REAL ESTATE

 


real turf: chandigarh
Winds of revival; Hope of a boom
With poll results clearing the fog of uncertainity that had been clouding the real estate sector in the country, the wait is now on for the steps that the new government will take regarding the growth of the sector. The sentiment in the realty sector was largely negative in 2013 so much so that Chandigarh, which is considered to be among the most promising and buoyant markets in the northern region, also saw a correction of almost 15 to 25 per cent in 2013 as buyers and investors deferred their purchases.

real policy
Will the new government gear up to take up REIT challenge?
The Western media often refers to India as the ‘noisy’ democracy. As always, the noise has reached its peak during the electoral phase, but the dust has settled post election results. A stable regime at the Centre will ensure that the real estate sector will regain its growth trajectory.

Affordable housing needs fund-booster dose
Expressing dissatisfaction over the progress of Affordable Housing in Partnership (AHP) scheme under Rajiv Awas Yojna (RAY) during 2011-2013 which saw only 1,920 units being completed and another 4,848 units under construction, property consultancy firm CBRE said that the government should effectively use the fund allocated for development of affordable homes in order to reduce housing shortage in the country, .

tax tips
Calculating capital gain
How much tax will I have to pay?
Can capital gain be divided into LTCG and STCG?
Should we buy a flat in project without NOC?
The heir factor

loan zone
Loan Repayment
Q.Is the amount paid towards a home loan in a year dependent on the amount of loan the bank has disbursed or the amount sanctioned? I have been sanctioned a home loan of Rs 25 lakh. 

Colour Trends for 2014
Teal tranquility
Trends in home colours are a reflection of the consumers’ tastes and preferences. As homes are now perceived as an extension of one’s personality, home owners are becoming more aware of the latest trends and are more than willing to incorporate those in their homes to give their abode the much required visual boost.

Ground Realty
Set tone for a strong structure
A wide variety of building materials and specifications is available today to a house builder making it difficult to take a final decision. Everyone wants to have the best in his house but paucity of funds and lack of knowledge often become a constraint.

real talk
Zirakpur bucked the slowdown effect 
The real estate market in the tricity has been in the grip of a slowdown. How has this affected the demand in the micro market of Zirakpur?

realty bites
CBRE named best property consultancy at Asia Pacific Property Awards
Property consultancy firm CBRE received 11 national awards and the main regional award for Best Property Consultancy for the second year at the prestigious Asia Pacific Property Awards 2014 recently. CBRE India received the Highly Commended award in the Property Consultancy category for the second year in a row.

Launch Pad
Hues in Gurgaon
Supertech Limited added another project in its portfolio of Gurgaon projects with the launch of 'Supertech Hues' - Premium living in Sector 68, Gurgaon last week. The project is being developed by Singapore-based architect - Aedas.





 

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real turf: chandigarh
Winds of revival; Hope of a boom
The grip of slowdown on Chandigarh realty market seems to have loosened as there has been a spurt in the sale-purchase activity and property prices over the past couple of months. 
Geetu Vaid

With poll results clearing the fog of uncertainity that had been clouding the real estate sector in the country, the wait is now on for the steps that the new government will take regarding the growth of the sector. The sentiment in the realty sector was largely negative in 2013 so much so that Chandigarh, which is considered to be among the most promising and buoyant markets in the northern region, also saw a correction of almost 15 to 25 per cent in 2013 as buyers and investors deferred their purchases.

Back on feet

While the periphery areas did see sale purchase activity, property prices within Chandigarh were hit due the virtual absence of buyers. “Property prices in Chandigarh have rarely seen a downward trend that was witnessed last year”, says R.P. Malhotra, General Secretary, Property Owners Association, Chandigarh. But the last couple of months have seen a steady increase in the number of transactions for properties within the city going by the number of registries carried out at the Sub Registrar’s office. According to an official while earlier there were just 5 to 6 registries being carried out in a day, the number has gone up to 12 to 15 in the past month or so. According to market watchers the prices too are in a recovery mode in the city. A 10 marla house in Sector 37 that had few takers for about ~2.85 crore is now fetching around ~3.15 crore and the price being quoted for 7.5 and 8 marla houses is anywhere between ~2.25 and ~2.5 crore. “This spurt in the number of deals and prices reflects the positive sentiment in the property market in Chandigarh now”, says Sanjiv Sharma, a city based property consultant. Hinting at a revival in the next few months, Sharma says that the main reasons for this were that the prices within the city had bottomed out and with no further scope of correction there was stagnation as sellers preferred to wait for favourable winds rather than offloading their assets. Along with this the market sentiment had started improving in anticipation of a stable government in the Centre.

