Having a will bequeath immovable property to people is of utmost importance. However, here is what you should know about the Hindu Succession Act 1956, in the absence of a will
Efficient succession planning is very important to ensure that your hard-earned wealth reaches the right people. This is more important in the case of immovable property as the legal succession of such assets is not a simple process. For instance, people living in flats, are governed by the cooperative laws of the state which provide for the nomination of the house in case of a death. However, a nomination is not the same as bequeathing a property by will.
It may be noted that the nomination only provides for the transfer of the name in the records of the housing society but it does not make the nominee a full-fledged owner of the flat. The legal heirs are the beneficial owner of the property and the nominee cannot dispose the asset for his own benefit. The law for succession to a property, depends on whether the deceased person has executed a will or not. Hindus (including Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs) are governed by the Hindu Succession Act, 1956. The rest of the Indian population comes under the Indian Succession Act, 1925.
People who come under the jurisdiction of the Hindu Succession Act, can bequeath their property to any person, even excluding relatives, through the execution of a will. In such a case, it is mandatory for the executor of the will, to obtain a probate (certification) from a court for assets in Mumbai, Kolkata or Chennai.
In case a deceased owner of property does not leave behind a will, the legal heirs will inherit the assets as per the provisions of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 in the prescribed order. The first preference is given to Class-I legal heirs, which include close relatives like parents, spouse, children and their successors. When it comes to each of their shares, sons and daughters, and parents will have equal shares. A spouse too, will be entitled to one share. However, in case there are more than one surviving spouses, they all will share the one portion they are entitled to. Their successors too, will get only one share, which the person through whom they are claiming was entitled to.
When a house has been left without a will, a female heir is entitled to claim a share and stay in the house. However, only the male heir has a right to divide the property and the female heir cannot call for a partition. Despite leaving a will, it’s still necessary for the legal heirs to obtain a succession certificate from the court. It’s the legal document that authorises the person or people obtaining it, to represent the deceased individual for the purpose of collecting debts and securities due to him or payable in his name. For obtaining the succession certificate, an application needs to be made to a magistrate or a high court.
It’s fairly evident that a will prevents a lot of problems from occurring and also ensures the efficient passing of property to the right people.
The Coronavirus scare is getting more and more attention every day. The exponential growth of outbreaks such as this, calls for preparedness and not panic. Over two lakh people globally have been caught in the grip of this virus while thousands have lost their lives. World-over, schools have shut their gates as have gyms, swimming pools, cinema halls, parks and such other social areas where people come together. Offices too have tried experimenting with the work-from-home method and housing societies have seen people staying indoors. Do all of these steps add to your worry?
Housing societies and apartment complexes are bringing in rules to ensure that every family is safe. Take for example, Prestige St Johnswood in Bengaluru. The rules laid out in this society has asked every resident to self-declare if he/she suspects or is tested positive for COVID-19. Not just government and medical officials, housing societies too are insisting that strict measures should be followed. Here’s a guide to help you navigate these uncertain times.
“Minimum interaction is the key but it is not totally possible especially if you are living as a family,” says Dr Ratneshwar Prasad Singh, Communicable Diseases Officer at Sadar Hospital, Chhapra. He has the following advice for such families:
• Only one family member should help the infected person if the latter needs help.
• Do not handle the used-clothes of such a patient directly with your hands. Do not wash these in the washing machine along with clothes of other family members.
• Use a sanitiser before and after meeting the infected person. Change your clothes if they have touched you by mistake.
• In case a family member is tested positive for COVID-19, it is important that all other family members also quarantine themselves for a period of 14 days even though there may not be any symptoms. If there are symptoms, immediately get yourself tested too.
• All items and surfaces touched by the infected person should be disinfected. This includes table, chairs, shelves, toilets, clothes, utensils, etc.
• Separate personal care items like soaps, shampoo, towels. Do not use the same bathrooms, if possible.
• Self-declare the condition to your housing society or neighbours so that you do not have any visitors during such a period.
Additionally, if possible an isolation room in your house should also be equipped with gloves, hair cover, masks, gowns, hand-rubs, liquid soap, single-use towels, disinfectants and surface cleansers, large disposable bags with instructions on it to be handled with precaution.
In case of an emergency, call on the coronavirus helpline number in your state for the way forward.
“First of all, there is no need to panic. If you are maintaining a social distance, there are least chances of an infection,” says Dr Gaurav. For housing society residents who are in the know of an infected person or a suspected case near them, the following steps should be taken:
• Do not visit or come in contact with anyone who has a recent history of having travelled back from a corona-affected region.
• If you have, by chance, come into contact and show certain symptoms, quarantine yourself till you feel alright and the lab results are negative.
• Avoid assemblies and congregation to maintain a safe distance from other people.
• Depending upon your state authority, if COVID-19 cases are being reported from a particular colony, town, settlement, the district administration may even ask to seal the area, bar entry and exits, ban vehicular movement in the area, initiate passive and active surveillance, designate certain buildings for isolation. If you feel that this must be done, do not hesitate to inform the authorities.
Dr Nileena Koshy, Additional Professor of Community Medicine at Government Medical College, Manjeri, Kerala, says “A stand-still is not possible but should be adhered to as much as possible.” While housing society residents continue to inhabit the neighbourhood, there are some tips you should follow to ensure that you are not traumatising the family in any way.
• Do not ostracise an affected family. It is harassment and causes trauma to everyone in the family.
• You can always help by giving provisions or any medical supply, to the family. Just leave it at their doorstep. Don’t enter the premises.
• Quarantine is just physical isolation. Do keep in touch with the family by means of other mediums such as WhatsApp or phone calls.
• Respect their need for privacy.
“In cultures where social-distancing is common, such as in Singapore, the coronavirus outbreak can be checked. It is not so easy in India where people like to meet and greet closely. Therefore, quarantine and self-isolation may be difficult but should not be ignored,” emphasises Koshy.
Delhi’s Mayur Vihar I, Pocket 1, Resident Welfare Association’s vice-president Man Mohan Singh says that their staff is monitoring the use of common areas and facilities in the locality. It is advisable that:
• Playgrounds with swings and slides should be closed temporarily so that children who are at home these days are not tempted to use these.
• Indoor sports areas, gyms, common yoga or meditation rooms should not be frequented now.
• Avoid going to clubhouses even if it is within your society.
• Do not use common taps, public washrooms and toilets as much as possible.
• If your apartment/building is provided with lift, restrict the use. If that is not possible, ensure that you are using a handrub or a sanitiser immediately after.
• Ensure that reception areas or lounges within such societies should be used only if necessary. Ensure that the housekeeping staff are in proper gear to clean such areas.
• Medicial and other waste from an infected person should not be dumped in open dumping grounds either. Alert sanitation workers and secure the waste in multiple bags so that the workers do not come in contact with these. Unfortunately, while some societies insist on segregating bio-degradable, non-degradable and medical waste, some others do not. This prevents thorough treating of infectious waste.
• Be careful while using or handling milk bags, elevator buttons, door knobs, door bells, newspapers, car doors, counters at shops, couriers, shared cabs, public transport, shoes, garden seats, grocery items, currency notes, ATMs, etc. It has been estimated that coronavirus can live on certain surfaces up to three days and therefore, it is better not to take risks.
• Do not assemble in large groups, postpone any celebration your housing society might have planned.
• Ensure that kids are taught about hygiene. Give them alternative play options at home or engage them in creative and entertaining ways.
A small home should not dampen your enthusiasm to decorate it. There are many creative ways to
make one’s home comfortable and appear spacious. Here are some useful tips
Due to the high cost of living, soaring property rates and growing number of nuclear families, the
demand for compact homes is on the rise. However, the main challenge, vis-à-vis compact homes, is to
ensure that the small space is designed aesthetically. The trick lies in optimising the available space, for
a comfortable home.
“The interiors should be designed in such a way that the house doesn’t look overdone or cramped with
various elements. A minimalistic design approach, will not only give a subtler look to the house, but also
make it appear spacious,” says architect Ricky Doshi of ARD Studio, Mumbai.
The various spaces in the house, should be well-defined and serve the intended purpose. “Simplicity
doesn’t mean that one must adopt only contemporary design concepts. Even classical designs can be
achieved with simplicity,” maintains Doshi, adding that home owners should avoid filling their homes
with a lot of furniture and only use pieces that are unobtrusive and leave ample floor space.
Furniture that can be folded away and multi-functional units, such as a wardrobe-cum-study unit, are
ideal for small homes, points out Gita Ramanan, founder and chief designer, Design Café, Bengaluru.
“One can also choose sofa-cum-beds or Murphy beds that fold into the walls or a trundle bed below a
single bed, in place of traditional beds,” Ramanan advises.
“Every home needs adequate storage space but it should not be an eyesore. One can try innovative
ways to add storage – for example, the four inches of space below wardrobes, which is left as a skirting,
can be converted into drawers to add 15% more space,” suggests Ramanan.
“Glass is one material, which not only adds a sleek look to the décor but is also ideal for a minimalistic
design. One can use glass on wardrobe shutters and bathroom doors. Smaller spaces can also be made
to look larger, by simply positioning a mirror in the right place,” adds Doshi.
