The standout announcement in Union Budget 2019, for the real estate sector, was the additional deduction of Rs 1.5 lakhs for those seeking home loans for affordable housing projects, which will be allowed till March 31, 2020. The FM mentioned that this takes the deduction up to Rs 3.5 lakhs cumulatively and translates into a gain of Rs 7 lakhs, during a 15-year loan repayment tenure. This boost on the demand side was clearly needed considering that many home buyers have turned fence-sitters, awaiting such tax sops or correction in prices. On the supply side, over 81 lakh houses have been sanctioned, out of which construction has been completed for 26 lakh houses under the PMAY Urban scheme and this too, shall continue to boost the market for affordable homes.
While it may seem like that there haven’t been any direct announcements to benefit the sector, the real story lies in the fine print. All the initiatives spoken of, to improve road, suburban railways and Metro connectivity; create a robust water management system; work on the Ease of Living; invest Rs 100 lakh crores in infrastructure over the next 5 years, will create more liveable cities and encourage people to invest in projects, even in peripheral areas and not overcrowd the CBDs and SBDs. On the regulatory side, we see the move to hand over regulation of housing finance companies to RBI, as a positive one. Reduction in NPAs of commercial banks by over Rs 1 lakh crores over the last year, is an encouraging sign for the sector that has been hit hard by the funding crisis. Another major area that has been addressed is Rental Housing – we look forward to the Model Tenancy Law that has been promised, to do away with the current archaic laws. The government’s clear focus on continuing to attract global investors into various sectors bodes well for the economy at large.
We are also very enthused about the government’s vision to train 10 million youth to take up industry oriented training and acquire various skillsets in AI, big data, VR, 3-D printing, etc. For a sector that has been grappling with the lack of a trained workforce, the importance of a skilled, employable workforce, can’t be emphasised enough.