Key reforms in real estate will boost the demand: say industry experts

The government's various policy and reform initiatives over the last two and half years aimed at improving transparency and ease of doing business in realty sector will infuse much-needed confidence and trust in the sector, said industry participants.

The moves related to Real Estate Regulatory Act, Real Estate Investment Trusts, smart cities, Goods & Services Tax and the most recent demonetization will eventually boost the demand for real estate, which has the maximum linkag to other industries after agriculture.

In its mid-term performance analysis for the Modi government's realty-specific initiatives, international property consultant JLL India rated the reforms at moderately successful level expecting faster implementation of the same. It has noted overall revival and steady pace of growth for India's real estate markets under Modi's Government.

'The recent demonetization drive has definitely helped the government score well on regulations and transparency. We have taken a holistic view of the continued political will towards reforms in the real estate sector - and the very real challenges the government faces. 'Improved transparency will drive increased participation by institutional investors in India. With strong linkages between regulations, transparency and real estate, we assign it a high weightage,' said Ramesh Nair, COO - Business & International Director, JLL India.

The most imminent change that will impact the sector in the years to come is the implementation of RERA that will increase transparency, which in turn will bring back homebuyers' confidence. The real benefits would be that the buyer will be ensured of a dedicated governing body, timely project completion, complete information on the project and amenities promised.

Given that investments are extremely crucial for a capital-intensive sector such as real estate, policy initiatives on Foreign Direct Investment liberalisation, interest rates, REITs and private equity flows etc. have a strong bearing on the overall investment scenario.

'The reforms such as RERA, demonetization and steps to improve ease of doing business have ushered in higher transparency while discouraging parallel economy. This will prompt developers to focus on completing their projects in a time bound manner thereby increasing customer confidence,' said Rubi Arya, Executive Vice Chairman, Milestone Capital Advisors. According to her, as the property sector has been subdued for some time now, it offers for institutional investors an opportunity with better pricing and falling interest rates. The long term fundamentals are also looking intact due increased transparency and governance thereby providing attractive returns on investments in real estate as an asset class.

Realty developers agree that they will have to adjust to the new environment and more specifically, modify their business model whilst adhering to stricter compliance norms. However, they are also hopeful that in the long term all of these factors will help strengthening the sector.

'Last two and a half year has been a good beginning for affordable housing, REITS and transparency through regulations. There will be a 'new normal' in real estate in the near future.

This will benefit all who are compliant and respond to the market, but the huge volumes hat are expected to be executed will also depend on how the overall economy fares. Hence it is very essential that builders get organized and financial institutions put their funds into the sector on easier terms,' said Rajeev Talwar, CEO, DLF and chairman of realtors' body NAREDCO.

Apart from the initiative taken so far, the government is also expected to push the efforts on low income and affordable housing in the upcoming Union Budget for 2017-18. In a bid to boost mass housing and achieving vision of 'Housing For All by 2022', Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already announced measures including financial assistance for urban and rural poor for buying and building homes.

Homebuyers in affordable and low cost housing segment have been provided with interest subvention of 3% and 4% for loans of up to Rs 12 lakh and Rs 9 lakh, respectively, under Prime Minister Awas Yojana (PMAY). The move is expected to bolster low income housing in peripheral localities of urban areas as demand for such housing projects is likely to improve.

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