India’s top 50 real estate investment destinations of 2015

Makaan.com, conducted a research to identify top areas for property investment in 2015. The research was conducted to help the investor community identify & shortlist areas that hold the promise of good returns based on their past performance. The analysis was conducted basis data compiled in March 2015 and tracked the residential property price movement over the past one year and came up with a list of 50 localities / areas with maximum price appreciation (please see the table below). The research also gave property recommendation for people falling under different income brackets.

There are 14, 11, 9 and 7 localities / areas from Mumbai, Delhi NCR, Pune and Bangalore respectively making them the most favored among the investor’s community. Chennai and Ahmedabad are represented by 3 areas each whereas Kolkata and Hyderabad got represented in the list with 2 and 1 area(s) respectively. We hope you benefit from this analysis.

InvestmentDestinations

City wise analysis of Top 50 areas for property investment in India

Mumbai: Mumbai seems to be the most favorable investment destination as 14 areas feature among the top 50 list. Chembur East in Mumbai Central Line, Vile Parle (East) & Bandra (East) in Mumbai South-West and Goregaon (East) in Mumbai Andheri-Dahisar have posted over 20% price appreciation. Mumbai has seen stabilization in property prices on account of un-sold inventory and delay in new project approvals. Areas in Thane and Navi Mumbai are finding favor among the investors who want to invest in sub 10,000 psf properties with the promise of high returns

New Delhi: A total of 11 areas from Delhi NCR feature in the research. It seems the city has been able to hold on to the momentum inspite of the overall fall in property transaction in the past year. Most of the high growth areas are in the NCR region of Noida, Greater Noida, Ghaziabad and Gurgaon. Prominent areas in the top 50 list include Techzone – 4, Pari Chowk, Noida Expressway in Greater Noida; Sector-46, Sector-120, Sector-110 in Noida; Sector 54 and Sector 73 in Gurgaon. All these have appreciated by between the range of 45% to 21% in the past one year essentially because of infrastructure development, connectivity and lower base price. Rohini in North Delhi is the only locality that is in main city of Delhi and has featured in the top 50 investment list, the area has given 11% price appreciation. Areas in Delhi NCR that have given the best returns to the investors are Sector 46 Noida, Sector 54 and 73 in Gurgoan. Property prices in these areas have appreciated in the range of 35-45%.

Pune: The top areas that have appreciated the most in Pune are Ambegaon, Bibewadi, Chinchwad. These areas have shown an appreciation ranging from 22-26% over a period of one year. Pune has seen a continuous influx of IT companies and the city is emerging as a viable option for investors from Mumbai. This trend is likely to continue for the next few years.

Bangalore: Bangalore has 7 area which are featured in top 50 investment list of which RMV in Bangalore North, Rajarajeshwari Nagar from Bangalore West, HAL Layout from Bangalore East, are the 3 areas in Bangalore that have given the best price appreciation. Property prices here have appreciated by between 7-21% in past one year. The ongoing metro corridor is casting a positive rub off on some of the nearby areas which might have caused favorable sentiments.

Ahmedabad: Prahlad Nagar and Satellite Road from Ahmedabad West and Gandhi Nagar from Ahmedabad Central are the 3 areas in Ahmedabad that feature among the top 50 list. The city’s localities have shown an increase in prices in the 11-16% range

Chennai: Porur in Chennai West and Pallavaram, and Thoraipakkam in Chennai South are also featured among the top 50 list. Property prices in these region have appreciated between 11-28%. The top investment locality of Chennai is Thoraipakkam which has shown 28% appreciation.

