journey, he was developing what would become a significant cardiac infection – “bacterial endocarditis”.

By the time he landed in the USA his cardiac symptoms fully manifested resulting in cardiac infection, multiple body organ sepsis and several strokes secondary to the above.

Gerard was admitted to high dependency specialist care.  The claimant’s wife and Insurers were advised that Gerard most likely would not survive.  Gerard was transferred to palliative care where he eventually passed away some two months later.  The total amount of the claim was $1,300,000.

Although this case had a sad outcome, it highlights the importance of having travel insurance to protect against what can be substantial and significant costs.

By: Michael McMahon
Gibson Insurance Brokers

Expatland Case Study



Expat service providers are excellent at helping those moving abroad to get ready for their first adventure.

At Expatland, we have a team of industry professionals primed and ready to help with finances, visas, and the all important logistics. But what if you are already an expat? Can the Expatland Global Network still help you?

The answer is yes.

Once you settle in to your new life you’ll continue to handle your finances, taxes and mortgages. You may also have investments or properties back in your home country that need managing. You may even consider returning home at some point. Our E-Teams are here to help with all aspects of being an expat.

Let’s talk about moving back home and some of the pitfalls that can occur.

Introducing The Smiths

The Smith family have been expats for over 10 years. They relocated from Melbourne and have lived in both Singapore and Hong Kong with their two children.

The Smiths kept their apartment in Melbourne worth circa $800K and they had a residential investment home loan secured against it for $450k.

They’ve decided to return home in the next two years to purchase a family home, so started the process of applying for a new home loan with an Australian Offshore Bank that they had used previously. They started their application for a home loan of $1.2m. They signed the contracts with a finance clause and they expected to secure approval within two weeks.

Signed, Sealed, Delivered?

Unfortunately the two week deadline came and passed and the Smith’s were informed that their loan was declined after an excruciating four week process.

Initially the bank processed the application as an investment home loan, not a home loan. This meant they would have had a much higher interest rate. Not only that, they discounted both the bonus income of Mr & Mrs Smith and their salary entitlements by 20%, which can be typical of Australian lenders.

How did this happen?

Well, the bank didn’t truly know their client. They didn’t understand the needs of an expat trying to return home. They didn’t understand the expenses an expat incurs and much of their time was wasted trying to understand their customer after it was too late.

Unfortunately, The Smith family had already committed to their purchase and were due to settle within 6 weeks, which resulted in a variety of panic applications with online lenders, which were not fit for purpose.

Understanding is key

The Smiths were then recommended to Aus Finance Group, part of the Melbourne E-Team in Expatland’s Global Network. Aus Finance Group (AFG) has spent significant amounts of time working with lenders to understand the policies and procedures relevant to expats. AFG immediately understood the Smith’s needs and prepared to match them with lenders who understood their requirements.

Within 24 hours all information matter was canvassed to two Australian banks that took into account their bonus income. The Smiths were identified via Skype and executed documents in Singapore. The loan approval was granted within four business days at the terms they wanted.

This only goes to prove that expats needn’t be disadvantaged by their circumstances if they are connected with the most relevant service providers.

How AUS Finance Group can help you

One of the largest challenges as an expat is dealing with your Australian Bank & Financier whilst earning income offshore.

Lenders will typically discount the attributable value of salary & bonus income by 20-100% depending on the source and contractual arrangements behind them. AFG has already identified suitable Lenders who best recognise expat’s offshore income.

Furthermore, Lender’s debt servicing has become rules based and more stringent. This means it will now typically sensitize a borrower’s servicing ability by discounting foreign income sources, i.e.:

  1. Discount contractual base salary by 20%;
  2. Discount bonus income by up to 100%; and
  3. Assess net income (adjusted for above) at Australian tax rates.

AFG will assess your requirements and identify a Lender who will best recognise offshore income.

It will then submit full loan applications together with supporting documentation, manage a Lenders loan application, identification & security process on the expat’s behalf and proactively keep the expat informed of developments.

by: AUS Finance Group

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