Changing facade of rural Punjab
Shveta Pathak

Houses are no longer plain in the rural areas of Punjab. They are fast getting replaced by attractively constructed homes donning well-crafted interiors and exteriors that not only look good but are Vaastu and Feng Shui compliant.

Estimates by professionals point to a 30-40 per cent rise in demand from these areas for architectural designing of houses.

The rise in the cost of construction does not hold back those getting their homes renovated to shell out a little extra money to ensure that they live in beautiful and “lucky” houses.

I have hired the services of a professionally qualified architect for my house. Apart from basic designing, the professional would take care of interior designing also. Considering that spending on getting the house done has risen manifold, I do not want to take any risk on safety aspect. Paying some extra money for a professional when he assures me better aesthetics and higher safety would not pinch, said Vinod Goyal, who resides in Nihal Singh Wala in Moga.

The coming up of a large number of malls and buildings bearing attractive exteriors and the latest of designs, too, has generated keen interest for well-done interiors among those getting houses constructed, say experts. It is not only in case of new constructions, even existing ones are being renovated to be made Vaastu or Feng Shui-compliant and well-designed.

The maximum demand for interior designing, Vaastu and Feng Shui professionals is coming from villages around Nawanshahr, Jalandhar and Phagwara. “These places have a high number of NRIs who are quite conscious of these things. Of late, demand has also started generating from new customer segments like farmers,” said Sunil Chadha, a Feng Shui expert in Ludhiana.

The charges by professionals vary according to the services and area of construction. It could be as low as Rs 1,000 and go up to lakhs of rupees, revealed professionals in the field.

“Money is not a factor in this case, as the charges form a very small proportion of the overall cost of construction. Hiring a professional saves the building or home-owner of several problems related to safety and legal norms. Earlier where most customers restricted the role of an architect to mandatory requirements like creating the design of the house, the requirements have now increased and a significant change in demand from customers, particularly rural ones, has come up,” said Sanjay Goel of the Ludhiana Architects Association.

Professionals point out that the increased demand is leading to a shortage of those qualified in these fields. Particularly with the coming up of a large number of malls and other infrastructural projects, the demand and supply gap of services is on the rise.

The actual availability is less than one-fourth of the demand for professionals. There is a need to have more training institutes to cater to the rising demand, opined Sanjay Goel.



Realty sector set to clock 30 pc growth in
10 yrs: Assocham

The realty sector is projected to grow at the rate of 30 per cent annually over the next decade, attracting foreign investments worth $ 30 billion, with a number of IT parks and residential townships being constructed across India, industry body Assocham has said.

Currently, the domestic real estate market is expected to be worth $ 15 billion in which the FDI is estimated to about $ 6 billion , it said.

At present, the foreign developers can undertake construction activities on a minimum space of 50,000 sq ft, Assocham president Sajjan Jindal said in a statement.The ceiling of 50,000 sq ft would be lifted by the government in want of more FDIs and would go to 2 lakh sq ft in next 10 years, as per Assocham's estimate.

The sector would grow more as expected requirement by the IT sector (like IT parks) will be about 200 million sq ft space across the major and large townships, it added. It is also estimated that in the residential sector, the housing shortage is around 20 million units of which nearly 7 million units are estimated for urban India, it said.

Commenting on the problem faced by the sector, the Assocham said that the involvement of the Centre and a number of state agencies in the setting up of townships was needed. — PTI



Tax tips
Will and share in property
S.C. Vasudeva

Q. My father owned a residential property which was self acquired by him. He died a few ago back without making a will. My sister, now a divorcee, is living with us, with her minor son. Now my mother wants to disown me from this property due to some differences between her and my wife. Can she do that? Please tell if the law can protect my share in this immovable property? Who all are the real share holders against this property?

— Mohit Mahajan, Dhariwal

A. In accordance with the provisions of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, after the death of your father who died intestate (i.e. without making a will) your mother, your sister and yourself would have become the co-owners of the residential property. This is on the presumption you did not have another brother or another sister. On the basis of the facts given in the query, your mother can disown you with regard to her share in the property by making a will in respect thereof in favour of someone. She can not legally disown you in respect of your share of property inherited by you in accordance with the provisions of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956.