The real estate market in the City Beautiful is basically a secondary market as there is no fresh supply here, so it is largely a sentiment-driven market. Thus, positive sentiment is reflected in price appreciation here immediately. “Chandigarh market is not driven by the demand-and -supply factors and the correction in property prices here were basically due to the low sentiment last year”, says Malhotra.

So according to experts the prices are likely to appreciate within the city over the next couple of months making it the right time to make an investment.

Impact on periphery

While the availablity of fresh stock in Chandigarh is little, overall volume of sales, too, is low. Even in the sectors where apartments are on sale like 48, 49, 51 etc. it is mostly the resale market. But the price ups and downs in the city are important as these actually set benchmarks for properties in the periphery areas and in the satellite towns of Mohali and Panchkula. So if the prices in Chandigarh are in correction mode the prices in the periphery areas move correspondingly.

“While Chandigarh is seeing a revival, Panchkula will be the next one to follow”, says Sharma. Panchkula, too, had seen a correction of up to 35 per cent in some areas. The Panchkula market is more volatile basically because of its buyer profile. Buyer in Panchkula is mostly business class buyer and the property is bought for holding or for short term gain puposes so there the market rises and crashes substantially unlike Mohali where the buyer is the end user or from the rural belt of Punjab who doesn’t always look for monetary gains so the market ups and downs there are not so substantial as these are in Panchkula. Moreover, in Panchkila there are lesser number of developers as compared to those in Mohali so the inventory is limited amnd this also keeps the price movement in check.

The market in periphery areas like Zirakpur, Dera Bassi, Kharar, Banur, Mullanpur and Pinjore is largely end user driven and has a huge inventory in affordable, mid as well as premium segments. Sale volumes in the periphery areas had taken a hit due to low buyer confidence as well as the slow progress of some of the projects. “The buyer who was in a wait-and-watch mode for the past 7-8 quarters is now willing to invest as the prices are likely to increase in the next few months. “There has been a substantial increase in queries from potential buyers as realty market is likely to soar in 2014”, says Prateek Mittal, Executive Director, Sushma Buildtech Pvt Ltd . Moreover, there is hope that interest rates on home loans will not be raised further and the Budget will have more benefits in store for home buyers as well as tax payers.

Going by the BJP manifesto the real estate sector is likely to get policy impetus that will further its growth.

“The victory of Narendra Modi has further raised the hopes of a better overall economic scenario that will surely give a boost to the real estate sector”, adds Mittal.

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real policy
Will the new government gear up to take up REIT challenge?

The Western media often refers to India as the ‘noisy’ democracy. As always, the noise has reached its peak during the electoral phase, but the dust has settled post election results. A stable regime at the Centre will ensure that the real estate sector will regain its growth trajectory. There are several areas where reforms and interventions are required to propel this growth. Policy regarding REITs is one such policy that has been delayed for a long time and firm steps in this regard can dramatically change the macro economic scenario.

Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)

A real estate investment trust (REIT) is a company that owns, and in most cases operates income-producing real estate. REITs own many types of commercial real estate, ranging from office and apartment buildings to warehouses, hospitals, shopping malls, hotels and even timberlands. Some REITs also engage in financing real estate.

The REIT system was designed to provide a real estate investment structure similar to the kind that mutual funds provide for investment in stocks. REITs can be publicly or privately held, but only public REITs may be listed on public stock exchanges. REITs can be classified as equity, mortgage or a hybrid.

REITs were created in the USA when President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed into law the REIT Act. REITs were created by the US Congress to give all investors an opportunity to invest in large-scale, diversified portfolios of income-producing real estate in the same way they typically invest in other asset classes — through the purchase and sale of liquid securities.

Since then, more than 20 countries around the world have established REIT regimes, with more countries actively considering them. The spread of the REIT approach to real estate investment around the world has also increased awareness and acceptance of investing in global real estate securities.

The Government of India is still in the process of formulating legislations for REITs in the Indian real estate market. SEBI published its draft regulation in the last quarter of 2012. Once implemented, Indian REITs will help individual investors to reap the benefits of owning interest in the securitised real estate market.

The greatest benefit will be that of fast and easy liquidation of investments in the real estate market, in marked contrast to the traditional manner of disposing of real estate. The government and Securities and Exchange Board of India, through various notifications, is in the process of making it easier to invest in real estate in India directly and indirectly through foreign direct investment, via listed real estate companies and mutual funds.

Benefits For Indian Real Estate

REITs will enable retail investors to participate in the real estate space with small investment sizes. This will unlock a new source of project financing for real estate. As of now there is very little holding power available with the developers. Therefore, there is little interest with them to create high-grade commercial, retail or any other income generating assets.

Even large developers strata sell commercial or retail projects to multiple HNI investors. Such a situation creates complexity in maintaining and promoting these spaces, apart from creating title issues and many other complications. Once a REIT takes charge of a commercial property, the scenario improves significantly.

