Real Estate FAQ

FAQs – General

Typically, if a real estate agent is asked to judge the value of a piece of property, he would do so based on information of recent sales or purchases of similar properties in that area.

Though this may give a fair idea of the property’s market value, an official property valuation would carry more weight. E.g. if you need to use this piece of property as a security against a loan, the bank’s loan approval process would be faster and smoother if the property is certified by an official evaluator. Many banks now insist on valuation certificates before issuing loans using properties as security. The value thus certified may also have chances of getting a higher amount of loan sanctioned.

Another benefit of official valuation is that it is a useful negotiating tool when selling the property.

Such certification also becomes essential in situations where the correct value of the property has a legal bearing—such as, a will statement, insurance papers, business balance sheets etc.

Stamp duty is based on the market value or the agreement value of the property, whichever is greater.

When a piece of property is given or ‘leased’ to an individual (known as the ‘Lessee’) for a stipulated period of time, by the owner of the property (known as the ‘Lessor’), the property is referred to as Leasehold Property. A certain amount is fixed by the Lessor to be paid as lease premium and annual lease. The land ownership rights remain with the Lessor. Transfer of property requires prior permission.

When ownership rights for a piece of property are given to the purchaser for a price, that property is referred to as Freehold Property. Unlike in the case of leasehold property, no annual lease charges need to be paid and the freehold property can be registered and / or transferred in part(s).

If the transfer takes place within three years of purchase, the income tax exemption under Section 54F of the Income Tax Act does not hold good.

Capital Gains are exempt if a person purchases a new flat within two years of the date of sale of the original flat and invests the entire amount of capital gained into the new flat. However, the same is subject to the provisions of the Income Tax Act, 1961. Customers are requested to consult his/her Chartered Accountant in this regard

An agreement of sale, coupled with actual possession of the property would be considered as a conclusion of the sale. Usually, the entire amount is paid at the time of handing over possession.

FAQs – Residential Properties

The area of an apartment or building, not inclusive of the area of the walls is known as carpet area. This is the area that is actually used and in which a carpet can be laid. When the area of the walls including the balcony is calculated along with the carpet area, it is known as built-up area. The built-up area along with the area under common spaces like lobby, lifts, stairs, garden and swimming pool is called super built-up area

Co-operative Housing Societies have a statutory obligation to collect a Sinking Fund. This is done so that in case the building needs to be repaired or reconstructed in the future, the society has sufficient funds to carry out the work. The amount to be contributed is decided by the General Body of the society; it should be at least ¼ percent per annum of the cost of each apartment, excluding the cost of the land. This fund may be used after a resolution is passed at the General Body meeting with the prior permission of the Registering Authority. This could be to carry out reconstruction, repairs, structural additions or alterations to the building as the architect thinks is required and certifies

A lease agreement can be reached in either of two ways, depending upon each case:

  • In cases where the lease contract is from year-to-year / exceeding one year’s rent / reserving yearly rent, then a registered instrument can be created, which both the lessor and the lessee must execute.
  • In cases other than the above, an oral agreement followed by delivery of possession is considered enough.

When a gift of property is made, a gift deed needs to be made by a lawyer. Stamp duty on the market value of the property also needs to be paid, as well as the necessary registration charges.

The actual area owned by the individual is the basis for calculation of maintenance charge.

FAQs – NRIs

An Indian citizen who stays abroad for employment/carrying on business or vocation outside India or stays abroad under circumstances indicating an intention for an uncertain duration of stay abroad is a Non-Resident Indian (NRI). (Persons posted in U.N. organisations and officials deputed abroad by Central/State Governments and Public Sector undertakings on temporary assignments are also treated as non-temporary assignments are also treated as non-residents). Non-resident foreign citizens of Indian origin are treated on par with NRIs.

A Person of Indian Origin(PIO) means an individual (not being a citizen of Pakistan or Bangladesh or Sri Lanka or Afghanistan or China or Iran or Nepal or Bhutan) who:

  • held an Indian Passport at any time, or
  • who or whose father or paternal grandfather was a citizen of India by virtue of the Constitution of India or the Citizenship Act, 1955

The Overseas Citizenship of India(OCI) is an immigration status permitting a foreign citizen of Indian origin to live and work and in the Republic of India indefinitely.

There is no restriction on the number of residential or commercial properties an NRI can own in India.

Yes, under the general permission granted by the Reserve Bank, property other than agricultural land/farm house/plantation property can be acquired by NRIs provided the purchase consideration is met either out of inward remittances in foreign exchange through normal banking channels or out of funds from the purchaser's NRE/FCNR accounts maintained with banks in India and a declaration is submitted to the Central Office of Reserve Bank in form IPI 7 within a period of 90 days from the date of purchase of the property/final payment of purchase consideration.

They are required to file a declaration in form IPI 7 with the Central Office of Reserve Bank at Mumbai within a period of 90 days from the date of purchase of immovable property or final payment of purchase consideration along with a certified copy of the document evidencing the transaction and bank certificate regarding the consideration paid.

The following is the list (non-exhaustive) of documents required for NRIs to buy property in India:    

  • PAN card (Permanent account number)
  • OCI / PIO card (In case of OCI / PIO)
  • Passport (In case of NRI)
  • Passport size photographs
  • Address proof

An NRI/PIO cannot usually buy agricultural land/plantation property/farm houses in India. Proposals to buy such a land have to be specifically approved by RBI, in consultation with the Government of India. The only way they can acquire an agricultural land is by inheritance.

The Reserve Bank has granted some general permission to certain financial institutions providing housing finance e.g. HDFC, LIC Housing Finance Ltd., etc., and authorized dealers to grant housing loans to NRI nationals for acquisition of a NRI house/flat for self-occupation subject to certain conditions. Criteria regarding the purpose of the loan, margin money and the quantum of loan will be at par with those applicable to resident Indians. Repayment of the loan should be made within a period not exceeding 15 years, out of inward remittance through banking channels or out of funds held in the investors' NRE/FCNR/NRO accounts.

The mere acquisition of property does not attract income tax. However, any income accruing from the ownership of it, in the form of rent (if it is let out)/annual value of the house (if is not let out and it is not the only residential property owned by that person in India) and/or capital gains (short term or long term) arising on the sale of this house or part thereof is taxable in the hands of the owner.

Yes, the Reserve Bank has granted general permission to NRIs to acquire or dispose of NRI India Properties by way of gift from or to a relative who may be an Indian citizen or a person of Indian origin (PIO) whether resident in India or not.

In case of sale of an immovable property, the Double Tax Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) with most countries state that capital gains will be taxed in the country where the immovable property is situated. Hence, if an NRI owns immovable property in India, then he/she will be subject to pay tax in India on the capital gains which arise on the sale of the property. Similarly, letting of immovable property in India would be taxed in India under most tax treaties.