Pune Real Estate: The Year That Was, And The Year Ahead

Kishor Pate, CMD – Amit Enterprises Housing Ltd.

2016 did not bring as much cheer to Pune’s real estate market as previous years had. Nevertheless, Pune outperformed Mumbai by between 20 to 25% in terms of overall sales.

The highest-selling category in Pune was mid-range properties priced between Rs. 35-50 lakh within the city’s municipal limits and its nearby periphery, followed by lower budget housing on the outskirts priced between Rs. 15-30 lakh.

The latter pricing category offered on the market saw some response; however, whether it sustainable is debatable.

The questions which bothered most buyers in 2016 were:

  • What are the hidden cost?
  • Does the location serve my purpose?
  • Will the project I am interested in be completed as per promised timeline?
  • Is the developer inherently RERA-compliant?

Due to these completely understandable apprehensions, reputed builders saw the most number of serious inquiries in 2016. It would not be an exaggeration to observe that the year saw developers being examined with microscopic scrutiny.

There was clear evidence that Pune’s property buyers have become very aware of their rights, and that they can expect their interests to be protected by the upcoming RERA; promoters will not be able to dictate terms as they so far have.

However, irrespective of the potential protection that RERA will provide, buyers were more focused on the reputation of the builder than prices.

This was a significant change of temperament among Pune’s traditionally price-sensitive consumers. It indicated that long-term investment value and growth now matters more to them than short-term savings.

More than ever before, the inherent value of sticking to players with an established track-record will make itself felt in 2017.

When RERA becomes a nation-wide reality in mid-2017, Pune’s established developers with a good track record quality products and transparent dealings via official financial channels will emerge as dominant.

Once the Real Estate Regulatory Bill kicks in, fraudulent builders will be pulled off the market, and there will be more clarity than ever before about the genuine opportunities that Pune’s real estate market offers.

For the entire year of 2016, Pune remained a buyers’ market and primarily end-user driven. Developers vied with each other for customers in most locations – a ‘competition’ in which only those with projects nearing completion emerged as clear winners.

High buyer caution prevailed throughout the year with regards to pre-launches and under-construction projects in the earliest stages of development.

With many projects offering ready-to-move options to buyers and investors, the thought of having to wait for 2 to 3 years before gaining possession simply failed to entice.

The locations which scored highest with buyers in 2016 were not the overpriced central locations, but those which offer good connectivity to Pune’s various workplace hubs while circumventing the steep price points of the city’s central areas.

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Most buyers had a firm list of must-haves to refer to:

  • Proximity to the city’s various workplace centers; good overall connectivity via roads and public transport
  • Rational property prices
  • Availability of good schools, affordable healthcare, shopping and entertainment
  • Market-proven reliability of developers’ brand

In terms of location, Undri-Pisoli in Pune’s south-eastern sector was a clear favourite with buyers employed in the city’s Infotech sector and manufacturing industries, as all the requirements were available as above,

Also Ambegaon in the south-western part saw a lot of conversions, thanks to its good connectivity to Mumbai as well as onward to Satara and Kolhapur.

Apart from the fact that these locations are extremely well-connected, they also drew demand because they have a good supply of completed projects by reputable developers.

Fast-paced infrastructure deployment also helped bring these two locations to the top of the charts in 2016, and will continue to sustain their desirability in 2017.

Bhugaon, Keshavnagar and Manjri in the city’s eastern quadrant saw a lot of absorption because of overall access they provide to various key areas of the city. Though they are still emerging in terms of general infrastructure deployment, these are certainly locations to watch in the future.

In terms of general pricing, Pune saw a correction of 3 to 6% in property prices in most markets. Most developers rolled out additional schemes to attract buyers to their projects, with varying degrees of success.

Construction-linked plans drew some interest, but the clear winners among such schemes were all-inclusive packages which included all statutory costs such as VAT, stamp duty and registration fees.

Buyers showed a lot of preference for transparency in pricing, a decent saturation of in-project amenities and facilities, and developers whose trustworthiness was not in question.

2017 will be a year of significant and much-needed change for Pune’s property market. The Government’s demonetisation initiative has kick-started a process of elimination of fly-by-night developers and the cash components in the transactions will come to an end- a process which the final implementation of RERA will bring to culmination.

There will be a lot of consolidation throughout the year, with such players yielding whatever marketable land parcels and incomplete projects they hold to more established players.

2017 will not bring any further correction in Pune’s residential property prices, as demand is already returning in force to the city’s property market. Also, the fact that RERA will bring with it a significant additional financial burden on developers with regards to various statutory compliances, prices may go up towards mid-year.

Nevertheless, the year ahead will be favourable for property buyers in Pune. It will continue to be a buyers’ market, and the relationship between developers and buyers will see a major upgrade because buyers’ rights and interests will be well-defined and well-protected by the new Real Estate Regulatory bill. This is what the Government wants to achieve.

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.

What The Real Estate Regulatory Bill Will Do For Home Buyers

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

Now that the Real Estate Regulatory Bill has been cleared for take-off and will be an enforceable law soon, the question that buyers are asking is how exactly they will benefit from it.