Smaller developers will also be encouraged to create lease-hold assets, because REITs will provide them with exits and an incentive to develop high-grade buildings. This would have a very positive impact on the overall real estate industry, since developers who are currently doing only residential projects would be able to diversify their portfolios and achieve a more balanced growth.

There would definitely be more momentum on the market, and various new asset classes hitherto considered non-viable by many developers would emerge in strength — for instance, student housing, senior living projects and rental housing schemes.

Challenges For REITs

There are several challenges to overcome before the successful implementation of REITs in India. To begin with, title certification in India is an ambiguous and cumbersome process, and this complexity discourages many potential foreign and domestic investors from buying into income-yielding properties.

Another issue is the valuation mechanism. Real estate valuation in India is largely unregulated and lacks a standard code of practice or ethics.

In order to implement REITs, the government will have to address these issues via making and amending multiple legislatures.

It is to be hoped that the new government will seriously look into the urban development and focus on the creation of right kind of built infrastructure that is the key for sustainable growth. REITs and the associated changes in the legislature need to find a place on a priority list that aims for larger developments and subsequent employment creation.

Subhankar Mitra, Head - Strategic Consulting (West), JLL India

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Affordable housing needs fund-booster dose

Expressing dissatisfaction over the progress of Affordable Housing in Partnership (AHP) scheme under Rajiv Awas Yojna (RAY) during 2011-2013 which saw only 1,920 units being completed and another 4,848 units under construction, property consultancy firm CBRE said that the government should effectively use the fund allocated for development of affordable homes in order to reduce housing shortage in the country, .

According to Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (HUPA) Ministry the total housing shortage in the country was 18.78 million at the start of 12th Five Year Plan (2012-17) and out of this 96 per cent was in EWS and LIG segments.

“Although the Interim Budget announcement supporting affordable housing was welcomed by the real estate industry, the segment has a long way ahead as yet,” CBRE South Asia CMD Anshuman Magazine said in a statement recently.

He noted that a key push was given to the housing sector, with the allocation of ~6,000 crore for the Rural Housing Fund and another ~2,000 crore for the Urban Housing Fund, at the Interim Budget 2014–15.

“However, with a substantial amount of funds already allocated for the creation of affordable and/or low-cost, mass housing in the previous fiscal left unused, the effective utilisation of fund allocation for affordable housing cannot be stressed enough,” Magazine said.

He noted that the National Housing Bank (NHB) was yet to set up Urban Housing Fund.

The consultant said the Rajiv AwasYojana has been empowered to extend financial support to states for the creation of affordable housing stock through PPP under the Affordable Housing in Partnership (AHP) scheme.

“Under this AHP scheme for the period 2011–2013, about 11 affordable housing projects across Rajasthan (eight projects in Jaipur) and Karnataka (three projects in Bangalore) were in progress at a total approved project cost of ~231.33 crore, as of January 31, 2014.

“This translates to about 6,768 affordable dwelling units, of which 1,920 have been completed and 4,848 units are under construction. For bridging an urban housing shortage of almost 18 million homes for the EWS/LIG segment, these figures fall woefully short,” he said.

Magazine said although the government had put in place various funds and bodies to bridge the enormous housing shortage gap in urban India, much more needs to be done as far as implementing these policies are concerned.

“One can only hope that India’s new political dispensation will work towards implementing these key policy initiatives, with better ground results,” he added.

He also stressed on providing loan access to EWS and LIG segments and relaxation in the current FDI policy on real estate such as easing the three-year lock-in period. — PTI 

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tax tips
Calculating capital gain
S. C. Vasudeva
email your queries to [email protected]

Q.I have some questions regarding my property kindly advise:

My mother bought a shop in November 1996 for Rs 1,60,000+registration charges Rs 26,000 i.e. for Rs 1,86,000 and sold the same on April 8, 2013 for Rs 14,00,000. What is the price index and cost inflation index for the same for the year 2013-2014.

The construction of double storey was done on the shop between June 2004 -November 2004 costing Rs 1,17,465. Please let us know about the price index and cost inflation index for the same for the year 2013-2014 and the construction cost at present.

Do we have to deposit the capital gain of the shop in the capital gain account. What is the time period in which we have to deposit the amount in the capital gain account? — arun pasricha

A.Replies to your queries are given hereunder:

Cost inflation index for the financial year 1996-97 was 305 and for the financial year 2013-14 is 939.

Cost inflation index for the financial year 2004-05 was 480 and on the basis of index for the financial year 2013-14 the indexed cost would workout at Rs 2,29,791.

It is presumed that the sale of the shop in April 2013 includes the portion constructed between June, 2004 and November 2004. The total indexed cost of the shop and construction during June-November, 2004 would work out at Rs 8,02,427. The amount of capital gain would thus be Rs 5,97,573. The same being a long-term capital gain, would be taxable @20 per cent plus education cess of 3 per cent thereon.