Others: Kondapur from Hyderabad, Garia and Tollygunge localities from Kolkata are other areas that have made it to the top 50 most investor friendly areas in India. These areas have given an appreciation between 8-11%

Commenting on the research, Aditya Verma CEO of Makaan.com said “Over the past 12 months property prices in India have moved in a narrow range with a slight negative bias. Just like one can identify good stocks in a depressed stock market, one can identify good investment areas in the current property market. Overall property prices in India are likely to remain stable over the next 12 months. Investors can take advantage of this situation and strike a good bargain”

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What China learned from Lee Kuan Yew… and India didn’t

One of the asymmetries of history is the lack of correspondence between the abilities of some leaders and power of their countries,” Henry Kissinger famously wrote of Lee Kuan Yew. Kissinger’s contention was that a technocrat like Lee deserved to lead a bigger country than Singapore, the city of 5 million he ruled for three decades. Yet, given the huge influence Lee had on the late Deng Xiaoping’s policies after Deng decided to move away from Communism in the late 1970s, it’s possible to argue that Lee’s economic principles helped create the Chinese juggernaut.

Deng’s decision to open up special investment zones for foreign investors, starting with Shenzhen at the tip of southern China in late 1979, was prompted by a visit toSingapore in 1978. Deng quickly dispatched several hundred Chinese officials to study Singapore, a special economic zone all its own, soon after. Today, Shenzhen boasts one of the busiest ports in the world, total foreign direct investment of $30 billion, skyscrapers and tropical gardens, and looks like a Singapore knock-off. Several elements of the Singapore development formula laid the foundation of what Beijing calls “capitalism with Chinese characteristics”.

The anomalous hybrid of state capitalism led by what Beijing believes is a benign dictatorship in China should more truthfully be called “capitalism with Singaporean characteristics”. Singapore remains the busiest port in the world, but half the world’s largest ports are now in China. Hewlett-Packard (HP) and its computer assembly factories were among the earliest foreign investors in Singapore along with Texas Instruments. Today, HP is a big investor in Chongqing, a 30 million city-state of a sort in China, where one in every four laptops in the world is made.

The Chinese bureacracy’s ‘build it, investors will come’ approach to infrastructure was perfected first by Singapore’s trade promotion arm, the Economic Development Board (EDB) in the 1980s and 90s. No other country in Asia pursued economic diplomacy quite like the EDB did. By the mid-1990s, half of Singapore’s output was electronic products. China’s obsession with exports and electronics assembly can also be attributed to having learned from the Singaporean textbook. Consider the outsized imprint China and Asia has on global trade: in 1990s, Asia accounted for a little over a quarter of global manufacturing output. By 2013, that figure was about 46 per cent — with China responsible for half of that.

In repeated visits dating back to the death of Zhou Enlai in January 1976, Lee reached out to China in a way that the leaders of Japan, colonial Hong Kong and Taiwan were neither inclined to nor able to for complicated historical reasons. Nor did these countries display the Singaporean-style single-mindedness that China does in courting foreign investors today. Recently, Vivek Chaand Sehgal, chairman of Samvardhana Motherson Group, the massive Indian auto parts multinational with operations in China and Europe, recounted how surprised he was to receive a visit in New Delhi some years ago from the mayor of a city near Shanghai who was not only prepared to provide land, but even ensure that it had the right vaastu.

Like Lee, who was famously a critic of Western values of unbridled democracy and relaxed social policies, Deng was agnostic about using capitalist ideas to help transform China. Emblematic of this attitude of pragmatism were remarks Lee made in an interview with Fareed Zakaria in Foreign Affairs in 1994: “If we did not have the good points of the West to guide us, we wouldn’t have got out of our backwardness. We would have been a backward economy with a backward society.”

Much of Lee’s notions of ‘Asian values’ and democracy not being right for Asia were nonsense and proven wrong when the baton of free elections and a free press was passed across Asia, from Korea to Taiwan to Indonesia. His idea pushing graduates to marry graduates was even worse. President Xi Jinping’s current plans to ‘reform’ the Chinese judiciary while rounding up most human rights lawyers are not dissimilar to Lee’s tendency to use the courts in Singapore to impose ruinous damages for libel on opposition politicians and Western publications, while ensuring the courts were efficient in enforcing contracts. Even when governing Hong Kong, Beijing is guided not by Hong Kong’s own liberal values and its history of independent courts and a free press, but by Lee’s problematic political legacy in Singapore, a much tamer city.

