Monday, January 11, 2010

Overseas Indians face big problems when investing in Indian real estate

New Jersey-based Client is embroiled in a bitter dispute with her own family members over a 10,000 sq ft property in Gurgaon.

"I had invested in the property in 1999 and issued a limited power of attorney to my brother to oversee the construction on the site. My nephew was employed by me with a salary to help with the construction of the house. My investment is a few crores, but since 2006 my brother and his family have taken over illegal possession of my house. And because I don’t live in India they have bribed the local agencies, and I’m not able to get my property back," she says. There’s hardly anything unusual about this episode, except when you learn that Verma is a lawyer herself.

"The local police and courts have not helped me in any way even though I have approached them and since I have a law practice in the US, I can’t spend too much of time here fighting against my own family," says a desperate Verma. While it is ironic that a legal expert finds herself in this situation, many other prominent overseas Indians too encounter similar problems while investing in Indian property.

It could start with a dream to own a modest home in one’s country of origin. Or it could even be an emotional bond that a second generation person of Indian origin feels with her parents’ homeland that makes her seek transfer of title of family property willed to her in a village in Punjab. Or it could turn into a poignant court battle by an aged NRI couple which wishes to return home from the West but find that unscrupulous land-grabbers have taken possession of their apartment in Mumbai.

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