Monday, July 31, 2017

How Will Real-estate Buyers Benefit From the RERA Act?

After over a year since the Real Estate Bill was presented in the Rajya Sabha, the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) Act is finally here. The much-awaited Act, which was implemented nationwide on May 1st this year, is aimed at bringing about the required accountability and transparency in the real-estate sector, which has so far been unregulated. Buyers across the nation, including those investing in expensive properties such as villas in Electronic City in Bangalore, are expected to be in the know of projects, right from the get-go.

A day before the implementation of the Act, M Venkaiah Naidu, Union Minister for Urban Development, Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, Information & Broadcasting, had tweeted, "#RERA promotes accountability, transparency & efficiency in the sector. Buyer set to be King. Promoter benefits from king’s confidence."

Here are a few benefits that buyers of real estate are expected to gain from the newly implemented RERA Act:
  • The Act will regulate the development work of projects that were ongoing as on the date of commencement of the Act, that is May 1, 2017, and for which the Completion Certificate was not issued. Which means, all ongoing and upcoming real-estate projects will have to be compulsorily registered by the developers. And, the registrations will need to be done before the projects can be marketed.

  • The term ‘carpet area’ has been given a clear meaning in the new Act. It states that the term covers usable spaces, including all areas covered by the internal walls—such as the kitchen and toilets—and excludes areas covered by the external walls—such as balconies and open terrace areas. And, buyers will need to pay for only the carpet area.

  • Unlike earlier days when there was not much transparency in the development work undertaken by developers and promoters, under the new RERA Act, all project-related details, including layout, sanctioned FSI, and number of floors/wings/buildings will need to be shared with buyers.

  • Quarterly updates on the development of the projects will need to be posted by the developer or promoter on the RERA site. The updates will concern the government approvals granted, overall status of the project, etc.

  • In case the developer provides false information regarding the project or breaches any of the provisions of registration, he will be liable to pay up to 5% of the estimated cost of the project.

  • Developers cannot take more than 10% of the project cost as advance without entering into a written agreement for sale.

  • To prevent misuse of the money invested by real-estate buyers, developers and promoters will have to transfer 70% of the received money to an escrow account. This money will be withdrawn for covering construction and land costs, and that too after the necessary certificates are issued by the architect, engineer, or CA concerned, stating that the said repairs are imperative. This measure is aimed at curbing developers’ practice of using buyers’ money for a project other than the one for which the money was reserved.

  • In case the developer does not hand over the possession of the property to the rightful allotted person, the latter can withdraw from the project and seek 100% refund of the amount paid, along with interest.

  • Any structural repair costs in the property will be borne by the developer for five years, as against two years earlier.

  • Non-compliance with the RERA Act will lead to up to three years of imprisonment or a fine of up to 10% of the estimated cost of the project, or both.

This is a guest post by Dinesh Dawde.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Rent vs Buying a house? What should I look for?

Author: Sachin Gupta | Find me on Twitter

This piece of the blog is primarily meant for residential end users/occupiers who will either end up owning or renting a house. Now, owning or renting is a dilemma which most of us face sooner or later in our careers. As easy as it may sound, but the decision is never without its fare share of glitches. Sumit Sharma, 29 years old, got recently married. He moved to Gurgaon 3 years ago and is currently working in a reputed company with decent salary and like most people of his age group he was stuck with this dilemma of owning vs. renting. On one hand there is easy access to home loans and plentiful of home supply with most builders screaming aloud from the rooftop to sell their real estate projects across India (oops...Houses) but on another hand there are some worries such as monthly installments, maintenance issues, locality, property valuations, and so on.

