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Monday, September 4, 2017

Affordable housing may help revive real estate

By Pradeep Aggarwal
The moment GST got rolled out in India, the real estate sector was in a state of dilemma regarding how to go about the new taxation system and what will be the new rate. However, ever since the rate of 18 per cent got declared for this sector, where effective rate was 12 per cent (after 33 per cent of abatement), a question playing on everyone’s mind was – why is the same rate applicable to the affordable housing segment as well?
 Affordable housing, revive, real estate, housing for all by 2022, rera, GST
In the last Union Budget, affordable housing got accorded with infrastructure status, thus signalling a strong government support for the same. After GST’s implementation, hopes were high that either this segment would be kept out of its ambit or the lowest bracket of tax would be made applicable to it. The only respite that came for developers was the slashing of GST rates for construction works being handed out to independent contractors, in case the developers are not developing the projects themselves. The rate at which the contractors would now charge GST for their work has been reduced to 6%, which will help in marginally bringing down construction costs.
A lower tax net was needed in order to reduce the burden on developers and thereby assisting the customers with lesser tax liability. Furthermore, with the anti-profiteering clause in GST, developers will have to abide by the rule to pass on the benefit of input tax credit to the respective customers. Thus, it is a win-win situation for both developers and customers, that will gradually help expand the demand for affordable housing.
With a housing shortage of over 2 crore units for the urban poor in India and demand for low-cost housing increasing, a simplified and transparent real estate sector had become the need of the hour where RERA has promised to answer the queries and come out with solutions to the customers. Affordable housing will succeed in following the concepts and rules of RERA which will secure the future interests of every buyer. With affordable housing being a brainchild of the Central Government aimed towards fulfilling the mission of Housing for All by 2022 and RERA striking at the correct time, a different parcel of real estate sector will become prominent in the near future.
with thanks : Financial Express : LINK : for more details.


Prime Minister Narendra Modi is not called a risk taker for nothing. Apart from the game changing demonetisation and GST, one sector that has undergone a radical transformation is real estate
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is not called a risk taker for nothing. Apart from the game changing demonetisation and a slew of other moves which have unearthed more than Rs 1.25 lakh crore of black money, and still counting, if there is one sector that has undergone a radical transformation, it is real estate.
A recent Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Associations of India (Credai)-Cbre report highlighted how the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act (RERA), the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and theReal Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), will enhance transparency; improve investor sentiment; increase the share of organised sector; regulate unorganised sector; encourage competition and consumer confidence; improve ease of doing business; enhance operating fabric; make affordable housing the growth catalyst in the real estate segment; and last but not the least, give impetus to the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana which envisages housing for all by 2022  against the backdrop of a shortage of 20 million affordable homes in urban India alone.
The current BJP-led NDA Government’s commitment is reflected in the smart cities mission which is worth one lakh crore rupees; the Rs 77,000-crore Atal Mission for Rejuvenation; and the urban transformation scheme that provides basic ammenities like water supply, sewerage, transport to households and various other measures like the creation of the Rs 4,000 crore National Investment and Infrastructure Fund.
The real estate market, hitherto marked by opacity and unscrupulous players, is set for transformation for the better, given the regulatory overhaul by the Modi Government. It is estimated that seven billion dollar, or maybe more, from offshore equity investors, large corporates and High Net Worth Individuals, are slated to enter the real estate space this year  after $5.7 billion by way of Foreign Direct Investment and $32 billion via private equity funding in 2016.
Speaking of affordable housing, enabling policy initiatives like 100 per cent service tax exemption to affordable housing and according it ‘infrastructure status’, increase in abatement period from three to five years, hiked exemption limit on interest outgo on home loans, Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme under Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana, linking home loans to Marginal Cost of Lending Rate to ensure effective monetary transmission of interest rate cuts by banks, Benami Property Act, higher budgetary allocation for rural housing from Rs 15,000 crore to Rs 23,000 crore in 2017-18, allocation of Rs 29,000 crore under the Pradhan Mantri Gramin Awaas Yojna, will go a long way in ensuring the initial target of 10 million homes by 2019.  Such initiatives will ensure a ‘living’ reality for a large swathe of India’s 1.3 billion population.
Coming to GST in the real estate sector, what is commendable is that the GST has brought all indirect taxes (service tax, excise duty and value added tax), which applies to procurement of goods and services during the construction stage, under one unified tax. This has lead to a scenario where what remains is only direct taxes like capital gains tax, wealth tax and, of course, stamp duty.
Considering that almost 70 per cent of the real estate market caters to the middle and high income segments, the GST should help shift focus, particularly for smaller developers, towards the Economically Weaker Sections and Lower Income Groups of the society.
Also, the biggest hurdle for developers has been removed by allowing deduction of land value equal to one-third of the total amount charged by developers, thereby ensuring that the developer passes on the input tax benefit to the buyers. 

with thanks : Pioneer : LINK : for more details

Real estate companies in churn mode after GST & Rera

The real estate sector is slowly catching up after being affected by the goods and services tax (GST) and Real Estate Regulation And Development Act (Rera). It has, however, seen a lot of churning among senior management roles, especially in finance roles.  At least half a dozen senior executives, including chief executive officers (CEOs) and chief finance officers (CFOs), have quit and joined rivals or started as independent professionals in the last couple of weeks. “After the GST and Rera, finance, compliance and legal roles have become very critical and are in ...

