Wait For The Real Estate Regulator Bill (RERA) Or Buy Now?

Kishor Pate 2Kishor Pate, CMD – Amit Enterprises Housing Ltd.

Across the country, aspiring property buyers are waiting for RERA – or the Real Estate Regulation Act – to be implemented by the States.

Time and again, it has been stated that the consumer must consider the reputation of the builder prior to taking a decision to buy a property/asset which is likely to remain for generations.

On implementation of RERA, only builders with sound reputations will remain in the fray – this probably its most important function in protecting consumer rights and interests.

Once RERA becomes a enforceable law, it will change the ways in which residential housing projects are planned, offered, sold and possessed across India. Property buyers will no longer need to worry about unfair contracts, delayed possessions, non-notified alterations in building plans and other risks.

The aim of RERA is to make real estate purchase simpler by bringing in better accountability and transparency. In doing so, it will also infuse a lot more confidence among buyers – who, at the end of the day, should feel as comfortable about investing in a home as they are about buying gold.

RERA lays forth several ground rules for real estate buying and selling, including:

  • Registration of every real estate project with the appointed tribunal (with some exceptions). Non-registered projects cannot be offered for sale or booked by promoters.
  • Mandatory uploading of project details by the developer on the RERA website, including layout planning and completion schedule.
  • 70% of the advance collected from buyers needs to be maintained in a separate bank account and be used only for the stipulated project construction. These funds cannot be hived off for other purposes – a practice that has contributed majorly to delayed projects in the past. The individual state governments have reserved the power to alter the amount, but the principle is very much in place.
  • Establishment of Real Estate Appellate Tribunals that will handle any issues related to property disputes, with the intention of delivering quick and unambiguous resolution.
  • Setting up of an advisory body to deal with matters related to government-sponsored real estate development.

In one of the most important addendums to RERA, real estate brokers and the way they conduct their business now also fall under its ambit. The days of unscrupulous property agents either acting solely in their own interest or in collusion with developers are now numbered.

In fact, RERA will protect both the buyer and the seller – for instance, it protects developers from non-payment. While the promoter is required to obtain necessary documentation such as the completion certificate, the buyer is liable to be fined for delays in payment. Failure to register the property or comply by other regulations of the Act will lead to hefty fines and even imprisonment in certain cases.

All this may sound too good to be true – and in fact, it is for now because RERA is likely to come into full force from May 2017. All the individual state governments need to get their ‘acts’ together to comply with its requirements and adopt it.

The good news is that they do not have the option of not doing so – the Central Government has amply demonstrated that it is determined to push the Real Estate Regulation Bill through come hail or high water.

The Indian real estate market is currently showing positive signs of revival. Even as smaller builders struggle – now also because of the recent demonetization of larger currency notes – credible developers continue to launch new projects and raise funds to meet the committed completion timelines.

With RERA in place, several not-so-credible developers will go out of business. Buyer will be protected from players with ulterior motives – in short, fly-by-night operators. This will, in turn, infuse a much-needed positive sentiment among buyers and consequently help increase demand.

Increased sales will improve the cash situations of the credible developers that remain after the weeding out, and projects will be automatically delivered in time.

real estate law

Should You Wait For RERA Or Buy Now?

At the current point in time, because of the lower demand seen over the last 2-3 years, property prices across India’s major cities have sunk to incredibly low levels. Buyers have a wide range of options in locations, budgets, amenities and – perhaps most importantly – in developers.

In previous times, buyers with budget constraints could only consider projects by builders with doubtful reputations and questionable business practices. This is no longer the case – today, a home in a quality project by a trustworthy and reputable developer is very much an option even within a modest budget.

RERA will take another year to be implemented; meanwhile, there are other dynamics which are changing on the Indian property market. Reduced pricing coupled with attractive deals in most cities, and the fact that more and more fence-sitting buyers have run out of patience and are coming onto the market with firm ‘buy’ decisions, have kick-started the modest but very real recovery we are seeing on the residential market.

In Pune, we have witnessed a 25% increase in buying activity in high-demand areas like Undri-Pisoli, Ambegaon, Bhugaon and Wagholi in the last 4-5 months alone. In Mumbai, buying activity in Navi Mumbai, Thane and some other relatively affordable areas has also picked up significantly.

What does this mean for property buyers? Very simply – any revival in buying activity eventually leads to increased prices. Such is the immutable law of demand and supply. Given that demand is increasing steadily even now, property prices will begin rising even before RERA becomes a market reality next year.

What Experts Say

Industry watchdogs unanimously agree that there is no scope for current property prices to decrease further. Whatever correction in prices could happen has happened, and developers cannot reduce prices further even if they wanted to – doing so would, in many cases, seriously impact their ability to stay on the market.

