Returning expats power economic recovery with property purchases

Apr 2021Karen Millers

Returning to Australia from overseas is still challenging, but we have seen huge numbers of expats make the journey.

And that has meant a big fillip for the property market.

Many of course had owned their home back here, but for others it has meant finding one. Maybe initially as a rental and then for purchase.

For most it has meant a trip to the furniture retailers. This has been a godsend to our economy.

The foreign affairs department estimates there were about one million Australians living overseas this time last year

Between the onset of the pandemic last March through to October some 398,000 Australians returned home, possibly many for good.

By last month that was up to about 480,000 Australians meaning close to half the total number of Australians previously living abroad were back home, according to estimates by, a professional network for expats.

Buyers agents have been a huge beneficiary from the return. As the property hunt has often begun with the expats looking online while still overseas, local buyers agents have been engaged to search and negotiate for properties.

Family members back home have often traditionally been tasked with the job, but the onset of the pandemic meant many family members were constrained by lockdowns.

According to the Property Investment Professionals of Australia chairman, Peter Koulizos, many of these expats had “plenty of dollars behind them, often in stronger currencies than the Australian dollar, which supercharged their buying power even more.”

“Expats from expensive cities like London, Hong Kong and New York often don’t consider our real estate prices unaffordable and are happy to pay what is necessary to secure a prestigious property in a desirable location,” he said.

“Our members report that some of the sale prices being achieved in Sydney, for example, seem insane – even in booming market conditions – with new money or the expat factor the likely reason.

“Indeed, some properties are selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars more than what anyone – including experts – had predicted, which is leaving sellers very happy, but many buyers and property investment professionals scratching their heads somewhat.”

It has been the pricier market segments that especially see their presence with CoreLogic noting, across the combined capitals, the upper quartile of the market recorded a 3.7 per cent lift in values in March. Sydney’s upper quartile home value was 4.8 per cent higher over the month.

The latest surge in extravagant expat buyer spending will do nothing for their reputation as easy targets.

I’d suggest sooner or later it will be obvious that the buyers’ agents should have been a little more responsible in spending their clients’ money.


Jonathan Chancellor,, 30 April 2021


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