The deposit under the capital gain scheme is required to be made in case an assessee intends to save tax leviable on the amount of long-term capital gain by utilising the amount of capital gain or net consideration, as the case may be, for purchase or construction of a residential house within the specified period. In case of a long-term capital gain arising on sale of a capital asset other than a residential house, an assessee is required to utilise net consideration for purchase or construction of a residential house within the specified period. The amount of net consideration or part thereof is required to be deposited in the said scheme, if the same is not fully utilised or is partly utilised for the purchase or construction of a residential house before the due date of filing the IT return for the assessment year in which the amount of capital gain arose. In the present case you need to deposit the amount of net consideration in case you intend to seek the exemption from the taxability of the capital gain and intend to utilise the amount of net consideration for the purchase or construction of a residential house. You have to deposit the amount of Rs 14,00,000 in capital gain scheme account before July 31, 2014 so as to seek exemption from the taxability of the capital gain. 

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How much tax will I have to pay?

Q.I am a senior citizen and my annual income from pension, bank interest is about Rs 1,50,000. I have some ancestral land which I intend selling. I expect that I will earn capital gain of about Rs 6 lakh after deducting the indexed cost etc., from the selling price of land in question. I intend to pay tax amount as I am told LTCG is leviable at 10.6 per cent. Will I be able to claim the benefit of Rs 1,00,000 against the capital gain of Rs 6,00,000 so that my tax liability gets reduced. If your reply is in the affirmative, then do have I to obtain PAN Card before filing the IT return? What is the relevant form number to be filled in my case? — rajan

A.The long-term capital gain tax arising on the sale of a capital asset in the nature of immovable property is chargeable @ 20 per cent plus education cess of 3 per cent. The rate chargeable for assessment year 2014-15 (year ending 31.03.2014) would thus be 20.6 per cent on capital gain of Rs 6 lakh. The taxable capital gain would be Rs 5,00,000 as you would be entitled to exhaust the taxable limit of Rs 2,50,000 applicable to a senior citizen. In my opinion you will have to file the tax return and also obtain the Permanent Account Number for the purpose. The relevant form in your case would be ITR-2.

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Can capital gain be divided into LTCG and STCG?

Q.Kindly clarify the following points:

Which of the two i.e. short term capital gain (STCG) or long term capital gain (LTCG) on the sale of a flat would be beneficial to the assessee.

Are there any judicial orders on the basis of which it can be considered that the date of allotment would be applicable for computing long term capital gain.

If the date of allotment of land to a group housing society is October, 2010, and the date of handing over of the possession of flat to a buyer is April, 2013, then is it possible to bifurcate the gains in two parts i.e. in respect of land — LTCG and in respect of the building on it — STCG.

If the answer to the abovepoint is yes, then how it is possible as the society can provide only total cost of the land and total number of flats built thereon with area wise specifications. There is also no bifurcation available, towards the cost of land and structure thereon, in respect of each individual, in the payment made to the society by the individual.

Whether the interest paid to the bank in respect of home loan, be added to the cost of the flat or not. I will claim the deduction in respect of 1/5th of interest paid in the financial year 2013-14. I would not be able to claim the balance amount as I will not be in possession of flat in the financial year 2014-15. —krishan kumar

A.The answer to your queries is as under:

Normally long-term capital gain is favourable to the assessee as the same is taxable at a lower rate.

In the following cases the date of allotment of flat was considered for the purposes of treating the capital gain as a long-term capital gain:

Jitender Mohan vs. ITO (2007) 11 SOT 594 (Delhi)

ITO vs. Prem P. Tharanee 3 ITD 482 (Bombay)

Facts in the query do not indicate the date of allotment of flat. In case you want the capital gain to be treated as long-term capital gain and avail the benefit of lower rate of taxation, flat should be sold after three years of the date of allotment, preferably before taking possession.

It is not possible to bifurcate the capital gain in two parts as you have been allotted the flat only. In case of flats constructed by the societies in Delhi, the land is owned by the societies and transfer of land is not envisaged generally to the flat owners.

The interest paid to the bank in respect of home loan cannot be added to the cost of flat as the same is claimable as a deduction from the income from house property under Section 24 of the Act.

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Should we buy a flat in project without NOC?

Q.We want to buy a flat which is under-construction. We have been told that actually according to town and planning it was the place meant for parking. If NOC is not taken by the owner, then it will be considered illegal. Should we buy it or risk is involved?
— Chandrika Bansa

A.It would not be advisable to buy a flat in respect of which NOC is not available to the owner from the municipal or a local authority which has the jurisdiction for granting such NOC. The builder having utilised the parking space for construction of flat can be in trouble and construction so made may be demolished. In such a case a buyer may not be entitled to any compensation. It would. therefore. not be advisable to take a risk in such a case.