In fact, RERA will mean that promoters will be bound by more procedures, and this may increase the cost of their projects – costs which are likely to be passed on to the consumer. In other words, RERA could be instrumental in inducing cost escalations in many cities.

It should be noted that while RERA will ensure that unscrupulous developers and their business practices will be driven off the market, it will simultaneously ensure that builders with sound reputations and impeccable track records will become stronger.

One of the most important intentions of the new law is to support such developers so that they can continue to serve the needs of property buyers in the wholesome and transparent manner which they are known for.

In short, for buyers who have no intention of dealing with any but the most reputed developers, there is no real advantage in waiting for RERA to kick in. If one is working with a reputed developer, the privileges, benefits and safeguards that it will bring already apply today.

Another valid argument against waiting for RERA before buying a property is that that once the Act is in place, it will become mandatory for builders to invest extra time with regulatory bodies to work along the extensive details of construction plans, clearances, approvals and other details related to their new projects. Paradoxically, this will in fact result in delayed deliveries where the opposite effect was actually intended.

Even though many buyers feel that they should wait for RERA to be implemented before buying a flat, the fact remains that there are already many builders with strong reputations and credible market practices.

Buying a property from such a player now instead of later can turn out to be wise decision if RERA results in upward pressure on prices. Also, if one is looking to make the most of current attractive pricing and offers, there is actually no better time than now.

The time and effort spent in taking advantage of the favorable market dynamics existing today will prove to be the soundest investment. The sole proviso is that one should only patronize a reputed developer with a good track record for delivery and construction quality.

About The Author

Kishor Pate, Chairman & Managing Director of Amit Enterprises Housing Ltd. is the driving force behind one of the most successful real estate development firms in Pune and beyond. Apart from its signature luxury projects like Montecito in Sahakar Nagar and other premium gated townships, AEHL has also launched highly successful affordable housing projects like Astonia Classic and Colori in Undri and the Mediterranean-style township Astonia Royale in Ambegaon.

How Education Influences Pune’s Property Market

Kishor Pate 2Kishor Pate, CMD – Amit Enterprises Housing Ltd.

Jawaharlal Nehru named Pune the Oxford of the East, and this title is more than well-deserved on account of the many schools, colleges and management institutes that the city boasts of. Each year, Pune attracts tens of thousands of students not only from India but all over the world.

A lesser-known fact is that Pune’s real estate market is a direct beneficiary of its highly developed educational environment. People in Pune are willing to invest considerably in their children’s education, and this includes a willingness to pay more for a home located close to a good school or college.

In fact, if we study the check-lists of features that most homebuyers in Pune consider important, more than 35% list proximity to good schools and colleges non-negotiable.

Also most of the migrants from other states generally fall in love with Pune and settle here. This also leads to demand for more houses  near the proximity of the schools as this is a most logical step for anyone to raise a family.

Not only that, but a significant number of homebuyers – predominantly young working couples – are willing to compromise on other aspects such as proximity to entertainment and even workplaces in order to secure a home close to a good school.

For these people, the welfare of their children ranks higher than their own convenience. What is even more interesting is that not all of these homebuyers are married or have children. Why do such buyers consider proximity to good educational institutions important while selecting a property?

The answer is as simple as it is profound. On the one hand, married homebuyers with children are definitely interested in quality schools and colleges because of the educational opportunities they offer. Such homebuyers have either just starting a family or are planning to do so soon.

Either way, they are considering the future of their children and are even ready to pay more for smaller homes in order to secure their chances of a good education.

In the larger context, however, most property buyers and investors in Pune understand that the availability of good schools in a neighborhood contributes directly to the overall value of the locality’s real estate.

Obviously, Pune’s educational districts rank very high as property investment destinations. This is underscored by another very interesting fact – namely, the resilience of the property values in areas of Pune which are close to the good schools, colleges and management institutions.

child in school

In the past, these areas did not see any drop in property prices even when other localities were seeing price corrections.

Historically, homebuyers focused on these areas of Pune were willing to make all kinds of compromises in order to secure the education advantage. They were ready to settle for smaller homes in projects without clubhouses and swimming pools, in congested areas without malls or any kind of organized shopping nearby.

Over time, these constraints have given way to some extent. Developers who were able to secure redevelopment rights in some of the core areas of the city were able to build more modern residential complexes which have a decent share of lifestyle amenities.

While examining the correlation of Pune’s educational institutions and the property pricing in the areas around them, some may argue that good schools and colleges have led to the higher appreciation of these areas.

The rationale would appear sound – homebuyers in Pune will always prefer residential projects located near an educational district and are ready to pay higher rates for them. So have Pune’s good schools, in fact, helped drive up the property prices in these localities?

Maybe so, but this is an incomplete argument at best. The fact remains these areas are also defined by higher historic affluence and that this affluence has triggered the development of high-quality schools there. There is no doubt that in Pune, the best schools and colleges are in localities defined by a higher standard of living.

