How to Decide to Rent and Buy a House

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How to Decide to Rent and Buy a House

Fools build houses, and wise men live in them’. This British proverb is often used in arguments against buying a house. Investing in a house is a very important decision, as the amount needed takes up almost all of one’s savings. In my opinion, the question should be: ‘When should you buy a house and when should you stay in a rented accommodation?’ rather than arguing about the rationality of owning a house.

Why and when should you stay in a rented house?

Banks, normally, do not give more than 80% of a property’s cost as home loan, while the buyer needs to shell out the balance 20% of the margin money, from one’s own funds. Looking at the prevailing cost of residential houses in cities, you have no option but to stay in a rented house, till you are able to save enough to fund the margin money.

If you are an employee who has been posted in a place for a short duration, or you are working in a place where you do not intend to settle, renting a house makes better sense, until you decide on the city where you intend to settle. Real estate transactions have some costs that cannot be recovered, like stamp duty, registration charges and brokerage for sale and purchase of the house.

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The size of your family will also affect your decision. You may need a bigger house, in case you are planning to expand your family. In case you have enough margin money and have already decided to buy a house, but you are unsure about the locality, then, you could take a house on lease in that locality to experience the stay, before making a commitment.

Why and when should you buy a house?

It is definitely a good idea, to own a house. So, in case you are able to arrange the margin money and are confident that you will be able to service your home loan, you should buy the house. However, even if you have sufficient funds, you should take into account, whether you intend to stay in the same locality or the city.

To base your decision to buy a house merely on the cost-benefit analysis of rental versus cost of funding the house, does not make sense because the rentals generally vary from 2% to 4% of the capital value of the house, whereas, the cost of borrowing is generally around 10% for home loans, thus, leaving a gap of 8%. Nevertheless, this comparison does not reveal other tangible and intangible benefits of owning a house.

You should never defer the purchase of your first house, in the expectation of a correction in prices. This is evident from the fact that everyone has been expecting a major price correction for the last five years. People who postponed their decision to buy a house, have probably missed the bus for good. Over the long-term period, property prices on an average increase by around 9%. You should take this appreciation into account, while doing the overall cost-benefit analysis. Owning a house also provides a certain mental and psychological satisfaction and creates a sense of security.

Tips – Verify Your Flat Purchase Documents Without a Lawyer

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Tips - Verify Your Flat Purchase Documents Without a Lawyer
Tips - Verify Your Flat Purchase Documents Without a Lawyer

Due diligence and awareness of your rights can certainly protect you against unscrupulous practices by developers. In an industry that still lacks transparency, it is best to physically inspects all documents before buying any property. First and foremost, drafting a sale agreement should be done with the utmost care. A property buyer should fully understand its contents; if necessary recruit a lawyer, and make a clear note of all the deliverables the developer has agreed to.

Anuj Puri, chairman and country head of JLL India, cautions that “Developer’s sales teams will usually present a buyer with a readymade agreement, and a buyer must ensure that this captures every relevant detail.” He continues, “If it does not, the buyer is fully entitled to ask for missing details to be included and potential grey areas to be clarified. A copy of the final agreement must be retained under any circumstances, as this will serve as the primary evidence in a legal action filed for agreement violations.”

Here is what you need to watch out for when checking purchase documents:

1. Personal details

The agreement must capture the seller’s complete details. This includes father’s name, address, PAN number and bank account information. It must also provide exact details of the property’s location and municipal, tehsil (administrative division) or collector’s land record number. The agreement ought to be witnessed by two people, each from the buyer’s and seller’s side.

2. Title documents

“The seller must confirm the authenticity of the title documents and ownership transfer in the agreement,” explains Puri. “He must also state clearly that the transfer and handing over of possession, is happening in a legal and fully-attested manner. The agreement must reflect the fact that all dues related to the property, have been cleared up to the date of transfer.” Further, the agreement must fully indemnify the buyer from any disputes related to title and possession of the property.

3. Date of possession

“The date of possession of a flat is important to the purchaser, for the purpose of transfer of the flat from the builder. It is the date on which the purchaser is to get possession of the premises and binds the developer to hand over possession by the date set out in the agreement. If possession is not given by such date, the purchaser has a right to sue,” informs Anirudh Hariani, solicitor of Hariani and Company.

The ‘time of essence’ clause in an agreement lays down the contractual deadlines for the parties to perform their due obligations.

4. Payment schedule

“The clause which sets out the payment schedule, lays down the total amount to be paid and the time frame within which it is to be paid,” details Hariani. “In cases where the payment is made in instalments, the payment schedule specifies details of each instalment. This helps avoids any ambiguities which may arise in the future,” points out Hariani. The agreement must provide complete payment details by the buyer, including that of the mortgage, if any.

5. Termination

The termination clause defines the consequences imposed on the parties in case of deviation from the code of conduct expected to be adhered by them. The agreement may contain either a ‘termination by convenience’ clause where either party can end the agreement.

6. Dispute resolution

The dispute resolution clause sets out the mechanism by which the parties can resolve their disputes. This is alternative to settling the matter through litigation. Besides this, other processes used to settle commercial contracts include adjudication and mediation.

7. Amenities

The amenities clause helps the purchaser know the additional benefits he will be entitled to and mentions the supplementary amount towards maintenance charges. In case of any default on the amenities sought to be provided, the purchaser may consider it as a breach of contract.

8. Penalty

A penalty clause should be incorporated in the purchase agreement, clearly specifying milestones and the penalties in case of failure from both, seller and buyer.