Light shades and soft textures give depth to a small space. In a small home, the entire interior will be visible in a single sweep of the eye. Hence, home owners should be careful, to select the right colour scheme for their home’s interiors and also plan the home’s lighting, accordingly.
This can be achieved through a combination of direct and indirect lighting, mood lighting, backlit wall panels and lamp, to create an interesting effect.
Properties can be transferred to someone you love, without any consideration, by way of a gift or through a will. We examine the pros and cons of each method
If you wish to transfer a property, so as to make the donee enjoy the property immediately, this can be done by way of a gift. You can gift a self-acquired property to anyone, as long as you are competent to contract, as per the provisions of the Indian Contract Act. Any person who is of sound mind and not a minor, can enter into any contract, as long as he is not an undischarged insolvent. An immovable property can be gifted, by executing a gift deed. You need to pay stamp duty on the market value of the property, as on the date of execution of the gift deed. In case the gift is to be made in favour of certain close relatives, some states like Maharashtra have provisions for concession in payment of stamp duty.
A gift may be made in favour of any person who is living at the time of making the gift. The gift also has to be accepted by the donee, or anyone else on his behalf, during the lifetime of the person making the gift. As per the provisions of the Transfer of Property Act, every transaction, which involves transfer of an immovable property, over the value of one hundred rupees, needs to be registered with the office of the registrar of the area. Moreover, in case the gift is intended to be made in favour of a person who is not your relative as per the definition of the provisions of Section 56(2) and the value of the property which is the subject matter of the gift exceeds Rs 50,000, as on the date of the gift, although you do not have any tax implications for such gifts, the recipient of such property has to include the market value of the property in his total income in the year of the receipt and has to pay appropriate tax on such gifts.
A transfer of any property can also be made by way of execution of a will but the vesting of the property will take effect, after the death of the person executing the will. As per the prevalent laws, a will is neither required to be stamped, nor is it required to be registered. So, a will is the cheapest mode of transferring your property, to the persons whom you wish to.
Although registration of a will is not mandatory, it is always advisable to register the will, to minimise any litigation with respect to succession of your properties. There is no estate duty payable by the person who succeeds to the asset of the deceased. Moreover, any asset inherited, either under a will or through the laws of succession, is exempt from income tax laws, as well as Section 56(2), which treats certain transfer of assets without adequate consideration or with an inadequate consideration, as income of the recipient.
After one’s death the assets can be inherited by people in two ways. The assets owned by the person at the time of his death, will pass on to his relatives as per the provisions of succession applicable to the deceased, in case no will is executed. In case a will is executed by the deceased, the assets will be inherited by the people named in the will. In case all the assets are not covered under the will, the assets that are not covered, will be inherited by the legal heirs of the deceased as per the succession law.
Under the law of succession applicable to Hindus, there are no restrictions on a person in bequeathing his assets to anyone to the exclusion of his legal heirs. Under the Muslim laws, a Muslim cannot bequeath more than one-third of his assets under a will.
The answer to this question is difficult, as circumstances for every person are different. However, one can consider certain points, before deciding on a specific course of action. If your wish is only to ensure that the assets owned by you pass on to persons of your choice, only after death and you want to enjoy and have control over those assets during your lifetime, then, bequeathing your assets through a will is advisable. A will is also advisable when you want to ensure a smooth succession of your assets after your death and where your purpose is to let your nominees inherit your properties.
However, if you want to help someone who is in need of immediate help, it can only be achieved through the execution of a gift. Transfer of properties through a gift, should be resorted to only when it is needed under specific circumstances. If you transfer all or a substantial portion of your assets to your legal heirs, it may leave you in a difficult position in your old age.
Likewise, it is not advisable to transfer your properties just for the sake of tax planning, as it would be unwise to lose control of your assets, just to save some money in taxes. However, in case you wish to transfer a part of your estate during your lifetime, to avoid any litigation around the properties, then, resorting to a gift is advisable.
A borrower who wishes to transfer his/her home loan, should keep a watch on the interest rates that one is paying, as well as periodical offers made by banks, from time to time
A borrower can shift the home loan to any other lender, who is willing to offer better interest rates. At times, a home loan applicant may also want to increase the loan’s tenure, due to various reasons. A customer may also want to transfer the loan, if s/he wants a top-up loan on the existing loan and the present lender is not willing to offer the same.
To transfer a home loan, the existing lender needs to be paid first, before it releases the original documents of the property. However, the new lender will not issue a cheque, unless it receives the original property documents. So, how does one resolve this catch-22 situation? A borrower can request his/her existing lender, to issue a letter to the prospective lender. This letter should mention the list of documents related to the property lying with the present lender, the outstanding loan amount, and an undertaking that the bank will hand over the property documents to the prospective lender, on payment of the outstanding amount.
The new lender will also carry out a due diligence check on the property and the customer, to assess the title of the property and the repayment capabilities and track record of the borrower.
The new lender may not be willing to transfer the loan, unless you have a good repayment history and your credit report is also good
For shifting your home loan from one lender to another, you may have to pay charges to both lenders.
The existing bank may levy prepayment charges on the loan. Banks and housing finance companies are not allowed to levy any prepayment charges on floating rate home loans. Even in case of fixed rate home loans, housing finance companies cannot levy this penalty, if the borrower prepays the loan out of one’s own funds, other than by borrowing from any financial institution.
The borrower may also have to pay the processing charges to the new lender. This may vary from 0.2% to 0.75%, from one lender to another and also depends on the applicant’s profile. At times, banks may waive the transfer fee or charge a nominal amount.
Applicants should remember that the processing fee payable to the bank is negotiable and consequently, they should bargain to minimise the amount or for a waiver of the transfer processing fee.
Although the new lender may not charge you anything for processing of your balance transfer application, you may still have to pay the stamp duty and registration charges for the mortgage. One may also have to pay the valuation charges, in case the bank decides to go for a fresh valuation of the property, either for top-up loans or where the property is not approved by the lender.
There are some common mistakes you can avoid, to make the best of your investment in commercial property. Here’s our top 5.
Real estate investment is more of a science than an art and requires careful planning and assessment of various factors. All the more care is needed if you are investing in commercial real estate since the ticket size of investment is usually high and there are lot of factors that determine the returns and price appreciation in such type of property. The commercial real estate market is dynamic and various aspects that determine the rent earning potential and even property price rise, change from time to time. Change of government or change of policies can also have a huge impact on the potential of the property to earn for you. Environmental impact in a particular area and consequently new laws relating to the protection of Mother Earth in a particular locality or zone, can also affect the earning potential of a building.
We take a look at some of the common traps or even oversights that investors should avoid when investing in commercial real estate:
Sellers or brokers usually offer documents and reports of the earning potential and income-generating capacity of the property. There are times when the word ‘Proforma’ is attached alongside the earning projections. This is a Latin phrase and it means ‘for the sake of form or appearance’. The reports and documents elaborating future income generation capability of the property is based on imaginary factors. Be very realistic in assessment of the income earning potential of the property. This can be done by looking at the neighbouring properties and overall real estate market scenario in the area.
Most sellers and brokers will take you to only the best parts of the building when you visit the property before making the investment. These parts will either be free of damages or renovated after an event like a fire. You must insist on looking at the whole building and every corner of it. If the property is used for industrial purpose, look at all the warehouses that store raw material. The stores, where raw material is kept are usually the worst parts of the property and may require huge renovation soon after you purchase the property. You must also carefully look at a recently renovated part of the building, if any, and see if the repair work has been done with due diligence or will cause a problem soon after you have purchased the property.
Be very careful about the environmental laws are applicable in the locality or zone where you are contemplating investment. Usually, the seller or the broker will not even talk about it. It is for the buyer to know the kind of activities that are allowed in the locality and the zone. Blocking your money in a property to carry out a certain type of business and then finding out that the activity is not even allowed in the locality, can be really unfortunate. Hiring an expert for this purpose and cross-checking with a neutral broker in the locality, will be a good idea.
If you are investing in a building that already has tenants, then have a close look at the tenancy. What are the kind of stores there and what is their sales on a monthly and annual basis. Knowing the rent to sales ratio will also give you an idea whether there is a good possibility of the tenants to stay on for long periods or not. A rent to sales ratio of under 5 per cent is considered good. This means that the rent should not be more than 5 per cent or so of the sales. If the rent to sales ratio is more than this threshold, you could avoid investing in the building since the tenants may move out sooner than later. A closer look at the lease durations and lease deeds of each tenant will also help. If most tenants in the commercial building have signed short term deeds, then there are greater chances of you sitting with vacant showrooms and office spaces in the building in a few years or months down the line, which means lower income for you. Usually it takes a while to find a new tenant for an outgoing one and the space sits vacant for the intervening period.
There are a lot of fees and charges that are sometimes hidden in the property documents and the sale terms by the seller of the property and by the broker. These can be statutory and local taxes that the seller is responsible for paying. There can also be impending repairs but the seller is trying to pass off the repair burden to you. There can be insurance of the building that is still continuing and the seller may be billing you for the premium. There is usually no harm in buying a building that is under insurance by the previous owner but the insurance policy would have been taken according to the needs of the previous owner and may not be fruitful to you and for the kind of use you will put the property to. For example, the previous owner might have stored some kind of raw material in the building and taken insurance for that particular substance or raw material. You may not be storing such raw material at all and hence, that policy may not be meaningful to you.
