Monday, May 27, 2019

Why making quick bucks in real estate is far from reality?

Author: Sachin Gupta | Find me on Twitter

Many of us invest our savings in various investment instruments such as stocks, bonds, fixed deposits, real estate, gold, etc. There is always this great desire that our investment runs smooth and yields highest possible returns. Of all the investment class, real estate has become a much bigger asset class in India. Within real estate investment, there are different categories of investors. One, who would buy a home for end-use which effectively hedges them against inflation, second category of property investors would primarily buy offices or commercial spaces to make money on rentals. There is however, the third category of investors who would indulge in property trading. These investors would invest in under construction residential projects and sometimes would book multiple apartments, hoping to sell them at higher prices to other buyers or end-users. These short-term investors would be betting that property prices will appreciate substantially as happened from 2003-2007 and they would be able to make windfall profits. However, things don’t always turn up as one imagines:

Here is why?

Liquidation issues:
Real estate is one such asset class that is always prone to liquidation risks. During our survey with some of these short term investors, we noticed that, majority of them are finding it increasingly difficult to sell these apartments within their desired time-frame. Due to this, these investors would end up selling the apartments at much lower price. In Delhi NCR, especially in Gurgaon, an apartment that is available at Rs 6000 per square feet from the developer is being sold at Rs 4400-4500 Rs per square feet in the resale market from these short term investors. Now, why would an investor sell at low prices? Most of them would book the apartment in early stages of an under-construction project as per construction linked plan. And accordingly, they would make initial payments equivalent to 10-12% of the property value. However, as construction advances and there is demand for the next installment from the builder, these investors would have no other option but to sell the apartment at much lower prices.

Capital Gains Tax:
Now, having sold the apartment within a short period (less than 3 years) of booking it would attract capital gains tax. The short term capital gains tax stands at 30% of profits booked.

For example, an investor buys an apartment at Rs 3000 per square feet in early stages of an under-construction project. And he paid the booking amount of 10%. He sells the apartment at Rs 4500 when the builder is charging Rs 6000 per square feet. In this case, the investor would be liable to pay 30% of Rs 1500 per Square feet as capital gains tax.

Now, many of you would question that who pays capital gains tax in India? Right… and all of this lead to rapid influx of black money into the real estate sector.

Transfer charges:
Having identified the next buyer, the investor would now transfer the apartment in the name of this new buyer. Transfer charges are costly and would range from Rs 50 to 100 per square feet.

Transaction charges:
Identifying the next buyer is always difficult and one would have to pay a transaction fee of about 1-2% of property value to real estate agents. Let us assume the apartment size was 1000 square feet and since it was sold at Rs 4500 per square feet, the transaction fee at 1% of property value would come out to be Rs 45000.

Here is the illustration:

Therefore, as shown in the picture above, the returns are not as expected by the short term investor. There are many factors that one should look into before jumping into the business of property flipping.

As the saying goes, invest for a long term and cherish the rewards that come along with it.


Have any Questions?


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