Thursday, June 25, 2020

Can I time the real estate market?

Author: Sachin Gupta | Find me on Twitter

During the period of 2003 to 2008, property prices appreciated sharply. Land prices almost tripled in most parts of the country on account of faster job creation, urbanization, and rising income levels. Were these the only reasons for sharp appreciation? No, say the experts. According to them, real estate is a cyclical industry and at the beginning of the last decade, real estate prices were at their nadir. The coupling effect of sharp GDP growth and cyclical nature of the real estate industry resulted in a sharp appreciation of property prices from 2003 to 2008.

However, as the world financial crisis hit the world economy in September 2008, the GDP growth of most emerging economies started to dwindle. India was no exception and government & RBI brought in policy measures. In fact, the advent of the global financial crisis in 2008 caused a resurgence in Keynesian thought. Interest rates were lowered and government-provided stimulus (total spending in the economy) to boost the economy. At one point in time, RBI’s repo rate came down to a low of 4.75% in April 2009.

The impact of the financial crisis was severe in the real estate market. Some of the large real estate developers started offering a discount to the tune of 20% in 2008. The sector began to recover on account of government policy initiatives and the lowering of repo rate. However, massive government spending and low-interest rates during the period of 2009-2011 resulted in inflationary pressures. And the focus now shifted to tame inflation and thus interest rates started to go up and that resulted in a decrease in investment by individuals and companies.

In the last 2 years, real estate transactions including office space absorption and home sales have come down. The prices have stagnated in most micro markets.



With this in the background, can you, the real estate investor really time the market? It’s highly unlikely; however, one can pay attention to the real estate investment strategies, demand drivers, and supply elements.

1. Real estate investment strategies




2. Demand drivers
Following are demand drivers for the real estate sector
  • Industry
This is a no brainer; even my grandmom would say prices would appreciate more in cities/markets where there is all the likelihood of work or jobs creation or setting up of industries. Therefore, as an investor one should regularly visit the city development authority’s website and analyze the city’s master plan. A master plan would ideally comprise the road map for the city's development including the setting up of industries, educational institutes, recreational zones, and residential development. At the same time, pay attention to the news which highlights the setting up of a particular industry in your region. For example, the driving industries in Gurgaon are Auto and IT, and setting up these industries in the 80s and 90s has resulted in a real estate boom in the city.
  • Population growth
Growth in population requires the development of housing. Other societal changes such as the rise of nuclear families, the movement of skilled workers from other parts of the country again require the development of housing. Analyze the population growth in your city by following census reports along with indicators for urbanization.
  • Income levels
It’s true that setting up an industry in your region would result in direct and indirect job creation which will lead to a variety of real estate development. However, pay attention to what kind of industry is this? And what are the income levels of people in your region? For example, real estate prices in Gurgaon have appreciated more because of high-income levels of people in the city as opposed to say Bhiwadi (primarily a manufacturing town being developed under the Make in India program) where income levels are low.


3. Supply elements
Following are the supply elements that affect the real estate sector:
  • Interest rates
As explained above, interest rates have a direct impact on the supply of real estate. High-interest rates bring down the overall supply. On the other hand, low-interest rates encourage investment by both individuals and companies.
  • Land availability
Again one should look at the city’s master plan for availability of land. If land supply is limited, it is a good indicator that real estate prices will shoot up faster than expected. And if there is plenty of lands available with the city development authority; it will mean price appreciation will be linear. For example, in Delhi, due to limited land parcels, property prices appreciated sharply. However, now, DDA has initiated the land pooling policy and has demarcated new land parcels. It is now expected that the availability of this new land will put pressure on existing property prices in the city and city outskirts. Raising the FSI/FAR can also result in the softening of property prices. Track those developments.
  • Physical and social infrastructure
One should also pay attention to the existing supply of physical and social infrastructure in the city. In certain cities such as Greater Noida, physical infrastructure is in excellent shape. But property prices have not appreciated sharply. This is because social infrastructure which includes industrial development is minimal.


