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How Real Estate Regulatory Bill can help ailing Real Estate sector

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Real Estate
Photo: http://www.businessinsider.in

Construction and Real Estate sectors have a bad name today, due to many unethical builders, brokers, extortionists, and land mafia, who have controlled the sector for a long time now.

NewsGram had previously covered one such instance of alleged extortion and unnecessary delay in handing over the flats to the customers in Mumbai by Runwal Greens.

The Real Estate Regulatory Bill, which has been pending for a long time, if passed, may go a long way in tackling various issues that ails this sector. Here is an article by Anil Pharande, Chairman of Pharande Spaces, a leading construction and development firm in Western Pune, explaining why the Bill is very crucial for cleaning up the Real Estate sector.

The Real Estate Regulatory Bill has been waiting for a long time to be passed as a law. Though several new recommendations by various bodies were incorporated into the draft Bill and approved by the cabinet, it has still not been passed as an enforceable law by the Parliament. It is now high time that this happens – for several reasons.

The changes which have been made in the original draft over time are quite progressive. For instance, a real estate developer must keep a minimum balance of 50% of the funds collected for his project in an escrow account. Before the Real Estate Regulatory Bill was drafted, the concept of creating an escrow account for a real estate project in which to hold funds for a project did not exist at all. In the absence of such a regulation, builders are at liberty to siphon off funds collected for their projects and use them to purchase more land or in the construction of other projects.

The Real Estate Regulatory Bill will make it compulsory for builders to ensure that at least 50% of such funds will remain reserved solely for the development of the project for which they were collected from buyers. To ensure that this actually happens, they will have to pay these funds into an escrow account within 15 days. While this is definitely a rule which will protect the interests of property buyers to some extent, it still means that builders can use half of the funds collected from buyers for other purposes.

This gives rise to a pertinent question – why would they want to do that? Isn’t it in the builder’s own interest to complete a project on time? Unfortunately, many developers don’t look at it that way at all. The reason why they divert funds from ongoing projects is so that they can purchase land to build land banks, which allows them to showcase more projects on their balance sheets. Doing so makes allows them to raise more capital from banks or private equity funds, and also to give an inflated image of the size of their business.

There have been several other changes to the draft Real Estate Regulatory Bill, as well – each giving a clear message that the era in which developers could do whatever they want is going to be history once it is implemented. Not least among these important changes is that developers will have to register all projects which they are constructing within 3 months once the Bill becomes a law. If they fail to do so, they will be penalized to the tune of 10% of the overall project cost, and will have to bear an additional penalty of 10% and even face a prison term for any further delay to register their project.

The Real Estate regulatory Bill will also bring an end to developers’ freedom to make changes in the original plans or structural designs of their projects once they have been registered. They will only be able to make any changes if they are able to get the signed approval of at least 2/3rds of those who have invested into the project. Projects which do not have completion certificates issued as yet are now also included, meaning that an even bigger segment of buyers will benefit from the protection of their interests.

The current version of the Real Estate Regulatory Bill also has another noteworthy amendment in the fact that it now includes commercial office projects. In other words, investors who have plugged their funds into commercial office properties will also be protected by the Bill. Of course, the fact is that 85% of the Indian real estate market consists of the residential sector. However, this amendment is important because it will help the sector become more transparent in every respect, and not just in some segments. Real estate brokers and agents are now also included in the latest draft of the Bill, which means that will also be liable for legal action if they engage in any practices which are not in line with the new law.

Finally, the latest draft of the Real Estate Regulatory Bill permits customers with grievances to move the consumer courts, and does not position itself as their only legal recourse.

With all these positive amendments now in place, the Real Estate regulatory Bill is indeed a powerful means to make the chronically opaque Indian real estate sector more transparent. Once it becomes a law, people will feel more confident in investing into real estate, and this will result in the revival which everyone has been waiting for. This confidence will take time to become evident, but it will definitely come – and when it does, we will see massive changes on the ground.

Also Read: Runwal Greens: Luxury builders or unethical extortionists?

