Tuesday, March 27, 2018

6 steps that can make real estate efficient and corruption free in India

Author: Sachin Gupta | Find me on Twitter

We have been writing a lot about the inefficiencies and mal practices in real estate sector in India. A lot of focus of our writing has been on highlighting the issues that plague the industry and how those issues can be tackled. While other ideas such as RTI; Aadhar; and recently Jan Lokpal bill has seen the light of the day, issues in real estate sector still remains unresolved. There is no denying that implementation of RTI, Aadhar, and Jan Lokpal bill will help in eliminating corruption from the government-public interface. But, what about real estate, where most of the cash finds its way? Why is the government not bringing in policy measures to cure the sector? We list some of the measures that can help in eliminating corruption from the real estate sector. In no way, these are the only measures, but, we are confident that implementation of the following measures will certainly help the sector.

  • Equalize market rate and circle rates

As the name suggests, market rates are determined by the economics of demand and supply equilibrium. Buyers and sellers participate in the market and transactions take place fairly & without any stimulus. Circle rates are the minimum rates fixed by the state government and a buyer of the property is entitled to pay stamp duty charges on these rates whenever a transaction takes place. For example, in Gurgaon, the market rate of an apartment in a multistory building is 7000 Rs/sqft, while the circle rate for the same apartment as fixed by the state government is 4000 Rs/sqft. For a 1000 sqft apartment, the stamp duty charges as per the circle rate would be Rs. 320000. While the stamp duty charges as per the market rates would be Rs. 560000. Therefore, it presents an opportunity for the buyer to under report the apartment value on papers in order to save on stamp duty charges. Equalizing market rates and circle rates would eliminate the practice of under-reporting of the property value. However, this may affect the growth of real estate sector because of fewer transactions between buyer and seller. And this can lead to an adverse impact on GDP of the state as well as the country. Well, the move to equalize market rates with circle rates should also be complemented with reduction in stamp duty charges.

  • Reduce stamp duty charges:

Stamp duty charges are exorbitant in most states across India. Stamp duty charges are least in Madhya Pradesh at 0.5%, while they are about 8% in states like Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, UP. Now, let’s say stamp duty charges are brought down in all states to a uniform level of 1%. Therefore, one would now pay Rs. 70000 as stamp duty charges on a flat of 1000 sqft with a market price of Rs 7000 per sqft. This move will not only encourage buyers to report market value of the property but will also lead to more and more transactions. Research based on past transactions can result in the optimum value of stamp duty charges which incentivizes true reporting as well as increased velocity of transactions across states in India.

  • Cap on property transfer on government sponsored schemes

On government sponsored schemes such as the recent DDA flats scheme, there should be a tenure cap. In other words, people who applied for the scheme and got allocation should not be able to sell the allocated apartment in secondary market for a fixed time period (say, 5 years). This happens in many countries in EU. The tenure cap will drive away speculators and only the real needy people will participate in the whole process. Can you imagine for 15000 DDA flats, some 15 Lacs application came. But this one looks impractical because banks, government bodies, and agencies all made money by issuing a lottery system. And then, they would say, we are pro-poor and these schemes help poor of the country. We came across a property dealer in Delhi who filled 8 forms for the DDA scheme. He called in various relatives and friends from his native Bihar and he made sure that at-least 8-9 forms were filled. He paid for the whole process and in return if a flat was allotted to any of those 8-9 members, he would share 50% of the proceeds. Everyone knows what a big lottery this whole flat allocation system is, yet government is not changing the policy. And who is benefitting? Government bodies by charging a fee for every form sold; banks for providing upfront money to the customer at an interest; and the rich who already owns multiple properties.

  • Cap on home ownership in certain cities

Certain cities such as Mumbai, Delhi, and other major metros have become unaffordable for the masses. A basic 2BHK is virtually out of the reach for a salaried person and he/she has to go to the outskirts of the city to fulfill his/her dream of home ownership. People with deep pockets own multiple properties in these cities. Housing is considered an investment vehicle first and then the basic need. In China, the government has moved in recent years to quell home price amid worry that surging costs could lead to social unrest and has set Home-Ownership Curbs in Shanghai and Beijing. Can it be done in India?

  • Computerization of property titles across the country

E-governance is the need of the hour. When there is no dearth of talent in the country when it comes to software development and technology, why don’t we see the computerization of property records? In many instances, a single property is registered under 2 or 3 names and this leads to disputes. Computerization of property titles will not only eliminate property disputes but it will also help in land acquisition processes for mass urbanization.

  • Make it easy as far as capital gains tax are concerned

An individual is liable to pay capital gains tax whenever there is significant gain over the buying price. Applicability of long term and short term Capital gains taxes should be made simple. In order to reduce or avoid being liable to pay capital gains tax, an assessee can either purchase a house within a period of one year before or two years after the date on which the transfer took place, or construct a house within a period of three years after the date of transfer. Why can’t we have a common wealth tax instead of so many complicated tax structures?