with thanks : Business Standard : LINK : for more details

Sentiment in real estate is positive for the medium- to long-term period

In a Facebook Live discussion with Mint, Smantak Das discussed the sentiment of stakeholders—homebuyers, investors and developers—in the residential real estate market. Edited excerpts:
Smantak Das, chief economist and national director, Knight Frank India
How do you observe the current residential real estate market? Where is it heading?
I think the real estate sector in India has gone through the most important reforms in the last 6 months to 1 year and these reforms are phenomenal in my opinion. These reforms are going to give medium- to long-term benefit to the sector. If you go by sentiments on the supply side—the financial institutions and developers—definitely they are more into aligning themselves in the new era of real estate. Customers are still in the wait-and-watch mode and they are definitely watching more from the angle of confidence and the angle of transparency. That’s exactly what the customers are looking forward to because of these reforms. But for the developers, this is recalibration of the business model because it’s a new era for them. In my opinion, this is a new paradigm for the real estate sector. So sentiments are slightly confused. Definitely both the consumers and developers have a very positive medium- to long-term outlook. But currently, it is slightly in a state of confusion.
What do you mean by a positive outlook in medium- and long-term?
For the developers, the positive outlook will be to increase the sales volume because, as you know—for example in National Capital Region (NCR) and Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR)—the sales volume have come down drastically, by 50% to 70% from the last peaks of 2010 and 2011.
I’m sure that they are not looking at any price escalation. Of course, there will be some normal price escalation that is definitely warranted. But they are not looking for a sudden jump in price as it used to happen 3 or 4 years back.
From the customers’ side, there are more of confidence issues because they have to get the product that they invested for. They have to get the product on time and should get all the amenities that were promised. I think, that is the major problem from the demand side, i.e., the consumer side. From the consumer side, the expectation is that the residential sector should be much more transparent, they should have good recourse to any failures of commitment.
Though home loan rates have come down about 2% in the last couple of years and property rates are either stable or have came down a bit; demand from homebuyers is not increasing? Why is it so?
That is exactly the scenario today. If you talk of the macroeconomic scenario, it is more or less stable and good. That’s what we have analysed.
If you talk of real estate prices, either in some locations there is a decline in prices or mostly there is stagnation. That means, time correction has taken place if you look at inflation-adjusted prices. Then, interest rate has touched 8.3% to 8.4%, which is like 2009-10 levels, when we had 8% or 8.25% on home loans.
So what is it that is deterring, or not allowing, customers to come off the waiting bench and sign the dotted lines? I think the confidence in developer, to deliver the product that they want is not there. Reforms have taken place in the residential sector in India and we will very soon get back the confidence of the buyers.
Do you think there is a mismatch between demand and supply in real estate?
I don’t think there is much of mismatch now. Back in 2008, just after the financial crisis, affordable housing was just a name. There was no real steam in it. Now we are getting full support of the government—and the government has a focus on affordable housing. For instance, giving it the infrastructure status and the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana.
So, there is not much mismatch now because even in cities like Mumbai we are seeing some good launches of relatively affordable houses. Of course, in other places also there will be a lot of initiatives in this type of affordable housing, which is good because previously there was a major mismatch (between what the sellers offered and the buyers wanted). Now that gap is slowly reducing because of this affordable housing initiative by the government and the focus from developers.
Yes, the mismatch is still there probably in the confidence, in the timeline of completion; that we have to still wait and watch because RERA (Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016) is in place in most of the states and probably that will bring a match. So two things: price mismatch (which in my opinion is now coming to a convergence) and the mismatch towards the confidence (the time of delivery) should get mitigated in the medium to long term.
As per reports, to make houses more affordable in cities like Mumbai, developers are reducing the size of flats. Is this the right approach?
The approach is very simple. Given that the per square feet prices are difficult to reduce—15-25% reduction is sometimes very difficult because you have to understand that the developers are also many a times price takers. They too face the price impact of input factor like labour, steel and cement; which are definitely not coming down. Plus the land prices. Taking into account all these factors, I think the developers have started—in certain parts of Bangalore and Mumbai —reducing the size of flats. But trust me, I’ve seen that they are not pigeon holes. These are very compact houses. Good for a small family and in my opinion, as far as our survey goes, there is good reaction to these types of launches.
So we have to still wait and watch to see how the demand side is reacting to these compact houses. My opinion is that it is not as bad as we had thought it would be, because even in places like Bangalore—where you generally have bigger houses, projects with slightly smaller houses are selling because the ticket sizes are affordable. In Mumbai too, projects with smaller house sizes are not doing too bad.
Is there a possibility of further correction in prices or is it going to stay stable for some time?
We have analysed most of the cities and we have seen that for the last 3 years, if you see the consumer price index (CPI)—that is the retail inflation growth—I think in most of the cities your house prices has increased less than that, even in a city like Mumbai. So I would not say that there would be a price correction as such, because time correction has already happened and prices have been stagnant for the last 3 to 4 years.
So what I would say is that the type of upsides that we used to see in real estate investment, like price doubling in 3 or 4 years, those things are all history now. Because you have to understand that the real estate as an investment avenue will compete with other investment avenues.
So I don’t think I will see in the next 5 to 10 years that prices are doubling in 3 or 4 years, which was a very normal norm in real estate—at least that’s what we saw in 2008-09, and even in 2011.
We saw a lot of price appreciation, but then again it has stagnated. So that scenario is gone, that’s history now. The upside in price of real estate will be very normal upside, which has to now compete with other investment options.

with thanks : MINT : LINK