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Gera in News

Budget 2014: Higher FDI realty encouraging

Times of India - 11 July, 2014

PUNE: Pragmatic measures to support the country's housing sector proposed in the Budget will encourage developers to plan larger residential projects and attract substantial investments from Indian and overseas investors, real estate developers from the city have said.

Allowing foreign direct investment (FDI) in projects of 20,000 sqm (earlier threshold was 50,000 sqm) and raising the cap on FDI from $5 million to $10 million with a three-year lock-in period after completion were also encouraging measures, the developers said.

The city has demonstrated a robust demand for homes despite subdued economic sentiments and the sector attracted private equity investment of Rs 1,300 crore in 2013. It continues to be a favourite destination for private investment in the sector, they said.

The proposal to create a congenial atmosphere for real estate investment trusts (REITs) would help mobilize large funds for projects, developers said. Rohit Gera, vice-president of Credai Pune Metro said that the introduction of REITs would provide access to capital markets for income-generating real estate, thereby creating a new class of financial assets as well as providing an exit structure for those investing in the development of these assets.

Sachin Kulkarni, managing director of Vastushodh Projects, which is focused on the affordable housing segment, said the Rs 4,000 crore allocation for affordable housing to be routed through the National Housing Bank was a substantial provision. The fund would help micro-housing finance companies, Kulkarni said. He added that the allocation of Rs 8,000 crore for rural housing would create a widespread opportunity to create housing in these areas.

J C Sharma, vice-chairman of Sobha Developers Limited, said that REIT could prove to be encouraging for the real estate developers' community as it would attract long-term finance from foreign and domestic sources, including non-resident Indians.

He added that the allocation of Rs 7,060 crore to develop 100 smart cities as satellite towns of larger cities was a welcome step and was the right way to develop cities of the future. This would address the issue of burgeoning pressure on limited resources of land, water, roads, sewage systems, power and other amenities in existing cities. "We expect this to have a positive ripple effect on the housing sector," Sharma said.

Anuj Puri, chairman and country head of real estate advisory JLL India, said the increase in the income tax deduction limit under Section 80C from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 1.5 lakh and in the deduction limit on interest payment for housing loans from Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 2 lakh would lead to a vastly improved sentiment in the housing markets.

The Budget has given indirect benefits for the residential sector by increasing the individual income tax exemption limit to Rs 2.5 lakh. This will increase disposable income of individuals and help them service home loans better.

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