Property registration

Q. I purchased HUDA plot at Faridabad measuring 160 sq yds (after migration from Kashmir) in the year 1997 and got the said plot legally transferred in my name as per conveyance deed. The cosideration amount on this conveyance deed was Rs. 3 lakh in the year- 1998. The said property has not been registered in my name till date. My queries in this regard is as follows,

1. Is it necessary to go in for registration if conveyance deed is done. Can I transfer my property in the name of my wife on conveyance deed basis or dispose off my property on conveyance deed only.

2. In case it is a must, what is the legal procedure in registration and how to go about it.

3. Whether registration/ stamp duty will be done/paid respectively on current market price if, so, at what rate/percentage.

4. Whether registration shall be considered on the amount (3.0 Lacs) paid to seller at the time of purchase of land in the year 1997 as is evident in the conveyance deed documents.

5. Since there is no exchange/ transaction of money involved as I want to transfer/register property in the name of my wife.

6. Do your goodself think any one of us seller, buyer, transferee shall have any income tax related problem because I am worried about capital gain.

7. Shall registered will allow me for registration of my property in the name of my wife and then she would be the sole owner of the property after my death.

8. Since I am a retired and ailing person, wants to seek your valued help/suggestion at the earliest on the subject, before it would be late to have an opportunity on the feedback from your goodself.

— Surinder Kar

A. (i)It seems the conveyance deed was effected in your favour by HUDA for the transfer of plot in your name. The conveyance deed is effected where the property is usually transferred by an authority constituted by the state. In my opinion there is no need to execute any other deed in your favour.

(ii)You can transfer the property to your wife which will require an execution of a gift deed. Such deed will have to be registered with the designated authority.

(iii)The gift deed would be executed on the basis of the present market value and the stamp duty will have to be paid accordingly.

(iv)There is no difficulty in case the property is transferred to another person on the basis of the conveyance deed. Such a transfer would involve capital gains tax which would be computed by deducting the indexed cost of the plot from the sale price thereof. The balance amount would be capital gains on which capital gains tax @ 20% plus applicable surcharge and education cess would be leviable.

(v)You can execute a Will in favour of your wife and after your death such a property will be transferred in the name of your wife on the basis of the registered Will. She will become sole owner of such property after the same is mutated in her name.

Executing memorandum of family partition

Q. I am in service in CHD and reside in employer’s accommodation. I have a house in the name of my HUF in HUDA Sector, (Haryana), a savings bank account and an eight-year-old PPF account in the bank in my HUF name. I am also a co-sharer in inherited agricultural land and ancestral house in the village. My HUF consists of me, my wife, a major daughter and a major son. My mother is alive and resides with brother in the village. My HUF house is rented out.

Now I want to partition my HUF completely. There is a balance of about Rs.26,000 in HUF Saving Bank Account and Rs.1,50,000 in HUF PPF Account. I had given a loan of Rs.1,00,000 to my HUF from my individual a/c, . Now in the proposed partition, the HUF house in HUDA Sector is to be given to my wife, share in ancestral agricultural land and ancestral house in the village to me, balance in Saving bank account to my son and balance in PPF account to my daughter after payment of the loan amount to me. In this manner by making oral partition, we intend to execute a Memorandum of family partition and get it registered.

Now my questions are:

1 Whether my mother would also be treated as a member of HUF and entitled to any share?

2 How savings bank account and PPF account would be closed and balance would be transferred?

3 How entry in record of HUDA would be effected about HUF house is given to my wife?

4 Whether suit for declaration in the Civil Court should also be filed to confirm the partition and getting the decree registered?

— Bhim Sen

A. The answers to your queries are as under:

(i) Your mother cannot be treated as a member of your HUF.

(ii) You need not close the savings bank account. You can close the PPF account and deposit the amount of sum so received in the said savings account. The savings account thereafter can be closed by making the repayment of your loan and distributing the balance amount in accordance with the Memorandum of Partition.

(iii) The Memorandum of Partition will have to be filed with the authorities for getting the mutation of the Chandigarh house done in the name of your wife, and that of other properties in your name.

