Are international property investors driving up Australian property prices?

Here's a brief overview of what's causing the boom in our property prices, according to AMP Capital's chief economist, Dr Shane Oliver.

The Australian property market has recently experienced a price surge in parts of Sydney and Melbourne which has led some investment analysts, such as AMP Capital’s Chief Economist, Dr Shane Oliver, to conclude that the property market is ‘bubbly’ and that some properties are overvalued.

We speak to Shane about whether international buyers are contributing to this overvaluation and whether they are artificially inflating property prices. We also ask if the lower Australian dollar will impact on the value of Australian properties.

Q: Are foreign investors to blame for Australia’s high property prices?

A: No. Australia's property prices are high relative to income and rents because the supply of homes has simply not kept up with the demand driven by population growth. Every so often, prices get another push along by lower interest rates as is the case in Sydney and Melbourne at the moment. As a result, mortgage lending to Australians has surged – particularly in recent times to investors.

Foreign buying has played a role in pushing property prices higher, but it’s really just a sideshow compared to what’s happening in the Australian market. International investment only accounts for about 10% of total buying value. This tends to be in middle to upper end property–mainly in certain suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne. So, it’s unlikely to be having much impact in areas where first home buyers buy.

Q: What exactly are international investors doing to the property market?

A: Foreign buyers basically add to property demand in areas where they operate, such as mid to upper end property in certain areas.

Q: What’s the purpose of the Government’s move towards more stringent laws for foreign property investors?

A: The Government recently announced moves to ensure that laws regarding the purchase of Australian property by foreign buyers are fully enforced with tougher penalties for any violations.
The Government took this action to respond to community concerns expressed in a Parliamentary inquiry which found these laws were often being flouted.

Q: How does the drop in the Australian dollar affect the property market?

A: The drop in the value of the $A since its high in 2011 makes Australian property - and indeed most things either in or from Australia - cheaper for foreign buyers. This is assuming they are in a country whose currency has gone up against the Australian dollar. This is likely to have added to foreign demand for Australian property.

Want to know more?

Regardless of the ups and downs in the investment market, there are some simple tips to follow when you’re looking to purchase property:

  • Be aware of your personal circumstances
  • Think about what want to achieve
  • Understand the risks you’re willing to take
  • Consider seeking professional advice.

Find out more about how you can use property to build your wealth. Or, you can find an adviser or call us on 131 267.

Do you have a question about investment markets or economic trends that you'd like to ask Dr Shane Oliver? Send your questions to

If your question is selected for the next issue of our newsletter, you'll win a $50 voucher.

Learning module
Buying a home

Visit our learning zone

News & insights

Want to keep up with the latest news?

Subscribe now

Want to speak to a financial adviser?

Want to keep up to date with the latest news?

Sign up now

Recommended articles

Important information

Show more

© AMP Life Limited. This provides general information and hasn’t taken your circumstances into account. It’s important to consider your particular circumstances before deciding what’s right for you. Although the information is from sources considered reliable, AMP does not guarantee that it is accurate or complete. You should not rely upon it and should seek qualified advice before making any investment decision. Except where liability under any statute cannot be excluded, AMP does not accept any liability (whether under contract, tort or otherwise) for any resulting loss or damage of the reader or any other person.