There is always a time gap between the decision to buy a house and actually buying it. We look at the preparatory work that home seekers need to do in the interim period, for the funding of the house
Selecting the house of your choice may take its own time but you need to plan for the finances to fund the purchase, in advance.
It is almost impossible for one to buy a house, without borrowing either from friends and relatives or by taking a home loan or a combination of both. When you apply for a home loan, the lender accesses your credit history, from a credit information bureau like CIBIL. The credit report/score obtained from the credit bureau, is a reflection of your credit behaviours. The credit report contains historical data about applications and transactions pertaining to loans, credit cards, etc., and the score is prepared on the basis of information reported by various financial institutions
The lender takes decisions on whether to lend or not, based on your credit history. It is possible that a default by someone else, may be reflected in your report, thereby, adversely affecting your credit score. This may jeopardise your chances of borrowing temporarily, till the error is rectified. In case any such transactions are included in your report, you need to approach the credit information bureau, as well as the bank, to rectify such mistakes. This process may take some time. Therefore, it is in your own interest to access this report in advance, which is available for free to you, to understand the data in it about you.
Frequent enquiries for personal loans and credit cards, adversely affect your credit score. Hence, one should refrain from applying for too many credit cards or for personal loans, in case you wish to take a home loan in the near future.
There is a general perception that you cannot apply for a home loan, unless you have identified the property to be bought, which is not true. Once you have ensured that you have a good credit score, you can apply for a home loan, without having to wait for the finalisation of the property purchase. It is always better to apply for the home loan, even if you haven’t yet identified the property which you wish to buy.
Applying for a home loan before finalising the property, will give you a broad idea on whether you will get a home loan or not and also about the amount you are eligible for, based on your income. Once you know your home loan eligibility and the resources at your disposal, you will be able to arrive at the budget for the property. This will also help you to reduce the time required for disbursement of the home loan, after the property documents are submitted. The presence of a sanction letter, will also reassure the seller, ensuring that the deal is finalised at the earliest and smoothly. The sanction letter issued by the lender for the home loan, is generally valid for a limited period, beyond which you may have to pay nominal commitment charges.
Once you have decided on the budget for your house and have ascertained your home loan eligibility, you have to arrange for the balance amount, which is called as the ‘margin money’. As banks are allowed to fund only up to 80% of the cost of the property, excluding the stamp duty and registration charges, you are required to arrange the remaining 20% and the expenses towards stamp duty and registration charges. In all probability, you may have already invested your funds in the past, in different asset classes. In order to ensure that the property purchase goes through smoothly, you need to collect the margin money in one place. If you do not wish to take a home loan, you will have to arrange for the entire fund.
If your savings have been invested in equity shares or equity mutual funds, it is advisable to liquidate these saving well in advance. This is because equity investments are very volatile and it is impossible to predict the market levels, at the time you need to pay the seller. The markets may fall, resulting in a substantial reduction in the value of your investments. So, liquidate your equity investments and put the money in funds such as saving accounts, which earn you as much interest as fixed deposits.
In case your savings have been given as loans, you should liquidate these loans, as well and put the money in a liquid fund. This is because you may not be able to recover your loans in full, when you need the money.
When it comes to buying a house, should a property seeker choose a ready-to-move-in house or an under-construction one? We explain the crucial differences between the two, to help you arrive at a decision
While buying a property is no easy task, another decision that compounds the dilemma for home buyers, is whether to choose a ready-to-move-in house or an under-construction one. While there are advantages and disadvantages to both options, the choice will depend on various aspects like, what the buyer is looking for, his needs/requirements an whether one is buying for investment or end-use.
According to Amit B Wadhwani, managing director of Sai Estate Consultants, buying an under-construction property makes sense, if one is looking at it from an investment perspective, while a ready-to-move house makes more sense, if the buyer is looking for accommodation. “As the buyer is also spending his earnings on the property, it should bring profit. The investment should help the buyer in the long run, wherein, he can sell the property, if need be,” adds Wadhwani.
Choosing a ready-to-move-in flat, helps the buyer to avoid costs associated with living in a rental accommodation and the long wait in big cities, for an under-construction project to be completed. It also gives the home buyer a sense of security. Moreover, the buyer can check the neighbours and the infrastructure in the vicinity of the house, before buying the property.
“When opting for a ready-to-move-in house, a buyer gets what he sees, without the risk of any potential changes in the future. Other factors that influence buyers to purchase ready-to-move-in flats, include the construction quality, which can be verified before purchase, the social and physical infrastructure, availability of loan facilities and the low overall risk. Lastly, buyers do not have to have to wait or face the risk of delays and escalating costs,” explains Hiral Sheth, head of the department, marketing, Sheth Creators.
Manish Kadam, an assistant account manager in a media agency, who bought a house in Virar, in Mumbai, states that the best part of buying a readymade house, is the absence of a waiting period. “There is a lot of inventory in the real estate sector, which gives the home buyer a broad choice of location, configuration and low risk, as the ready-to-move-in segment has no construction delays. The GST (Goods and Services Tax) is also applicable on under-construction properties. So, even if one books an apartment, where the builder asks for 10 per cent and the balance after possession, one will still have to pay GST on the full amount,” points out Kadam.
However, the disadvantage of a ready-to-move-in house, is that it usually has a higher price than an under-construction property. Hence, it may not be an ideal choice from an investment and appreciation potential standpoint. Moreover, the buyer will not have the flexibility to choose the floor or configuration, as compared to an under-construction property.
“Under-construction properties are generally in the non-established parts of the city and hence, the potential for price appreciation due to future development is good. However, this is not true in each and every case. One has to look at the location and future plans around that area. Moreover, in an under-construction project, a buyer also has flexibility in payments, with options like construction-linked plans, subvention schemes, flexible payment plans, etc.,” states Wadhwani.
The implementation of the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act (RERA) and other buyer-friendly policies, aimed at bringing about greater transparency and compliance from developers, could boost home buyers’ confidence in investing in under-construction projects. However, in places where the RERA is not yet implemented, it is must for a home buyer to check the credentials of the developer and choose a reputed builder.
The biggest risk in an under-construction property, is that of delayed possession, maintains Sheth. One may also have to incur additional expense on an under-construction house, towards development charges, GST, etc., adds Sheth.
Irrespective of whether one is investing in a ready-to-move-in house or an under-construction one, Wadhwani suggests that home buyers should be mindful of the following:
• The property that you intend to purchase, should have all the necessary approvals and licences.
• Get all the information regarding the external parties connected with the project, like banks, advisories, etc., to get a better sense of project’s feasibility and quality.
• Identify your desired location, keeping in mind your regular commute requirements.
• Check online and on social media for user-based reviews on the locality, project and developer.
• Consider the total budget for buying the house and plan your finances well.
With air pollution in several cities across India reaching alarming levels, we look at what
home owners can do, to keep the indoor air clean and free of pollutants
Rising air pollution is a big worry in India. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), India has six of the top 10 polluted cities in the world with air quality index (AQI) in the ‘severe’ or ‘severe plus’ categories, several times in a year. Indoor air pollution occurs when particles and gases contaminate the air of indoor areas. “Contaminants like animal dander, dust mites and bacteria can put you at risk of asthma, throat irritation, flu and infections. One may also get allergic reactions, eye irritation and bronchitis, various respiratory diseases or even lung cancer,” says Dr Arvind Kate, a pulmonologist at Zen Multispecialty Hospital.
Outdoor pollution can also have an impact inside the house and fill it with toxic gases and contaminants. According to Pawan Gadia, CEO, online and retail, Ferns N Petals, people are now more health conscious and aware of the risk of respiratory infections. Hence, they have started keeping air-purifying plants in their homes, to combat indoor pollution.
“Ideally, one can keep around six plants up to a height of three ft in the house. Peace lily, snake plant, spider plant and areca plant, are some of the plants that cleanse the air. Peace lily has the ability to break down and neutralise toxic gases found in the air, such as formaldehyde, benzene and carbon monoxide. Snake plant converts carbon dioxide into oxygen at night. According to the studies conducted by NASA, the spider plant was the best of the lot and can remove contaminants such as ammonia and benzene from the air,” Gadia elaborates.
Research has ignited a debate on the impact of plants on indoor air quality. One research stated that ‘Plants are great but they do not actually clean indoor air quickly enough to have an effect on the air quality of your home or office environment’. This study by researchers at Drexel University in the US said claims about the ability of plants to improve the air quality, are vastly overstated. According to Michael Waring, an associate professor in Drexel’s College of Engineering, the key finding is that ‘Natural or ventilation air exchange rates in indoor environments, like homes and offices, dilutes concentrations of volatile organic compounds – the air pollution that plants are allegedly cleaning – much faster than plants can extract them from the air’. Another study by researchers from The Ohio State University, however, shows that plants may be cheaper options than technology, for cleaning the air near a number of industrial sites, roadways, power plants, commercial boilers and oil and gas drilling sites.
Poorly maintained floors, walls and furniture, may trap pollutants like dust particles, fumes and moisture. “It has been reported that indoor air can be more polluted than outdoor air, as this air is trapped within the house. Airborne pollutants in the indoor air include a plethora of bacteria, allergens, pollen and other injurious particles that can cause severe health issues,” cautions Himanshu H Shah, business head – air coolers and air purifiers, Voltas Ltd.