In occasional dispatches from Singapore, I could not help ridiculing editorials in The Straits Timesthat called on people to be punctual in the horrified tones of someone criticising thievery. Its malls, seemingly erected above every other metro station, drove me insane. But look how shopping dominates the landscape of Dubai, Hong Kong and parts of Mumbai and Delhi today and it is hard not to conclude that we are all Singaporeans now. Photos in the local newspaper shaming people who did not flush in public toilets seemed absurd, but perhaps less so when you are an inhabitant of a country with a shortage of public toilets and where clean public loos are only to be found in Singaporean-styled shopping malls. Having listened to Lee address American Fortune 500 CEOs in Singapore two decades ago, I can attest that few leaders sermonised quite as annoyingly as he did, but he was often right.

When India started opening its economy in the early 1990s, Singapore rushed in with offers of help. The Singaporeans were rebuffed time and again by India’s sclerotic bureaucracy. By contrast, China’s good fortune was that it had leaders who adapted the successful blueprint that city-states such as Hong Kong and Singapore offered because they realised China urgently needed employment for hundreds of millions in just the labour-intensive industries those two cities had built their fortunes on decades earlier. Perhaps Deng’s pragmatism in importing ideas from the tiny city-state Lee built would never have worked in a country as uniquely complicated as India. The tragedy is none of our leaders really tried.

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Indians biggest buyers of Dubai real estate in 2014: Report

Indians were the largest investors in the promising Dubai real estate market in terms of the number of buyers and transactions made in 2014 followed by Emiratis, Saudis and Kuwaitis, according to a new report.

The report by Omega Real Estate, a real-estate company owned by ‘The H Holding Enterprise’ said the Dubai real estate market looks promising and stable, driven by renewed confidence among investors.
At the The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) level, Emiratis topped the list, followed by Saudis and Kuwaitis. At the pan-Arab level, Jordanians, Egyptians and Lebanese were the major buyers, the report said.

Basing its assumption on a recent report of Dubai Land Department (DLD), Omega confirmed that property prices in Dubai have continued their recovery, albeit at a slower pace.

“This was a remarkably successful year for Dubai property market. Investments were more diverse than ever with new areas coming on the radar. With sales accounting of over 51 percent of the total transactions, it is now clear than bigger and more serious buyers are coming into the market, engaging in long-term investments,” Hafeez Abdullah, Chairman of ‘The H Holding Enterprise’ said.

According to Abdullah, the sector is gaining maturity, filtering out speculators and encouraging more end-users to become retail buyers.

“Such trends have boomed global markets and are now on the way to making the UAE sector more mature,” he said.

“The most prominent areas are usually measured on the basis of completion of sales or mortgages,” he added.

The report said that newer areas are coming under the scanner, enlarging the footprint of Dubai’s real-estate hotspots.

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Unitech to pay penalty to buyers for delay in Gurgaon project

Realty firm Unitech Monday said that the delivery of the flats in its housing project ‘Residences’ at Gurgaon got delayed and the company would pay the penalty to the buyers as per the agreement.

Unitech said this while responding to a clarification sought by BSE with respect to reports that buyers have filed FIR against the company.

“The matter pertains to a housing project known as Residences in Gurgaon, Haryana. All sanctions/approvals, no objections etc as required under the law have been procured by the company.

“Due to reason such as market recession, shortage of labour, ban imposed by the High Court on use of ground water for purposes of construction and delay in clearances from the regulatory authorities etc the delivery of the apartments to allottees got delayed,” Unitech said in a filing to the BSE.

Unitech is developing over 1,300 flats in this project, which has been delayed by the 2-3 years.

The company said that the process of handing over of apartments in the project ‘Residences’ is already on.

“We reiterate that Unitech is a law abiding company and are in compliance with the laws of the land. Unitech is fully committed to handing over all the flats,” Unitech said, adding that the company will pay penalty to the allottees as per buyers agreement for any delay in handing over the flats.