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The heir factor

Q.My father owned a commercial property in a metropolitan city. He expired on June 23, 2013. He is survived by his wife, two sons and two daughters. All children are married. One of my sisters had expired before my father’s death. She has two sons. My father had not made any Will. Who are the legal heirs in this case and what will be the share of each one of the hiers in the abovementioned property?
— R.S. Talwar

A.According to the provisions of the Hindu Succession Act 1956, the property of a male Hindu dying intestate would devolve firstly upon the relatives specified in Class 1 of the Schedule. Among the heirs specified in the Schedule, those in Class 1 shall take simultaneously to the exclusion of all other heirs. On the basis of facts given in the query each one of you is covered as Class 1 heir. Accordingly, all of you i.e. your mother, yourself and your brother, your two sisters will get 1/6th share in the property. Sons of deceased sister would get the balance 1/6th share in the property which would divided equally between two sons of the deceased daughter. This is in accordance with Section 10 of the Hindu Succession Act 1956. 

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loan zone
Loan Repayment
s. C. dhall

Q.Is the amount paid towards a home loan in a year dependent on the amount of loan the bank has disbursed or the amount sanctioned? I have been sanctioned a home loan of Rs 25 lakh. But, as per the builder’s plan, the bank only needs to pay Rs12 lakh in the first year after the construction begins. So what would be the EMI that I have to pay in the first year?
— Abhimanyu

A.As the property is under construction, it is true that most lenders will make the disbursement in part based on the progress of construction. Now, till the housing loan is fully disbursed, you have to pay simple interest at the rate you have agreed upon with the lender. This is known as the Pre-EMI. You will start paying your EMI from the month following the full disbursement of ~25 lakh. If one opts for tranche EMIs, then it will be paid on the disbursed amount.

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Will interest rates drop in the next few months?

Q.The continuous rise in interest rates have made me postpone my decision of buying a property. Do you feel the interest rates will come down in the near future? — saurabh.

A.There is really no need to wait for interest rates to fall if you eant to take a decision to buy a property. Since a large majority of customers take home loans on floating rate of interest, which are likely to change several times during the long loan tenure of 15 to 20 years, they will get the benefit of a fall in rates whenever they happen. As for your question regarding a fall in the interest rates, the fact is that the interest rates will come down over a period of time as high rates are not sustainable. What is important is the property prices. The call to buy a home or not should be based on property price rather than the interest rates on housing loans. Interest rates should not determine your decision to buy a property though it would impact loan eligibility.

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Loan for flat in a pre-approved project

Q.The housing project in which I wish to buy an apartment is pre-approved by a bank. If I wish to take a loan from a different bank, what documents will I have to submit?
— Nitin Hissar

A.Pre-approved project means that the bank has examined the legal documents for the property and has found these to be in order. The process for applying a home loan remains the same except that it is processed faster for a pre-approved project. Also, a project pre-approved by a couple of banks does ensure a certain standard of quality. You will have to submit documents relating to ownership and approvals for a project that is not pre-approved

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Colour Trends for 2014
Teal tranquility
 Rajiv Rajgopal

Trends in home colours are a reflection of the consumers’ tastes and preferences. As homes are now perceived as an extension of one’s personality, home owners are becoming more aware of the latest trends and are more than willing to incorporate those in their homes to give their abode the much required visual boost. The year 2014 is witnessing a lot of change as far as the colour trends goas consumers are now more open to blends. They are adaptable to changes when it comes to colours. Earlier neon colours, also known as pop up colours, were not preferred while choosing colours for walls in a home. This year home owners are open to go with colours like bright orange, yellow, fuschia pink or hot pink, bright reds etc to give the interiors that extra edge.

Shade of choice

Based on AkzoNobel’s study on the ColourFutures 2014 ‘Teal’ has emerged as the top trend colour of the year as it perfectly combines the natural harmony of green with the tranquility of blue. Reflecting the over riding trend of unlocking, this muted teal has a gentle character.

Deeper and more sophisticated than turquoise, teal has a subdued richness which is often used to describe tropical seas of shimmering bluish green. A tertiary colour, teal is the combination of primary blue and secondary green which today is 
used to describe several different tones of this majestic colour.

Somewhere between blue and green it has come to symbolise balance, but should be combined with neutral tones and shades of wood so as not to overwhelm a space.

Five key trends which will rule in 2014 are

Go for the subtle touch

Nothing says modernity and space like whites do and these shades have great warmth creating a look which is human and inviting rather than clinical and austere. Colours in the tones of white and cream when used in small spaces have the effect of making them appear more spacious by reflecting more light. Using slight shifts in hue and tone can create delicate combinations of tinted white and neutral mid tones. These colours give a restful and silent effect that showcases the trend’s clever use of texture and natural materials.