(iv) It will be advisable to approach the court for the purposes of getting the division approved from the court. This can be in the form of a declaratory suit. This may also be necessary as many a times housing development authorities do not take the Memorandum of Partition on record for the purpose of making the necessary changes.

Gifting money from sold house

Q. My question is as under:

I have a residential house at Panchkula. The land was purchased during September, 2000. The house was completed during Nov/Dec 2001. I want to sell this house. My questions are as below:

(i) After selling the property, can I send the amount to my son (as a gift) who is in Canada?

(ii) How much capital gain I may have to pay on sale of this property?

(iii) To avoid payment of long term gain how much amount I may have to park in the scheme for this purpose?

Kindly suggest most appropriate scheme also.

(i) The cost of land purchased in 2000 (Registration, brokerage to the dealer etc.) was 8,00,000

(ii) The cost of construction (during 2000-01) approx. 2500 sq. ft. @ Rs. 800/- per sq.ft. was (completed during December, 2001. I don't have vouchers/bills etc.)20,00,000/-

(iii) Improvement during 2004 was 1,00,000/-

The total amounted to 29,00,000

At the present market rate I may get Rs. 1.00 to 1.25 crores.

— R. Khurana

A. The answer to your queries is as under:

(i) On the basis of figure given in the query long term capital gain would work out at Rs. 87,12,640/- in case the sale price of the property is taken at Rs. 1.25 crores. The computation have been made on the basis of cost inflation index notified for year 2007-08 as the index for 2008-09 is yet to be notified. This may lead to a small difference in the amount of capital gain.

(ii) In accordance with the liberalized scheme of remittance for resident individuals announced recently by Reserve Bank of India, you can remit US$ 2,00,000/- per financial year. The amount realized on sale of the house can thus be remitted by you to Canada in accordance with the above scheme.

(iii) You can invest maximum amount of Rs. 50,00,000/- only in the capital gains tax savings bonds. You will have to thus pay long term capital gains tax on the balance amount computed in the manner laid down by the Income-tax Act, 1961 (The Act).

(iv) The investment in such bonds would be most appropriate as you intend to send the amount realized on sale of the property to your son. This will enable you to send the amount in two instalments.



Statues in garden
Satish Narula

The making of a garden is never complete. A gardener is never satisfied with his quest for excellence. This gives a garden dynamism.

First, it is lawn then hedges, shrubs, climbers, annuals, perennials, concrete, water features, fountains, paths and above all statues and artifacts. They add special dimension to a garden.

Gardens are decorated in many a way by making winding paths, features with pebbles and river stones as also also by creating wall murals. The practice of decorating gardens with adornments like statues is age-old. The grand old gardens, especially the English gardens, had marble statues, mostly of royal figures, angels, birds, feminine figures etc.

Japanese gardens find Buddha's image in meditation as an essential element. This is besides various shaped lanterns at strategic locations.

Most of the statue culture came to India from the Roman architecture and culture like pitcher fountains, women with pitchers, Venus etc

Presently, there is a wide range of 'figures' available in the market made up of materials ranging from cheapest plaster of Paris to the costliest marble and even fiber glass. The latter could also be fitted with lights to be visible at night.

Depending on one’s taste and demand of location, one could go in for human or animal figures. Statues of various gods also find favour with many. For immediate display effect for some celebrations, exhibitions and other functions, the wire statues and figures (topiary) decorated with fresh flowers are used.

One of the biggest advantages with the statues in the garden is that one could change place after every few days, giving the garden a new look.

The placement of the statue in a garden should be theme-based. The selection of site for right placement is also very important. It should not look like imposed in a garden. I saw in a garden a pair of 'panda' made up of fiber glass 'chewing' on a fresh bamboo piece near a bamboo grove. It looked very real.

Similarly, a statue of Lord Krishna with a hood of 'Sheshnag' blowing flute near a water body gave excellent effect. Near that statue, was growing unevenly the small sedum on the ground giving water waves effect. A feminine figure near a water body or near the entrance could add interest to the garden.

The sight of a statue of Goddess Saraswati in many educational institutes makes the scene academic. It is not only in the big gardens that a statue can be placed. In small or even in roof gardens, one could place a statue not very high in a group of potted plants half visible, as it becomes a curiosity factor for the visitor. Even small figures are available in the market for display in table top or miniature gardens.

