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Affordable homes more difficult to buy

The Times Of India - page 16 - 1 March, 2012

Pune: City-based real estate sector players said the Budget had ignored the need to make homes affordable. Union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee’s leaving the cap on interest deduction of Rs 1.5 lakh untouched and retaining the limit on loan amount eligible for 1 per cent central interest subvention has disappointed many. Liberalizing both provisions would boost to buyer interest, they said. Lalit Kumar Jain, National President of Credai said the industry had expected a big boost from the budget for affordable housing through special schemes, an interest subvention of 5 to 7 % for LIG and economically weaker sections housing and promotion of rental housing through tax exemption. Rohit Gera, vice president of Credai Pune Metro, called the budget a no-show for real estate sector. Rise in excise duty and service tax favour neither the construction industry nor home buyers. The selling cost will increase leading to costlier homes. “The Government has allowed external commercial borrowings for low- cost affordable housing projects. It can provide affordable housing. The service tax exemption on rental homes is a good move. Also, continuation of 1 % interest rate subsidy on loans of Rs 15 lakh for a house of Rs. 25 lakh is welcome.” Anuj Puri, chairman and country head of real estate advisory Jones Lang LaSalle India, said Indian real estate sector does not have much to cheer about in this budget. “Exempting proceeds from sale of residential property from capital gains tax if they are invested in equity or equipment of an SME provides home owners with more reinvestment options. Currently, the only route for exemption was purchase of another property or tax-saving bonds,” he added. “The budget has encouraged affordable housing sector in the form of enhanced budgetary support and institutional support by creating a Credit Guarantee Trust fund and allowance of ECB in affordable housing,” Anurag Mathur, managing director, Cushman & Wakefield India, said.

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