Soft and smoky effect

Imagine ripe plums, almost neutral tones of lilac and that perfect shade of delicate dove grey. An array of greens from dark spruce to charming pastel shades of mint, make it easy to create a sensitive tone-on-tone tranquil effect. Neutrals are important here but they are always tinted with the slightest touch of rose or lavender. Fragile and ethereal materials like voile, lace and frosted glass complete the look and add a layered quality. 

Lively and robust

If your heart beats for colours like deep garnet, mustard yellow and blue then use these this season to showcase your vivacity. This is a trend which captures all the positivity of times gone by and wraps it up in a contemporary and very relevant way.

— The writer is the Director of Decorative Business, AkzoNobel India 

Give in to masculine charm

The other palette that is in vogue is constructed of masculine neutrals like, venetian turquoise, fog grey. In this scheme the brightest accents are a small but important touch as they add the graphical edge. Here bright teal, scarlet and ochre provide a surprising and mature alternative to the more primary accents. The use of this mature and measured palette complements natural materials like dark wood, marble and cork as well as concrete.

Do it now

Make a youngster’s room reflect his high octane energy by using a medley of colours. Clash and contrast or combine and blend to create a riot of colour, or something a little more paired back. Fizzy lemon and intense teal can rub shoulders with bright emerald green, lime, violet and fiery orange. These hues also work best for spaces like living rooms and as accent walls in bedrooms.


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Ground Realty
Set tone for a strong structure
Jagvir Goyal.

A wide variety of building materials and specifications is available today to a house builder making it difficult to take a final decision. Everyone wants to have the best in his house but paucity of funds and lack of knowledge often become a constraint. At such times, it is important to make a thorough survey, consult friends and experts and study the current trends instead of getting influenced by ads or the glib talk of the salesmen or decide under pressure of workmen. Here are a few guidelines to make an informed choice:

Universal rule: The costliest material is not necessarily the best. Focus should be on durability and strength of a material or item and not on the highest cost or appearance. Safety and utility should take priority over beauty. Relevance is another important factor. Some specifications are purely meant for commercial and official buildings and their adoption for residential premises lends an odd look to the house. So weigh every specification from strength, durability, safety, utility and relevance points of view.

Structural specifications: For the structure of your house, the combination of RCC and brickwork is time tested and should be invariably adopted. From earthquake resistance point of view, ideally, RCC framed structure is recommended but in houses, sometimes, it is not possible to provide it. Therefore, while designing the house and deciding its plan, maximum possible earthquake resistant features should be added to the structure of the house. RCC columns and bands should be inducted and beam grids should be created wherever possible.

RCC or RB: While deciding the specifications for roof slabs, one should adopt RCC slab only. Reinforced Brick slab, called RB slab in which bricks are positioned in between the steel bars, should be avoided at all costs. Contractor's and mason's advice, if in favour of RB slab, should fall on deaf ears only. RB slabs cost more, are a source of leakage and efflorescence (Shora) and are weaker than RCC slabs. Often, the plea is given that RCC slabs develop cracks while RB slabs do not. Such a plea should be ignored as RB slabs create bigger problems than hairline cracks often associated with RCC slabs and these hairline cracks, too, can be avoided by laying RCC slabs in a proper manner.

Basement or earth filling: Wherever the plots are low lying, one should look for provision of basement instead of going in for heavy earth filling under floors. Such earth filling, often many feet deep, leads to settlement of floors after sometime, howsoever good compaction of earth you may have done. The reason for this is that in houses, we can't adopt the mechanised methods of compaction that are used in big construction projects. Application of rammer (durmat) is the common way. Basements, when planned properly and provided with right lighting, ventilation and flooring specifications become a boon for the house owner.

Cement specifications: Cement should be of any reputed brand. Care should be taken that it is as fresh as possible. Earlier, there was a choice for the consumer and he could choose 33 grade OPC, 43 grade OPC, 53 grade OPC or PPC. Nowadays OPC cement of any grade is not available in the market and one can choose only PPC (Portland Pozzolana Cement). So take care that the brand chosen is good, cement is fresh, bags are not torn and contain 50 kg net content. To check the freshness of cement, look for a tag on it. It tells the week number in which it was manufactured and packed. Suppose the tag reads 16/14. It means that the cement was manufactured in 16th week of 2014.

Selecting steel: Look for steel manufactured by internationally reputed houses only. It may be a little costlier than some prevalent popular brands but there is no harm in spending an extra buck here. Use HYSD steel bars. HYSD means High Yield Strength Deformed steel bars. In common language, it is addressed as tor steel. Some people prefer plain steel but tor steel is economical, has better strength and number of bars required is less in it than in case of plain steel. Always insist on rust free, kink free, black steel bars of full length. The bars should carry IS 1786 mark. Prefer 500 D bars over 500 or 415 strength bars.