The writer is a senior horticulturist and can be contacted at in



DLF, Unitech defer Singapore IPOs
Await better market conditions

Country's top two real estate firms DLF and Unitech have deferred their plan to launch initial public offers of their office trust to raise over $ 2.5 billion in Singapore and are looking for market conditions to improve.

Unitech, the second largest realty firm, was planning to raise about $ 700 million through the IPO and the company had in January received approval from the Singapore Exchange to launch the IPO of its office trust in that nation.

Unitech managing director Sanjay Chandra said the company had "deferred" its plan to raise funds from Singapore till market conditions improve.

In a stock exchange filing, Unitech said Lehman Brothers would invest $ 175 million in a project in Mumbai.

Billionaire businessman K.P.Singh- promoted DLF Assets, which had also been mulling to list its office trust in Singapore to raise up to $ 2 billion, has also deferred its plan and is awaiting for suitable market conditions. "We are waiting for market conditions to improve," a company source said, adding that the IPO was very much on track.

DLF Offices Trust is a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) of DLF Assets.

DLF vice-chairman Rajeev Singh had said in January that DLF Office Trust would get listed before the middle of this year. "It's not a small number. It will be of a good size," he had replied when asked about the total fund the company plans to raise through Singapore listing. Last year, DLF Assets had raised $ 400 million and $ 200 million from global investing firm D E Shaw and a fund sponsored by investment banking firm Lehman Brothers respectively.

It has raised $450 million from Symphony Capital in pre-IPO placements, while the promoters pumped in about Rs 1,200 crore in the company this year.

Meanwhile, another domestic realty firm Indiabulls Real Estate managed to receive a strong response for its IPO in the Singapore.

Indiabulls Properties Investment Trust (IPIT), incorporated in Singapore, has raised about $ 193 million through its IPO, which was priced at one Singapore dollar, the lower end of the projected price band of 1-1.1 SGD per unit.

DLF settled at Rs 491 up 2.39 per cent and Unitech at Rs 197, up 5.63 per cent on the Bombay Stock Exchange. — PTI



Developers feel liquidity crunch
S.C. Dhall

Developers in real estate have started the feeling of liquidity crunch as sources of funds are drying up. This is due to high interest rates by banks and financial institutions and high cost of construction, with the rise in steel and cement prices.

The crunch is getting severe because the banks, on receiving guidelines from the Reserve Bank of India, have further tightened the policy of extending loans to real estate developers because of slow recovery of loans.

According to experts, there is enough evidence to suggest that developers are feeling the crunch. Action transaction in the selling and buying a house/flat/ land has dried up. In small towns where developers have high sales, the cash flow is not coming. Developers have been selling flats on discount with various incentives like free parking or free registration or holding of EMI for certain period to reduce the overall cost.

The big projects are highly capital-intensive. It is becoming increasingly difficult for them to raise money through both equity and debt, thereby impacting their project execution plans.

In the absence of bank credit, which is either too expensive or non-available, realty firms have been borrowing from non-banking finance companies and high net individuals at a rate ranging from 18 to 30 per cent.

Till a year ago, real estate players were in a good shape. The capital market was booming, debt was available and a healthy property sale ensured good cash flow. The US subprime crisis has changed all that.

Another major hindrance has been enormous delay in obtaining various sanctions of plans, which means the investment on land keeps incurring interest during the time lag, thereby hiking the project cost. Besides, to maintain quality standards, the developers have to incur 20 to 30 per cent extra money in construction works.

Besides, the 1 per cent labour cess is an added burden on developers in most of the states.

While affordable or mid-range housing will see a sustained demand, the price hike may prompt other buyers to adopt a wait-and-watch approach.

For most large developers, particularly those with high unsold stocks of residential units and office space, a hike in interest rate would mean a direct negative impact on their bottomline. With reports of huge stocks of unsold non-SEZ, IT space and prospects of making a sale bleak, developers are in for a beating. They are affected when the cost of funds goes up. Servicing the term loans becomes difficult when they are left without revenue from lease or sales. Also the developers who have leased space are losing tenants because of the slowdown in IT.