Is it desirable as far as real estate is concerned or are we just getting too ahead of ourselves?





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Thursday, March 22, 2018

8 mistakes to avoid when buying a home

Author: Sachin Gupta | Find me on Twitter

Home buying is a long term commitment and therefore one should not rush through the things. Going through a well laid down process will eliminate following common mistakes.

Mistake 1



Buying a home in a builder project means there are additional costs to it. External/Internal development charges, Preferential location charges, club membership, fire fighting charges, one time lease rent, Maintenance charges, car parking are some of the charges that are billed on top of base selling price. These charges put together can range from 18 to 20 % of total cost of home. Once possession is given, you will have to pay stamp duty and registrations charges too.


Mistake 2



Borrowing means you will be paying EMIs. And more you borrow, higher the EMI or you pay EMI for longer time period. Do your calculations and make sure you pay as much as possible in down payment and borrow the rest. There is no point in borrowing 80% of property cost when you can arrange for more funds for down payment.


Mistake 3



Plan at least 3 years before you plan to buy a house. That way, you will have enough surplus funds to make the down payment and borrow the rest from bank.


Mistake 4



Home affordability is a key consideration and one should never lose sight of it. Home affordability means what is the value of home that you can afford given your current income levels. You can easily calculate Home affordability here.


Mistake 5



We all dream of living in a house that is big and has all the world class amenities, but can you afford it?


Mistake 6



Do not ever overlook due-diligence part. Ask for approvals, land title certificates, license number form the developer.


Mistake 7



If buying a home for investment purposes, make sure you do not lend in a soup and have enough cover to pay for home installments. When realty market was going strong, investors/speculators entered the market in the hope that they will make windfall profits, but things have become tough. Most of these investors/speculators are willing to offload their purchases at relatively very low rate of returns.


Mistake 8



Make sure your finances are in order and you have pre-approved home loan before you start your search for home. This way, you will not overshoot your budget.


Did you make any of the above mistakes???




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Saturday, March 10, 2018

What are the main approvals you need from the concerned authorities in urban areas while constructing a house in India?

Author: Sachin Gupta | Find me on Twitter

Building one’s own house is what most people dream of. You are always filled with the excitement of designing your bedroom, drawing room, choosing the right set of tiles for the floor, bath fittings, modular kitchen design, etc.  However, in all this frenzy, one might lose track of important approvals that are required from the city planning bodies.

Whether you are looking to construct your own house in Gurgaon, Delhi, Noida, or other cities in India, the approvals you need from urban bodies remain more or less the same. For example, if you are constructing your house in Noida, then, you must focus on these necessary approvals and accordingly design the house including Bedroom Layout, Modular Kitchen in Noida, Bathroom Layout, Open Areas, Fire Fighting Safeguards, Rain Water Harvesting Rules, etc.

To ensure that your dream home takes a concrete shape in a smooth manner, you need to obtain certain approvals from the concerned authorities such as Municipal Corporation, Area Development Authority, Electricity Board, Water Supply and Sewerage Board, etc. You must submit relevant documents/certificates along with the design plan to the concerned authorities.

In case, you are not constructing your own house and rather you are buying it from the real estate developer in a group housing society, then again, you need to verify that your developer has approvals from the concerned authorities such as Municipal Corporation, Area Development Authority, Electricity Board, Water Supply and Sewerage Board, etc.



Here is a quick reference for the main approvals you need from the concerned authorities in urban areas while constructing a house:






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Monday, March 5, 2018

Looking to sell the house or your property? Pay attention to these tips!

Author: Sachin Gupta | Find me on Twitter

In May 2012, one of our colleagues decided to sell his 250 square yard plot in Delhi NCR region. He has bought the plot in 2003 and therefore, the capital appreciation gains were substantial. He wanted to sell this piece of plot and buy another plot in different city. The idea was to build a house on this new plot and live there. Therefore, he has reasons to sell the plot. However, when looking to sell your property, the first question you should be asking is “do I really need to sell?”

  • Do you really need to sell?
There can be in-numerous reasons to sell the piece of property you own and these reasons can range from shifting to new city, family wedding, education, or building/buying a bigger property, etc. Analyze those reasons carefully and discuss within your family members before arriving at the decision to sell the current property you own. Because make no mistake, selling is no easy job, it takes time as well as it incurs unwanted expenses such as brokerage fee, advertising fee, paper work, no-due certificates fee, etc. One can also explore the possibilities of obtaining loan against property (LAP) in order to fulfill the current need for funds rather than selling the property. However, once, you have considered all the possible options and selling is the best bet, then pay attention to the following advice.


