Foreign interest in Australian property continues to run hot


Peter Dutton’s proposed two-year ban on foreign buyers is apt given the latest PropTrack Overseas Search Report, which shows that overseas search volumes to rent (+32%) and to buy (+20%) on were much higher than the five-year average in April.

Overseas search for Australian homes

Overseas rent searches has pulled back sightly from last year’s peak, but remain much higher than the prior four years:

Overseas rent searches

PropTrack believes that the small decline from last year could reflect the slowing in student visa issuance following the changes to migration policies implemented by the federal government.

In turn, foreign interest should moderate going forward.

Overseas arrivals

“In March 2024, there were 44,580 international student arrivals, a decrease of 9,060 students compared to the preceding year”, PropTrack says.


“Given the correlation between issued student and work visas and the volume of rental searches on, both are anticipated to decline proportionally due to these policy changes”.

Not surprisingly, PropTrack notes that NSW and Victoria are the most popular destinations for foreigners seeking to rent, reflecting their oversized migration shares:

NOM state

PropTrack concludes with the following:


“Looking ahead, the government’s efforts to restore migration to a “sustainable level,” particularly through stricter student requirements, have the potential to impact overseas traffic volumes on the site”.

“If Australia adopts more stringent immigration policies, overseas buyers and renters may redirect their attention to more welcoming nations. The forthcoming months will provide further clarity on these trends”.

The only problem with Peter Dutton’s proposal to ban temporary foreign buyers from purchasing established homes is that it was only for two years.

The ban should be permanent, effectively reverting the rules to what existed pre-GFC, before the Rudd government carelessly opened up the established housing market to temporary residents in 2009.

Australia must also implement the Tranche 2 global anti-money laundering rules pertaining to real estate gatekeepers, including real estate agents, lawyers, and accountants.

About the author
Leith van Onselen is Chief Economist at the MB Fund and MB Super. He is also a co-founder of MacroBusiness. Leith has previously worked at the Australian Treasury, Victorian Treasury and Goldman Sachs.