So, what are the factors that encourages owning as compared to renting and vice versa. Let’s Break It Down (L BID) to smaller elements. The core elements in this dilemma are:

- Down Payment element
First thing first, the most important element of making a decision to own a house boils down to down payment issue. In most cases, 15-20% of house value is paid towards down payment while the remainder is provided by the bank loan if credit worthiness of the person in consideration is good. Now, minimum price for a ready to move apartment in low rise or high rise building in Delhi NCR region (check the prices for other regions) ranges from 35 lacs to 40 lacs (prices vary for different locations). So, one has to have a minimum of 6-8 lacs in his/her pocket before even thinking of owning a house.

- Cash Flow element
Now, having passed through the first element with flying colors one has to do some cash flow calculations before going to the builder. Minimum rent for a similar apartment in Delhi NCR region (check rentals for other regions) ranges from 12 to 18 thousands with no overheads of property taxes, maintenance, insurance etc, whereas cost of owning will include loan installments + property taxes + insurance + maintenance charges. Monthly loan installment for the remaining 29 to 32 lacs will dent one’s pocket by at least 25 to 30 thousands depending upon the interest rate and tenure of the loan. Globally, housing is considered affordable if it is accessible at 25 to 40 percent of gross monthly household income for either rent or loan installments.

- Bubbles in House Price/Future Value
Bubbles normally lead to exorbitant prices when considered in relation to the underlying fundamentals. In Delhi NCR region, one would have noticed that residential property prices have appreciated sharply compared to the rentals. In most areas of NCR, the prices have appreciated by about 3-4 times in last 5 years whereas rental appreciation had been rather weak. What does this suggest; I guess you guessed it right, the price appreciation in property is not indicative of the actual demand & supply elements. Rather it’s the result of expectations that investors, builders are placing on the region due to forecasted economic growth. Now, when expectations are multiplied by expectations year after year, it leads to bubbles and you & I can only be the victims of the bubbles positively or negatively (in case the bubble bursts).

- Flexibility element
Flexibility element is crucial for those who tend to relocate because of employment, family, or other reasons. It doesn’t make any sense for a person to buy a house for 2-3 years and then again have to sell it because of relocation unless the house is purchased with an investment perspective.

- Credit Quality element
Those who are just starting their career with limited salary and no previous bank record will find it difficult to get the loan unless one has sufficient equity at his/her disposal and hence renting is the most likely choice for them.

- Ease of transportation
In metros and especially in Delhi NCR region, home-office-home travel is getting longer by the day. Buying a house nearer to the office is being considered a vital element. However, that comes with a heavy price tag. However, renting a house close to the office could be a serious consideration if one’s primary focus is the proximity to the office.

- Recreational activities
With changing lifestyle, recreational activities play an important role in one’s decision to own or rent a house. Other facilities such as shopping malls, schools, local connectivity also adds to decision making process of buying/renting the house. However, all these facilities come with a price tag especially in case of buying.

So friends, having considered all the above elements, a certain weightage can be given to each element and final result should be evaluated in favor of owning vs. renting. The analysis can yield different results for different individuals depending upon how much weightage they assign to each element.



 
Have any Questions??

 

Monday, July 17, 2017

What are Real Estate Investment Trusts and why do we need them badly in India?

Author: Sachin Gupta | Find me on Twitter

Recently, Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has put up Real Estate Investment Trusts (REIT) for public comments in order to draft the final set of guidelines.

So, what are REITs and what benefits can they provide to small investors with 2-3 Lacs of invest-able income? Can these investors invest small amounts in REITs? We explore here.

A real estate investment trust is basically a creation of the internal revenue code. It is a real estate company or trust that has elected to qualify under certain tax provisions to become a pass-through entity that distributes to its shareholders substantially all of its earnings in addition to any capital gains generated from the sale or disposition of its properties. Because the individual investor has the opportunity to pool his/her resources with those of persons of like interests, funds are assembled to permit purchase of buildings, shopping centers, and land in whatever proportion seems to offer the most attractive returns. Investments must be approved and management activities reviewed by a board of trustees who are accountable to shareholders and are ordinarily well qualified to make such decisions.


