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Chairman critical of foreign investment crackdown

23 March 2015 Nick Bendel

Most in the industry support foreign investment in local real estate, although one prominent identity is warning many may fall foul of new rules.

Most in the industry support foreign investment in local real estate, although one prominent identity is warning many may fall foul of new rules.

Century 21 chairman Charles Tarbey supports a recent federal government proposal that could mean fines or jail time for agents who help foreign buyers flout investment rules.

“It’s very acceptable, if that's what the rule is,” Mr Tarbey said. "If it's all about making a sale, it can be pretty dangerous.

“The thing is, there are plenty of investors in Australia who will pick up property right now. You don't need overseas investors to help pick up what’s left of the real estate market, or the supply chain in the best capital cities.”

Mr Tarbey said many agents would be unaware of the current rules regarding foreign investment in residential real estate and could fall victim to unscrupulous buyers.

“If somebody wanted to cover their identity they could probably cover it significantly enough for an agent – even one who has gone to the next level of company search and the second company search – to still not find who's behind that purchase,” he said.

Mr Tarbey also said the Foreign Investment Review Board’s recent high-profile crackdown on the investor who bought a $39 million Sydney mansion could disguise a poor track record of enforcement.

“My view is that there is a significant number of people who bought properties – potentially out of line with our FIRB rules many, many years ago – who have had significant capital gains since because of the Sydney market,” he said.

“Why not attack them? They're the ones the FIRB should target, because they've had the gain, they've had the opportunity: you target the last high-profile person who comes in and think that you're going to stop things?”

Chairman critical of foreign investment crackdown
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