HT Estates

Three possible pitfalls of going for festive subvention deals

- Ashwini Kumar Sharma

Like every year, real estate developers have started queuing up with deals and festive offers that may continue well into March next year. These offers include cash discounts, waiving of charges for a club house or location, discounts in the form of freebies such as modular kitchen, cars or gadgets, and subvention schemes.

Whileyouma­yconsidero­neof the offers if you find it suitable, you should be wary of subvention schemes even if they look attractive. There’s a catch in these schemes you may not realize immediatel­y. In fact, in July this year, the National Housing Bank (NHB) advised housing finance companies to desist from tying up with builders to provide loans for projects offering subvention schemes.

The Reserve Bank of India issued similar advice to scheduled commercial banks way back in 2013. However, some real estate developers are back with subvention schemes this year. A case in point is Mumbai-based developer Sheth Group. It has announced a “subvention scheme” onits luxury apartment project “Sheth Zuri”, located in Thane West, Mumbai. Under the scheme, “Go-Easy Deal”, homebuyers are required to pay just 5% of the property value at the time of booking. During the period of constructi­on, the developer will pay the interest on the home loan.

Under subvention schemes, the developer, typically, keeps the initial payment or down payment low, usually 5-20% of the property value, so that the deal looks easy on the pocket. The remaining amount is to be paid at the time of possession.

When you buy an apartment under a subvention scheme, you pay the initial amount, and the bankpaysth­eloanamoun­ttothe developer, according to the constructi­on stage, while the interest portion on the loan disbursed is paid by the developer.

Homebuyers benefit because they don’t need to pay interest on the home loan till the time the property remains under-constructi­on or for the period agreed upon. Developers, too, benefit, as such a scheme increases the saleabilit­y of the project.

Also, the interest rate applicable on a home loan is much less than the rate on any other loan the developer mayneedtot­aketo fund the project. “Liquidity isn’t there in the (real estate) market right now. These (subvention schemes) are good options for developers to boost sales. Also, home loan interest rates are around 8.5%, whereas any other loan the developer takes will charge at least 12% or more,” said Samantak Das, chief economist and head of research,at JLL India, a real estate consultanc­y firm.

On the face of it, subvention schemes look attractive, especially for those who want to start paying EMIs only after they get the possession of the house, but there are disadvanta­ges youmay tend to ignore.

High cost: Remember that nothing comes for free. Projects that offer subvention schemes are generally priced higher than others in the vicinity. In fact, in many projects, developers offer separate rates for the same apartment to homebuyers who opt for a subvention scheme and those who don’t. The idea is to increase the per sq.ft rates of the apartment to cover the developer’s expenses—for paying the interest on the home loan on the buyer’s behalf—to some extent.

“One should do his/her homeworkan­dcalculate every component in terms of pricing. It is advised that a buyer calculates the last per sq.ft price with and without the offers to conclude the deal,” said Samir Jasuja, founder, PropEquity, a Gurgaon-based real estate, research and analytics firm.

Impact on credit score: Usually, developers tie up with various lending institutio­ns to finance such schemes. For instance, Sheth Group has tied up with ICICI Bank to offer the subvention scheme.

During the financing process, typically, a tri-party agreement is executed between the homebuyer, the developer and the lending institutio­n. The buyer pays the down payment, the lender agrees to make further payments to the developer, and the developer agrees to paythe EMIs on behalf of the borrower till possession or till the time specified in the agreement.

Under such arrangemen­ts, the actual borrower remains the homebuyer. So if there’s any default in payment by the developer, it will be you, the homebuyer, whose credit rating will get affected.

No tax benefit: According to the Income-tax Act, 1961, a borrower can claim deduction under Section 80C against principal repayment of a home loan, up to an overall limit of ₹1.5 lakh, and under Section 24 (b) against payment of interest up to ₹2 lakh, for a self-acquired house. Tax benefit canbeclaim­ed only when the borrower gets the possession of the house. Also, the interest paid during the constructi­on period can be claimed as deduction in five equal instalment­s, starting from the year of possession; the principal repayment during the constructi­on period can’t be claimed as deduction.

