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Things you must know about Real Estate Investment Trusts

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REIT

The introduction of REITs (Real Estate Investment Trusts) in India will open up a platform that will allow all kinds of investors – even those with smaller budgets – to make safe and rewarding investments into the country’s real estate market.

The best thing about REIT is that investors can start with as small a sum as Rs. 2 lakh to secure units in exchange.

The REIT platform has already been approved by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and like mutual funds, it will pool the money from all investors across the country.

The money collected from the REIT funds will subsequently be invested in commercial properties to generate income.

A REIT will need to be registered via an IPO or initial public offering. REIT units, as such, will have to get listed with exchanges and consequently traded as securities.

The SEBI board has kept the minimum asset sizes to be invested in at Rs. 500 crore. However, the minimum issue size would have to be less than Rs. 250 crore.

As with stocks, the investors here would be able to buy the units from either primary and/or the secondary markets.

How does a REIT work?

REIT is a process to generate funds from a lot of investors to directly invest in profitable real estate properties like offices, residential units, hotels, shopping centers, warehouses and more.

All trusts with REIT will be listed with stock exchanges as they would be structured like trusts. Consequently, REIT assets will be held by independent trustees for unit holders/investors.

Role of the trustees

Trustees with REIT have defined duties which typically involve ensuring compliance and adherence to all applicable laws that protect the rights of the investors.

The objective of REITs

A REIT’s objective is to provide the investors with dividends that are generated from the capital gains accruing from the sale of the commercial assets.

The trust distributes 90% of the income among its investors via dividends.

Apart from minimum entry level, a REIT is supposed to provide diversified and safe investment opportunities with reduced risks, and under a professional management to ensure the maximum return on investments.

The advantages with REITs include:

Income dividends: 90% of distributable cash at least twice in a year.

Transparency: REIT will showcase the full valuation on a yearly basis and will also update it on a half-yearly basis

Diversification: According to the guidelines, Real Estate Investment Trusts will have to invest in a minimum of two projects with 60% asset value in a single project

Lower risk: At least 80% of the assets will have to be invested into revenue-generating and completed projects.

The remaining 20% of the properties that include properties like under construction projects, equity shares of the listed properties, mortgage- based securities, equity shares that derive a minimum of 75% of income from Government securities or G-secs, money market instruments, cash equivalents and real estate activities.

The Real Estate Investment Trusts concept has been in the news for some time now. However, the real estate regulations rolled out so far have not quite helped bring them to Ground Zero in India as yet.

REITs’ exemption from tax on the distribution of dividends would make it much more attractive for investors.

According to a recent report by Cushman & Wakefield, commercial properties in India that are ‘REITable’ investment opportunities are between $43 billion and $54 billion across the top cities.

Are REITs more attractive than actual property purchase?

Investing in Real Estate Investment Trusts can be compared to investing in Gold Bonds.

Indians are partial to buying physical gold rather than in Gold Bonds, implying that having one’s own investment in property will always provide Indians greater satisfaction than mere paper investments.

The Indian property market is now almost stabilized and it is the right time to buy self-owned homes. While it is human tendency to wait and watch, the bottom of the market cannot be fathomed accurately at the best of times.

At the end of the day, REITs are investment instruments and not a means to acquire actual property – which is always high on every Indian’s wish-list.

A budget that clearly favours purchase decisions for first- time home buyers and is a step closer to the Prime Minister’s mission to provide Housing for all by 2022 is in place. 2017 is certainly the year to make home ownership a reality.

*Kishor Pate is the chairman and managing director of the Pune-based Amit Enterprises Housing Ltd.

Regulations

373 Maharashtra Cities To Fall Under PMAY Scheme

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The state of Maharashtra has added 232 cities to the existing 142 which makes it 373 cities under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana Scheme (PMAY).

The officials at the housing department feel that this step will aid the government take up more projects under the PMAY scheme.

Sachin Kulkarni, Builder shared his concerns over the lack of coordination between the department in executing PMAY projects. He said, “This is a good sign. However, the PMO’s seriousness in promoting HFA is diluted by the time it reaches the authorities. Apart from collecting application from interested beneficiaries, nothing has moved on the ground in urban centres. I hope that this initiative moves on fast track”.

Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis recently states that the in order to create more housing stock the state’s Slum Rehabilitation Authority scheme be brought under PMAY so that it can receive the subsidy to create more affordable housing. He clearly mentioned that the government intends to create more housing stock and it was taking various initiatives and making policy changes for it.

Also Read- Affordable Housing To Get A Boost With PMAY’s Scope To Be Extended To Private Lands

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Real Estate Sector May Fall Under GST What Does It Mean For Buyers?

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One after the other the real estate sector has witnessed massive policy and law changes in its systems. Nonetheless, the tide has not passed yet. The GST council will take up a proposal to bring it under the uniform nationwide levy.

As the industry is still recovering from the RERA Act, the finance minister, Arun Jaitley said that there is a strong case to include real estate in the new indirect tax regime. He said this last week and also mentioned that GST Council will discuss it in November.

At present, the home buyers are paying 12 percent GST on under-construction properties. This percentage includes two taxes which are stamp duty and registration. The rate of which varies in each state but GST will make them uniform.

Santosh Dalvi, KPMG India partner (indirect tax) said, “If the entire real estate is brought under GST, they would have to abolish the stamp duty and we don’t know how the government plans to compensate the states for their loss.”

The stamp duty with registration and GST comes to approximately 18 percent for under construction properties. He further said, “So, it’s important to look at what rate it will be taxed at. We can then look at consumer prices”.

While agreeing, Bipin Sapra, EY partner (indirect tax), added, “It’s going to be a test for the government”.

Developers also pay taxes on raw materials. However, unlike other businesses, they don’t get any tax refunds through input credit. GST taxes every stage of the business activity to better compliance and compensates for it by permitting refunds.

Anuj Puri, Anarock Property Consultants chairman, said “By including real estate under GST, builders can get a fair amount of input credit, helping bring down costs,” He added that it would make homes cheaper for buyers.

According to Sapra, it will depend on the tax rate applicable.

Niranjan Hiranandani, co-founder of Hiranandani Group said, “Real estate under GST ambit means consumers will only have to pay one final tax.” He stated that with the commencement of RERA it brings transparency and GST would reduce the burden in terms of taxes payable while buying the home. He concluded, “Not only will this create positive sentiment but it should also boost actual sales”.

Also Read: Affordable Housing Is The Changing Face Of Indian Real Estate

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Home Buyers Will Be Covered Against Builders Who Are Going Bankrupt

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In a move to protect home buyers from builders declaring their bankruptcy, the Insolvency & Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) has amended rules which make it necessary for any company to showcase how they have dealt with interests of all stakeholders. This is directed towards companies like Jaypee Infratech and some of the entities of Amrapali Group.

The regulator has informed about the revised rules last week. This will ensure that banks and other creditors do not get away by protecting their interests at the expense of others who are impacted by the action.  Banks are part of the creditors’ committee. They become an important decision-making body after a company is admitted for bankruptcy.

An expert bankruptcy lawyer said, “The change in the rules has plugged a gap as flat buyers are of the view that there is nothing to protect their interests.”

According to the new law that was enacted last year intends to speed up the resolution process in a period of 180 days, with a possible extension of 90 days. This will be done by appointing insolvency resolution professionals who will take charge of the company’s operations and prepare a plan. As per the law, an information memorandum will be finalized if the creditor’s committee is willing to take applications from other interested companies to take over the company.

The insolvency experts say that the law providing for the plan binds corporate debtor (the company) and its members, employees, guarantors, and creditors, other stakeholders involved in the resolution plan. However, there are no obligations mentioned in the rule to give any treatment to the stakeholders other than the financial creditors (banks) and operational creditors, which includes vendors and others who may have dues.

The National Company Law Tribunal, based on the comfort provided by the revised rules, will choose the final resolution plan based on bids that are received. The lawyer further said, “The tribunal will not clear the resolution plan without giving notice to all stakeholders and the flat buyers can raise objections at that point of time.”

Also Read: Tanvi Group Fail To Deliver Homes And Declare Bankruptcy

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