Following are the requirements to qualify as trust in countries where REITs are in existence for years:

Asset requirements:

  1. At least 75% of the value of a REIT’s assets must consist of real estate assets, cash, and government securities.
  2. Not more than 5% of the value of the assets may consist of the securities of any one issuer if the securities are not includable under the 75% test.
  3. A REIT may not hold more than 10% of the outstanding voting securities of any one issuer if those securities are not includable under the 75% test.
  4. Not more than 20% of its assets can consist of stocks in taxable REIT subsidiaries.


Income requirements:

  1. At least 95% of the entity’s gross income must be derived from dividends, interest, rents, or gains from the sale of certain assets.
  2. Minimum of 75% of gross income must be generated from rents, interest on obligations secured by mortgages, gains from the sale of certain assets, or income attributable to investments in other REITs.


Distribution requirements:

  1. Minimum of 90% of REIT taxable income must be distributed to shareholders.


Stock and ownership requirements:

  1. Be taxable as a corporation
  2. Board of directors or trustees should manage the REIT
  3. Fully transferable shares
  4. REIT shares must be transferable and must be held by a minimum of 100 persons


REITs that are not listed on an exchange or traded over the counter are generally called private REITs.



Various types of REITs:

Industrial/Office: 
These REITs are further subdivided into those that own industrial, office, or a mix of office and industrial properties. Some analysts further segregate these REITs by property location (i.e., whether they are in CBD or suburban locations). For example, if REITs were to become reality in India, the REIT with focus on Office Space in Gurgaon can result in attractive returns for investors.

Retail:
These REITs are further subdivided into those that own strip centers, regional malls, outlet centers, and free standing retail properties.

Residential: 
These REITs are further subdivided into those that own multifamily apartments and manufactured home communities. Some analysts further segregate those REITs that own student and military housing.

Diversified: 
REITs that own a variety of property types.

Lodging/resorts: 
REITs that primarily own hotels, motels, and resorts.

Health care: 
These REITs specialize in owning hospitals and related health care facilities that are leased back to private health care providers who operate such facilities.

Self storage: 
These REITs specialize in ownership of self storage facilities.

Specialty: 
These REITs specialize in numerous types of properties, including prisons, theaters, golf courses, cellular towers, and timberland. Specialty REITs have been a rapidly evolving segment of the industry.



Have any Questions?

Friday, July 14, 2017

A typical real estate project development process

Author: Sachin Gupta | Find me on Twitter

Once the land development process has been completed successfully, a developer will focus his/her energies on the project development process. Developing and delivering a real estate project successfully is challenging and it lasts for several years passing through various phases. Primarily any real estate project can be divided into 5 phases:


Phase I – Land acquisition
The details about land acquisition process can be found in our earlier post of land development process.


Phase II – Construction
Construction phase requires applying for license (permitting), and project development.

  • Permitting/Licensing:

The permitting process usually begins with an application which identifies the site, its location, and a preliminary design of the improvements to be constructed. This application is then used by public officials to verify compliance with its current zoning classification. If it complies, the permit is granted and the construction of the project may commence subject to building codes and inspections. If the permit is denied, the applicant will usually clarify or amend the application and will ask the city planning staff/director to review it again.

  • Preliminary checklist – Project development:

This checklist is usually the first step that a developer reviews when evaluating a site for possible development.

    1. Allowable uses per zoning classification.
    2. Minimum lot size per zoning classification.
    3. Maximum floor to area ratio (FAR).
    4. Building bulk/density limits.
    5. Setback/building line.
    6. Building height limits.
    7. Building footprint/envelope.
    8. Parking ratios.

