By Ramesh Nair, CEO & Country Head, JLL India
These trends will shape – or reshape – the Indian real estate sector in 2017 and beyond:
Global capital flow into Indian real estate will increase further
India is ranked fourth in developing Asia for FDI inflows as per the World Investment Report 2016 by the United Nations Conference for Trade and Development. That is endorsement at the highest levels – and real estate saw equity investment on a very visible return journey to India last year. Indian real estate has attracted $32 billion in private equity so far. The global capital flow into Indian real estate in 2016 stood at $5.7 billion.
Though the historic high of 2007 (in terms of total PE inflows) was not breached, last year proved to be the second-best year so far. Despite Brexit and uncertainty around the new US President’s outsourcing and visa-related policies, private equity activity also looks healthy in 2017 – thanks to a strengthening and modernizing economy, and the growing reputation of India as an attractive investment destination.
India’s Tier-I cities moved up to the 36th rank in JLL’s 2016 bi-annual Global Real Estate Transparency Index. The catalyzing factors for this were improvements in structural reforms and the more liberalized foreign direct investment (FDI) regime. Increased transparency brings higher investments into such real estate markets.
Thanks to changes in its regulatory framework, India is now way more attractive to both global and Indian investors. Increased consolidation and transparency – and the launch of REITs (Real Estate Investment Trusts) this year – will further whet their appetites for getting a piece of the Indian real estate pie.
Developers will revamp their business models
Throughout 2016, the number of new residential project launches was lower than units sold. With all states staring at the approaching deadline to implement their versions of the Real Estate Regulation & Development Act (RERA), most of them will definitely fall in line. This landmark law will enforce hitherto unprecedented transparency and accountability requirements for developers into the system, and do a lot to increase consumer confidence. Consumer activism, which has already been making news in recent times, will increase in distressed ongoing projects.
And it’s not only RERA that the Indian real estate sector anticipates with bated breath.
The Goods and Services Tax (GST) and the Benami Property Act will also have a major impact on how many developers run their businesses. Demonetization shook up the older ways of working, but did not affect self-governing developers with the right products targeted at the working masses. The rest have realised it is time now to revamp their existing business models if they want to remain in business at all. Market watchers who had despaired of the Indian real estate market ever shedding its tainted image have every reason to perk up now.
Currently, the residential property market is dominated by end-users – speculative investors are making a beeline out of real estate as an investment category. Residential demand is expected to pick up only towards the end of 2017 – but the recovery will be sustainable and based on much sounder market fundamentals than transient sentiment.
The commercial office space sector will get a strong shot in the arm with REITs. Real Estate Investment Trusts will have an important and long-term impact on developers and present them with the choice of either ‘corporatising’ or risking take-over by their bigger and better-organized counterparts. The pressure from funding agencies will simply be too strong to ignore.
Corporate developers like Tata, Godrej, L&T, Bharti, Mahindra, etc., will acquire more projects, and corporate houses like Birla are gearing up for their maiden innings in real estate development. Institutional funding will increase.
Co-working: More of India Inc. will move into ‘hybrid’ spaces
Co-working spaces are popping up across Indian metros as well as Tier-II cities, providing start-ups with flexible working options at affordable rents. At last count, there were more than 100 operators in this space across India, though there is still very limited supply of co-working spaces available. However, this segment is slowly but surely moving into boom mode across India, given the many advantages that such spaces offer:
*Employee motivation and retention
*Firms focused on agility who house their innovation teams in co-working spaces can induce a quicker learning curve to integrate them into the entrepreneurial ecosystem
*The perfect option for companies who need their client servicing teams close to their respective client sites in locations with low office vacancy
Certain co-working operators will prefer leasing out parts of or the entire areas of their co-working office spaces ‘anchor tenant’ corporates. In other words, co-working operators and corporates will move into a ‘hybrid’ sort of space and increasingly rely on each other.
The sun rises on affordable housing
Affordable housing in India is finally set to get the much-coveted infrastructure status. One crore houses are to be built in rural India by 2019, and this vital segment will now see cheaper sources of finance – including external commercial borrowings (ECBs). Re-financing of housing loans by National Housing Banks (NHBs) can give a further boost to the sector.