This benefit, however, may not be applicable if the developer pays the interest on your behalf under the subvention scheme. “Interest paid by the developer under the subvention scheme cannot be construed as borne by the buyer, hence, it would be difficult for the buyer to avail a deduction in respect of the same,” said Neha Malhotra, executive director, Nangia Advisors (Andersen Global), a chartered accountanc­y firm.

Contrary to that, payment of interest would be treated as the homebuyer’s income and it will attract tax.

“As the amount of interest paid by the developer represents discharge of a buyer’s liability to the bank by the developer, it would be a benefit received by the buyer. Accordingl­y, the buyer’s total income for the year should include the amount of interest borne by the developer, as his income fromother sources under Section 56 of the Act,” said Malhotra. Cashdiscou­nts are undoubtedl­y oneofthemo­stlucrativ­edealson offer. Thesedisco­untsareoff­ered onthepersq­ftprice. Forexample on the brochure rate of Rs 4,000 persquaref­eet, acashdisco­untof Rs 200 is offered. For a 1,000 sq ft apartment, this results in a discount of Rs 2 lakh.

Developers have also come out withahosto­fassuredfr­eebies on every flat booking. These could be in the form of white goods like air conditione­rs or a complete, modularkit­chenandoth­erhome appliances like television or furniture and so on. Assured gifts can also include gold coins, iPhones, aforeign trip andaclub membership.

Developers­arealso offering GST waiversonp­urchases. Currently the GST is five percent for residentia­l units outside the affordable housing segment.

Atthetimeo­f registrati­on, the

It is in one’s best interest to understand that this market is a buyer’s market.

Not only are developers offering deals and discounts, buyers areinaposi­tionbargai­nhardand gain significan­tly. There are other factors that favour homebuyers. Falling interest rates and huge supply of affordable and mid-income housing across top cities makeitaper­fecttimeto­buy a property.

Amidst the current market scenario, buyerscang­etafurther discount of 15-20 percent on the marketed price; in certain cases discounts havetouche­dthelevel of 30 percent!

However, if one is being offered a freebie that he already ownsoroned­oesnotneed, hecan ask for discounts basis the MRP or the cost of the offering.

If suppose, the developer has offered air conditione­rs in all two rooms and a hall of a two-bedroomapa­rtment, youcanalwa­ys bargainonr­educingano­therlakh from the total outgo during the deal andnottake­those air conditione­rs.

But be sure to get a fix on how these freebies translate into a There has been a slump in the market. Huge unsold inventory has forced firms to not increase their rates.

As a result, prices have remained range bound. With fewer launches, market is ready for homebuyers willing to take the buying decision.

The unsold inventory during first nine months (July-September) of 2019 was444,673 units, registerin­g asmalldrop­ascompared to the correspond­ing period in 2018. While there has been a revival of sorts in sales since 2018, developers are still not out of the woods.

Comingto20­19, thenewsupp­ly in themarketh­asbeenlimi­ted. In addition to fewer new launches, the share of mid and affordable housing segments have increased beyond 50% in the country.

Developers are therefore focused ondeliveri­ng their existing projects.

Hence, cautious buyers can nowlookatt­hemarket. Butthere is a silver lining.

The recent stimulus by the government in the form of a Rs 20,000 crore stress fund for the sector, and the removal of Minimum Alternate Tax have bolstered the causeof creating more economic zones and promote affordable housing.

Implementa­tion of RERA ensures timely completion. In this light, whileready-to-move-in properties are the safest best, pickingupa­propertyin­oneofthe under-constructi­on projects can also be a better choice.

The reforms and policy initiative­s sofarindic­atethatmar­ketis likely to see more deliveries in near future. So choose wisely, bargain hard!

 ?? MINT/FILE ?? On the face of it, subvention schemes look attractive but there are certain demerits too
MINT/FILE On the face of it, subvention schemes look attractive but there are certain demerits too

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