Saturday, September 19, 2009

Realtors must tell buyers about banks' claim on property: RBI

MUMBAI: Prospective home buyers will now know if the land on which their building stands is free of outside claims after a recent Reserve Bank of Greatest ceilings

India (RBI) circular mandating builders mortgaging the land to raise money to disclose it in all advertisements and brochures.

RBI has asked lenders to ensure that all publicity material relating to the sale of real estate make a mention of the bank’s lien on the property so that home buyers are not kept in the dark about this legal claim or ‘hold’.

RBI aims to prevent prospective buyers from being lulled into the belief that the flats they own are on ‘free-hold’ land through this move.

Says Anuj Puri, country head of real estate consultant Jones Lang LaSalle Meghraj, “The RBI circular will bring transparency and accountability on the part of developers. It would also give a chance to buyers to see the viability of projects especially when the loan amount is very high.”

In cities such as Mumbai, a flatowner gets rights over his house through membership of a cooperative housing society, which owns the building. The land is not owned by the society unless it is transferred through a conveyance.

According to senior advocate R N Shetty, who specialises in real estate matters, property where a bank has a charge does not have a clear title and therefore cannot be transferred to the society through a conveyance. He added that the bank could also attach and auction the property in the event of a default by the builder.

RBI has said banks should as a pre-condition to lending insist that builders disclose complete details of the charge on the property. This should include the name of the bank that has a lien on the property which a builder is seeking to develop and for which it has sought a loan from the lender.

The builder or developer will have to add as an appendix information relating to the mortgage while advertising a particular scheme. Besides this, it will have to provide a No Objection Certificate of the mortgagee bank for sale of flats/property, if required.

Indian real estate sector to witness recovery from end-2009

The Indian real estate is expected to enter the recovery phase by end-this year and macro-economic and sector-specific factors will act as catalysts in this recovery, a leading real estate consultancy said

Economic recovery during CY 2010-11 is likely to reinvigorate the interest of foreign investors in India's real estate market. We expect enhanced capital inflow in the real estate sector in the medium-to-long-term," Jones Lang LaSalle said in its report.

Initial yield is expected to show compression during CY 2010-11 and capital values are likely to decline during 2010 before recovering in 2011, the company said in the report.

"Initial yield has already started to show a declining trend during 2009 which is likely to be the case in the near-term. Yield on 10-year Indian Government Bonds is likely to harden due to higher fiscal deficit," it said.

The report said although the high fiscal deficit is likely to harden interest rates in the economy, all other macro-economic variables are expected to improve during CY 2010-11 which is likely to induce real estate market recovery after the slowdown of CY 2008-09.

According to the World Economic Outlook Report by IMF, the world economy is likely to contract by 1.4 per cent during 2009.

While advanced economies are expected to contract by 3.8 per cent by the end of this year, emerging and developing economies are likely to grow by 1.5 per cent. India and China are expected to grow by 5.4 per cent.

"India and China are expected to witness a robust recovery with increase in real GDP growth from CY 2008-09 levels and Indian economy is expected to grow at 5.4 per cent during 2009 (the second highest in the world after China, which is likely to grow at 7.5 per cent)," the report said.

Fiscal deficit in India leaped from 3.1 per cent in 2007 to 6.1 per cent in 2008 and is further expected to inch up to 6.4 per cent during 2009, it said.

Govt plans regulatory reform for housing sector Assetventures

The central government is working on a model real estate regulation bill to provide guidelines to facilitate growth and promotion of healthy and transparent efficient and competitive real estate sector in the country, said the housing and urban poverty alleviation minister Kumari Selja.

This is a welcome move and will help the sector in becoming efficient and competitive. However, developers feel the government should form a separate regulator on the lines of Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to regulate the sector.

Addressing a conference on real estate, the minister said Indian real estate market is unorganised and fragmented and that most of property transactions are based on certain perceptions and not necessarily on sound business principles. In this, customer satisfaction is low and redressal procedure is long and cumbersome. This has created problems for both buyers and developers. As end users are not sure of delivery of a house by builders on time, they dont want to risk a purchase by taking a loan from the bank.

Apart from this, many buyers are not even sure of the specifications, which developers promise while selling them the houses/flats. Worse still, when developers do not deliver on time or stick to the promised specifications while selling, buyers do not know where to for redressal.

Going to a court is not only time consuming but also expensive. This has forced buyers to either defer their purchase or to go for completed projects. But, this apprehension of end users has affected genuine developers as well, which have a plan and required finances to complete a project. However, in the last couple of months, end users have started showing interest in buying new projects. But, they want to buy in the projects of reputed developers alone. This has created problem for the new but good developers.

A senior developer says if the sector is well regulated, the role of brokers and investors can be reduced. In most of the cases, investors, who have better understanding of the sector and who can invest time and money to know about developers, invest at the early stage of implementation of a project and make easy money by selling them to end users at high prices when the project comes to a close. The end users, on the other hand, are comfortable in buying a house when projects are close to completion, hence making the sector over dependent on investors.

Consequently, in the last one year of market downturn, the entire real estate sector came to a screeching halt as investors disappeared from the market. But, had the sector been well regulated, end users would have been bold enough to buy at the early stage of project implementation. This would have helped developers also.

However, another problem in regulating the sector is that it comes under the state subject as well. Thus, a senior official says nothing much can be done unless state governments show interest. Haryana Government has already passed an act to regulate the sector. But, the results are not encouraging, thus far. It was assured all the stakeholders that the government will accord full cooperation and support to encourage affordable housing.