Equilibrium
As long as supply and demand are in equilibrium, the returns from real estate investment will be linear. Therefore, as an investor, one should look for distortion in demand and supply curves. If demand is expected to be higher than the supply, it calls for investment in real estate to make windfall profits. If supply outdoes demand then it will yield low returns on your investment. 


Can I time the real estate market?
No, it’s not possible to gather data to time the real estate market. Instead, one should solely focus on 3 broad ideas as explained above and only then one should make a bet on real estate investment.

Did you follow these 3 principle ideas for real estate investment?




Have any Questions?

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

List of Permits and procedures generally required for construction of a real estate project in India

Author: Sachin Gupta | Find me on Twitter

Chennai building collapsed on June 28, 2014. Death toll has risen to 61.

As rescue operations by multiple agencies entered the sixth day, Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa announced that the one-man commission headed by Justice (Retd) R Reghupathy will probe the circumstances leading to the collapse of the building at suburban Porur on June 28.

"The Commission will find out whose ignorant attitude resulted in such a mishap that left many workers dead and others injured and decide on (fixing) those responsible for it," she said in a release.

Who is responsible for the mishap? Is it the builder, designers, or the authorities? We will get to know by the findings of this commission.

Here is a list of various permits that are generally required for constructing a realty project in India. However, these may vary for Municipal Authorities across India.




Now, once the commission probes the matter, we will get to know at which stage the laxity happened. We are also sure that necessary corrective actions will be taken to prevent such mishaps from happening in the future.

The construction processes will be streamlined and there will be enough watchdogs to make sure that construction of buildings take place as laid out in the design. We recommend setting up of non-partisan private construction quality agencies which will ensure that construction is as per the design and there is no usage of sub-standard material.



Have any Questions?

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

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???




Have any Questions?

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

HRA Exemption, Rent Deduction and Tax Benefits for Home Loan in India

Author: Sachin Gupta | Find me on Twitter

Many a times, we are all confused with tax calculations on House Rent Allowance (HRA) and tax benefits on home loan, etc. Believe it or not, planning your HRA carefully can go a long way in your financial planning and therefore studying and understanding the various guidelines related to HRA is paramount for a salaried class and a business person.


  • HRA Exemption:

According to section 10 (13A) of Income Tax Act, 1961 read with rule 2A of Income Tax Rules, least of following three is exempt from tax:

  1. Actual HRA received 
  2. Rent paid in excess of 10% of salary (Basic + DA) 
  3. 40% of salary (50% if residing in a metro i.e., New Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai or Mumbai) Salary for the above purpose means BASIC + DA.


Let’s take an example. 
Suppose that you’re residing in Mumbai and paying a rent of Rs 20,000 per month and that your salary package comprises of the following: 
  1. Basic — Rs. 50,000 per month
  2. DA — Nil 
  3. HRA — Rs. 20,000 per month (40% of basic)

Now, the exempted amount of HRA will be least of the following three figures: 
  1. HRA received i.e., Rs. 20,000 
  2. Rent above 10% of basic i.e., Rs. 15,000 (Rs. 20,000 – Rs. 5,000) 
  3. 50% of basic i.e., Rs. 25,000
The least of the three is Rs 15,000; therefore, in this particular case you’re entitled for HRA tax exemption of Rs. 15,000 p.m. (per month) out of total HRA received of Rs. 20,000 per month.


In other words, net taxable portion of the HRA works out to be Rs 60000/- per year. 
net taxable portion of the HRA = Total HRA received per year – HRA Tax exempt per year
                                                    = (HRA received per year Rs 240000/-) - (HRA tax exempt per year Rs 180000/-)
                                                   =Rs. 60000 per year


There are four variables in HRA tax calculations namely, salary (i.e. basic pay plus DA), HRA received, rent paid and the city of residence (whether metro or non-metro). In case all of the four elements remain same throughout the year, the HRA tax exemption calculation is to be done on ‘annual’ basis. On the other hand, if there is a change in any of the variable during the year then HRA tax exemption calculation is to be done on monthly basis.