A new Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme (CLSS) for the mid-income group with a provision of Rs 1,000 crore in 2017-18 was announced even before Budget 2017-18. Extension of tenure of loans under the CLSS of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) was increased from 15 to 20 years, and the Budget also increased allocation to PMAY from Rs 15,000 crore to Rs 23,000 crore in the rural areas.
The qualifying criteria for affordable housing were also revised to 30 sq. m. and 60 sq. m. on carpet rather than saleable area in the four main metros and non-metros respectively. This effectively increases the size of affordable housing market across India. Moreover, the demonetization of high-value currency notes will cause land prices to ease in the next few years – especially in far-flung areas around Indian metros and the Tier-II and Tier-III cities. The government’s dream of Housing for All by 2022 appears a lot more attainable now.
Office sector transformation: From REIT to complete
The first REIT listing is expected within the next few months, and prominent private equity funds such as Blackstone will likely be the first movers. REITs will attract institutional and smaller investors alike because of their inherent nature to provide regular dividends at relatively low risk.
Smaller investors are especially excited at this new and easier investment opportunity because:
a. Indian REITs will prefer to invest in commercial space developments – specifically the highest quality or Grade-A properties – because of the higher rental yields in this asset class; and
b. Only 20% of an Indian REIT’s monies can be invested in development, which is the riskiest aspect. The remaining 80% of a REIT’s assets must be invested in income-producing property.
The REIT potential in India is huge, with around 229 million sq. ft. of office space currently being REIT-compliant. Even if 50% of this space is listed in the next few years, we are looking at a total REIT listing worth $18.5 billion. Moreover, India’s stock of Grade A commercial assets is increasing, with REITs acting as a sure-fire growth catalyst.
More industry consolidation on the cards
Slowing sales and lack of financial prudence among several developers is leading to a fairly obvious conclusion – consolidation. The overcrowded real estate sector is going to become a lot leaner and meaner, with consolidation happening by ways of joint developments and joint ventures between landowners and/or small developers with bigger, better-organized players, smaller developers being bought out by larger players, and struggling developers cashing in their land banks by selling them to players with stronger balance sheets and appetite for growth.
The pace at which this happens will depend on how much equity gets infused into the sector by the larger PE investors, and the strategy that foreign and domestic developers adopt. Some foreign developers have already entered the country, setting up base and obviously playing for keeps.
Some investors and developers will take plunge into the market now, while others will prefer to ride the fence for a while; but one way or the other, consolidation will be the name of the game for the Indian real estate industry over the next five years. Larger players will peak in strength by around 2021, and smaller players will be eroded. Equity investment – or the lack of it – will play a deciding role.
SOURCE: ECONOMIC TIMES
Under Construction Flat Booking Finds Tax Deduction Under Time Constraints
If a buyer makes a transaction to book an under-construction flat and if he acquires it within the three-year period of the sale of his old house, then he is entitled to a tax deduction, says a ruling from the Mumbai bench of the Income-tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT). If an apartment is booked in an under construction project than it must be viewed as a method of constructing residential tenements, says the December 18 judgment.
That means if the buyer uses the entire gain from the transaction to buy another house within two years or construct another house within three years. The two- and three-year period applies even if the buyer bought another house a year before selling the first one. But the property should have been bought in the name of the seller.
It is mandatory that within a period of two years after or one year before the date of transfer of old house, the taxpayer should construct a residential house or acquire another residential house within a period of three years from the date of transfer of the old house. The date of receipt of compensation will determine the period of acquisition or construction in a case of compulsory acquisition.
This exemption is effective and can only be claimed in respect of one residential house property purchased/constructed in India. In the case of multiple house purchases or constructions, the exemption under section 54 will be available in respect of one house only. Any purchases made outside the country does not fall under any kind of exemption. Section 54 gives relaxation in such cases by providing relief to the taxpayer who sells his residential house and acquires another residential house from the gained capital.
After the sale of an asset, the difference between the buying price and the selling price is a capital gain or a capital loss. These are further classified as long-term or short-term. If a property is held for 24 months or less, with effective from 2017-18, then that asset is treated as Short Term Capital Asset. Then an investor can make
treated as Long Term Capital Asset. Then only a Long Term Capital Gain (LTCG) or Long Term Capital Loss (LTCL) can be made on that investment.