In the final analysis, what perhaps matters most from a property market perspective is not the nature of the relationship between education and property values in Pune, but the simple fact that the relationship definitely exists.

Developers with projects in and around Pune’s educational institutions are able to ask for higher prices, and homebuyers are generally willing to pay them.

About The Author

 Kishor Pate, Chairman & Managing Director of Amit Enterprises Housing Ltd. is the driving force behind one of the most successful real estate development firms in Pune and beyond. Apart from its signature luxury projects like Montecito in Sahakar Nagar and other premium gated townships, AEHL has also launched highly successful affordable housing projects like Astonia Classic and Colori in Undri and the Mediterranean-style township, Astonia Royale in Ambegaon.

Pune’s Real Estate Market – At The Cusp Of Revival

Kishor Pate 2Kishor Pate, CMD – Amit Enterprises Housing Ltd

It’s a much-asked question – is this the right time for first-time home buyers, or should they wait as there is another price correction expected? In a price-sensitive real estate market like Pune, this question has been asked for more than a year now, and the market’s answer has been quite consistent.

There appears to be no possibility of  further price corrections in Pune. Demand in the right locations and at the right price points has returned, which means the right kinds of properties are selling. Rather than a price correction, it appears that  it is likely to be appreciation which is on the cards once again.

First Homes Market – Returning Rationale

The prolonged market slump from which many of the Indian cities are only now beginning to recover certainly served an important purpose – that of bringing property prices down to their lowest possible levels.

As market pundits have correctly pointed out, the only way for inherently strong markets like Pune is up going forward. However, as of now, the advantage still lies squarely with the buyer. The current time is, in fact, optimal for first-time home buyers to make their play.

For a while now, property valuations in Pune have been at their lowest point. Also, there are very good value-adding offers available, especially in terms of innovative financial structuring.

The financial burden of buying a home in Pune has indeed never been easier to bear than today. Many leading developers are now proactively assisting buyers to reduce the financial implications of buying a home in their projects by way of attractive schemes.

Among the most successful offer available in Pune right now is, all-inclusive rate packages, which include all the usual add-on costs such as stamp duty, registration and VAT.

EMI holidays have also found some favour, though buyers considering such a scheme must definitely carefully study the fine print and long-term implications of the offering.

Second Home Market – Once Again Gaining Traction 

Apart from the first-home market, we are also seeing a revival in Pune’s second home market. Buyers who have been hoping to buy second properties to house their extended families or as investments are finding this the ideal time to make a decision for purchasing the second home.

However, to accurately gauge the exact nature of the revival in Pune’s second homes market, one needs to understand its exact nuances. It is a common error to equate second home with holiday homes in remote locations.

real estate development

This particular market segment, in fact, continues to languish across the country for lack of demand. It usually thrives only during periods of prolonged economic prosperity and protracted vibrancy on the primary homes market.

It is only when people have been secure in their jobs for a sufficiently long time and seen a series of salary hikes that they see any rationale at all in investing in ‘non-performing’ real estate assets like holiday homes. During any other time, they will usually focus only on buying properties which serve the primary need of accommodation or rental income generation.

Investment Advice

Regardless of whether one is looking to buy a first or second home in Pune, the basic success fundamentals remain the same. One should go for locations which are close to primary workplace areas which have a good saturation of office complexes, if one can afford it.

Other important aspects to focus on are the availability of good social and civic infrastructure like schools, hospitals, shopping, etc., and presence of public transport.

With regards to whether one should opt for under-construction or ready-to-move projects – both options have their distinct individual merits, so it is not an either-or scenario at all.

While under-construction properties cost less, one should only consider this option if the developer is reputable and has a good track-record of timely completions. Currently, some builders are offering attractive packages even for ready possession flats – serious end-users and investors should certainly not miss this chance.

Finally, a guideline to pure investors (as opposed to pure end-users) for managing expectations is in order. High capital appreciation may not be a factor in Pune at the moment, which is precisely what has led to the amenable prices prevalent on the market today.

Pune’s real estate market currently stands at the cusp of revival; it is expected that it will take at least 2-3 years for substantial appreciation numbers to become a norm again across all locations.

The investment factor to zero in on currently is good rental potential, which is certainly a possibility in high-performance locations such as Undri, Ambegaon, Wagholi and Bhugaon. For optimizing rental income potential, the flat’s size, amenities, location and builder’s brand value must be considered as integral.

About The Author

Kishor Pate, Chairman & Managing Director of Amit Enterprises Housing Ltd. is the driving force behind one of the most successful real estate development firms in Pune and beyond. Apart from its signature luxury projects like Montecito in Sahakar Nagar and other premium gated townships, AEHL has also launched highly successful affordable housing projects like Astonia Classic and Colori in Undri and the Mediterranean-style township Astonia Royale in Ambegaon.