FIRB is the Foreign Investment Review Board of Australia. If you are not a citizen of Australia, you will need permission from the FIRB to buy residential property here. The process usually takes about 40 days but the board can extend the time for its decision to 120 days.
There are exemptions to the policy listed at FIRB-Expemtions. The exemptions are extensive and you may find you fit in an exempted category. For instance, if you inherit a home in Australia you do not need to petition the board for permission to own it, even if you are not a citizen. If you are from New Zealand, you do not need permission from FIRB to buy a home.
You can complete your FIRB application by fax, post, or email, through the government website. A guide on how to apply for residential real estate approval can be downloaded at How To Apply. The agency will send your approval to your email address for quicker response time.
Consult an attorney before entering into contracts with a real estate broker. If you enter into a contract before your approval by the FIRB, make it conditional on your approval for foreign investment. If you have already entered into a contract, apply for a retrospective approval with the help of a qualified real estate attorney.
Each approval is limited to a specific property, so be sure you have found the perfect home before filing the paperwork for approval. Australia has a thriving real estate market and owning a home here is a great investment.