In case the place/city of residence and place/city of working is different, for the purpose of HRA calculation, place of residence will be considered and not place of working. Suppose that you’re working in a factory or a company located in Meerut (near New Delhi) while residing in New Delhi. So, for the purpose of HRA, your maximum entitlement for tax purpose will be 50% of the basic instead of 40% because for metros HRA tax entitlement is 50% and for non-metros it is 40%.

If the employer refuses to allow the HRA tax benefit, then in that case just claim it while filing your return of income and get the refund of excess TDS deducted from your salary. Further with effect from AY 2014-15 a person claiming HRA of more than INR 100000/- will have to submit the PAN of the landlord to claim the exemption. 

Both the working spouses can claim HRA tax benefit separately, if both of them are paying rent and landlord issues either two separate rent receipts or only one receipt specifying the amount or proportion paid by each, then both husband and wife are entitled for HRA exemption according to the amount of rent paid. 

One can avail tax benefit of HRA if the person is living in the house of his/her parents. In such a case, one will be entitled for HRA tax exemption, but the owner of the house who may be the father/mother is assessable for the rental income derived from the house, provided such transaction should be genuine & not with an intention to evade tax. However tax benefit of HRA will not be available if one is living in the house of his/her spouse as no commercial transactions can occur between Husband & wife.



  • Deduction for Rent Paid

A self-employed person can claim tax benefit for the rent paid for his residence and can claim a deduction under section 80GG of the income tax act. As the self-employed person doesn't receive any salary, so there is no HRA and consequently question of HRA exemption – under section 10 (13A) of Income Tax Act, 1961 read with rule 2A of Income Tax Rules –doesn't arise.


As far as home loans are concerned following tax benefits are available to the tax payer:
  1. Tax benefit on principal repayment under Section 80C – Repayment of Housing Loan subject to maximum limit of INR 100000/-. (Maximum deduction under section 80C is INR 100000/-).
  2. Tax benefit on interest payment under Section 24(a) & (b). For self occupied property INR 150000/- and for let out property or deemed to be let out property there is no monetary limit to for interest payments.

  • Claiming both HRA and Home Loan Tax benefit
You can Claim both HRA and Home Loan Tax benefit provided you have a house in one city for which you have taken a home loan and you reside in another city due to work or similar reasons, then you are eligible to avail all the benefits including HRA, tax benefits on principal repayment of home loan and tax benefit on interest payments of home loan. But, if your house is vacant then you still have to pay notional rent income.

In this case the following situations will arise:

Your own house remains unoccupied while you stay in any other accommodation due to employment/business/profession reasons.  You may stay at a place – it may be a different city or a different location within the same city - different from the place where your own house is situated.  

  • Rented accommodation – You are paying rent:  In this case, you can claim HRA tax exemption while your house will lose the status of self-occupied property and will be treated as deemed to be let out, and thus its notional rental income will be taxable in your hands. However you'll get all the housing loan tax benefits i.e. both interest deduction u/s 24(b) and principal repayment under section 80C.

  • Non-rented accommodation i.e., you're not paying rent as the rent is not being paid, the question of HRA tax exemption does not arise. However, your house will be treated as self-occupied and you'll get the housing loan tax concessions i.e. interest deduction under section 24 and deduction for principal repayment under section 80C. 


In a nutshell, if you have a house, either stay in it or rent it out. Don't leave it vacant else notional rental income of your house (even if it is the only house you own) becomes taxable in your hands although you continue to get the interest deduction on housing loan u/s 24(b) and deduction for principal repayment of loan u/s 80C. Furthermore, as regards the HRA, you will be getting the tax exemption under section 10(13A) so long as you are staying in a rented accommodation and actually making the rent payment, irrespective of whether you are having your own house(s) or not.




Have any Questions?