Dr Kate advises that one should monitor the home for potential indoor asthma
triggers. He suggests several ways in which one can deal with indoor pollution:
An air purifier can be helpful, in getting rid of harmful particles and can improve the air quality. A common misconception is that air purifiers and humidifiers serve the same purpose and can be used interchangeably.
“While air purifiers clean the indoor air by removing dust, allergens and smoke, humidifiers mainly improve the moisture level in the air. Some home owners use both, for improved well-being. However, considering the dangerously high pollution levels, priority should be given to an air purifier, as it filters all types of toxins and helps to tackle health issues like allergies, asthma, headaches, congestion and poor sleeping, caused due to polluted air,” Shah explains.
One of the most important aspects to consider, is the filtration system of the air purifier. “For the best possible improvement in air quality, look for models with HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters that eliminate 99.97% of common airborne allergens sized at 0.3 microns and larger,” suggests Shah. Minute pollutants that cannot be seen by our naked eyes, when inhaled, can cause respiratory issues over a period of time, warns Mario Schmidt, managing director, Lingel Windows and Air Purifiers.
Opt for air purifiers that can filter PM 2.5 air pollutants. Filters with UV rays also help to kill airborne pathogens, thus, improving the quality of the air we inhale. The HEPA filter also sterilises the pathogens and viruses, making the air we breathe pure, elaborates Schmidt.
Also consider the room size and the CADR (Clean Air Delivery Rate), the international standard for calculating the air purifier’s efficiency. Germicidal UV lamps, air quality indicators and air purifiers with remote controls, are some of the other features that one can check for. Over time, the filters collect pollutants and begin to lose efficiency. Hence, it is advisable to change the pre-filters every four to five months and the HEPA filters every two to four years, depending on the pollution levels around the place of usage.
Planning to buy your dream home in 2019? We look at some of the dos and don’ts that can make it easier for home seekers to raise the down payment and service the EMIs
Finance is one of the most important determinants, when it comes to buying a house and most of the other considerations revolve around this. As a property purchase is often a once-in-a-lifetime decision, it is essential to evaluate your funds accordingly. To buy a house, one nowadays has to utilise their savings and also opt for a home loan. The process of taking a loan has also become simpler, with a majority of people opting for it. Nevertheless, there are some basic principles that one can follow, to plan your finances for buying a house this year.
You can never assess your net worth, if you are debt-laden. Any partial payment towards this debt, will show up poorly in your credit ratings and this may affect the home loan process. Paying off your debts completely, will help you move ahead in the direction of home buying. Besides relieving one’s tension, it can help you to properly allocate money for your basic needs and for your big real estate purchase.
One should learn about the different financial instruments available in the market. This can help you to invest your money wisely and use the returns, to fund the purchase of your home. Financial experts always stress on having a mix of different asset classes in one’s portfolio, as this will help you during big-ticket purchases, like property. “Before making the decision to buy a house, one needs to ensure that the current asset allocation is not skewed towards a risky asset class like equities. If that is the case, one needs to shift a chunk of those assets to less risky ones that are also liquid. Mutual funds can be a great avenue for such temporary parking of funds,” says Rakesh Nair, an independent financial advisor.
Real estate is an expensive investment. However, with modern buyers being exposed to global standards, they refuse to settle for anything but the best. In such a scenario, every penny counts. Experts suggest that an individual’s monthly budget should be based on the 50/30/20 thumb rule, where one spends 50 per cent on basic necessities, including groceries, utilities, medical expenses, etc., 30 per cent for indulging yourself and your family, while the remaining 20 per cent should be saved. This 20 per cent will help you in your down payment, getting home loans and also in case of any other emergency. “After following the real estate market for the last three months, for buying our own apartment, we found something better than what we were looking for. So, we are trying to channel our funds in this direction. Buying a house requires a huge amount of self-control, to avoid spending money on other temptations and instead, develop a habit of saving money for buying an apartment,” says Vihaan Verma, a house hunter from Delhi, who intends to buy an apartment this year.
Initiate standing instructions at your bank, for transferring money from your salary account to your savings account, every month. This will keep you in check and you will only spend what is left after savings. Going forward, when you take a home loan, you can follow the same method, so that monthly EMIs are taken care of, right at the beginning and you avoid getting into any financial mess.
Proper planning is especially important, when one plans to buy a house while also living in a rented accommodation. This will entail an outgo of EMI, as well as the rent for your current house.
“Once you avail of a home loan, the EMI starts immediately. This can become a burden, when you are paying it along with the rent for your current house. You have to maintain a proper balance, between the EMI and the rent, so that once you get the possession of the new house, you can increase the EMI amount and move into your dream home. In 2019, there is hope of a reduction in the Goods and Services Tax (GST) for real estate, as well as further reductions in the repo rate, which will directly reduce the pressure of repayment on buyers. In the meantime, buying a ready-to-move-in property can be a viable option, as this will enable you to avoid the rental outgo and the GST,” advises Harvinder Sikka, MD of the Sikka Group.
Only a few people are eligible to become co-borrowers to a home loan and claim the tax benefits on such a loan, provided other conditions are also fulfilled
With the prices of houses rising significantly faster than salaries, it has become increasingly difficult for individuals to buy a house on their own. Consequently, most people now opt for home loans. To enhance the loan eligibility, once can opt for a loan with the longest available tenure or, additionally, get someone to join you as a co-borrower.
When it comes to adding a co-borrower to a home loan, lenders give first preference to the borrower’s spouse. It is presumed that the income of both individuals will be pooled for the purpose of household expenses, including for paying the home loan EMIs. The second category includes sons, daughters and parents. This is also considered as a relatively strong relationship, from a financial point of view. Please note that in case you add your parents as co-borrowers, their age shall be crucial in determining the overall eligibility.
The lender will only take the remaining years of their earning life into account, while computing the overall eligibility. So, in case your parents have already retired, including them as co-borrowers will not help you, as they do not have any income to help you service the home loan.
Few lenders will be willing to let a daughter join as a co-borrower because the dynamics change once the daughter gets married and her ability to help you in servicing the home loan does not remain certain.
Lenders have to take this reality into account. In case a son or daughter joins you as a co-borrower, the lender would insist on them being the first owner of the property, to ensure that the loan is serviced properly.
Brothers and sisters of an applicant are generally not accepted, as co-borrowers for a joint home loan. However, if the brother/sister is able to convince the lender that the incomes of the siblings are pooled together, then, the application may be considered. This may be possible, if the brothers/sisters are staying together and are past their general marriageable age. However, the decision is made by lenders on a case-to-case basis.
Banks generally do not approve of friends, partners or unmarried couples living together and other relatives, to join as co-applicants to a home loan. Lenders avoid granting home loans in such cases because these relationships are not considered to be strong. However, lenders may grant business loans to people who are partners in a business.
A co-borrower’s eligibility to claim tax benefits is not automatic. A co-borrower may not necessarily be a co-owner of the property. All the joint borrowers can claim the tax benefits, only if they are also co-owners of the property and are actually servicing the home loan. The ratio in which you can claim the tax benefits for the home loan, shall be according to the ratio in which you are servicing the home loan. This may be different from the ratio in which you own the house property, as each co-owner may not service the home loan.
As the inhabitants of a house age, the décor of the home may need to be modified to suit their needs. We look at some simple design dos and don’ts, vis-à-vis safety, accessibility and aesthetics that can make the home comfortable for senior citizens
As one ages, simple chores like reaching high shelves, climbing the stairs or getting up from the chair with ease, can become a task. Home owners who are ageing or have elderly parents or grandparents living with them, may need a home décor that is suitable for senior citizens. As comfort, safety and accessibility become key concerns, incorporating simple design changes that do not hinder the aesthetics, is essential.
“Studies have found that doing household chores, gives seniors a sense of purpose and contributes to both, their physical and mental well-being. In terms of design, one has to focus on helping active seniors to be as independent as they can. This means ensuring that they can carry out their activities with ease, simplicity in maintenance and housekeeping, reducing everyday risks and creating a safe home that supports active aging,” explains Nagesh Battula, founder and managing director, FHD (Fountainhead Design Group).
Many seniors continue to contribute to their professions, through advisory or consultancy, even after their retirement. In such cases, a spare room can double-up as a home office, as well as a guest bedroom for visitors or extended family. “Interior decorations should, ideally, reflect the family’s aspirations and preferences. The overall décor of the room should be positive, relaxing and not remind one of ill health,” adds Battula.
In today’s world, safety and security are key concerns. “To ensure the safety and security of the elderly, without compromising on enjoying a quality lifestyle, it is important to install basic amenities like security cameras, smart locks, burglar alarms, sprinklers, etc. Elderly residents living in top levels of a high-rise building, are at higher risk during medical emergencies, fire breakouts and other natural calamities. Hence, the builder or housing complex’s administration, should regularly coach and educate the ground level administration staff on quick, easy evacuation processes for the elderly during times of crisis,” maintains architect Alankrutha C, of N’Hance.
Elderly people may also not have the same vision as other people in the house. “Eyesight changes and common eye ailments, may require brighter and cooler lights and fewer yellow lights. Ensure that there is adequate ambient general lighting for safe movement around furniture, obstacles, etc. and focused lights for activities like reading books or instructions on medicines, etc.,” adds Battula. With technology, it is also possible to operate the lights, fans and air-conditioners using a single remote, which can make it easy for seniors.
