Budget 2014: Glass half full for real estate

As the much-awaited Union Budget 2014-15 got tabled in the parliament on Thursday, real estate sector was left in lurch as some of its expectations were fulfilled, while some were left out.

"Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's maiden budget was a glass half empty and half full with hopes. However, some expectations are left out," says Lalit Kumar Jain, chairman, CREDAI while describing the budget.

Considering the sluggish economy, policy paralysis and high inflation, industry experts are commending the FM's initiative to address the housing sector in the budget. Increasing exemption limit on home loan interest and raising income tax slab has inculcated confidence amongst the first time home buyers to go for property purchase.

However some of the experts deemed this raise as minimal and would not push home buyers to that extent. "The deduction of interest on the housing loan from Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 2 lakh is disappointing as this will have no impact in encouraging purchase of homes, this exemption should have gone up to Rs 5 lakh instead," says Anshuman Magazine, chairman and managing director of CBRE South Asia Pvt Ltd.

Another announcement which raised the excitement bar in the sector was introduction of REITs in India. With this, the developers will be able to fund the finances from alternate channels and will enable capital markets in the country, and provide investors with exit options.

Other than this, allowing FDI in smaller projects of 20,000 sq m instead of 50,000 sq m will disseminate more funding options for developers especially for tier-II and tier-III cities where lot of potential is left to be explored.

But at the same time, the demand for the industry status to the real estate sector also went unattended.

"We are happy that the government plans effective steps to operationalise the SEZs, to revive the investors' interest to develop better infrastructure and to effectively and efficiently use the available unutilized land. However, Finance Minister was not clear about policy neither on according industry status to housing nor on the demand for giving infrastructure status to the sector," says Jain.

Although allocation of huge funds for smart cities and low cost housing was part of Union Bugdet 2014, but the detailed framework about the same was missing.

Due consideration was given to the infrastructural projects, such as rural housing, industrial cities, metro scheme in Ahmedabad and Lucknow, road mapping. However, the real estate players are keeping up the expectation high from the Modi government in the times to come. At present, they are keen on executing and implementing the projects as that is the key.