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DLF to sell properties worth Rs 15,000 crore in various projects

India’s largest realty firm DLF plans to monetise properties worth about Rs 15,000 crore under various projects to boost its cash flow and reduce debt, a senior company official said. DLF had a net debt of Rs 20,336 crore at the end of the December quarter. “We have a total of Rs 14,000-15,000 crore stocks. Out of this, Rs 4,000 crore is in finished projects and more than Rs 10,000 crore is unsold stocks in projects which are launched and are under development,” said DLF Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Ashok Tyagi.

These stocks would get monetised as and when the demand picks up resulting in improvement in cash-flow as well as reduction of debt, he said when asked about the company’s strategy to reduce the huge debt. Stating that sales have been “low” since last year, Tyagi said bookings would comfortably cross Rs 3,000 crore in this fiscal, lower than Rs 4,070 crore in the 2013-14 financial year.

DLF has achieved sales bookings of about Rs 2,700 crore till February 15 of the current fiscal. With property market showing sluggishness, Tyagi said the company is looking to raise about Rs 3,000 crore by selling about 50 per cent stake each in 4 housing projects to private equity firms.

“Since sales are slow, we are planning to raise about Rs 3,000 crore through private equity. In the short term, PE funds will be the substitute for the cash flow which would have normally come from sales,” Tyagi said.

Tyagi said only about Rs 6,500 crore debt pertains to development arm DevCo and the same would be eventually reduced with monetisation of these Rs 15,000 crore worth stocks. On reducing of about Rs 14,000 crore debt pertaining to rental business RentCo, DLF CFO said the company plans to launch two Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) to monetise the rent-generating commercial assets. The company earns an annual rental income of over Rs 2,000 crore from its office buildings and shopping malls covering about 30 million sq ft area. Last month, DLF had reported 9 per cent decline in consolidated net profit at Rs 131.79 crore for the quarter ended December against Rs 145.29 crore in the year-ago period. Income from operations fell 5 per cent to Rs 1,956.72 crore for the third quarter of this fiscal from Rs 2,058.42 crore in the corresponding period of the previous year.

Recently, Sebi slapped fines totalling Rs 86 crore on DLF, its top executives, their family members and various other related entities for entering into “sham transactions” to mislead IPO investors about eight years ago. DLF had said that it did not violate any laws and would challenge the order. The company had also said it was guided by the advice of “eminent legal advisors, merchant bankers and audit firms” while formulating its IPO documents. DLF has a land bank of about 295 million square feet, of which 50 million square feet is under development.

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Bharti to enter Residential Realty

Bharti Realty, the real estate arm of Sunil Bharti Mittal-led Bharti Enterprises, is gearing up to enter the premium residential market in FY16. While the overall real estate sector in India has seen muted growth in recent years, high-end residential projects have been high in demand.

The Tatas and Godrej are among the other big business houses that have presence in residential real estate.

Currently, Bharti Realty has projects in the retail and commercial segments and it is looking to enter the residential market starting with Delhi-national capital region (NCR).

“Bharti Realty is scouting for land in north India, especially in Delhi-NCR, for its first residential project. It might also form joint ventures with land owners for the same,” a person close to the development told the Business Standard.

He added that the company might also look at partnership with existing developers, especially cash-strapped ones looking for funds.

When contacted, a company spokesperson declined to comment.

In August last year, S K Sayal was appointed the new managing director and CEO of Bharti Realty for “conceptualising and implementing a scalable business strategy and providing overall leadership to the business”, an earlier statement from the company had said. Sayal would also explore and seek new business opportunities via joint development models to scale the realty business to the next level of growth, the statement had added.

Apart from telecom business, Bharti group has been in the news for its retail foray along with American chain Walmart through an equal partnership in cash-and-carry or wholesale business, and more recently for parting of ways.

Bharti continues to operate its retail chain Easyday, while the cash-and-carry business is now fully owned by Walmart. The group’s other interests included insurance and agro-products, where it could not meet the success of telecom and diluted stakes in its ventures.

