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We often hear two contrasting stories — high decibel ads from real estate developers touting a project and woeful tales from home buyers, stuck with delays in handover or quality issues.

Sushil Kumar Sayal brings out the new story of a real estate professional with a 360 degree view of the industry, having worked in it for over three decades.

Issues galore

Where the author’s empathies lie is quite clear: “I have to concede that there is a lot of merit to the popular perception that real estate is a cesspool of corruption and irregularities. This fact cannot be brushed under the carpet”, he writes.

Why so? For one, there is the role played by black money. “The extent of black money that gets generated in real estate is huge, which in these times of heightened public awareness is unsustainable”. He cites a Cobrapost investigation — “thirty-five real estate companies with pan-India presence across nine states were willing to do bulk transactions in black money”.

He notes that many developers mistook the parking of black money in real estate as genuine demand from home buyers and have ended up sitting on massive inventories. “The prevalence of black money has ensured that real estate prices stay extremely high”, Sayal says.

Two, builders have their share of faults, notes the author. The contract between the builder and the buyer is opaque and filled with legalese. Selling projects without all the clearances, allocating money collected in one project for other purposes and building more floors than originally approved are some examples of dishonest practices.

Three, bureaucrats collude with builders and turn a blind eye to rampant rule violations. The government too creates unintended crisis with its misplaced good intentions. The example he cites is allowing builders in Noida to pay only 10 per cent of the land cost upfront. This has led to huge oversupply and buyers were stuck as builders could not raise cash to complete the project.

Tips to buyers

The book offers tips to potential home buyers. For instance, strong demand for office space boosts housing demand. “Go where large corporations are going and follow pockets of high activity”.

The author suggests checking out the builder’s credentials thoroughly, including the company’s financial health from the Union Ministry of Corporate Affairs records.

Buyers must ask for proper power and water systems, and modern waste disposal. These features may add up to 5 per cent of the prices, but no more, Sayal says.

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