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The Real Estate sector had a huge wish list for the Finance Minister and we are happy that a few things recommended by us have seen the light of the day. Needless to say, affordable housing stole the show at the Union Budget 2016-17. The Housing sector saw a gamut of policies that aimed at providing a demand side as well as supply side impetus to affordable housing. Coupled with this, there was much-needed focus on the infrastructure, digitisation of transactions and rural housing. Let us delve a little deeper and decipher the impact of each of the policies announced under the real estate sector.

Infrastructure status to affordable housing

Affordable Housing finally gets infrastructure status. The Indian realty sector had been mooting this move for the longest possible time and it couldn’t be happier. So, the direct impact of infrastructure status to affordable housing means easier availability of funding. Developers can now have access to funds at lower rates and for longer terms. Moreover, this also implies more investment from External Commercial Borrowings (ECBs) and Insurance Funds. The demand for affordable housing is huge and with a move like this, we hope to see more supply of affordable housing to bridge the gap. Infrastructure status also means speedier sanctions and approvals. However, it would be appreciated if the term “Affordable Housing” is more clearly defined in this context. The lesser the areas of doubt, the more the positive impact of the policy.

However, going by the last updated definition of RBI-"Affordable segment means in the non-metros, the loan amount would be Rs. 40 lacs for the property value of Rs 50. lacs and in the metros the loan amount would be Rs. 50 lacs for the property value of Rs. 65 lacs. There are six metros in the country: Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Delhi, Hyderabad and Bangalore."

If we do an impact analysis we can see that around 60% of the supply in India (Tier I and Tier II combined) falls in the affordable housing segment. Hence, the proposal to give infrastructure status to affordable housing is expected to have a big impact on the Indian real estate.
Concentration of affordable segment in India   Vol: 5
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More allocation to Infrastructure Sector

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has upped the allocation to infrastructure funding to a record Rs.3.96 lakh crores. Infrastructure development and real estate progress go hand-in-hand. A fund of Rs.64,000 crores towards building the National Highways and 2000 kilometers of coastal road connectivity will go a long way in complementing development in the real estate sector. Connecting cities with remote areas, opening up access to more commercial zones and increasing demand for residential space is sure to be a precursor to many realty growth stories.

Transit-oriented development is an important part of Real estate and metro rails have played an important role in it. In the past couple of years we have seen metro rail development in cities like Jaipur, Bengaluru and Hyderabad spurring residential realty growth. A new Metro Rail policy is round the corner and this aims at rationalisation of existing rules and more private sector participation.

Carpet area replaces Built-up area in Section 80 IB

The Section 80 IB recommended last year stated that exemption from service tax will be provided on construction of affordable houses up to 60 square metres under any scheme of the Central or State Government including PPP Schemes. However, the area mentioned was built-up area. This year that has been changed to carpet area and this increases the area covered by 30%. He also said that the limit will apply only in case of municipal limits of 4 metropolitan cities while for the rest of the country including in the peripheral areas of metros, a limit of 60 will apply.
Top Gainers Thane
Navi Mumbai
Greater Noida
Furthermore, the Finance Minister also proposed to extend the completion period of the building of the houses after commencement under the Scheme from the present 3 years to 5 years.   Vol: 5
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Extension for consideration period for tax on unoccupied houses

Currently, the houses which are unoccupied after getting completion certificates are subject to tax on notional rental income. For developers for whom the constructed buildings are stock-in-trade, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley proposed to apply this rule only after the end of the year in which completion certificate is received so as to give the builders a reasonable time frame for liquidating their inventory.

Change in holding period for long term capital gains

The Union budget proposed to reduce the holding period for considering gain from immovable property to be long term from the present 3 years to 2 years and the base year for indexation to be shifted from 1.4.1981 to 1.4.2001. This is an investor- friendly move, which reduces the capital gains tax liability while encouraging the mobility of assets. The Government also suggested financial instruments such as infrastructure bonds in which the capital gains can be invested and tax payment can be avoided.

As for Joint Development Agreements signed for development of property, the liability to pay capital gains tax will arise in the year of completion for the project.

Some good news for Andhra Pradesh

For the new Capital of the State of Andhra Pradesh which is being constructed by an innovative land-pooling mechanism without use of the Land Acquisition Act, the Union Finance Minister, Mr. Arun Jaitley, proposed to exempt from capital gains tax, all those who were holding land on 2.6.2014 - the date on which the State of Andhra Pradesh was re-organised - and whose land is being pooled for creation of the capital city under the Government Scheme.
Budget 2017   Vol: 5
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Attempt to dissuade investors

Finally, the best one was saved for the last. The government has put in a limit of Rs. 2 Lacs on set-off of loss from house property with income from other heads. In the earlier provision, 100% of loss occurring in house property was allowed to be adjusted against income from salary or business/profession. Because of these provisions, investment in real estate was considered a tax saving tool.
    Earlier Provision New Provision
Income from Salary Rs. 20 Lacs Rs. 20 Lacs
Income from House Property    
Rental 200000    
Standard Deduction (50,000)    
Interest (10,00,000)    
Loss from House Property (8,50,000)    
Setoff Allowed 4,831 Rs. 8.5 Lacs Rs. 2 Lacs
Net Income 47,076 Rs. 11.5 Lacs Rs. 18 Lacs
Tax 240,433 Rs. 1.58 Lacs Rs. 3.53 Lacs
Source: Liases Foras
Since the prevailing rental yields are only 2% while the interest rate has been at 9-10%, purchasing second and more properties used to be a big incentive for investors. So now, investor participation in the market will be curtailed. This is a paradigm change in real estate practices which has hitherto been heavily dependent on investors.


While there are quite a few reasons to cheer, there are some aspects on which the Budget was silent. There was no further clarity on GST or tax norms for REITs. It is indeed laudable that second-time home buyers have been dissuaded, but it would have been even better if the first-time home buyers had been given interest exemption to a greater limit. Another issue which demanded some attention was the Land Acquisition bill. Exorbitant rate of land is the biggest issue plaguing real estate and ensuring its productivity would bring greater efficiency in the real estate sector. We can only hope that the next budget will see some of these issues being brought to light and addressed effectively.   Vol: 5
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