Aviation was another area of interest, but had not entered the sector yet. Payment bank is its latest new business venture.

In commercial real estate, Worldmark – a high-end office-cum-retail project in Delhi’s upcoming Aerocity – will be functional soon offering 1.5 million sq feet of space.

Recently, Bharti Retail had launched its first mall, The Pavilion, in Ludhiana. Till now, the firm has delivered two million sq ft of commercial space in NCR, while another 3.5 million is under construction. It is also setting up a mixed use project in Kolkata, according to information available on the company website.

Even as India’s real estate sector is going through a slowdown phase, developers are hard-pressed for funds and inventory of unsold homes is piling up. According to experts, this is the right time to enter the sector as one would get a good deal on land valuation. And if it is lucky, the company would have its product offerings ready when the market revives.

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Budget 2015: Tax sops may help REITs attract $1 billion funds in 2015

Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) could attract $1 billion worth funds this calendar year following tax benefits announced in the Union Budget, according to property consultant JLL India.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley yesterday rationalised capital gain tax regime for the sponsors of newly-created business structure REITs.

Further, the Budget also proposed that the rental income arising from real estate assets directly held by the REIT would be allowed to pass through and to be taxed in the hands of the unit holders of the REIT.

“It’s a great decision. REITs will become a reality now,” JLL India Chairman and Country Head Anuj Puri told PTI.

“We expect one or two REITs to be launched and get listed this calendar year worth about one billion dollar,” he added.

He said that foreign and domestic institutions would invest in REITs initially, before retail investors get excited for this newly created product.

In September 2014, market regulator SEBI had notified norms for listing of REITs that would help attract more funds in a transparent manner into the real estate sector.

REITs, which can be listed on stock exchanges, would help channelise both domestic and overseas investments into real estate projects in the country.

India’s largest realty firm DLF has recently announced plans to launch two REITs in the next fiscal to monetise its office assets. Others developers like Parsvnath and Bangalore-based Embassy Office Parks are also looking at this option.

Although partial pass through was given in the last year’s budget presented in July, real estate developers and property consultants have been demanding further tax clarity in REITs to ensure the launch of this trust for commercial assets.

“A step was taken in the last Budget to encourage Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) and Infrastructure Investments Trusts (INViTs) by providing partial pass through to them,” Jaitley had said in his budget speech yesterday.

Stating that these collective investment vehicles have an important role to revive construction activity, the Finance Minister had said that a large quantum of funds is locked up in various completed projects which need to be released to facilitate new infrastructure projects to take off.

“I therefore propose to rationalise the capital gains regime for the sponsors exiting at the time of listing of the units of REITs and INViTs, subject to payment of Securities Transaction Tax (STT). The rental income of REITs from their own assets will have pass through facility,” Jaitley said.

REITs, a new investment avenue in India on the lines of one in developed markets like the US, UK, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore, can be listed and trading would be allowed in units of REITs like any other security on stock exchanges.

The tax incentives on would give much needed relief to the real estate sector, which is facing a huge slowdown in demand from last few years that had led to liquidity crunch and delay in completion of existing projects.

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Economic Survey 2015 Highlights

Highlights of Economic Survey 2015

INFLATION, GROWTH

* Evidence shows India recovering, but not yet surging
* Upside risk to inflation from monsoon, crude price
* Inflation showed declining trend during April-December
* Inflation not seen up significantly from current level
* Monetary framework to show commitment to low inflation
* Inflation likely to remain in 5.0-5.5% range
* Jan Dhan plan, Aadhaar to help target subsidies
* Outlook for macro economy generally optimistic
* FY15 price subsidy pegged at 4.24% of GDP
* GDP growth points to industrial recovery
* GST, direct benefit transfer to be game changers
* Recommend retail FDI reform to better farm supply chain
* India must adhere to medium term fiscal gap target of 3%
* GST, direct benefit transfers to be game changers
* Labour, capital, land market distortions limit economic growth
* FY15 GDP growth largely driven by domestic demand
* Fall in crude prices has compressed import bill
* Budget aim of gross tax revenue growth over estimated
* Economy appears to have gone past slowdown
* Double digit economic growth trajectory now a possibility
* Growth to get boost from likely monetary policy easing
* Muted export growth source of concern
* Private investment must be engine of long-term growth
* India in a sweet spot for big bang reforms now
* Subsidy doesn’t seem best weapon to fight poverty
* May have to cut some spending FY15 to meet fiscal gap aim
* Need to cut expenditure if revenue not picking up
* Macro-economic fundamentals have dramatically improved
* Falling inflation likely to persist going forward