Furniture in the house, should be arranged such that there is sufficient space for seniors to move about freely. Keep items that are used often in lower cabinets, within easy reach. The furniture should enable seniors to carry on their daily lives easily. For example, a small shelf or table besides the bed, can be useful for keeping spectacles, phones, medicines and water. “High chairs or sharp-edged tables can be dangerous. Furniture with rounded edges and seating options with a good hand and neck rest, are ideal. Avoid fancy rocking chairs or furniture with a straight back, as this can cause uneasiness. Instead, opt for a sofa/chair that has a reclining back and sufficient cushion support. Lighting inside a cupboard, can also be useful,” says Alankrutha.
The main criteria, when selecting flooring for home with seniors, is to ensure that it is not slippery, is easy to walk on and easy to maintain. Fashionable bathroom tiles or marble/ ceramic flooring in the house that is slippery, may not provide sufficient grip. In the bathroom, one can use anti-skid tiles. “Alternatively, use honed tiles or premium vinyl flooring in bathrooms that have a smooth base, as these are water-resistant materials. In the living room, it is better to avoid polished stone flooring or ceramic/ porcelain tiles, as it can be slippery when wet. If one already has such flooring and replacing the same is not possible, then, consider placing a carpet on the floor,” advises Alankrutha. The building should also cater to the mobility needs and safety requirements of the seniors, with ramps for wheelchairs and stairs with handrails or safety bars.
Every home needs ample storage space to ensure that the décor looks clean. We look at ways in which home owners can create sufficient storage spaces that are stylish and also gives a spacious feel to the interiors
A home should not only have visual appeal but should also have sufficient space, to keep things. For this, it is important to plan storage spaces well and use the existing space wisely, when designing your home décor. In any home, large or small, one can tackle storage issues, with a little creativity.
If one lives in a small space, one has to think about how to use every part of the home. “If there is lack of floor space, use the walls, as this space is usually wasted. Many of the items that are not needed on a daily basis, can be stocked here,” says Mikita Laad Gupta, senior designer, Bonito Designs. Opt for vertical furniture, like floor-to-ceiling shelves. Instead of bookshelves on the floor, optimise the space by using shelves on the wall. These can even be visually attractive, with shelves shaped like tree branches.
Tall shelves make the space appear less cramped. “In the kitchen, vertical space can be put to good use, especially to store smaller items. Similarly, baskets can be lined up behind doors, to store things in the kitchen. Vertical cubby holes in the bathrooms wall or niches in the living rooms, can also be used to create storage space at home,” adds Astha Khetan, founder, The House of Things.com.
Every house has spaces that are less noticed, which can be used in a better way. “The space behind the door is an unused space in most homes. In children’s rooms, laundry bags can be hung up on hooks. Similarly, books or toys can be placed in bags and hung on hooks. The space under staircases, can be used for storing shoes, with pull-out shoe racks,” suggests Gupta.
A corridor/passage in the house, depending on where it is, can be used for a wall-mounted bookshelf or shoe rack. In the bedroom, opt for a bed with concealed storage in the headboard and use boxes under the bed to store items. Use a dining table or centre table with sliding drawers, for storing napkins and cutlery.
“Choose furniture pieces that meet your storage requirement and also add to the style quotient of your home. Lofts and alcoves in the room, foyer or even bathroom are ideal spaces to build storage units. In the kitchen, opt for smart solutions within the cabinet, for example, drawer dividers for cutlery, trays and pull-outs for spices. Pegboards can be used on a kitchen wall, to store essential stuff. You can even hang a family photo or your children’s drawings on the board, to add to the visual interest,” states Khetan.
Some items are difficult to store, even if space is not an issue. “Whenever one plans storage, a lot of small items like jewellery, hair accessories and other knick-knacks, tend to be ignored. Storing them in regular drawers, can lead to a mess and wastage of space. To avoid this, use the walls to store such items in a small space. You can make your own jewellery holder, with a painted cork sheet or a hanger near the dresser, or even use ice cube trays in drawers, to store rubber bands, clips, cufflinks, earrings, etc.,” adds Gupta.
Plastic storage drawers or folding shelf organisers that can be easily moved, can be useful additions to a closet. In a linen closet, use them to stack small clothes like socks, handkerchiefs, lingerie and towels. Use bright and bold-coloured fancy trunks, to store away things in the bedroom, while also a unique décor element.
Invest or repay? This is a question that never has an off-season. Here's an example. A reader mailed me, saying that he has a housing loan on which he is paying an interest of 11% a year. There's no problem—he is able to pay the EMI comfortably out of his income. However, he now finds that he also has some cash accumulated which he can invest. He wanted to know what was the better option: Repay some of his housing loan before schedule, or invest the money in an equity mutual fund for the long-term.
This is not an uncommon dilemma. In fact, it's possible that practically every salary earner who takes a housing loan faces it at some point. You take a loan at an EMI you can afford. Eventually, your income increases and you find that can pay back more of the loan than you had originally planned. If you were to ask this question of a financial planner, the chances are that he would tell you to repay the loan first. That advice is based on what is a first principle of personal financial planning—clear your debts before you save. That principle is a sound one and should almost always be followed. I said 'almost' always. If the choice were between clearing expensive credit card debt and saving, then clearly, one should do that. The same probably holds for most consumer loans, including big ticket ones like cars and such. This principle is most relevant to people who try to borrow and invest.
However, there are some caveats to the standard advice. On the face of it, long-term investments in an equity mutual fund will possibly fetch higher returns than the interest that savers are paying on housing loans. In the past, SIP returns have been higher for most 10-year periods. This situation is roughly true for everyone who is trying to save while servicing a housing loan.
In the case of a housing loan, the effective trade-off is even more in favour of not repaying the loan early because of the tax breaks one gets on the interest paid. If you compensate for that and calculate the real effective interest rate, then you’ll find that your savings have to cross an even lower bar. The actual advantage you get from having taken the loan would also include the fact that you no longer have to pay rent. It's only when someone has built up a large enough financial saving that is liquid and accessible, and is in a situation where no great expense is anticipated that it would be justifiable to retire the loan instead of saving.
On top of that there's another side to this, which is human psychology. If someone has little or no savings at all, then no matter what the situation, no matter what the interest rates, he or she would prefer to carry the loan but have some savings. In such a situation, it would make sense to have access to the savings if they are needed, even if the savings are fetching the same or less returns than the one is paying on the debt one has taken. In other words, the rules for the first bit of saving you do—emergency money, so to speak—are different. Having instant access to an emergency fund is worth any kind of disadvantage that an interest rate differential brings.
Everyone desires a home, which is a private haven, relaxing and a place to rejuvenate oneself. We look at how home owners can, with just a little bit of planning and a few décor aids, create a serene atmosphere
In today’s frenetic world, it is important to create a calm and peaceful home, to recharge and begin a new day, refreshed. Every personal space has a calming vibe and every home reflects the personality of the people living in it, says Sameer AM, founder and CEO of Bonito Designs. “Sometimes, one just needs to give it a few additional touches, in order to bring out the best,” Sameer adds.
Clutter produces physical chaos and is an unwelcome visual distraction. “When one’s eye can skim smoothly across clean, clear surfaces throughout one’s home, it becomes easier to stay focused on the present and avoid stress. Clean, clear floors and surfaces, streamline one’s life. Hence, home owners should make storage for items, so that they can either be organised better or hidden away. For example, tangled cables and cords can be an eyesore. Have one area, where the chargers can be stored out of sight, when not in use and if cables and wires cannot be concealed permanently, find a way to disentangle and organise various cables neatly and hide them behind the appliances,” suggests Sameer.
Light not only helps in illumination but also aids relaxation and creates the right ambiance. Using natural light, is an easy way to create a peaceful home. “Mood lights can work wonders, in creating a calming atmosphere. It sets the right mood, leaving one cheerful and relaxed. Opt for blue, amber or even off-white colour lights, as these can improve sleeping patterns. It is best to position the lights facing downwards, to ensure that the light does not hit the eyes directly. A slight tilt will also work, as the glare will not fall on your eye directly,” states Tuhin Roy, founder, Jumping Goose.
Dedicate one space for yoga or meditation, exercising, painting or anything else that relieves stress. “Create a reading nook in your balcony and add a cane swing or a low seating, with lots of throw cushions that are bright,” adds Roy. The colours used in the house should be soothing for the mind and soul. Avoid excessive use of black and grey colours at home. Bedrooms can be done up in soothing colours such as pink, peach, light yellow, green and other light colours. These colours create tranquil vibes and invite healing energy. “Go for pastel shades or plain white. Lighter hues work well, in creating a calming ambience and help in de-stressing the mood in one’s home. One can also opt for sea-green, to depict the tranquility of the sea,” states Roy.
To reduce traffic noise, soundproof the walls and ceilings, by doubling up on drywalls and caulking the gaps from where sound enters. Soundproofing can be done, by adding insulation and sound-dampening fillers, such as perforated gypsum boards and glass wool between partition walls or in false ceilings. Carpets, drapes and other soft materials, also help to absorb sound. “For walls, a cheap, sound-muffling solution is 4×8-ft fibre-boards, a recycled cardboard material that is available at reasonable prices. Moreover, these can be painted, to add colour,” says Sameer.
