Besides exercising necessary due diligence, NRIs also need to adhere to certain specific laws and regulations, while buying, selling, or renting out real estate in India. The realty market in India has always seen considerable interest from the Indian Diaspora, as an investment avenue. With developers constantly striving to woo non-resident Indians (NRIs), they can choose from a variety of options, in the residential and commercial segments.
“The realty market is in the midst of a slowdown and this is the right time to invest,” says Kalpesh Patel, head – international sales, Rustomjee Group. “Developers are offering good deals and benefits such as flexible payment plans, subvention schemes, etc. Although demand still exists at the local level, buyers are playing a wait-and-watch game. NRIs must take optimum advantage of this situation,” suggests Patel.
Buying and selling
An NRI can either come to the country and buy or sell a property, or give a Power of Attorney (POA) to a relative and get the transaction done, without coming to India. NRIs can also avail of home loans in India. The documents for the loan may vary, according to the country in which the NRI is settled.
Generally, the term of the loan will be 10 to 15 years, while the amount that the NRI is eligible for, will vary based on age, income, education, etc. To finance the property’s purchase, it is advisable to use a non-resident external (NRE) account, as this will help the NRI to take back the capital invested in the property, when they resell the property.
Investing for the future
“For NRIs who are on the verge of retiring and planning to settle in India, this is the right time to invest,” advises Ashwinder Raj Singh, CEO – residential services, JLL India. “Social infrastructure in most of the large Indian cities, has improved a lot while civic infrastructure is also being ramped up. As more hospitals, schools and shopping malls come up and connectivity improves, it will give rise to better standards of living. This will directly enrich the quality of life after retirement,” Singh adds.
Once the primary residence is secured, NRIs can also use surplus funds, to invest in a second apartment and use it to generate rental income. However, they must be aware of all the bye-laws and regulations that apply to NRI investors, especially with respect to taxes, as rental income is taxable in India. It is also taxable in other nations, except in cases where a treaty exists between the two involved countries, with regards to double taxation, he points out.
“NRI investors should avoid projects by unknown developers. Numerous buyers have fallen into difficulty, by putting their funds in projects that lacked mandatory clearances and fell short of even the minimum standards of quality. Unless an NRI plans to visit India and evaluate projects, s/he should opt only for reputed developers. In all cases, NRIs should strictly verify points, such as the track record and brand visibility of the developer, the social and civic infrastructure available in the location, the amenities in the project and the timelines for possession, in the case of under-construction projects,” cautions Singh.
A project that is targeted towards NRIs is no different from other offerings in the market. A property should be evaluated, purely on the basis of its location and amenities on offer, the legal validity of its title and the developer’s brand image.