FISCAL HEALTH

* Govt remains committed to fiscal consolidation
* Need medium to long-term fiscal policy framework
* Govt borrow should fund invest, not for current spend
* Fiscal consolidation quality key to make it sustainable
* Urge govt to aim to bring dn fiscal gap to 3.0% of GDP
* Higher tax share to states won’t impact fiscal discipline
* Must start expenditure control process to cut fiscal gap
* India forex reserves 2nd largest among economies with CAD

INDUSTRY, INFRASTRUCTURE

* Divest mop-up so far Rs 240 billion this FY
* Coal price reform must factor in impact on power price
* Banking hobbled by policy that impedes competition
* Potential for further gains from coal pricing reforms
* Public invest in railways to be key to growth revival
* High rail freight rates hinder industry competitiveness
* Private investment must remain primary engine of longrun growth
* Railway freight rates among the highest in the world

REFORMS

* Scope for big-bang reforms now
* Link post office with Aadhaar-based benefit transfers
* Potential for large gains from coal pricing reforms

AGRICULTURE

* Need national common market for farm goods
* Need law amendment for trading in some agri commodities
* Market distortion key problem in farm growth
* FCI rejig panel report ideas useful for food policy
* Rs 107.82 billion food subsidy given as of January 9, up 20%
* Agricultural strategy must focus on raising yield, productivity
* Food grain output 2014-15 seen 257.07 million tonnes
* All states urged to drop fruits, vegetables from APMC
* Structural shifts in inflationary process underway
* Favour constitutional clause for common farm goods market
* Asked states for policy help to farm markets in private sector

FINANCIAL SECTOR, MARKETS

* Must remove market access barriers to boost services sector
* Must boost capital market, bond financing going forward
* Capital, labour, land market distortions hurting manufacturing
* SLR need, priority lending creating fincl repression
* Commercial banks saw increase in gross NPAs
* Foreign portfolio flows have stabilised the rupee
* Trade performance signals good time to scrap gold curbs
* Must create extra fiscal space to ensure economic stability
* Undertaken major reform steps for banks, insurance
* India ranks well above the mean for BBB invest grade
* See some stress on asset quality of commercial banks
* Rising non-oil, non-gold imports source of concern
* Liquidity conditions remained broadly balanced
* Low inflation makes space for easing monetary condition
* Ensure borrow over the cycle only for capital formation
* Steps taken by RBI played key role in liquidity management
* Need to conclude monetary policy framework agreement
* Oil prices expected to stay benign in coming months

SUBSIDY

* Also need to rationalise subsidies to free resources
* Need to target beneficiaries better to free resources
* Ending, phasing out subsidy not feasible, nor desirable
* Subsidy on power can only benefit relatively rich
* Current study shows rich benefiting more from subsidy
* Price subsidy often regressive
* Subsidy reform to rationalise expenditure
* Subsidies via direct benefit transfers laudable goal
* Rationalisation of food subsidies needs more effort

INVESTMENT

* India ranks among most attractive invest destinations
* Invest activity seems grounded on stronger footing
* PPP model should be revitalised
* Favour greater public invest in railways
* Investment stuck in stalled projects at about 7% of GDP
* Public invest can revive growth engine in short run
* PSUs, especially railways, must lead public investment
* Expenditure switch from consumption to invest to be key

