399

RERA – Still Rare On The Ground

  • Maharashtra has the most RERA-registered projects with 17,353, UP with 3,950 projects
  • Serious developer-favouring dilutions impacting demand in many states

More than a year after RERA was formally implemented, we are beginning to see some real impact on the ground. However, the results are still far from scintillating.

Progress so far

Out of all the states and Union Territories in India, Maharashtra takes the first place when it comes to proactive RERA adoption, implementation and integration, followed by Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka.

As per the latest registration updates, more than 32,306 projects and 23,111 real estate agents have been registered under RERA across states.

  • Maharashtra has the highest share of registered projects under RERA, accounting for 17,353
  • Uttar Pradesh has 3,950 projects registered
  • Gujarat has 3,300 projects registered
  • Karnataka has 1,982 projects registered
  • Madhya Pradesh has 1,901 projects registered.

States such as Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab have fully-operational RERA. Due to the complexity in laws pertaining to land, north-eastern states such as Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland, Meghalaya have not implemented RERA as yet, and are examining the provisions.

A RERA portal has been launched and interim regulations are visible in the cases of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Bihar.

A RERA website is not yet operational in West Bengal, and a committee has been formed to study the Maharashtra and Karnataka model of RERA implementation.

Penalty impositions so far

Penalties have been imposed by state RERA cells for not aligning with the RERA rules in: 

Maharashtra, which has penalised many reputed developers recently for advertising unregistered projects and not having the project address updated on the RERA website. 

In Karnataka, the 2nd most active state in implementing RERA, where the RERA cell has sent notification letters to 100-130 projects in Bengaluru for not registering under RERA in 2017. 953 project applications are still under investigation. 

 

(Disclaimer: Numbers as per respective state RERA websites in August 2018)

Despite some encouraging number, it is evident that RERA has not been adopted in the manner and to the extent the Centre originally intended. In some states, there have been serious developer-favouring dilutions of the clauses meant to protect the interests of buyers.

Delay in project execution because of dilution of RERA, and the overall signal such dilutions send to the market will act as a dampener on buyers’ confidence. This, in turn, will affect developers' ability to sell.

There can certainly be circumstances under which a project can be delayed for which the developer cannot be held responsible. Among such extenuating circumstances, the failure by concerned Government authorities to furnish timely development permits without good reason probably counts the highest.

The effect that the more recent amendments will have depends on how different states interpret the concept of ‘exceptional and compelling circumstances’. RERA must define such circumstances clearly and satisfactorily to end-users and investors.

Also, Government agencies dealing with project clearances should be brought under RERA's ambit, as well. If RERA is to bring in genuine accountability, the accountability must be unilateral, not one-sided.

Major Dilutions

While many states are still in the process of notifying their RERA rules, there has been continuous fretting about the dilution of the rules recently notified by many states. In fact, there are multiple changes made by different states in the RERA proposed initially by the Central Government.

Dilution in ongoing projects’ definitions has left a huge number of projects out of the RERA ambit, and this is understandably a major concern for buyers.

A broad-based list of RERA dilutions:

Introduction of exceptions to dilute the definition of ‘ongoing’ projects

Penalty provisions related to imprisonment of developers

Calculations on monetary fines or penalties as a percentage of project cost

Payment schedule requirements

Norms for escrow withdrawals

Liability in case of structural defects

Fees on filing complaints against the developer

To live up to the spirit of RERA, the Government must ensure at all costs that the RERA rules remain aligned and effective across all the states, while balancing the interests of both buyers and developers.

(The writer is Chairman - ANAROCK Property Consultants)

84

Gurugram Real Estate - Q1 2018 vs Q1 2017

Residential Real Estate

The Millennium City of Gurugram has a very prominent place on India’s residential real estate map and is considered a bellwether of the state of the market for NCR. If we study what happened in the city’s housing market in the first quarter of 2018 against the same period in 2017, some interesting changes emerge.

Pricing

Q1 2018 - The weighted average price for housing properties launched between January to May in 2018 is INR 4580/sq.ft.

Q1 2017 - The weighted average price for housing properties launched between January to May in 2017 was INR 4,300/sq.ft.

913

How To Avoid Defaulting On Home Loan Payment

Home loans are paid in instalments which are commonly known as Equated Monthly Instalments (EMI). These are fixed amount which is expected to be paid by the borrower to the bank every month as a part of loan repayment. A bank considers a home loan to be in default when the borrower fails to make a payment and is behind by 90 days. In such a case, the borrower would have missed 3 payments of EMI.

When the home loan is in default, banks do not seize the assets of the borrowers immediately. They send a notice to the borrower stating that the EMI payment has been missed and strict action will be taken in this regard. Banks are ready to understand the various reasons behind non-payment of the EMIs, which might include financial crisis, accident, etc. if the borrower approaches the bank with an explanation.

Once the reason is conveyed by the borrower or is otherwise evident to the lender, the bank restructures the EMI and extends the loan tenure on the request of the borrower. This would help the borrower to repay the EMIs on time, and banks will not have to auction the property. Only in extreme cases will the property be sold by the bank. If the property of the borrower is sold within a span of 3 years of acquisition, then the borrower can expect to receive a profit on the sale. However, if the property is sold after 3 years, the borrower can take the benefit of tax exemption.