For perfect RCC work: Avoid using the age old 1:2:4 concrete specifications. Bureau of Indian Standards has rejected such type of uncontrolled concrete for RCC work. Adopt 'M20' designation concrete unless a grade such as M25, M30 etc is specified by your designer. In simple terms, M20 is a concrete that has a compressive strength of 200 kg per sq cm. Ask an engineer and he will suggest you a fairly good ratio of cement, sand, bajri and water for this quality of concrete. From this ratio, work out the number of pans of sand and bajri to be added to mixer for each one bag of cement. To successfully provide this ratio, clearly instruct the labour contractor and workmen to unload only calculated number of pans of sand and bajri into mixer for each bag of cement. Soon, they will get used to the procedure. This little effort will help you in building a better, more cohesive and stronger RCC work.

Choosing wood: Many new materials are coming up for doors and windows. Prefer wood to other materials. UPVC windows are a good choice but these prove very costly. In case you want to choose a combination of wooden frames and shutters for doors and UPVC frames and shutters for windows, doubly check your cost estimates before taking a decision. Aluminum doors give a commercial look to the house and shouldn't be selected. Aluminum gets scratched with time and its original finish can't be restored. Choose seasoned hard wood for the frames and shutters. Nagpur teak, also called MP teak is the best wood if you can afford it. Otherwise, you may look for other hard wood varieties such as Ivory Coast teak, Sudan teak etc imported from African countries.

Strong framework

Walls are often 9 inch thick and it may prove quite uneconomical to provide frames (chowkhats) covering full thickness of walls. Choosing 6 inch wide chowkhats for your house is therefore quite fair. At the most, a 9 inch wide chowkhat can be chosen for the main door of the house. Section of chowkhats should therefore be 6 inch X 2.5 inch for all doors and windows.

Mortar specifications

Mortar, popularly called masala, is a mixture of cement, sand and water, used for brickwork and plastering of walls. Different ratios of cement and sand are used for different items. For foundations, brickwork can be done in 1: 6 mortar. For super structure above plinth level, brickwork can be done in 1: 5 mortar. Top two courses of brickwork, just below the slab should be done in richer mortar of 1: 4 ratio as these act like a bearing for the RCC slab. Internal plastering should be done in 1: 6 ratio mortar if the labour mixes it properly, otherwise 1: 5 can be adopted. External plastering work is subjected to rains and weather and should be done in richer mortar of 1: 5. Underside of ceilings should be done in 1:3 mortar. Door and window jambs, when not fully covered by chowkhats, should be done in 1:3 mortar to avoid chipping off of plaster at a later stage.

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real talk
Zirakpur bucked the slowdown effect

Amit Mittal,
Amit Mittal, Director, Maya Garden group

The real estate market in the tricity has been in the grip of a slowdown. How has this affected the demand in the micro market of Zirakpur?

There is no doubt that the buyer sentiment has been subdued and the investors too have been wary over the past couple of years. Chandigarh, Panchkula and Mohali have seen a substantial slump in sales during this period. But as far as Zirakpur is concerned the effect has not been very drastic. Sales have been slow from time to time but overall this micro market did not lose its appeal for buyers during the last two years. The new launches and progress in the already under construction projects is a proof of this fact.

What have been the key factors that have maintained a favourable sentiment in Zirakpur?

Location is the main USP of Zirakpur micro market as compared to the other periphery areas like Mullanpur and Landran road in Mohali. Apart from this a wide range of inventory at affordable prices has been a major attraction for home buyers. This micro market now has something for a buyer of every segment which has added to its appeal. For example in our Maya City project we have almost 1,500 flats and there is a bouquet of choices in 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 BHK flats and penthouses in the price range of Rs 36 lakh to Rs 1.5 crore.

As a developer what strategy you have used maintain business in a lean market?

It is not a strategy but my firm belief that has been in play in this case. I believe that while the lean phase poses major challenges related to sales and finances on the one hand, on the other hand it also offers an opportunity to prove one's mettle and sincerity. As a developer we concentrate on the project in hand rather than launching multiple projects at one time. And try to deliver the ongoing projects in time to the buyers so that they don't face hardships due to inordinate delays . Take for example our ongoing project Maya Garden City in Zirakpur. The promised date for handing over possessions is November 2014, but we will be handing over the possessions to buyers almost two to three months in advance. This way the buyers have no tension of paying rents as well bank EMIs and this builds their confidence in the builder. For our other projects like Maya Garden phase I and II also the delivery was not delayed.

What are your future plans in this micro market?