FY15 ESTIMATES

* FY15 weak import largely on sharp fall in crude prices
* FY15 saw hardly any external support to growth
* FY15 growth largely domestic demand driven
* FY15 fiscal deficit of 4.1% of GDP will be met
* FY15 CAD estimated at 1.3% of GDP
* States showed fall in share of mfg in their GDP FY15
* April-December major subsidies up 12.5% on year
* Services sector clocked double-digit growth in FY15
* Equity markets continued to do well in FY15
* FY15 price subsidy pegged at 4.24% of GDP

FY16 OUTLOOK

* 8.5% GDP growth in FY16 in realm of possibility
* 8% economic growth on assumption of favourable monsoon
* FY16 econ growth seen 8.1-8.5%
* External sector outlook most favourable since 2008
* Liquidity conditions seen comfortable in FY16
* Economy to over perform on inflation, make way for rate cut
* FY16 GDP deflator seen 2.8-3.0%
* Outlook for domestic macro economic parameters optimistic
* CAD seen less than 1.0% of GDP in FY16
* Outlook favourable for CAD, its financing
* Inflation to be 0.5-1.0% lower than RBI’s target
* FY16 CPI inflation to be in 5.0-5.5% range

MISCELLANEOUS

* Enhanced revenue generation remains govt priority
* Must scrap some norm to realise potential of services sector
* Stalling of projects seems to have plateaued
* Enhanced revenue generation is a priority going forward
* Skill development, employment major challenges
* Hyper-growth in tech start-ups, service sector
* Can balance higher public invest with fiscal discipline
* Rural penetration of IT services to drive ‘Make in India’
* India is at threshold of an urban flare-up
* Will soon scale up renewable energy capacity to 170 GW
* Insurance penetration up to 3.9% 2013 from 2.3% in 2000
* Portfolio flows pressurising long-term interest rates

 

Source – Zee Media

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One of the best kept secrets of Indian real estate is out…

The Economic Survey for the last financial year states: “Data shows that the first claim upon the savings of households is physical assets such as gold and real estate.”

That Indians love their ‘real estate’ would be like stating the obvious. But sometimes it is necessary to state the obvious as well. Why? That will soon become clear.

AkhileshTilotia, a thematic research analyst with the institutional equities arm of the Kotak Mahindra Group, makes a very interesting point in his new book The Making of India—Gamechanging Transitions. As he writes: “Thanks to its love for real estate investments, India is in a curious position of having more houses than it has households.”

This becomes clear from the Census 2011 data. “India’s households increased by 60 million to 247 million from 187 million between 2001-2011. Reflecting India’s higher ‘physical’ savings, the number of houses went up by 81 million to 331 million from 250 million. The urban increases is telling: 38 million new houses for 24 million new households,” writes Tilotia.

So what is happening here? One explanation for the number of houses rising faster than the number of households may lie in the fact that houses are being bought as investment and not to be lived in. What this means is that many Indians own more than one house and then there are many more who do not own any, because prices are way beyond what they can afford. Further, given our penchant for owning real estate, a lot of real estate is being built sheerly from the point of view of fulfilling investment demand.

This is the best possible explanation for why the number of houses has gone up at a much faster pace than the number of households. Further, those who have black money to hide, don’t bother much about the location of where houses are being built. And that explains why houses even miles away from India’s biggest cities are so expensive.The Caravan magazine in a 2011 article, when real estate investment was at its peak, quoted Gautam Bhan, a consultant with the Indian Institute for Human Settlements, to make this point: “This economy is being built solely on speculation…These properties are being built solely for investment cycles. Why else would you build halfway to Agra? If you have ten businessmen who occasionally want to get rid of black money, you’ll have an apartment building. These flats will be bought and resold and bought and resold. Nobody even needs to live there.”

So what is the way out of this mess? How can houses be built and sold at prices so that people can buy them to live in them? As I have mentioned more than a few times in the past, the government needs to actively go after the black money hidden in physical assets like gold and real estate. There is no point in trying to actively pursue all the black money that has left the country and not do anything about all the black money lying in the country.