Music can have a substantial impact on your mind. “Some people experience a calming effect by listening to classical music. For others, familiar tunes from their past, can make them feel happier and more at peace. A room with good acoustics that allows the music to reverberate, while also cutting out unnecessary background sounds, can create a calming space in your own home,” explains Sameer.
Bring natural elements like plants into the house, which help to clean and oxygenate the indoor air, making it easier for you to breathe. Arrange some fresh flowers in pots, to make the home more cheerful. Indoor water fountains can also lend peace and calm to the interiors. The sound of trickling water has a tranquil effect and connects us to nature. Other natural materials, like fabrics, furniture, etc., can also affect one’s mood. Add natural materials like rough jute, linen, old leather, pure silk and raw wood in the home.
Bharti Bansal, a homemaker from Mumbai shares that “I have a corner in my study, where I have my deities and also a Buddha idol and a huge metal hanging bell, gifted by my grandmother. In the morning, I light a diya and ring this bell. It makes me feel peaceful and in harmony with my inner self. The idol of a meditating Buddha, creates an aura of calmness all around.”
Owing to the dearth of green spaces in urban areas, the concept of vertical gardens is slowly gaining popularity among plant lovers. We look at how smartly designed and compact wall gardens, can accentuate one’s décor
There are many ways, in which one can beautify a residential or commercial space. One way, is through the use of plants, which not only add beauty to the décor but also bring freshness to the atmosphere. “Greenery helps in de-stressing and relaxation. Plants enhance one’s mood and are natural healers. Green walls can be incorporated in one’s interiors, whether it is an office or a home, to create a blissful atmosphere,” says Pameli Kayal an architect and an interior designer.
A vertical garden is a method to grow plants on walls. It is also known as a green façade or ‘living green wall’. “Vertical gardens not only look beautiful and add green cover to a barren looking wall but also helps in efficient utilisation of space,” adds Priyanka Amar Shah, founder of iKheti.
There are many ways to create vertical gardens. The simplest options, is to attach plant containers to a wall. Alternatively, one can have a frame made, with horizontal rows where the plants can be placed. It all depends on the space available and whether the wall is in the balcony, terrace, outside or even in one’s living room. The wall or the framework must be strong enough to hold the weight of the vertical garden, especially the bigger ones.
If you plan to grow edibles or outdoor plants, ensure that the vertical wall is outdoors. The produce will always be proportionate to the pot’s size.
Hence, to grow edibles in a vertical format, the size of the pot should be at least five inches, to get sufficient produce. Pot of different sizes and geo bags (made of permeable fabrics) are available, to cater to the growing demand for edible vertical gardens. Micro greens, which are 40 times more nutritious than your leafy vegetables, can be grown in small vertical pots, as well. “Always choose plants as per the pot’s size. Sometimes, people choose to grow huge plants in smaller pots and wonder why they aren’t growing,” cautions Shah.
If you are planting indoor plants or air purifying plants, the vertical wall can be in indoors, where there is less sunlight.
“Nowadays ready frameworks for vertical walls are available, which are easy to install. All you need to do is put the plants. Herbs like basil, peppermint, etc., are easier to grow than vegetables. Air purifying plants like peace lily, pothos, ferns and syngoniums are other easy options. Choose the plants, as per the sunlight available in the specific area. If the vertical walls is high, it would require an irrigation system for efficient usage of water,” states Shah.
To create a vertical garden in or around one’s house, one must be a bit creative or take the help of a professional gardener or horticulturist. “If you wish to be adventurous, then, instead of using regular clay pots, you can opt for plastic bottles, fused bulbs, photo frames, shoes, etc., to make such gardens. Ropes, belts, t-shirts and elastic bands, can be used to hang the planters,” suggests Kayal.
Vertical gardens require regular maintenance, such as trimming and pruning, to maintain the look of the wall. Hence, it is better to opt for low maintenance plants.
“Alternatively, one can grow plants vertically using hydroponics – i.e., growing plants in water. Such vertical walls are lighter and have less chances of infestation by pests, since most of the pests come from the soil. Furthermore, the water can be recycled. The disadvantage of hydroponic system, however, is that it is expensive as water nutrients need to be added at regular intervals,” explains Shah.
We look at how home owners can decrease the energy consumption in their homes substantially, by making a few simple changes
With climate change affecting people across the globe, energy conservation is no more a choice but a must for all. As buildings are one of the largest sources of energy consumption, conservation should start at home, through behavioural changes that ensure that we have energy-efficient homes.
“Each of us should consciously evolve ways, to avoid wastage of scarce resources such as water and power, in our homes. The problem with urban planning today, is that building structures are guzzlers of energy. Their design is based on the assumption of limitless supply of HVAC (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning) resources. No effort is being made to tap renewable energy, to meet the need for power. There is an urgent need to revisit climate-sensitive concepts of indigenous architecture, to design and construct multi-storeyed buildings, while making appropriate use of advanced building technologies,” says Anthony Raj, founder-director of the Center for Indigenous Architecture.
According to Pune-based NGO, Prayas Energy Group, residential electricity consumption has gone up by 50 times since 1971 and now forms about a quarter of India’s total electricity consumption, up from about four per cent in 1971.
Aditya Chunekar a fellow of Prayas Energy Group, in the research area of energy efficiency, maintains that consumers should opt for energy-efficient appliances.Citing an example, he says that an energy-efficient 1.5-ton split air-conditioner can utilise 30-40 per cent less electricity than an ordinary 1.5-ton split air-conditioner, used for the same amount of time. “The total residential energy consumption can decrease, with the use of energy-efficient appliances. Studies reveal overall savings of 15-25 per cent from the use of efficient appliances. Air-conditioners consume much more energy than all the other appliances combined. Refrigerators can also contribute to 25-50 per cent of the electricity consumption in a household. An inefficient refrigerator can increase the annual electricity bill of a household by as much as Rs 4,000-5,000, in some cases. So, it is important for a consumer to choose appliances with five-star rating,” Chunekar explains.
The challenge with ready-made homes, is that the buyer has no control over the exterior façade design, like shading structures and type of windows installed in the homes. “If the buyer has control over these features during the construction phase, well and good. Otherwise, there are a few things that can still be done, to reduce energy consumption in the home,” points out Mathan Ramaiah, director of design, Fountain Head Design (FHD) Group.
“Replace light fixtures with CFL (compact fluorescent light) or LEDs (light-emitting diodes) if they are not already installed. Proper size of the AC is also important. An AC that is too small, means that it will run at full load, which wastes energy and during peak hours, it cannot produce enough cooling. Oversized ACs will also lead to loss of energy. The best practice is to set the temperature at around 24 degrees and wait till the room cools down,” says Ramaiah.
Home owners can even use shading devices over the windows, to reduce the heat gain. “For example, one can have bamboo blinds on all the balconies. This reduces the exposure of walls to direct sunlight and improves the thermal comfort within the house,” Raj elaborates.
Solar panels for electricity generation for all common areas and common amenities, can also help energy conservation, adds Ramaiah. “It is more economical for a community to install solar panels than an individual home. As a community, one can also install biogas plants, where all kitchen waste can be segregated and put into the plant to generate electricity. The advantage of biogas plants is that they store energy in the form of gas that can be used whenever required,” suggests Ramaiah.
Around 450 new apartment units were added to the Chennai real estate market in the last three months, posting a 17% increase in comparison with the same quarter in 2018. This indicates a revival in the real sector in the city which has been going through a rough patch in the last five years.
A recent report by ANAROCK Property Consultants Pvt Ltd found that the realty market of Chennai added 3,170 units during the first quarter of this year, while the same period in 2018 recorded 2,720 units. It is an increase by 17% over the same quarter in 2018.
However, the number of new units has dropped when compared with the previous quarter. As per the data, in the fourth quarter of 2018, 3,900 apartment units were added to the city real estate market.
Sales in Bengaluru and Chennai increased by 5% and 4% respectively over the previous quarter and were recorded at 15,580 units and 3,430 units respectively, the report added
The sector is currently riding on a new wave of optimism following the triple benefits it received from the government in the first three months of 2019. These sops have not only increased homebuyers’ sentiments but will also boost the confidence of builders and long-term investors,” the report said quoting ANAROCK Property Consultants chairman Anuj Puri.
They could be true for buyers with unique needs. But when taken as thumb rules, they are very misleading.
Every home buyer thinks there are some truths about the process that cannot be questioned because they are believed by so many people. Sometimes these nuggets of wisdom could actually be myths people do little to question and verify and follow blindly. Below is a selection of six of such widely prevalent myths about buying residential property. These myths could be true for certain buyers depending on their unique circumstances and preferences but when taken as eternal truths they could be misleading.
The slacking economy and the slump in various sectors including automobiles, housing and MSMEs was a grave concern – not just for industry stakeholders but also for the government. In a major boost to the slowing economy that comes literally in the nick of time, the FM today has hit a sixer with a slew of announcements for the banking and financial sector including NBFCs, HFCs and even MSMEs.
The government is taking a heads-on approach to addressing issues, supporting the key drivers of the economy and giving each of the sectors - including real estate – a massive shot in the arm in these stressful times.