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Demonetisation has Beneficiary Long Term Impact on Real Estate with Initiatives of RERA and GST

The transparency brought in by demonetisation, aided by RERA, GST reforms and liberalisation of FDI norms, has boosted the performance by fair Real Estate companies.

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Long Term impact on Real estate
Long Term impact on Real estate has been depicted by Demonetisation.Wikimedia.

New Delhi, October 4: Though the government’s radical measure of demonetisation has disrupted the economy and has hit the real estate sector — already reeling under prolonged slowdown — it will turn out to be a blessing in disguise in the medium-to-long term.

As an asset class, real estate has been a big source of generating and consuming black money. The cash component in real estate has been there at various levels, beginning with land transactions where it amounts to 30-50 per cent. The cash payout is quite high in luxury housing too. The consumption of cash has been as high as 30 per cent in secondary market transactions.

The primary market transactions, however, are by far bereft of cash component as home purchases are financed through loans from banks and housing finance corporations. It is another matter that even in primary market deals, developers have been encouraging cash payouts by luring property buyers with good discounts on property price.

The speculative buying by investors through offerings like underwriting and pre-launches has also been involving cash payout, leading to artificial price hike and in turn making homes out of the reach of masses.

Demonetisation, coupled with the government’s move to check benami transactions through legislation and curbs on cash transactions, was meant to clean up the system.

This sudden ‘shake up’ was, however, not without its adverse impacts. Demonetisation badly affected the liquidity in the capital-intensive real estate sector, deepening the problem of massive fund shortage/cash crunch faced by developers reeling under delayed deliveries, which deterred buyers from purchasing property.

long term impact on Real Estate
There are long term impact on Real Estate due to Demonetisation. Pixabay.

The impact was more evident in markets like NCR and Mumbai which were largely investor-driven, compared to southern markets of Bengaluru and Chennai and even Pune in the west, which have been end-user driven. The premium/luxury residential segment, in which the cash component was more in transactions, got impacted by demonetisation.

Real estate experts’ belief that the impact of demonetisation is only short-term and will not have long-term impact, stems from the fact that developers who have been following transparent and fair practices have not been affected by demonetisation and instead it worked out to their advantage.

This also turned out to be a positive development for big global real estate consultants like JLL India which doubled its profits in 2016 over 2014-15, with 60 per cent revenue growth.

One key positive impact of demonetisation and RERA (Real Estate Regulation Act) has been that speculative investors deserted real estate and end-users/genuine buyers, who were all these years pushed to the sidelines, came out in large numbers. Now, it is the property consumers who are driving the real estate market, especially residential market, aided by the government’s pro-industry and pro-consumer initiatives.

The step to promote affordable housing and according real estate industry status for the purpose of making easy and cheap funds available to the sector also helps.

Demonetisation has particularly boosted foreign funding. The transparency brought in by demonetisation, aided by RERA, GST reforms and liberalisation of FDI norms, has boosted the confidence of foreign investors, which is clearly evident from the spurt in foreign investments, particularly from pension funds.

This will inject much needed liquidity in the sector starved of funds. Targeting consumers, the government under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY), is providing substantial interest subsidy to home buyers. The clampdown on floating cash in the system has contributed significantly to curbing inflation which, in turn, helped RBI in cutting interest rates, thereby boosting home buying.

The proposed measures to liberalise FSI norms and rationalise stamp duty, will give further fillip to the residential sector, particularly affordable housing.

Demonetisation had a salutary impact on property prices by curbing cash transactions and checking speculative pricing, in turn increasing affordability, which is a key to achieve the government’s flagship mission of ‘Housing for All’. RERA & GST are further aiding demonetisation to control prices.

long term impact on Real Estate
Demonetisation aided with RERA and GST will put long term impact on Real Estate. Pixabay.

The key provisions in RERA, to speed up project completion, by checking diversion of funds through mandatory escrow account, stringent penalties to check project delays, together with the government’s move to make all building sanctions online, will go a long way in checking time and cost overruns of real estate projects, thereby controlling home prices.

The ban on pre-launching of projects under RERA will also check artificial spurt in pricing. GST has come to tackle the flow of cash in the purchase of building materials by introducing input credit tax. Further, the government’s plans to liberalise FSI norms, especially for affordable homes, and rationalising stamp duty will have a sobering effect on property prices.