The first priority is to hand over the possessions in Maya Garden City over the next few months. We are also planning to launch a commercial project on an area of 8.5 acres along the NH as this belt has immense potential as a commercial hub. — As told to Geetu Vaid

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realty bites
CBRE named best property consultancy at Asia Pacific Property Awards

Property consultancy firm CBRE received 11 national awards and the main regional award for Best Property Consultancy for the second year at the prestigious Asia Pacific Property Awards 2014 recently. CBRE India received the Highly Commended award in the Property Consultancy category for the second year in a row.

Anshuman Magazine, Chairman and MD, CBRE South Asia Pvt. Ltd. said on the occasion, “This award is a testament to the consistency and high quality of service CBRE provides to its clients in India and across the region. We always believe in putting the client first; and such awards are an affirmation of the high level of professionalism exhibited by professionals who represent CBRE.” CBRE New Zealand was named Best Property Consultancy and will now compete against other regional winners from Africa, Arabia, Europe, UK and the Americas to find the ultimate World’s Best Property Consultancy. The global winner will be revealed at an awards ceremony in Dubai during December 2014.

CBRE was also named as Best Property Consultancy in six countries: Australia, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam and New Zealand. Other countries that received the Highly Commended awards are China, Hong Kong, Japan, Philippines and Singapore.

The Asia Pacific Property Awards are part of the International Property Awards. Judging is carried out through a meticulous process involving a panel of over 70 experts covering every aspect of the property industry.

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Launch Pad
Hues in Gurgaon

Supertech Limited added another project in its portfolio of Gurgaon projects with the launch of 'Supertech Hues' - Premium living in Sector 68, Gurgaon last week. The project is being developed by Singapore-based architect - Aedas . The first phase of Hues, which is a part of 70-acre integrated development is being launched with 23 towers and 2,092 units offering options of 2 BHK, 2BHK+1study and 3 BHK units with area configuration ranging from 1180 sq. ft. to 1765 sq. ft., price starting from Rs 84 lakh onwards. The 3-side open apartments with huge balconies will provide a panoramic view, high ceilings which will give room for air and more space making the apartments look much bigger and better in every sense and modular styling to keep the kitchen hygienic. Supertech Hues will have 2 level parking basement, double height entrance lobbies, around 85 per cent green landscaped area, kids club house, jogging track, health centre, hi-end security, primary school, nursery school and a shopping centre. 20 per cent of the project land has been exclusively reserved for facilities like schools, hospitals, parks, etc., which has been done for the first time in Gurgaon.

The total investment on the first phase of the project would be around Rs 1,000 crore.

Tata Housing to invest over $400 m in Colombo project

Tata Housing announced the launch of its mixed use township at Colombo in Sri Lanka. The project in partnership with UDA (Urban Development Authority) of Sri Lanka will commence its operations with starting construction of residences for rehabilitation of the current tenants in the phase one and also launch a mix -use development project at slave Island in Colombo. The first of its kind initiative by an Indian real estate company will involve investments of over $ 400 million.

The Sri Lankan Urban Development Authority (UDA) have rehabilitated the residents of Slave Island till the time of the completion of the project and aim to eradicate underserved developments and provide better housing facility to the occupants with over 550 residences. The rehabilitated occupant will have condominium ownership and privilege of mortgage facility by ownership. In the luxury project, the project will have estimated four residential towers (each tower consisting of 36 floors) and approximately 650 units comprising of one, two, three, four bedroom units and duplexes and penthouses. It will also feature a commercial retail area, a commercial office space and business hotels and service apartments.

Ansal Prop to invest 130 cr on SEZ development in Gr Noida

Realty firm Ansal Properties and Infrastructure has revived its plan to develop a 75-acre IT special economic zone (SEZ) in Greater Noida and will invest about ~130 crore over the next three years on construction.

The IT SEZ was notified by the Commerce Ministry in 2006, but the company was going slow in the development of SEZ project due to global economic slowdown.

With construction of Yamuna Expressway and NIIT setting up its captive units near this SEZ, the company has decided to increase the pace of development of this project. “We roped in Earth Infrastructure as co-developer for this project in 2012 with the permission of the Centre. We have invested about Rs130 crore on purchase of land, physical infrastructure and construction of 2 lakh sq ft area in this SEZ,” Ansal API Advisor (SEZ) R M Manroa said. Stating that two units have already started operation in SEZ, he said the company expect that entire 2 lakh sq ft would be leased and about 10 units will start functioning during the current fiscal.

It plans to invest another ~130 crore over the next three years along with its co-developer on further development of 8 lakh sq ft, taking the total built-up area to 10 lakh sq ft by 2016-17.

Manroa said the development and investment would be done jointly by Ansal group and co-developer.

About 65 per cent of the area in this SEZ has been kept for processing zone and another 35 per cent for the non- processing zone.

Manroa said this is the only SEZ in Delhi-NCR offering independent IT/ITES plots. The company has 18 plots each covering 2,000 sq ft area.

— Based on information provided by the developers

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