The announcement to offer more credit support for purchase of homes, vehicles and consumption goods is an extremely welcome move which does not come a moment too soon. This move gives a major liquidity support of an additional INR 20,000 crore to HFCs and this will significantly improve the momentum of lending to cash-strapped developers by the NHB. Many developers will now be able to complete their projects stuck or delayed which were languishing due to lack of funds – thereby benefiting their buyers directly.
* INR 4lakh liquidity infusion
* INR 70,000 cr for bank recapitalization – NBFCs to get more money and passing it on
* Banks to pass on rate cuts to buyers
* Capital Loans to Industry cheaper
* Tax withdrawn on capital gains
* Tax on super rich rolled back
Nowadays, finding a home of one's choice has become both easy and risky because of the wide variety of options available to choose from. A number of builders are out there providing you all that you require in a dream home in terms of construction, infrastructure, and much more.
However, finding out a home that matches your taste is not enough. Knowing a bit more technical details about your future home will keep things in your favour.
Technically, carpet area is the net usable area measured wall to wall from its inner surfaces. Thus the thickness of the inner walls is not included. Carpet area is the actual usable size of the flat/villa minus the thickness of the wall.
This also includes the bathroom and kitchen. Any common areas outside the apartment like staircase, lift, security room, etc., are excluded from this calculation.
This is the gross area of the flat which comprises the carpet area as well as the thickness of the walls and the ducts. The built-up area can be 15-25 per more than the carpet area and sometimes known as the plinth area
It includes common amenities such as the area of lift shafts, lobby, and corridor, proportionately divided among all flats. The common usable areas, such as swimming pool, garden, and clubhouse may also be included in it. In other words, super built-up area is the total saleable area.
The RBI, which has lowered the repo rate by 1.1 percentage points this year, maintained its "accommodative" stance that means an increase is off the table.
The real estate industry on Wednesday said the MPC's decision to cut the repo rate would help the sector if banks pass on the benefit to end-users in the form of lower lending rates.
The Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) Monetary Policy Committee on Wednesday cut the interest rate by 35 basis points (bps) -- the fourth successive reduction -- to a nine-year-low level, in an attempt to boost an economy growing at its slowest pace in nearly five years. The repo rate is the rate at which the RBI lends to banks.
CREDAI Haryana spokesperson Prashant Solomon said the reduction of the repo rate by 35 bps was on the expected lines. CREDAI is the apex association of real estate developers.
"Given that there was no rate cut after the Union Budget, this move was highly anticipated," he said.
Solomon added that the fall in interest rates would be of great benefit to the real estate sector. "Now, we expect that the benefits of reduced rates are transmitted to the end-users by banks at the earliest."
Manoj Gaur, managing director of Gaurs Group and chairman (affordable housing committee) of CREDAI, termed the RBI move "constructive".
"With the fourth consecutive rate cut, we expect the demand of housing sector to rise marginally. The rate cut is expected to further bring down interest rates on home loans and auto loans as the monetary transmission of previous policy easing have been limited. It will also help boost credit growth in the banking system," he said.
Mohit Goel, chief executive officer of Omaxe Ltd, said that with inflation well within the RBI range and economy showing signs of slowdown, the repo rate cut of 35 bps to 5.4 per cent is on the expected lines.
"Despite repeated cuts in policy rates by the RBI, fourth since January 2019, commercial banks have not passed on the cut to borrowers. As a result, lending rates continue to remain high. The slowdown in economy coupled with high lending rate has accentuated the slump in housing demand," he said.
Sagar Saxena, project head for Spectrum Metro in Noida, said the rate cut along with infusing liquidity in the banking system will also result in reduced burden on banks' resources, which will further bring down interest rates on home loans providing the much-needed boost to the real estate industry.
Ashok Gupta, chairman and managing director of Ajnara India, said that apart from the RBI's rate cut, also important is the enhanced exposure limit of banks for a single non-banking financial company (NBFC). The move will ensure greater funds for NBFCs and it would help realty sector a great deal, he added.
Amit Modi, director of ABA Corp, said the benchmark rate is now at the lowest since April 2010, but "unfortunately, there is still no major effect" on the ground, and this is mainly due to the fact that despite the repeated reductions, the majority of banks are not passing the benefits of the rate cuts to end-consumer.
Rather than making sure that consumers are offered reduced interest rates on home loans which will result in lower EMIs, there is still an ongoing tendency of cushioning the bottom lines by the banks, which ultimately turns out to be counterproductive to the move itself," he said.
Real estate consultancy CBRE said the move, if transmitted to the customers by banks, will spur investment and boost consumption activity in the economy in a scenario where there is pressure on the gross domes ..
We believe that this announcement might result in a further reduction in home loan rates and will provide an impetus to the government's initiative of affordable housing," said Anshuman Magazine, chairman and chief executive officer (India, South East Asia, Middle East & Africa), CBRE.
The RBI has reduced its growth projection for the Indian economy to 6.9 per cent for the current financial year, from 7 per cent forecast in June, due to a slowdown in demand and investments.
The RBI, which has lowered the repo rate by 1.1 percentage points this year, maintained its "accommodative" stance that means an increase is off the table.
Does it make sense to buy a property, by registering it with a single owner or with multiple owners? We look at who can be joint owners to a property and its implications
Home owners are often ignorant about the implications of buying a house property in single name, instead of joint names. One of my colleagues had bought a flat in his name before marriage. After marriage, the EMI was serviced by the couple, in equal parts. However, he was shocked to learn that his wife could not claim the income tax benefits on the home loan.
There is no law that governs who you can add as joint owner. It can be a close relative (spouse, parents, children, brother or sister), your partner in business, or even friends.
Even if you are financing the property alone, it makes sense to add a close relative, like spouse or children if you are married, or parents in case you are a bachelor. A person, who is added as a joint owner in the agreement, need not contribute towards the purchase of the property.
While giving a home loan, lenders insist that the joint owner be included as a co-borrower. Lenders tend to favourably consider home loan applications, where the co-borrower is a close relative, like spouse, parents or children. A majority of the lenders do not entertain loan applications, where the co-borrower is not one of these close relatives. As the joint owner has to join the applicant as a co-borrower, you may not get a home loan if the joint owner is a friend, partner, or a brother or sister.
As most of the residential properties purchased nowadays, are apartments in housing societies, it is better to buy in joint names. In case anything happens to one holder, the society will generally transfer the flat in the name of the remaining joint holders, without insisting on a probate or a no-objection certificate from the other legal heirs.
The income tax benefits, whether for principal repayment of a home loan under Section 80C or for interest on a home loan under Section 24b, can only be claimed by the owner or the joint owner of the house. Consequently, the benefits of a home loan cannot be claimed by you, unless you are an owner of the property, even if the loan is being serviced by you.
Buying a house today, may require a minimum home loan of Rs 50 lakhs. The interest on this loan would be around Rs 4.75 lakhs per annum @ 9.50%. In case the house property is used for self-residence and is owned and being serviced by you only, you will only be able to claim Rs 2 lakhs and the tax benefit for the balance Rs 2.75 lakhs will be lost. However, in case the same property is purchased in joint names and the loan is serviced by both the holders, both of you can claim the tax benefit of Rs 2 lakhs each, on the interest payment.
Similarly, for repayment of the principal home loan amount under Section 80C, if the property is jointly owned and the home loan is equally serviced, then, both of you will be able to claim this benefit of up to Rs 1.5 lakhs each, presuming you do not have any other investment or expenditure qualifying for Section 80C.
Real estate has surpassed stocks as Americans’ favorite long-term investment, according to a nationwide Bankrate survey of about 1,000 respondents. Thirty-one percent of survey respondents named real estate as their favorite investment for building wealth that they don’t need access to for a decade or more. That is the best that real estate has performed on Bankrate’s annual survey in the last seven years. In 2018, stocks were the most popular investment.
Millennials, at 36%, were the most likely age group to call real estate their top long-term investment choice, according to the survey. Other generations also favored real estate, including generation X (31%), baby boomers (30%), and the silent generation (23%). “Millennials are higher on real estate than any other age group, have cooled a bit on cash, and still aren’t keen on the stock market when investing for more than ten years,” says Greg McBride, Bankrate’s chief financial analyst.
An application with these documents must be made to the property registrar to obtain duplicate copies of the sale deed.
The sale deed is critical evidence of property ownership. No transaction concerning the property can take place unless the original papers are furnished.
Hence it is important to keep the papers carefully. However, if the papers cannot be located due to some reasons, immediate steps need to be taken.
The first step is to visit the nearest police station and file a first information report (FIR). The FIR needs to mention that the papers are lost. A copy of the FIR should be taken by the owner and preserved for future reference.
A notice should be published in English and regional language newspapers stating particulars of the property, documents lost and contact details should anyone find the missing papers.
In case the share certificate allotted by a housing society is misplaced, one has to apply for reissue of the same. The FIR copy and newspaper notice have to be furnished with the application.
The owner has to make an undertaking on stamp paper, to be submitted at the registrar’s offi ce, with details of the property, lost documents, copy of FIR and copy of the newspaper notice. The undertaking must be registered, attested and notarised.
An application with the following documents must be made to the property registrar to obtain duplicate copies of the sale deed. The prescribed fee for obtaining a duplicate will have to be deposited in the registrar’s office.