  • Important terms/project development:
    1. Setback/building line – requirement to construct building a specified number of feet (setback) from the right-of-way line or other landmark.
    2. Right-of-way line – area designated for a public street or alley that is dedicated for traffic, public use, utilities, etc.
    3. Building related terms:
          • Footprint – it is the shape or outline of the primary building slab or foundation as it will be constructed on the site.
            • Envelope – the total outside perimeter of a structure, including footprints and any exterior patios, mall ways, landscaping, etc.
              • Facade – the exterior, usually the main entrance of a structure
                • Bulk – a three dimensional space within which height, width, footprint, and number of structures/elevations/shapes are viewed in total relative to the land area upon which it will sit to determine land use intensity.
                  • Building codes – refer to required materials and methods used to construct improvements within a jurisdiction.
                    • Permit- document executed by the director of planning authorizing the construction, restoration, alteration, repair, etc., of a structure and acknowledging that it conforms to requirements under the applicable zoning ordinance.
                1. Floor to area ratio (FAR) – it is usually calculated as gross building area divided by square footage of land area.
                2. Height restrictions – used to limit the vertical height of a structure to be constructed.
                3. Allowable use – user activities permitted in a zoning classification
                4. Impact fees – charged by public entities to cover added public sector expenses expected to be caused by the development such as traffic control, drainage, etc.
                5. Incentive zoning – used by city planners to accomplish community goals simultaneously with private sector development.
                6. Inclusion zoning – part of a zoning ordinance that requires that a specified type of development be included in order to obtain permit for that site.
                7. Minimum lot size – per zoning classification
                8. Parking ratio – required number of parking spaces per sq. ft of gross building space or per number of apartment units.
                9. Site plans – drawing done to scale depicting the placement relative to other requirements
                10. Traffic counts – number of vehicle trips per hour past a specific site.
                11. Encroachment – occurs when the construction of improvements extends over a property line on to an adjacent property.
                12. Property tax abatement – forgiveness of taxes for a specified number of years.
                13. Land to value ratio – calculated as rupee value of land to total project value (including land) anticipated upon completion of project.


              Phase III – Completion and occupancy

              There are certain risks in any real estate project development. Once the construction has been completed, there is an additional risk of selling and handing over the project to clients or bringing in tenants in case of rental property. Risk begins with land acquisition and increase steadily as construction commences until cash flows from the leasing phase materialize. It should be noted that factors determining the demand for type of space (such as office, retail, warehouse) being developed are critical to project risk. These factors may manifest themselves in current market indicators, such as vacancy rate levels, rent levels, or the extent of leasing commitments from the tenants.

              A very good understanding of the underlying economic base of an urban area or region is critical when assessing the viability of real estate development.  The point is that investors must examine the demand for space in terms of the characteristics of the demand by end users (tenants) in a given market. This demand in turn depends on the type of employment in the local market and the nature of the functions tenants will perform. Only by understanding the local economy and the nature of employment can developer anticipate demand accurately and produce and supply the quantity and quality of space in the proper combination to satisfy market demand.


              Phase IV – Management

              Once the property is occupied by clients/tenants, there is need for professionally managed facility management team. This team can look into the property management tasks such as maintenance, HVAC, parking management, security, civil works, housekeeping, landscaping, etc. These tasks are equally important and ascertain the long life of property and thus ensure positive rental income as well as capital appreciation. 


              Phase V – Sale
              The developer may choose to sell the property from construction phase onward as happens in residential development in India. Or he/she may choose to hold the property in case of commercial developments provided rental income from the commercial properties is significant enough to justify retention.




              Have any Questions?

              Friday, July 7, 2017

              How to Choose Building Materials and Estimate their Cost and Quantities for House Construction?

              Building material is any material which is used for the construction purposes. Building materials can be categorized into two sources, natural and synthetic. In order to construct a good quality house in the amount you have budgeted, a thorough understanding of the quality parameters, cost and quantities of these building materials are required.

