Australia to investigate foreign ownership of homes

Housing in Sydney Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Australia has some of the most expensive property markets globally, with Sydney being one of the most popular destinations for Chinese investors

A government committee in Australia is set to examine laws governing foreign investment of property.

The move follows a report by Credit Suisse which showed Chinese buyers are pouring in more than A$5bn ($4.5bn; £2.7bn) into Australia's residential market every year, pushing up prices.

The investigation will examine whether foreign purchasing policies are pricing Australians out of the market.

Australia has some of the most expensive property markets globally.

"We know that the great Australian dream is to own your own home," chairman of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics Kelly O'Dwyer told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Radio National programme on Monday.

"And we know that that's pretty difficult - even with two incomes and lots of years of savings and a large mortgage.

"So we want to make sure that we're not making it even more difficult," she said.

The investment report into the Australian property market by Credit Suisse analysts was published earlier this month.

It showed that a generation of Australians are being priced out of the housing market, leaving many facing a "lifetime of renting".

Occupancy focus

Most foreign buyers are limited to buying newly available homes in the country, which is a policy that was intended to benefit local construction businesses and see more jobs added to the sector.

The hope was that it would also push up the number of homes available for occupancy.

Ms O'Dwyer told ABC Radio that the investigation would look at all aspects of the policy - but that a focus would be whether or not apartments were being occupied.

She said the committee would investigate all the evidence available.

"We want to know though whether or not the current laws and the current framework is being properly adhered to and whether it is a truly distorting impact," she added.

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