Property buying can often be messy. Jargons float around and you can be confused with all the legalese. We made it simple for you. Use this handy guide to help you navigate the real estate pitfalls you may encounter while buying a home. While purchasing property, it is essential to check that the following documents are in order:
It is the first document prepared in anticipation of a sale of the property. It contains a detailed description of the property and states the terms of conditions between the buyer and the seller, including the purchase price as agreed upon.
The sale deed or title deed is the most important document that records the actual transfer of ownership of the property. It needs to be registered at the sub registrar’s office under whose jurisdiction the property would fall.
Property title search is a process of retrieving the chain of documents relating to the history of the property that has been registered with the concerned authority. It includes a description of the property and names of title holders, joint tenancy, etc. It is especially important for procuring a home loan.
This document is known by different names in different states and it provides proof that the property has an entry in the local municipal records.
The receipts of property tax hold that the previous owner or occupier had paid all the taxes and none have been left as due. They also establish the legal status of the property and therefore serve as an important document of evidence.
An encumbrance certificate states that the property is free from all encumbrances or loans. It is a key document for procuring a loan against property from banks. It has all the details about transactions relating to the property.
An occupancy certificate or completion certificate is given by the municipal corporation after the construction of a building to establish that it was constructed according to a sanctioned plan and that it is ready to be occupied.
If any loan is outstanding on the property that is being purchased, it is safe to procure the statements relating to the loan so that there is full disclosure in that regard.
It is important to ask the developer to produce copies of various NOCs that must be procured from various departments such as the Sewage Board, Pollution Board, Environment Department, Traffic and Coordination Department, etc. This forms the ‘intimation of disapproval’ for the construction of the building
This is to ensure that the buyers are cautious about any deviations from the sanctioned plan made by the developer.
A Power of Attorney is required in original if any person is acting on the authorization of the owner of the property. It could be general or specific.
Property investment is one of the most important decisions to be taken in any household and everyone has their own parameters on which they grade their dream home. However, a few aspects are given more importance by home buyers. And the most important parameter that most of the modern home buyers take into consideration is the vicinity to the Public Transport system. When buyers decide to purchase a home, they are making a sensible life-choice decision, hence it is paramount that their criteria fit in with their purchasing decision. Let’s look at some of the reasons how a Public transport system affects a home buying decision?
If your house and your workplace are situated miles apart, then travelling every day using a cab may be quite an expensive affair not to mention the waiting time in traffic. Instead, if you have an excellent public transportation system around your area, you can afford to save a lot of time and money. You can go for monthly passes which could cost much less than your daily cab fees.
If the locality is having 24/7 bus service, then it’s an indicator for good connectivity. Assuredly even the roads will be well developed. This is a sure sign that the locality where you are searching for your house is well developed. The area will be booming with development, which will be marked by the presence of a number of shopping malls and commercial complexes.
Properties which are accessible to bus stands and metro rail stations are considerably more expensive. Good connectivity highlights that the place has well-developed roads. Proximity to metro rail also means that heavy congestion of traffic could be easily negated. A well-connected locality will entice more people to invest which undoubtedly will increase the land value. One key point is that the rest of the regions in the city are easily accessible. Many suburbs and other peripheral areas are struggling for development due to poor roads. These places will have low property value and even the resale value reduces. As the connectivity in these suburbs improves, prices will naturally increase.
As mentioned above, property rates get hiked in regions where public transport is efficient. This is due to the increased demand for the properties in those particular regions. Hence, new properties with big developers are bound to arise, this makes way for excellent infrastructure development in these areas.
Since most of the families which reside in cities are nuclear families, they are self-sufficient and independent. Hence, they prefer to live in areas where everything which is necessary for the family is close by. Areas with good roads and an effective transport system will have an extensive reach to hospitals, reputed educational institutions, and popular shopping complexes.
A Public transport system is a vital contributor to the growth of the local economy and the communities that live nearby. It revitalizes the entire region, providing a host of opportunities to the individuals who live in the nearby regions. A sound public transport system is paramount for the healthy development of a locality as it will boost the property values and will invite more development. Therefore, sensible homeowners will make their decision based on the access to public transport.
Housing Sales in eight major cities increased marginally by 4 per cent to 1.29 lakh units during the first half of this calendar year, largely driven by rise in demand of affordable homes
The supply of new homes rose by 21 per cent to 1.11 lakh units during January-June 2019 from 1.24 lakh units in the year-ago period, "India Real Estate' that tracks demand, supply and prices of residential and office properties in eight cities -- Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Pune and Ahmedabad.
Housing sales increased to 1,29,285 units from 1,24,288 units, while new launches rose to 1,11,175 units from 91,739 units during the period under review. Unsold inventories lying with the developers dropped by 9 per cent to 4,50,263 units. "The India sales improved by 4 per cent in H1 2019 making this the third consecutive quarter to record sales improvements, The trends conclusively show a general arrest of a declining trend that can well be the inflection point leading to growth of sales in the market,
According to the data, National Capital Region saw maximum increase in demand with sales rising by 10 per cent at 19,852 units during the first six months of this year, followed by Bengaluru with 9 per cent increase at 28,225 units. Housing sales in Pune were up by 6 per cent at 17,364 units, 5 per cent in Chennai at 8,979 units, 4 per cent in Mumbai to 33,731 units, 2 per cent in Ahmedabad at 8,212 units. Demand was flat at 8,334 units in Hyderabad.
However, sales declined in Kolkata by 30 per cent to 4,588 units. This is primarily due to the procedural delays caused by the West Bengal Housing Industry Regulatory Authority and the pronounced dependence of developers on the distressed non-banking financial company sector.
"The concerted efforts by the government and the incentives given have resulted in substantial demand in affordable housing which has resulted in an overall boost to residential sales. This also seems to be in line with the government vision for 'housing for all' The weighted average prices have stagnated across cities with Mumbai, Pune and Chennai seeing prices fall by a further 3 per cent, 4 per cent and 3 per cent year-on-year (YoY), respectively. Hyderabad continues to see exceptional price growth at 9 per cent YoY due to the high proportion of ready inventory and very little supply coming online during 2018.
During the last four years, the growth in residential prices in most of the top eight cities of India has been below retail inflation growth and the gap has progressively increased since
Winchester - G Block 9th street Ext
Dakshin - S Block, 16th street
Anjali - 10th Avenue
Park View Residency - Ragahava Reddy Colony 2nd street
Adithya - Outer Circular road. K.G Colony
The Cedar - 1st cross street, K.G Colony
Parijatham - GOCHS Colony, 13th Cross street
Although a person can avail of multiple home loans, the tax benefits on the interest paid on the loan for a second house, are different from that available for the first house
People are generally under the impression that one can own any number of properties but one cannot take more than one home loan at a time. This is not true. As there is no restriction on the number of properties you can own, there is also no restriction on the number of houses for which you can take home loans and claim tax benefits. The amount of home loan that you can take, for all the properties taken together, shall depend on your earning and your ability to service the loan.
You can claim deduction for interest payable on a loan, taken for purchase, construction, repair, or renovation of any property under Section 24b. In case you own only one residential house property which is occupied by you, the maximum deduction that can be claimed on interest repayment on a loan for that property, is restricted to Rs 2 lakhs per annum. However, in case the money is borrowed after 1st April 1999 and construction of the property is not completed within a period of five years from the end of the financial year in which the money was borrowed, the deduction in respect of the interest claim shall be restricted to Rs 30,000 only.
See also: Long-term capital gains tax: Exemption on buying multiple houses
In case you have let out any property or properties owned by you, you can claim deduction for the entire interest paid, without any upper ceiling against the rent received in respect of each such property. However, in case you own more than one house property and more than one houses are occupied by you, then, you have to choose any one property as self-occupied and the other property/properties are treated as let-out for which a notional rental income, based on the rent the property is expected to fetch, is required to be offered for taxation. So, once any such property is treated as let-out, you can claim the tax benefits for full interest paid, for money borrowed in respect of any of the property that is treated as let-out.
This deduction on interest payment is available, for any residential or commercial property owned by you. It is also available, irrespective of whether the money is borrowed from a bank or housing company, or from friends or relatives, for the purpose of repairs, purchase construction, reconstruction, etc.
Any interest paid during the construction period can be amortised and can be claimed in five equal instalments, beginning from the year in which the construction is completed and possession of the house is taken.
However as per the amended law w.e.f. April, 1, 2017, the aggregate of loss under the head ‘Income from house property’, cannot be set off by more than Rs two lakhs against other income for a year. Any loss remaining unadjusted, can be carried forward and be set off against income from the same head, for eight subsequent years.
As per the provisions of Section 80C, you can claim up to Rs 1.5 lakhs for repayment of housing loan taken from specified institutions, including cost of registration and stamp duty of a residential house. Although you can take home loans for more than one property, the amount of deduction shall be restricted to Rs 1.5 lakhs. The overall amount of deduction, includes other items like provident fund contribution, life insurance premium, tuition fees, PPF contribution, NSC, ELSS, etc.
This deduction can be claimed only after you have taken possession of the property. If you have started repaying the principal of a home loan before taking possession, this benefit is not available to you. Please note that repayments of loan taken from your friends and relatives, are not eligible for this deduction.
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