284

Completion Challenge Before Builders in NCR

Project delays are one of the most alarming issues historically dogging the Indian real estate sector. The dearth of effective planning and execution of construction activities, escalating construction costs, approval delays, diversion of allocated funds to other projects and tepid sales are some of the predominant factors resulting in project delays. The homebuyer is, of course, at the losing end.

                    

To put it in numbers, during 2017, out of the total 5.8 lakh residential units slated to be completed across the top 7 cities in India, only 1.5 lakh units were actually delivered until December 2017. This indicates that around 4.3 lakh units actually missed their stipulated completion deadlines.

The National Capital Region (NCR), one of the country’s largest residential markets, was seriously wounded by sudden policy changes, structural reforms - and the dubious practices of unscrupulous developers. As a result, it topped the list of cities with maximum project delays. Around 1.5 lakh units in NCR missed the 2017 deadline. The story in Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) was no different with nearly 1.1 lakh units missing the said deadline.

175

The Myths Around GST In Real Estate

The Goods and Services Tax (GST)—India’s biggest tax reform post-independence—was implemented on 1 July 2017. This new tax regime seeks to transform the Indian economy with its ‘One Nation, One Market, One Tax’ principle by subsuming a host of indirect taxes charged at varied rates by the Centre and states, therefore bringing uniformity in taxation across the country.

Though its primary objective was to simplify the complex tax structure on the supply of goods and services, the reform created quite a stir due to its complex nature, due to which many myths about GST started making the rounds. Let us debunk some of these myths.

MYTH: GST has equal impact on all residential properties

FACT: The impact of GST on property is mainly dependent on segmental classification of projects. The extent of the impact on residential properties predominantly depends on the phase of construction, the location as well as the type of project. For example, impact will be observed more in case of new launches as compared to near completion projects. Similarly, suburban projects will be more impacted as compared to city-centre projects and affordable or value housing will see larger impact as compared to luxury housing. This is on account of different proportion of land cost in project cost (land cost exempted from GST), different GST applicable to different materials, amount spent split in pre-GST time and post-GST time and on account of lower GST for affordable housing projects.

Thus there is no uniform or single amount by which residential properties are impacted due to GST system.

MYTH: Everything is clear about GST in real estate

FACT: There still persist certain grey areas which are yet to be evaluated by tax experts to stand the ‘test of law’. Some of them are:

  • Taxability of club house charges, electricity and water deposits, preferential location charges, car park charges and eligibility of one-third land deduction abatement on such charges. The authorities could demand a full GST of 18% on these charges, given that the one-third deduction may not be extended to these amounts
  •  Taxability of land value where the same exceeds one-third of the total sale price and the developer has contracted separate agreements for the supply of land and construction portion;
  • Ineligibility of refund to developers under the inverted duty structure considering inputs are procured at a higher rate of tax, whereas output is charged at a lower tax rate.
  • Adopting different tax computation methods for different projects/phases of the same project.

MYTH: GST means price benefit for all the buyers

FACT: There is a possibility of the market perceiving GST to be a ‘by default’ agent for a price drop for all projects. However, the actual factor for such price reduction is based passing of cost savings achieved and this is just one of the several factors influence the pricing and thus cannot be by default expected as a price benefit agent.

For example, customers opting for affordable housing projects are expected to reap the maximum benefits whereas such benefits are expected to reduce as the segment moves towards luxury and ultra-luxury sectors. Similarly, in projects where the land cost is low, the savings can be significant and closer to the estimated savings. However, where the land cost is high, the savings on account of GST may not be significant

MYTH: - Post GST taxation is lower than Pre-GST taxation for buyers

FACT: The effective rate of tax has not seen too much deviation. The earlier tax rate was ranging from 10–15%. Now the tax rate has been pegged at 18%, with an abatement of one-third being provided towards land value, thereby reducing the effective tax rate to 12% of the entire agreement value under GST. So while it may seem that GST should result in savings of at least 3–4%; the ground-level reality is different and depending on which state the buyer buy property in, there could be positive or negative impact of GST as compared to pre-GST taxation.

MYTH: Developers do not want to pass the benefit to buyers

FACT: Quite the contrary, developers do want to pass the benefit to end users as this would not only attract more buyers, but also build trust for their brand. However, the benefit not clear yet. In addition, the GST law requires businesses to mandatorily pass on the benefit derived from any reduction in the rate of tax or benefit from the input tax credit to customers. However, with regard to the real estate sector the industry is grappling to determine the actual benefit on account of GST and there is lack of clarity on how the benefit, if at all any has to be computed at all any, has to be computed (the period to be considered, the factors to be considered, etc.). This is because, in case of real estate, the product is unique. Unlike an FMCG product, an apartment does not have an ‘MRP’, or a ‘Best before’ date. Thus as the final price of a project is an estimate for what the markets will be like for the next 4-5 years, it is difficult for a developer to allocate benefits of input tax credit today over various projects and build those into a future price benefit for the customer. One of the biggest challenges is the allocation of input tax credit to under construction projects, where part of it has been completed before GST came to light.

To summarize, the GST law still has to mature and compliance related processes need to be refined further. It is important that the government ensure clarifications to ensure major concerns, which need clarity once and for all are addressed.

 

(The writer is CEO & Country Head, JLL India)