              The cost of construction depends majorly on the following factors:
              1. Architectural Design opted (like Open Top, Sloped Roofs, terraces with add-on features etc.,)
              2. Structural Design (depends upon type of strata available for foundation and numbers of floors / configurations (basement, stilt,G+2 etc.)
              3. Specification of Building materials selected (Quality/Brand of materials used for painting, flooring, woodwork, Bathroom, Electrical etc.)
              4. Exterior Finish chosen (i.e. front elevation design, stone cladding, facade, etc.)
              5. Peripheral external developments (such as compound wall, driveway, landscape, hardscape, Gate etc,).

              The other minor cost head would be cost of liaison, charges for construction permits & building approvals.

              The Construction cost can be broadly split into Labor and Material Cost. The extremely increasing construction trends are considered the driving force behind this fast upraise of total building construction costs. Taking this trend, the material manufactures have raised the prices of materials considerably in last decade or so.

              Before planning for a bungalow/individual construction unit, one must be aware of the quantities and cost of building materials as they constitute around 55-60% of the total construction cost of a house. While taking a personal round of the nearby market, one should also avail services of construction turnkey solution providers and then take a judicious decision before the start of the construction.

              Refer the info graphic attached in the article to get the building material consumption and their costs for a 1000 Sqft budget house construction. The material quantities can be extrapolated based on the built up area of construction you are planning for.




              The Major raw material, intermediately and finished construction materials contributing major pie to overall material cost are:

              1. Reinforcing Bars(Rebars) / Steel:

              Reinforcement steel is the most important structural material in construction. Steel is used in RCC (Reinforcement cement concrete). Generally rebars available in the market are manufactured through Thermo mechanical treatment (TMT). Rebars comes in different grades (i.e, Fe415, Fe500, etc.,). Fe500 is generally recommended by structural designer for structural requirement fulfillment.

              The approximate Steel consumption per sq.ft built up area (BUA) is 4 kg (for low rise construction i.e., less than 4 floors of construction). Steel contributes the most among all individual materials, about 25% of total material cost. So, a price rise of Rs.5 per kg can make big difference in the total cost of construction.

              2. Cement:

              Cement is an important construction material and when mixed with materials like sand, aggregates (stone chips), and water, it binds them together. It is used in concrete, in brick masonry work, in tiling, and in plaster works.

              Good quality cement should feel smooth when rubbed between fingers. If a small quantity of cement is thrown into a bucket of water it should sink and not float. Cement should always be kept free from moisture. Its storage should have finished floor raised to at least 300mm above ground level and should have airtight storage. Use of cement older than 2 months should be avoided as cement loses strength with increase in its shelf life.

              OPC 53 grade is generally used for concrete works and blended cement (PPC & PSC) for masonry, tiling and plaster works.

              The approximate cement consumption per Sq.ft built up area (bua) is 0.4 bags. Cement as a construction material contributes about 16% of total material cost.

              3. Sand:

              Sand is used mainly in Concrete, Masonry, Plaster and Flooring. Good sand should be well graded i.e., particle size ranging from 10mm to 0.150 mm for concrete and masonry works, and 5mm to 0.150 for plaster. It should be free from slit/clay and organic matter.

              Natural Sand (also called River Sand) is obtained from River Beds. Due to environmental impacts and stringent laws by the government, Natural sand is slowly and gradually being replaced by Crushed sand (for concrete and masonry works) & Plaster sand (for plaster works). Crushed Sand and Plaster Sand are manufactured from Quarry Stone using latest production technology.

              Sand consumption per sq.ft built up area (bua) is 1.8 cft and contributes about 12% of total material cost for building construction.

              4. Aggregate:

              Crushed rocks are used as coarse aggregates and are generally used in making concrete. Coarse aggregates are normally available in two fractions 20mm and 10mm for concrete making.

              Aggregates should be clean, dense & hard. The aggregate should be neither flaky nor elongated. Flaky and Elongated aggregates decrease the strength of the concrete and demands more cement. Aggregates should be stored properly and different fractions must not be intermixed. Both these aggregate fractions should be used invariably.

              Coarse aggregate (chips/gravel) consumption per sq.ft built up area (bua) is 1.35 cft. Aggregate as a construction material contributes about 8% of total material cost.

