Relief for real estate sector: The Union government’s decision to approve a Rs 10,000 special window for completing nearly 4.5 lakh incomplete flats is one in a series of decisions to support the real estate sector and help home buyers. Today’s decision to create a special fund of Rs 10,000 crore will be expanded to Rs 25,000 crore and more in the future, said finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman while clarifying that the two difficult conditions announced by her in September this year when she had outlined the proposal have been removed in the final proposal cleared by the Union cabinet today. The decision comes in the backdrop of a series of measures announced by the Modi government to improve the liquidity situation of housing finance companies and restore confidence in the housing market.
In the earlier proposal outlined by Nirmala Sitharaman in September this year, she had ruled out those stalled housing projects which were either declared NPAs or had reached to National Company Law Tribunal. However, now the government will support these projects if their net worth is positive.
Funding boost for real-estate & housing sector
In September this year, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman had announced that the board of National Housing Bank had approved a Rs 30,000 liquidity infusion facility for housing finance companies, particularly to increase funding for the affordable housing sector. NHB board had approved two rounds of funding of Rs 10,000 crore and Rs 20,000 crore in two tranches.
This additional liquidity facility of Rs 30,000 crore announced in September came on the heels of another major announcement made by her in the Union budget presented in July this year. In her maiden budget, Nirmala Sitharaman had announced a partial government guarantee scheme for public sector banks for acquiring high rated pooled assets for financially sound NBFCs. Under the scheme which was operationalised in September, the government guaranteed to cover the loss of the 10% of the fair value of assets purchased by PSU banks.
Middle-class urban home buyers form a strong support base for the ruling BJP, however, it was this section that was taken for a ride by the errant builders over the last 10-12 years. According to an estimate, the constuction of over 5.6 lakh flats have been delayed in just top 7 cities and all India number would be even higher. These projects were launched in or before 2013. Today’s relief measures are aimed at completing nearly 4.5 lakh flats in stalled housing projects on priority basis.
Nirmala Sitharaman said completing these flats were a priority for the Modi government as these home buyers were constrained to pay both EMIs on home loans and rent.
In his first term, the NDA government had passed Real Estate Regulation Bill to ensure transparency and time-bound delivery in the housing sector.
In the second term, the Modi government had to deal with an unprecedented crisis in non-banking finance companies (NBFCs) and housing finance companies (HFCs), the biggest source of funding for home buyers. The Union government and the Reserve Bank of India had already provided liquidity support of over Rs 2.56 lakh crore since September 2018.
Compulsory return of property documents within 15 days
In order to protect home buyers from harassment after the closure of the loan, the government has directed PSU banks to compulsorily return the property documents within 15 days of the closure of the loan.
Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman confirmed earlier this month that all 18 PSU banks have implemented this policy. And as per the latest data, there was 99.5% compliance in case of the home loans closed since September 23 this year.
Income Tax concessions for home buyers
In a major relief to home buyers, In this year’s union budget, the government increased the deduction on account of interest paid on home loans by another Rs 1.5 lakh. The provision would be applicable on home loans borrowed up to March 2020 where the value of the house is less than Rs 45 lakh.
The Reserve Bank also asked the scheduled commercial banks to link their lending rates with the Repo Rate set by the RBI. The move was aimed at ensuring that the benefits of Repo Rate cuts are passed on to the borrower and not pocketed by banks.
Another major step was to lower the rate of interest on house building advance (HBA) given to the central government employees. The interest rate on the house building advance to government employees was linked to 10-year government securities (G-Secs).