A crackdown on black money will lead to better tax compliance, meaning more taxes for the government. Further, it will also bring down the amount of black money that goes into real estate. This is easier said than done and will need solid political will for many years, if it has to be pursued seriously. Further, it is high time that agricultural income be brought under the tax net. There is no reason that rich farmers should not be paying income tax. In fact, in cities like Shimla, Chandigarh and even the National Capital Region, all the untaxed agricultural income chasing real estate has also been responsible for driving up home prices, among other things.

Ensuring affordable housing becomes available at a large scale level should be a major priority for the Narendra Modigovernment. As the Economic Survey points out: “Nearly 30 percent of the country’s population lives in cities and urban areas and this figure is projected to reach 50 per cent in 2030.” If affordable housing does not become the order of the day slums will become as common place in other cities, as they are currently in Mumbai. And that is not a happy thought to look forward to.

Also, as Tilotia points out in his book, “more than three-fourths of urban residents live cheek by jowl in cramped spaces.” This basically happens because of two reasons. The first reason is the low FSI ratio which has made land very expensive. The second reason is “the inability to commute cheaply and quickly, which means that people have to congregate in and around areas where they can find economic activity and public infrastructure.”

If affordable housing has to take off, all this needs to be set right.

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How to sell property during a slowdown

If you want to sell an apartment, you may find it a challenging task in the current scenario with the real estate market in India is passing through difficult times. But there are ways you can improve your odds.

Advertise locally first

When you are trying to sell an apartment, as a first step, localise your search. People who have lived on rent in the area and like it, or those who have relatives living in the neighbourhood, are more amenable to a purchase. If you live in an apartment complex, put up an ad on the notice board in the lobby or on the walls near the entrance. If you have to, pay a fee to the residents’ welfare association for the purpose. Also, advertise your decision to sell the apartment on online groups run by residents.

Then reach out to a wider audience

If a local pitch does not work, broaden your search. Experts say that you are better off informing a couple of brokers who have experience in the residential market and whose business comes largely from that area. “If you inform a lot of brokers, you may get enquiries from many of them for the same clients, causing confusion and wastage of time,” says Sajid, manager-residential services, Silverline Realty, a Bengaluru-based realty consultancy. Adds Sanjay Sharma, MD, Qubrex Realty, a Gurgaon-based real estate consultancy: “When you inform only a couple of brokers, they have greater incentive to work hard at finding clients on your behalf.”

When all else fails, list your property on realty portals. The advantage of this move is that you may find a buyer directly and save on brokerage fee. The downside is that you may be flooded by calls from many brokers, including the unethical ones.

Be flexible about pricing

First survey the prices of similar properties online. Beware that these prices can at times be misleading, as S G Raja Sekharan, a lecturer of Wealth Management at Bengaluru’s Christ University, found out when he was trying to help a friend sell his flat. “We first quoted a price based on what other sellers were quoting online. That turned out to be a mistake. We wasted six months before we realised that the actual price was 10% lower,” he says.

A good broker will help you arrive at the right price. “A professional broker will arrive at a price based on recent transactions and any improvements you may have made to the flat,” says Sajid.

A slow market calls for competitive pricing. Remember that prices in the secondary market are usually lower than in the primary market, so you must set your rate lower than what the builder is quoting for similar apartments. Past transactions may not always be an accurate guide. “You can’t always go by prices in deals that happened three months ago. The market may have moved further down since then, so you need to be flexible,” says Sharma.

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Make the apartment presentable

Spruce up the apartment before you let a buyer walk in through the front door. Have it painted. It should be clean and should smell good. Take care of small flaws such as leaking pipes and faucets. “First impressions do count. If the buyer steps into the flat and finds it in a shabby state, he could get turned off,” says Sharma. Sajid warns that flaws within the flat will give the buyer a handle to beat down the price. If defects exist, inform the buyer about them early on. “At a later stage, they could turn into potential dealbreakers,” says Raja Sekharan.

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