Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens says foreign buyers are a factor in rising house prices.
Mr Stevens said the bank was monitoring how much the federal government’s decision last March to relax its rules on foreigners owning property had contributed to surging prices for housing.
He said the role of foreign purchases was ”an important one and it’s one we’re giving some attention to”.
The bank has raised official interest rates four times in five meetings, with rising house prices helping to tip its hand at its meeting this month.
The Age has reported on a trend of overseas investors buying Melbourne real estate to safeguard wealth and advance hopes of migration.
Treasurer Wayne Swan eased restrictions for those on temporary visas, such as business owners and foreign students, to allow them to buy any home to live in, land to build on or new dwelling for investment purposes.
Agency Marshall White says buyers from mainland China and Hong Kong kick-started Melbourne’s prestige property market last year and still account for a third of its sales.
Mandarin-speaking sales executive Michael Liu, who was hired by the agency to deal with overseas buyers, said a few streets in the eastern suburbs of Kew and Balwyn were now 80 per cent Chinese-owned.
”They want to send their children to the best schools and think property here is cheap compared to the big cities in China, where you don’t get freehold ownership over land, just a 99-year lease.”