This is a fair question, considering that RERA (the Real Estate Regulatory Act) was primarily formulated for their protection and in their interests. Let me answer it as clearly as possible, without sacrificing on the necessary details.

One of the most important things that RERA will do for home buyers is to reduce their uncertainties when it comes to planning their finances around a home purchase. If we assume that a buyer has booked a flat admeasuring 1,000 square feet, and that the developers has promised possession in three years.

A flat of such dimensions (1000 square feet) in a location which is close to the city centre, or has good public transport connections to it, would potentially earn its owner anything between Rs. 1.5-2.5 lakh per annum.

If the developer keeps his promise and delivers the flat in the stipulated time, the buyer would be able to put the flat out on rent and draw an income from it to offset his home loan expense.

However, if the developer fails to deliver the property in three years and extends the delivery by a year or more without providing compensation for the delay, the buyer’s finances are thrown seriously out of whack. The Real Estate Regulatory Bill will safeguard property buyers from such eventualities.

In the latest amendment to RERA which was accepted in the final draft, real estate agents are also covered under its purview. Effectively, this means that property agents can no longer engage in deceptive promises, charge excessive brokerage or fail to perform their full duties in a property purchase. They will be held accountable for any deficient service or failure of omission or commission.

RERA will also ensure that home buyers will not be cheated on the promised layout, and that amenities and fittings will not change along the way. Notably, such unforeseen and unscheduled changes were a recurring nightmare and grievance for home buyers in the past.

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With RERA in force, the developer will not be able to make any changes in the layout, dimensions, amenities, facilities and fitting which were agreed upon at the time of signing the sale deed.

If they still occur, affected buyers can appeal to a tribunal which has been specifically instated to address such incidences, and be assured that punitive or corrective action will be taken against the developer.

Also, RERA will require developers to quote their asking rates on carpet area instead of super built-up area, which has so far been the norm. This aspect will take some time to be fully implemented, as it is a huge change which will require countless developers to recalibrate their rates.

There are many more facets to this Bill which will work in favour of property buyers, but the above clearly indicate that property buyers are soon going to stop being victims and will in fact be much more in full control of their property investments.

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 homes towers and 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.

Real Estate Regulatory Bill Will Radically Transform Realty Sector

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

The real estate needed the Real Estate Regulatory bill more than any other single piece of legislation, even though GST, the Land Aquisition & Rehabilitation Bill, single window clearance and industry status are, by now, means of less importance.

The industry has been in express need of an apex body via which all concerns of consumers can be addressed transparently and efficiently. We will now see a radical transformation of the entire residential sector.

Strict enforcement of project delivery timelines, verifiable construction quality and assurance of legal clearances will finally become a reality, and the consumer confidence which had all but evaporated will return. It is a most welcome development.

Real Estate’s Demands From The Union Budget

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

Real estate stakeholders in every Indian city are looking forward to the upcoming financial budget 2016 to see whether it will provide any relief to the sector.

Developers have their own expectations, because positive announcements for real estate buyers made during the budget will help increase the market sentiment, and therefore sales.

The general hope is that the budget will provide cheer to intending home buyers who have been deterred for various reasons.

Make Home Loans More Affordable

The Union Budget should make the rate of interest specific to home loans more reasonable. Currently, the banks are offering interest rates which are still too high.

Paying so much interest has serious implications on the family budgets of most middle-class wage earners. It is not surprising that many of them currently shy away from home loans.

The budget should bring the interest rate on home loans down to between 7.5% to 8.0%. The new government has clearly stated that it wants to make Housing For All Indians a reality by 2022. It is impossible to achieve this goal if home loans do not become affordable to all, as well.

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Additionally, the home loan interest amount exemption under Income Tax benefit should be increased from the existing limit to Rs. 3 lakh. Further, this exemption should be made applicable for more than single property purchases.

This is not an unreasonable expectation. In the current times and in many cases, a single home is not enough to accommodate all family members. The finance ministry should take due note of this fact and accordingly provide relief for both first home and second home buyers.

Eliminate Multiple Taxation On Property Purchase

The budget should also do away with the multiple taxes involved in the purchase of residential property. As of now, home purchasers are required to pay service tax and value-added tax (VAT) on top of stamp duty and registration charges. Goods and Service Tax (GST) should be introduced in the place of these taxes.

Bring In The Real Estate Regulatory Bill

The real estate industry expects the Budget to finally make the Real Estate Regulatory bill a reality this year, so that the industry has the benefit of an apex body via which all concerns can be addressed transparently and efficiently.

Reduce Cost Of Property Registration

Another expectation from the Union Budget is a reduction in the cost of property registration. Stamp duty and registration costs are as high as 6% in most cases, and this needs to be reduced by a few basis points to aid consumers.

Alternatively, a slab-based approach should be introduced. Stamp duty falls under state government purview, but the Center can nevertheless issue a directive to reduce stamp duty costs.

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 homes towers and 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.