She said the housing sector in India holds tremendous potential and has positive impact on the social and economic development of the country. In
2006-07 the sector was about 4.5% of country's Gross Domestic Product and comprised approximately 7% of the total urban workforce. Housing is the largest component of the construction sector and central to economic growth.

However, provision of affordable housing for all is a complex problem with challenges emerging from many facets of urban sector. The minister said there are many impediments to the growth of affordable housing land and capital being the two key constraints.

To increase the stock for affordable housing the focus has to be on augmenting land supplies. Kumari Selja said the issue is a critical one and requires a number of measures such as alternative methods of land assembly, development and disposal to be pursued, check on prices of urban land, encouraging public-private partnership, promoting intense use of land-higher densities, revision in Floor Area Ratio or Floor Space Index and change of norms to suit local situations, discouraging speculation in land development, and allotment or disposal process to check rising prices of land.

Housing sector is shining again Assetventures

Last August, Gurgaon real-estate broker S Karan was planning to move out of his tiny basement office in a small building to a fancy new one in one of the tall steel-and-glass buildings that have become the signature of this booming Delhi suburb.

Then, Lehman Brothers, one of the Big Four investment banks in the US, collapsed on September 15, sparking off a global recession, an Indian economic slowdown, and a slump in the once booming real-estate sector.

Karan (34) then thought his dreams would remain still-born — till the first signs of a recovery in the first quarter of 2009-10. “Usually, we seal 70 per cent of our deals around Diwali. Last year, that figure dropped to 30 per cent.”
There were many reasons for the death of his dream.

The global recession took the Indian stock markets down with it. The BSE Sensex fell from 14,001 on September 12, the last trading day before the Lehman collapse, to a low of 8,198 on March 5, this year.

So, the supply of speculative money that had mainly fuelled the 2005-08 real estate boom, in which house prices doubled and rentals soared more than 75 per cent, stopped.

Rising inflation also forced the Reserve Bank of India to hike interest rates. Result: interest rates on housing loans rose from 7-8 per cent levels at the end of 2007 to 12 per cent a year later.

Housing was no longer attractive for speculators, and out of reach of the middle class.

The bubble had burst.

Between October last year and March this year, housing sales dropped from 10,000-12,000 units per month in the National Capital Region to less than a third of that number.

“Earlier (prior to the Lehman collapse), I used to conduct two to three transactions in the resale category and three to four original bookings every month. After October, that number fell by half,” says Karan.

Transaction values also fell as realtors, who had got used to net profit margins of more than 50 per cent, cut prices to lure buyers back.

But the double whammy of lower prices and plunging sales took its toll. DLF, India’s largest real estate company, saw its January-March 2009 sales and profits plunge 96.6 per cent and 95.3 per cent, respectively, to Rs 55.5 crore and Rs 29.8 crore.

Unitech, India’s second-largest real estate developer, and a host of other biggies like Omaxe, Parasvnath, Prestige, Puravankara, etc., also suffered similar setbacks.

Then the tide began to turn in the first quarter of 2009-10. The global recession brought down crude oil and commodity prices worldwide.

The wholesale price-based inflation rate began to ease – and even entered negative territory for a while. Interest rates started falling once again.

Realtors cut prices, by up to 30 per cent, and launched a slew of affordable housing projects (priced at Rs 15-50 lakh per apartment).

And the release of arrears to government employees, following the Sixth Pay Commission Report, thus, putting massive sums of money in the hands of government employees, provided the icing on the cake.

Buyers returned to the market.

Unitech Managing Director Sanjay Chandra says the company booked nearly 4,000 housing units in the first two-and-a-half months of 2009-10.

The number of registration agreements signed has also seen a healthy improvement. In Mumbai and Pune, registrations increased 24 per cent and 21 per cent month on month, respectively, said a June 2009 report, On the road to recovery, by Religare, Hitchens Harrison.

“The residential property market has been driving this recovery,” says Aditi Vijayakar, director, residential services, Cushman & Wakefield India, a large real estate consultant. The commercial and retail segments, though, have not yet picked up.

“The worst is over,” says Kumar Gera, chairman of the Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association of India, the apex body of realtors in India.

So, Karan can probably breathe easier now, even though his dream office may still be out of reach.

Festive season, low loan rates... real estate sector scales north in tricity assetventures

Chandigarh As global economy shows signs of recovery, reasonable investment has been registered in the sector
With the festive season approaching and signs of global economic recovery visible, real estate business has picked up in the tricity.

Though it will take a few months to revive the sentiment, experts say, reasonable investment has recently been registered in the sector.

While the developers are offering festive discounts and schemes to clear the inventory, banks are also offering discounts on home loans.

“I was keeping a tab on projects in the tricity for over a year. Considering this the opportune time to invest in property, I have invested around Rs 50 lakh for a three-bedroom flat in Mohali,”Ankit Saini, a resident of Chandigarh, who works in Merchant Navy.

“I could also negotiate a discount of Rs 4 lakh on the apartment,” he added.

While banks are attracting the customers with lowered interest rates and no procession fee for a limited period on home loans, buyers are eager to cash in as rates are expected to increase by January-March.

To make the most of changing sentiments of buyers, developers are offering extra amenities in flats, lucky draw prizes and discounts to the early birds.

“Free parking and cupboards that amount to Rs 50,000 are offered to buyers who make purchase during navrataras. A lucky draw will also be conducted to offer full furnishing for flats,” said R S Bhullar, Vice president ATS Infrastructure Limited.

He claimed that the residential project in Dera Bassi had marked a sale of 30 units in three months. Real estate consultants said once the buyer started making the transactions, the investors responded.

“The real estate sector is recovering in the region. With the festive season starting from Saturday, the trend is expected to go up,” said Rajesh Kalra, a property consultant.