Builder delays will cost you time and money

Gaurav Prakash, 35, is a senior solution architect working with Ericsson India Ltd, in Gurgaon. But a problem that he can’t find a solution to is his house. Towards the end of 2011, he along with his wife Sashi Pandey, a 35-year-old senior manager in a telecom company, bought an under-construction apartment of about 2,000 sq. ft in Dwarka Expressway, which falls roughly between Gurgaon and Dwarka (on the south-western periphery of New Delhi).The house cost them Rs.70 lakh, for which the couple took a home loan. They were told that they will get possession by around June 2014, but that didn’t happen. And like scores of other urban Indians, they too, are still waiting for the house two years later.

But apart from the house being not available, what bothers them, and others alike, is that they are not able to make use of the substantial tax benefits available on a home loan. And then there’s the rent they continue to pay. “We are paying Rs.52,000 as equated monthly instalment (EMI), andRs.28,000 as rent every month,” said Prakash. So, it’s a triple whammy. Here’s why.

The couple had taken a construction-linked home loan. For two years, construction progressed well and the developer asked for about 90% of the cost based on the stage of the project. But after that, construction almost stopped. As of now, the estimated date of possession is June 2016.

The two-year delay in completion has substantially increased the effective cost of purchasing the house. And most of these costs will not get added while determining the cost of acquisition at the time of calculating capital gains if and when the house is sold. But that comes much later, since the couple doesn’t have the house yet, as also many other home buyers.

Project delay not only restrains home buyers from shifting into their own houses, but also has a big impact on the cost of purchase. Here’s a look at how much that impact can be and how it happens. Read Ahead

Problem No.1: Paying both EMI and rent

Problem No.2: Loss of home loan tax benefits

Problem No.3: Loss due to income tax

Problem No.4: There are other costs also

Mint Money take

If you buy an under-construction property, and it gets stuck, there is limited scope of getting out. Not only do you have to pay both EMI and rent, if you want to sell the house, finding a buyer for a project running behind schedule can be difficult. Even if you do find a buyer, you may have to incur a heavy loss, as you may not be able to get the right price to recover the cost.

If you are an end-user, selling and buying a house in a completed project may not be a feasible option. You will have to sell your current house at a loss and the new completed house will come at a premium.

So, first try to look at the other options. “Look at the clauses in the agreement for penalties that one can pursue legally,” said Anil Rego, chief executive officer and founder, Right Horizons.

If for some reason you are unable to service the loan, “one can request the loan issuing bank to allow her to delay the loan payments. But in this case, the interest will get added to the principal and the total loan amount will increase. Moreover, not all banks will provide that facility,” said Rego.

If the delay is due to the developer, form a home buyers’ association and approach the developer jointly. “The best option is to talk to the developer and try to get the issue resolved as soon as possible,” said Rego. Try to convince the developer to enhance the compensation for the delay and complete the construction soon. If the developer does not pay heed to buyers’ demands, you can look for a legal recourse.

Last year, in June, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) asked real estate company Unitech Ltd. to pay buyers compensation at the rate of 12% per annum for delay in delivery of apartments, overruling the builder-buyer agreement that had set the rate at 1.8% per annum. While these recourses will not benefit you immediately, you may be able to recover some of the loss.

Under current conditions, project delay is the biggest risk for a home buyer. “ Given the companies’ stretched balance sheets and cashflow problems, we expect execution delays to persist in the short term,” said Samir Jasuja, founder and chief executive officer, PropEquity. If possible, avoid buying an under-construction property. It may be better to pay a premium to buy a completed apartment than being in a situation like that of Prakash and Pandey.Also, do proper due diligence about the developer, track record of delivery, quality of projects and financial position, if possible, before buying a property.