              5. Bricks:

              Bricks, in old days, were commonly made of clay and were known as burnt clay bricks. Now a days, bricks are made of other materials such as fly ash. But clay bricks are still widely used in low rise residential constructions today. Bricks are used for masonry wall construction. Other substitute materials to bricks are Concrete solid/hollow blocks, Autoclaves Aerated Concrete (AAC) Blocks and Cellular light weight concrete CLC Blocks.

              The clay bricks should have uniform size, uniform copper color, plain (without undulated surfaces), rectangular surfaces with parallel sides and sharp straight edges. Well burnt brick should give a metallic sound when struck with other brick. Good bricks should not exceed +/- 3 mm tolerances in length and +/- 1.5 mm tolerances in width and height. Water absorption should not exceed 20% by weight.

              Bricks approximately cost Rs.7000 per 1000 units (Nos). Bricks contribute to about 5% of total material cost and are consumed approximately at 1.45 brick per sqft of built up area (BUA).

              6. Tiles:

              Ceramic tiles are generally made from red or white clay fired in a kiln. They are finished with a durable glaze which carries the color and design. Ceramic tiles are manufactured for both wall and floor, having varying degrees of wear resistance and water absorption. High strength and Low water absorption ceramic floor tiles are commonly known as Vitrified tiles. Tiles prices vary according to their types and quality.

              Tile should be easy to clean, strong, sturdy and stain resistant. Tiles in wet area like bathroom should be of anti-skid floor type.

              Tiles consumption per sq.ft built up area (BUA) is 1.3 sq.ft. Tiles contribute about 8.0% of total material cost.

              7. Paints:

              Paints can be broadly classified into water based or solvent based. They come in thousands of shades and gives multiples finishes like Matt, satin and glossy finish. Certain Paints also have washables, anti-algae/fungal, crack bridging properties.

              When selecting an interior paint, try choosing water-based paint instead of oil-based gloss paint. Water-based paints have less odor than conventional oil-based paints.They are much easier to clean up and are durable.

              When selecting an external paint look for waterproofing, anti-algae, and dirt pick resistance properties.

              Paints (Internal- Emulsion and external grade) consumption per sq.ft built up area (BUA) is 0.18 liter (0.14 liter for internal painting and 0.4 for external painting).

              Paints contribute about 4.1% of total material cost.

              The Finishers (Bricks, Tiles, and Paints) collectively contribute 16.5% of total material cost.


              8. Fittings Category:

              Window, Door, CP Fittings, Sanitary wares, Plumbing and Electrical fittings when combined contribute to 23% of total material cost considering budget brands. Top brand options may increase this category cost to 30 – 35% of the total cost of construction. Fittings can be selected based on one’s requirements and choice. In branded fittings quality should not be a concern.


              Conclusion:

              Other than estimating the cost and quantities of construction materials, one should also have knowledge of current labor cost in local markets. This is because the labor component constitutes to 40-45% of the total cost of construction of a house. An unskilled labor charges Rs. 350 to 400 per day whereas skilled labor such as mason, carpenter, painter, electrician etc., charges between Rs. 800 to 1000 per day. The total cost of construction (including both design, material and labor) per square feet may vary anywhere between Rs.1250 and Rs.2500 per square feet depending on the specifications of the building materials you choose for you house.

              Now that you have the total cost of construction, you can start sourcing the funds required for the project. Your source might be personal savings or loan from banks/ friends. Although this sounds like a naive step, lack of resources during construction might sometime over shoot the budget. Contractors will charge for De / Re-Mobilization. Some of the construction materials like Cement etc., might expire/loose its strength if the project is delayed by long. So sourcing the funding before the start of the project is just as important step as any other. A detailed cash flow for purchasing construction materials has been shown in the info-graphic to ensure smooth construction flow with time.



              This is a guest post by Vinod Kumar Singh