The 2011-12 budget did not offer much to the Pune real estate sector, and neither home buyers nor developers has any reason to feel enthusiastic. At the time when the Budget for 2012-13 is about to be announced, the city continues to face problems because of such industry hurdes as high lending rates and construction costs, insufficient infrastructure and lack of affordable housing.
The provisions that Pune real estate needs from Budget 2012 are:
- A higher allocation of infrastructure funds, which should nevertheless be disbursed only if clear guidelines on timely commencement and completion for projects are agreed upon and adhered to
- Removal of the 10% service tax on residential real estate construction, which increases the cost of new homes by as much as 3%. For a cost-sensitive market like Pune, which has a sizeable lower mid-income segment, this additional cost makes a big difference.
- More incentives for development of affordable housing, so that more developers are encouraged to become active in this important sector and can increase the supply of budget homes in Pune.
- Reduction of tax burden on rental income. Since buying a home is still an unattainable dream for many Puneites, renting remains the only viable option. In such a scenario, the Government needs to make rental housing a more attractive option for landlords. More fiscal incentives for landlords would also put downward pressure on rents.
- Broaden the scope of interest rate subsidy for budget homes. Currently, the 1% home loan interest subsidy is only available for properties costing upto Rs. 20 lakh. This is extremely narrow-sighted, since it limits the choice of budget-constrained home buyers to the smallest formats and the furthest outskirts of the city. Increasing the ceiling to Rs. 30 lakh would help homebuyers to live closer to their workplaces, and to buy decent-sized homes.
- Increase developers’ access to project funding at reasonable costs. The RBI’s step-motherly treatment being extended to real estate developers in this regard is reducing the supply of affordable housing and increasing the cost of these properties to home buyers
- Reduce taxes such as excise, VAT and stamp duty on real estate so that home purchase becomes more attractive
India Budget 2012 is a great opportunity for the Finance Ministry to prove that the Government is concerned about the lack of affordable housing for the common man. We sincerely hope that this opportunity will be used with wisdom and compassion.