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Budget 2017 wish list: Should ‘priority’ housing be redefined?

To achieve the target of 2 crore housing for all by 2020, the government must provide infrastructure status to low cost housing to facilitate easy access to institutional finance and redefine priority housing to include first time home buyers aspiring to buy property in urban cities

real estate Updated: Jan 31, 2017 08:59 IST
To achieve the target of 2 crore housing for all by 2020, the government must provide infrastructure status to low cost housing to facilitate easy access to institutional finance.
To achieve the target of 2 crore housing for all by 2020, the government must provide infrastructure status to low cost housing to facilitate easy access to institutional finance.(HT Photo)

To achieve the target of 2 crore housing for all by 2020, the government must provide infrastructure status to low cost housing to facilitate easy access to institutional finance and redefine priority housing to include first-timers aspiring to buy property in cities, say real estate experts.

On December 31, 2016, prime minister Narendra Modi announced an additional subsidy on home loan interest rates, saying that the government will facilitate 4% and 3% interest rate rebate for housing loans of up to Rs 9 lakh and Rs 12 lakh, respectively. The real estate sector is hoping that tempo will be maintained in the forthcoming budget and the government will consider granting infrastructure status to low-cost housing to provide an impetus to a sector suffering from the after-effects of demonetisation.

A key expectation from Budget 2017 is to have recognition for affordable housing as infrastructure since that would provide access to institutional finance, says Getamber Anand, president – Credai National.

To ensure that the sector achieves the target of delivering 2 crore houses by 2020, the government should announce measures to assist developers work towards that goal, says Deepak Kapoor, president, Credai Western UP.

“As of now the affordable housing target is far behind and it can only be achieved if the sector gets accorded infrastructure status which would pave way for cheaper financial options for real estate developers,” says Prashant Tiwari, chairman, Prateek Group.

The government also needs to redefine priority housing. While it has defined the sizes - 30 sq m for the metropolitan cities and 60 sq m for urban markets - these units are mostly targeted at the lower income group. This needs to be expanded to meet the expectations of the burgeoning urban middle class, especially those aspiring to buy for the first time homes in metro cities, say real estate experts.

“The ticket size of homes in urban centres is higher and cost more than Rs 20 lakh to Rs 50 lakh. Given the high cost of land, labour, material and cost of operations, developers can offer houses that are in the range of Rs 80 lakh to Rs 1.5 crore in these cities. “The government must redefine priority housing to include houses that cost up to Rs 1.5 crore and extend the benefits to first home buyers for homes up to the aforementioned costs. Developers of such projects should also benefit from the government financing and other tax initiatives that are extended for housing development,” says Anshul Jain, managing director, India, Cushman & Wakefield.

The sector is also hoping that the government will provide high tax incentives on home loans to boost demand for housing. Experts argue that since banks are flushed with funds after the note ban, interest rate benefits should be passed on to consumers.

The government should increase the tax deduction limit for housing loans, especially for buyers in metropolitan cities. The current limit of Rs 2 lakh is insignificant given the ticket sizes in cities, especially in bigger metros, where an overwhelming majority of the available housing is priced at, or above, Rs 1 crore, says Anuj Puri, chairman and country head, JLL India.

Also, middle class youth buying their first house in an affordable project must get additional income tax incentives for at least five years. Given the lack of institutionalised rental housing in Indian cities, such a move could spur many fence-sitters into moving out from their rented apartments into owned houses. It could also make developers come up with products suiting this segment, he says.

In the previous Budget, no financial protection was offered to end users against project delays. This Budget can extend tax rebates in cases where projects get delayed due to bona fide reasons, he adds.