Finally, registering a legal purchase agreement, is of benefit to the buyer, since it offers protection from legal complications at any stage of ownership or eventual resale. No change can be made once the purchase agreement is drafted and registered. If any change needs to be made, the consent of the buyer must be obtained and an addendum will be made in the agreement.

Investing in Land Prospects and Consequences

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Investing in land: The pros and cons

Land as an investment option has always been popular in India. Its popularity has not receded, despite the availability of various financial products such as mutual funds and equity shares. However, you should be aware of all the pros and cons of investing in land.

Limited supply

Other than a few reclamation cases, the supply of land is limited and the possibility of creating more, is quite impossible. Due to its limited supply and the ever-increasing need, the demand for land has only been going up. However, this continuous demand has ensured that the price of land hasn’t experienced volatile changes like with other assets like gold and equity.

See also: Why you Should Thoroughly Read your Builder-Buyer Agreement

Big ticket and illiquid investment

The amount of money required to invest in land is substantial. Those with less savings, cannot afford to invest in land. Instead, they should opt for financial assets such as units of mutual funds, shares, recurring deposits or even gold. Moreover, investment in land is relatively illiquid and you cannot dispose of this investment as and when you want to encash it. In some cases, the time taken for the sale to actually happen, may run into years, thus, defeating the purpose of making the investment in the first place.

Risk of acquisition and encroachment

We have all come across stories of encroachment of land causing investments to sink. In some scenarios, your legal right over the land gets jeopardised, resulting in litigation and unnecessary legal costs. These auxiliary expenses can sometimes outweigh the appreciation in the value of your land. There’s also the risk of the land being taken over by the government by way of compulsory acquisition. The compensation received, may not always be satisfactory. A prime example of such a scenario is the acquisition of land in the Noida Extension case.

Non-availability of finance

In order to buy or construct a house, loan seekers can only get up to 80% of the value of the property. In case you want to construct a property on a plot of land, you can get a composite loan covering the cost of the plot and cost of construction. However, no bank will generally lend money to buy a plot of land, unless the same is purchased from an endorsed and reputed government development authority like DDA or MHADA.

Tax benefits

In the event of a home loan, you can claim tax benefits with respect to interest payment as well as principal repayment, under Section 24 and 80C of the Income Tax Act. No such provision exists for the interest paid on money borrowed for investing in land.

Why you Should Thoroughly Read your Builder-Buyer Agreement

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Why you Should Thoroughly Read your Builder-Buyer Agreement
Why you Should Thoroughly Read your Builder-Buyer Agreement

The builder-buyer agreement is an immensely important document as it is the legal contract between the builder and the buyer. If the developer does not keep his word on any count, it is the most important legal document that the buyer will have to fall back on. Many builder-buyer agreements are heavily tilted in the builder’s favour. We discuss some of the common provisions and their implications for you.

Builder-Buyer-Agreement-The-most-important-document-for-a-homebuyer-

Construction timeline

The agreement says that the builder will offer possession of the apartment (usually) within 36-42 months from the ‘start of construction’. Note, that it does not say that possession will be offered within the specified time from the ‘date of booking’. The commencement of construction is entirely up to the builder’s discretion. Some developers take the liberty of considering construction to have started after the excavation work is completed.

Price escalation clause

Builders include this clause in the agreement which allows them to raise the price of the apartment. If the project has been delayed, it could be due to the builder’s fault. They then penalise the buyer by raising the cost, claiming that raw material and other input costs have increased.

Area change

The agreement could include a clause allowing the builder to change the square footage of the apartment. If it has increased, he charges extra for it. “What changes, is not the carpet area but the super area,” explains Anuj Sood, head of Noida-based Sood Properties. “You may end up paying 10-15% extra, while the benefit to you, in terms of the additional area, may be marginal or nil.”

Payment delay

The agreement says that if the buyer delays in paying an installment, there will be interest to pay as well. The charge could be hefty – as much as 18-24% compounded quarterly. The developer may even include a clause stating that if you delay payment beyond a point, he reserves the right to cancel your allotment and that you may have to forfeit the earnest money, which could be as high as 20-25% of the total cost. The balance will be returned to you without any interest.

See also: How to Decide to Rent and Buy a House

Payment on actual cost basis

The agreement may say that you will have to pay for certain items on actual cost basis at the time of possession. He may then spring an unpleasant surprise by demanding an unexpectedly high amount. This could be for things like club membership, electricity connection charge, etc. Similarly, at the time of booking, he may not specify the PLC (preferential location charges). Later, he could charge you anywhere from Rs 100 to 500.

Building plan changes

According to norms prevailing in some states, if the developer changes the building plan, he must take the buyer’s written consent. “Some developers have now begun to insert a page in the builder-buyer agreement, wherein, they take the consent beforehand,” adds Sood.

Transfer charges

This has to be paid to the developer if the apartment is resold before possession. Often, this charge is not disclosed clearly. Just for changing the name of the owner of a flat in his records, he could charge Rs 25-500 per sq ft.

Finally, there is the question of what the buyer can do if the builder-buyer agreement is tilted in the developer’s favour. Ideally, the buyer should be able to get the document changed. “In reality, developers refuse to change the provisions of the agreement, arguing that it is a standard document,” points out Bibhash Surya, head of Sri Sai Dreamlands, a Noida-based real estate consultancy. “The buyer usually has no option but to walk away from very toxic contracts.”

Builder-buyer agreement iStock 1

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