Mystery surrounds nationality of buyers of foreign land and residential properties

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The vast majority of sales of agricultural land to foreign purchasers went to buyers of unspecified nationality.

THE nationality of almost all foreign buyers of Tasmanian agricultural land in the past year has not been specified to the State Revenue Office.

Figures tabled in the Legislative Council reveal 32 of 37 purchases of primary production land since July 1, 2018, had been by foreign companies or trusts where the resident country was not identified.

One-third of the 192 residential properties sold to overseas buyers went to buyers with unspecified nationality. Since July 2018, 229 Tasmanian properties have been sold to international buyers, about 1 per cent of sales, for a combined value of $164 million.

Chinese buyers bought 71 residential properties, followed by Britons with 22.

Greater Hobart proved a hotspot for international residential purchases, with 122 sales across the Hobart, Clarence, Glenorchy and Kingborough municipalities, valued at $60.8 million.

Meander Valley attracted the most foreign agricultural buyers, with five transactions totalling $13 million, followed by Circular Head, with four sales worth $29 million and Central Highlands and Dorset, also with four sales each.

Independent MLC Rob Valentine, whose question in June prompted the data to be tabled, said there needed to be more clarity on the nature of non-specified companies and trusts.

He said his reason for wanting the figures was to see the impact on prices and availability for local buyers.

“From the feedback I get, I believe it’s an area of community concern,” Mr Valentine said.

Mr Valentine questioned the state’s control of its land, and whether it should be sold or leased to foreign investors.

Real Estate Institute of Tasmania president Tony Collidge said foreign buyers were usually less than 1.5 per cent of total annual residential sales.

“With that small a number there’s virtually no impact on prices or availability,” Mr Collidge said. “We just don’t have the product they want. They want inner-city apartments. We don’t have those like Sydney or Melbourne.”

A State Government spokesman said foreign investment was necessary but needed to be balanced with the interests of Tasmanians.

“From July 1, 2018, the Government introduced a Foreign Investor Duty Surcharge on foreign investment, to ensure that all participants in the property market pay their fair share of state taxes,” he said.

The surcharge has raised $2.5 million for the state budget.

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