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Investing in home or a piece of land is the number one priority for all of us (Indians) and generations can vouch that this strategy in the long run pays off. I had been investing in Indian real estate market since 1998 and was lucky to be part of the great run. Thanks to the people around me who had assisted me to invest safely since then. Now that I am in India and directly involved in some of these deals, I believe that not only NRIs but even local investors have to be careful with the gimmicks played by builders and brokers. Absence of law and law enforcement in this sector keeps the end investors on toe and builders and brokers take full advantage of the same. For NRIs it’s more difficult as they may be investing by looking at brochures and tall promises made by builders and brokers but they need to be very careful. Here is a list of things that you may consider evaluating before you invest.
Possession of Projects: It is very common for builders to promise delivery dates of projects, but it is almost sure that you can add at least 2-3 years to the actual possession date. Some projects are even delayed by 3-4 years; this can jeopardize your investment or your plans of moving to the new place. There is no penalty to the builder for this delay, sometimes back builders have started adding penalty clause but that will make you laugh.
Location: Most of us know location is one key element when we invest in real estate. Builders spend lots of money in creating very attractive brochures which carry most of the information about projects including location maps; anything which is not a part of builder’s location is generally shown as lush green area, you may want to check in real what exists nearby as in some cases you may find offices, apartments or malls but in some cases there will be railway lines and noisy roads going behind your plot or apartment.
Sale on Projection: This may be happening in other places as well, but this has happened in Gurgaon where the Government had announced to build a highway and builders started creating land banks and further started selling apartments, villas and plots on the highway which never existed. You may experience that your apartment or dream house is ready but they are not accessible because there is no road. Dwarka expressway is one example where most of the reputed builders are sitting on people’s money and expressway was supposed to be ready by 2011. Here we are in 2014, and people still cannot find a way to their homes.
Increase of Area: This problem is quite strange and seems illegal. Few times people had been sent letters to deposit more money than what is in the contract because builders claim that area allocated on the plan of apartment/plot is more than what was actually mentioned in the contract. I don’t understand how the area can change in the end when architects make the plan, and then the plan gets approved by the Govt agencies. Only few cash strapped builders carry these practices but you still need to be careful.
Sale before Proper Approvals: Few very strange cases where buyers are struck so badly that they have no options left other than taking a loss on the investment they made. Ansals Aravali, a 2500 acres community where 1 acre and 2 acre plots had been allocated to buyers, builder had provided all facilities like water, electric etc, farm house had been made and 10 years later buyers find out that builder had not taken all clearances from the required Govt agencies, which resulted, no more construction and even demolish all farm houses which are constructed by the buyers. Scared now? These farm houses may have been sold years back, but just few weeks back SuperTech had been ordered by high court to demolish two of their premier towers in Noida because they had not followed the rules.
Soft Launch Advantage/Disadvantage: I got an opportunity to invest in Gurgaon through tier 1 builders and brokers and found that some of the information probably is not even known to the regular buyers. Although nothing is hidden, I still think when people invest they are not aware of these facts because they generally deal with brokers. Anytime when the project is launched by a builder to the regular public, the builder probably already has sold their inventory to very big investors called under writers, then further these underwriters subcontract to brokers to find small investors, who buys 2-10 units and then further launch date is announced for normal public. In this process, builders make sure that their entire inventory is gone but during the process every middle party involved makes money. This entire process is called soft launch, it’s advisable to find out trusted brokers and hunt for these deals but sometimes soft launched projects may not have all approvals in place, which could put your investment in jeopardy.
Business Ethics: Observed that business ethics like any other business in India are far in this vertical as well, if you have bad luck, these brokers can play bad games and as bad that sometimes they may be selling you some property which is sold twice or a piece of land that is illegal or may not even have all the approvals in place. Always refrain from giving any direct money to brokers, they can run away forever.
Super Area Confusion/Trick: Try to understand, what is the actual build up area are you going to get when you buy any real estate. Builders generally charge you for super area but they will never mention what will be the built up area. In some cases, I even found that when I bought an office on the first floor, it had a ratio of super area and build up area of 65% but when bought the office in the same complex on ground floor then ratio became 50%.
No EMIs Trick: Real estate market is softer in India since 2012, builders are now coming up with the new gimmicks, they are promoting that you do not pay until you get possession or all your EMIs are paid on your behalf etc. Be careful and be aware of the fact that all these offers have interest factored in the price. There is no way that the builder is going to work in your favor. Protect yourself.
I had bought many properties abroad but never faced any of the above problems. Everything is black and white, but if you are investing in real estate in India then there is no doubt that the rewards could be handsome but be extra careful and be extra vigilant.
(This blog is dedicated to Aastha my daughter, who is in 5th grade, checks my blog stats every day, since I do not write frequently, this time she wanted me to write a blog as her birthday present, so that stats go up. :))