Sales are down to 20 per cent compared to last year. Private equity players, too, are not as aggressive in pursuing a deal as they were a year ago because of the changed scenario in the real estate market and increased sense of risk in real estate projects.

Developers are also going slow on the construction of existing projects due to slowdown in the market. Builders are now borrowing on higher rates from inter-corporate deposits. These borrowings are generally for three to six months and they are borrowing with this understanding that the market will improve in the coming months. Developers in metros are now entering in bulk sales/deals, especially with IT companies at Noida, Gurgaon, Bangalore, Pune and Hyderabad on 20 to 25 per cent discount with a view to generating cash flow and also to adjust their outstanding loan from banks.



Go in for trendy stairs
Harsimrat Kaur

You can't imagine a palace or a Bollywood movie without stylish stairs. Trendy stairs seduce one to take the upward journey.

For the series of steps that can provide access to your sweet room ahead, mull over the location and types of stairway.

The common materials used for the construction of stairs are steel, cast-iron, wood, stone, brick work or reinforced brick work.

"These days people love to play with materials to make a simple flight attractive by pouring beauty to it," says Surinder Bahga, a Chandigarh-based architect, who has given scintillating looks to Press Club, Golf Club, Panchkula, and many other major projects.

Material of staircase

"For stylish stairs, glass is a fab idea. Glass stairs are not bulky. These provide more transparency and are a visual treat for the eyes.

Steel is another trendy option. Stainless steel stairs are appealing. Stainless steel can be of two types — with glossy finish and buffing steel.

Wooden stairs with wooden handrail to enhance the aesthetic royalty of your room are also in vogue," says Bahga.

Size of Riser

Tread is the horizontal upper part of a step on which foot is placed in ascending or descending stairway. And riser is the vertical portion of a step providing support to the tread.

"Size of each riser should not be more than six inches to make your flight less tedious.

"This is even an ideal size for hospitals," adds Bahga.

"The position of stairs is also a very important factor. People are very conscious and follow the principles of vastu for the location of stairway. Ideal position for stairs is southeast and northwest," says Chopra.

Staircase should be located in such a way that a person ascends or climbs in a clock-wise direction," adds Parveen.

Add math to your steps

Now, people, who are good at mathematics, can cheer.

As, Parveen Chopra, an architect, says, "The number of steps in your stairway should be 17, 23, 29, 35... If you analyse, these are odd numbers, which when divided by 3 leave a remainder of 2."

For example, when 17 is divided by 3, 2 is the remainder.

So, follow this pattern to earn success.

Shape of stairs

When it comes to shape, young hearts prefer circular stairways.

Chopra says, "People are going for circular stairs. Though these stairs look elegant and modish, they are not comfortable. But, we have to work according to the whims and wishes of our clients."

"In commercial areas rectangular stairs are common," says Chopra.

He says spiral stairs are not comfortable and can be used in servant rooms or as makeshift steps.

He says when the distance is just of 4-5 feet, you can go for stairs without handrails for a unique look.

Mosaic and width

Rajbir Singh, an interior designer, says, "For embellish look, Mosaic is a good option to bank on. The width of stairs in public buildings, where there is a regular traffic of people, should be sufficient (90 cm), while in residential buildings it may be 18 metres. In hospitals and other institutions, ramps should be provided, along with stairs, for the handicapped, he adds.

So, go for trendy stairs to make all stare at them.



Man group plans Rs 1,000 cr investment in Mumbai

Marking its re-entry into the realty space, leading pipes manufacturer Man Industries (India) has announced a Rs 1,000-crore investment in real estate projects spread over the next three years.

The group has floated a subsidiary, Man Infraprojects, which would develop seven projects with a total built-up area of 10-million sq ft in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Indore, its chairman R.C. Mansukhani.

"Our endeavour would be to target customers who love leading a five-star life at all times. That would be the over-riding theme in all our projects - be it residential or commercial," he said.

The company would focus on the three cities initially, the Man Infraprojects chief added. The Man group has experience in real estate, having been a player in that segment between 1982-1990 when it developed 50 projects. It exited the business in 1990 because it found the market not buoyant enough then.

With the property market "now looking up", the group was re-entering the business, Mansukhani said. — PTI