But for some little lingering effect, economists and real estate experts believe that the overall downside impact of demonetisation has faded and its impact is not going to be there in the next quarter.

Says Ashwinder Singh, formerly CEO of JLL India & now CEO of leading real estate consultancy, Anarock Consultants: “Other than in terms of the initial confusion-induced decline in sentiment, the trend that is emerging now, points towards a recovery in buying sentiment with serious buyers already returning to primary markets.”

The entire demonetisation exercise undertaken by the government and aided by other reforms, like Benami Property Act, RERA and GST, is to be looked at in the backdrop of the government’s multi-pronged policy to create institutional and regulatory framework for speedy and steady growth of the economy. And at the centre of all these initiatives is real estate, which is a key contributor to GDP. Going forward, these policy initiatives will help make real estate more organised, transparent, credible and affordable, making the sector investor and consumer friendly. (IANS)

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Ex-Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif Indicted on Corruption Charges

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Muhammad Safdar
Muhammad Safdar, husband of Maryam Nawaz, daughter of ousted Pakistani premier Nawaz Sharif, waves from a a vehicle as he arrives at an accountability court in Islamabad. VOA

Islamabad, October 19: Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been indicted on corruption charges stemming from information taken from the so-called “Panama Papers.”

The country’s anti-corruption court indicted the 67-year-old Sharif during a hearing Thursday in Islamabad. His daughter Maryam and son-in-law Mohammed Safdar were also indicted. Maryam Sharif and Mohammed Safdar appeared in court and pleaded not guilty to the charges.

A lawyer for the elder Sharif, who is in London with his wife as she undergoes cancer treatment, entered a not guilty plea on his behalf. Maryam Sharif angrily dismissed the allegations as “baseless.”

Sharif was disqualified by Pakistan’s Supreme Court and removed from office in July after leaked documents last year from a Panama-based law firm revealed the family held a number of unreported overseas assets.(VOA)

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Journalist Behind the Panama Papers Killed in a Car Bomb

Caruana Galizia was recently described by the American news outlet Politico as a "one-woman WikiLeaks".

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Daphne Caruana Galizia died on Monday when her car, a Peugeot 108, was destroyed by a powerful explosive device. (Representative image) Pixabay

Valletta, October 17, 2017 : A journalist who led the Panama Papers probe into corruption in Malta was killed on Monday in a car bomb near her residence, the media reported.

Daphne Caruana Galizia died on Monday when her car, a Peugeot 108, was destroyed by a powerful explosive device, reports the Guardian.

A blogger whose posts often attracted more readers than the combined circulation of the country’s newspapers, Caruana Galizia was recently described by the American news outlet Politico as a “one-woman WikiLeaks”.

Her latest revelations accused Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and two of his closest aides, connecting offshore companies linked to the three men with the sale of Maltese passports and payments from the government of Azerbaijan.

No group or individual claimed responsibility for the attack, the Guardian reported.

Malta’s President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, called for calm. “In these moments, when the country is shocked by such a vicious attack, I call on everyone to measure their words, to not pass judgement and to show solidarity.”

ALSO READ Not Just Journalist Ram Chandra Chhatrapati, these 9 People too Bore the Brunt of Speaking Truth to Fight Corruption

In a statement, Muscat condemned the “barbaric attack”.

“Everyone knows Caruana Galizia was a harsh critic of mine,” said Muscat, adding “Both politically and personally, but nobody can justify this barbaric act in any way.”

He announced in parliament later on Monday that Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) officers were on their way to Malta to assist with the investigation, following his request for help from the US government.

According to local media reports, Caruana Galizia filed a police report 15 days ago to say that she had been receiving death threats.

The journalist posted her final blog on her Running Commentary website at 2.35 p.m. on Monday, and the explosion, which occurred near her home, was reported to police just after 3 p.m.

Over the last two years, her reporting had largely focused on revelations from the Panama Papers, a cache of 11.5 million documents leaked from the internal database of the world’s fourth largest offshore law firm, Mossack Fonseca. (IANS)