ITAT agreed that booking of a new flat in an under-construction apartment should be considered as a case of “construction” and not “purchase”, hence following the earlier decisions of the Bombay high court and the tribunal itself. Further ITAT allowed the fact that the construction can began prior to the date of sale of the old asset. Same was stated in the earlier judicial decisions of the Karnataka high court and Ahmedabad ITAT, that the date of commencement is not relevant but it is the completion of construction that comes in relevance to section 54.
HDFC and Quikr Make A Deal
According to a deal between HDFC and Quikr, a stake of more than 3 percent will be given to the mortgage giant in return to its transfer of offline and online real estate brokerage business to the classified ads platform.
After acquiring Commonfloor in 2016 Quikr already has a major presence in online real estate broking.
“Most of the searches for real estate are moving online. Quikr has a much bigger presence online. Through this deal, we are partnering Quikr in the broking business,” said HDFC MD Renu Sud Karnad. According to her, this deal will strengthen Quirks position with offline support.
The deal suggests that HDFC will transfer to Quikr its entire shareholding in HDFC Realty, a real estate brokerage platform, and HDFC Developers, which runs the HDFC RED online platform.
Karnad added that the deal expects Quikr to generate home loan leads for HDFC. The transaction consists of a co-branded alliance between both parties and the HDFC brand will continue to be used online for a year.
The e-real estate classifieds platform HDFC RED has around 7,000 project listings and generates traffic of over 80,000 unique visitors per month. HDFC Realty has a 300-member, in-house sales team, and 7,000-strong nationwide broker network. Avendus Capital was the exclusive financial adviser to Quikr while Kotak Investment Banking acted as the exclusive financial adviser to HDFC on this.
30 million monthly users make Quikr India’s largest classifieds platform. It runs multiple vertical businesses across real estate, automobiles, jobs, services, and goods. The Quikr Home, its real estate vertical generates 3.5 million monthly unique visitors.
Both companies intend to work closely and conduct analytics and identify potential homebuyers, and therefore home loan customers, early in their home-buying journey. Quikr founder and CEO Pranay Chulet said, “We see great synergies between Quikr and HDFC as we start working together to bring a seamless online-to-offline platform to developers and consumers.”
Retaining The Sustainability: GRIHA Launches Star Rating For Urban Homes
Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA), is the National Rating System of India, a Sanskrit word meaning – ‘Abode’. Human architecture has always consumed resources in the form of energy, water and material from the environment. From their construction to operation, these habitats absorb the resources throughout their life cycles, emitting wastes in the end. This emission could be direct in the form of municipal wastes or indirect emission into the atmosphere, such as from electricity generation. Hence GRIHA was formed to reduce an architecture’s resource consumption, waste production and overall environment impact up to certain national acceptable limits.
In attempt to quantify all these aspects, like energy consumption, waste generation etc. GRIHA tries to manage, control and bring down the respective to the best possible limit. Being a rating tool, it helps people to assess the performance of their respective projects against the national benchmarks.
Hence it becomes an evaluation of the environmental performance of an architecture on a holistic level. Covering its entire life cycle, this evaluation provides a specific standard for a ‘green building’. This rating system aims to strike a balance between established institutions and emerging concepts, on a national as well as the international level.
The process starts with an online submission of documents according to the criteria. Then a team of professionals and experts from GRIHA Secretariat takes a site visit for the evaluation of the building. There are four different sections categorized by 34 criteria in GRIHA rating system. Some of them are site selection and site planning, conservation and efficient utilization of resources, building operation and maintenance, and innovation.
Sanjay Seth, CEO, Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA) Council says, “A rating between one and five stars is being provided, helping the costumers to know about the sustainability of the houses”.
According to the Union Minister, Hardeep Singh Puri, the climate resilient and sustainable buildings are the need of the hour. As the government is aiming to construct around 1.2 crore houses for the urban poor under the affordable housing scheme.
In one of his keynote addresses, Andreas Baum, Ambassador of Switzerland to India and Bhutan said that the Indo Swiss collaboration is operating with the Indian Bureau of Energy Efficiency in the development of guidelines for energy efficient housing.
“At present India is witnessing a rapid urbanisation, if each building becomes greener than the last one, then we have a huge opportunity and hope for our country. We need to look beyond the conventional methods of building, in order to provide our citizens with a good quality of life. Hence, GRIHA gains important in meeting our national goals with respect to a sustainable society”, says Dr Ajay Mathur, director general, TERI & president, GRIHA Council.
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