  • Verify the prevalent market sentiments

The true value of the property is what a buyer is willing to pay in a transparent and mature market. Therefore, once you have decided to sell, do the quick check of property valuation and this is how you do it:
    • Check the selling price of highly similar properties which have been sold in recent months/days within the same locality. As a seller, you would not like to sell at below market prices. If there is no data available for similar properties, then check the selling price of dissimilar properties and adjust for dissimilarities in the selling price. For more on, property valuation, visit Property Valuation in India
    • Check for the time-duration it took others to sell their property. If it takes longer to sell, then it can be safely concluded that market sentiment is low and you would have to wait for long time period before being able to sell your property. However, one can always 'sell in distress' at high discount. This is what happened to our colleague since market sentiments in 2012 were low and he had to wait for 6 months before selling the property at a substantially lower price.
    • Check for the rental values of the similar properties within your locality and city as a whole. Sometimes, property transactions (sale/purchase) might be slow but there is demand for the housing and therefore, rental values may be appreciating whereas capital values have remained stagnant. This is what is happening in the current real estate market across India. In this scenario, it will be advisable to stay invested in your property and earn decent monthly income by renting it out for some time and sell the property when market sentiment is strong.



  • Selling process
Finding the right buyer for your property is not easy. Because property transaction involves large amount of money, one needs to be careful in advertising the property, dealing with brokers, and prospective buyers. 
    • Online classifieds: list your property on online classifieds portals. Don’t just list the property blindly on all available classifieds portals. Rather select the ones which have high degree of trust among other sellers and buyers and at the most list your property on 2 online classified portals.
    • Brokers: approach the local area property brokers and enquire about current property market sentiments before listing your property with them. One should never list the property with multiple brokers. Rather list with 2-3 trustworthy brokers. "The best approach is to ask some brokers about buying the similar property and ask some brokers about selling the property. If there is substantial difference in the buying price and selling price as quoted by the brokers, then it indicates that there is demand for the property in the market but real estate brokers are downplaying that demand". In that scenario, it is better to wait and strike the deal when you get the best possible price for your property.
    • Agreement to Sell: once you have identified the buyer, check for his/her credential to pay the required amount in mutually agreeable time period. It is advisable to ask the buyer to make reasonable advance payment (say 20% of the property value) with the condition that in case the buyer subsequently backs out from the deal or fails to make full payment and take possession of the property in accordance with the terms & conditions of the deal/agreement, such advance payment will stand forfeited and will not be paid back to the buyer. This is known as “option” and should be included in the “agreement to sell” paper. The time period between “agreement to sell” and “sale deed” can be mutually decided between the buyer and seller. The prevalent trend is about 45 days or 2 months.
    • Sale deed: after the “agreement to sell”, the next step is to formalize the “sale deed”. ‘Sale Deed’ should be signed and title documents handed over to the buyer only on the receipt of full and final payment. Once the deal is concluded, full payment is received and Sale Deed signed, insist on the registration of the property in the name of the buyer with the Sub-registrar of assurances under the provisions of the Indian Registration Act. Consulting and engaging a good lawyer before selling the property to a person or organization is a good and sensible idea.

  • What are the risks in property selling?
As explained in the article above, the property selling process is long and there are inherent risks and one should be careful with the following elements:
    1. Inappropriate valuation of the property
    2. Selling through too many real estate agents
    3. Dubious buyers


  • Taxes

In case of sale of house property, long-term capital gains are taxed at the rate of 20% after availing indexation benefit. The indexation rates are released by the Income Tax department each year, which can be applied to arrive at the indexed cost of acquisition of the property sold. Short terms capital gains on house property, on the other hand, are included in the gross total income and normal tax rate is applicable.

Exemptions from Tax

The Income Tax Act 1961 contains certain provisions that offer exemption from tax on long term capital gain arising on sale of house property, these are as under:
  • If capital gain is invested in new residential property: Section 54 of the Act protects capital gains arising out of sale (or transfer) of a residential house (original asset) in either of the following situations:
    1. One has purchased a new residential house either within a period of one year before the date of sale of the original asset or two years after the date of sale of the original asset.
    2. One has constructed a residential house (new asset) within three years after date of sale of the original asset.
  • If long term capital gain is invested in capital gain bonds issued by specified institutions:
Section 54EC, under various schemes (as listed below), provides exemption to capital gains arising from any long term capital asset (original asset), provided the capital gains are invested in long term specified assets covered by Section 54EC within 6 months from date of sale of the original asset. The said Section requires locking of the funds for 3 years. However, the investments made on or after 1 April 2007 in the long term specified assets during any financial year should not exceed Rs. 50 lakhs.

Section 54EC Schemes for Capital Gains Tax Savings
    1. NHAI Capital Gains Bonds issued by National Highways Authority Of India.
    2. REC Capital Gain Bonds issued by Rural Electrification Corporation Of India.


  • Stamp duty and registration charges:
Stamp duty and registration charges are borne by the buyer and these charges differ from state to state. Visit Stamp duty and registration charges in India for more.


Above all be patient in the entire property selling process!


Data Source For Tax considerations: National Housing Bank




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