News & Views on Indian Real Estate

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Can investing in land assure good returns in future?

The lucrative long-term return on land plots may tempt you to buy, even at a time when the real estate sector is reeling under the impact of a slowdown. In such a market scenario, can investing in land still assure you of good returns in the future? What is the best way to invest in this precious asset and what are the crucial determinants to assess your prospective buy?

There are various ways to invest in land. Global real estate consultancy Jones Lang LaSalle Meghraj (JLLM) shares some key factors that are necessary to consider. “Identifying a piece of land that is in close or reasonable proximity to future market drivers is important.

Next, one should inquire into the legal status of the land and establish if it is for sale. Finally, locate the owners and make a purchase proposal. For maximum future returns, its is important to make one’s investment while entry costs are low,” says Anuj Puri, chairman and country head of JLLM.

One must especially keep in mind certain aspects to avoid any legal hassles later. For instance, land may be under litigation or may be earmarked for a government project. It could be categorised as forest land or could even be in a Coastal Regulation Zone.

It may also lack basic facilities such as water and power supply or fall in a politically or socially challenged sector. Any or a combination of these factors can subtract or nullify the investment potential of land. Hence all negative possibilities should be covered before purchase.

Another aspect which cannot be neglected is the paperwork needed. A number of documents are necessary in land purchase and need to be checked. The title deed (a legal document proving a person’s right to property), the encumbrance certificate (which proves that the land is not under some sort of legal dispute), the release certificate (in case the land was previously pledged to someone else), the surveyor’s report (to establish its exact dimensions) and — if the owner is an NRI — the power of attorney that gives his representative the legal right to act on the NRI’s behalf, are all significant documents that should be given careful consideration.

But is it profitable to invest in land in the current market situation? Some advise caution. “The current economic recession is leading to unprofitable business for everyone, whether it be a company or an investor. The downturn is obviously not the right time to invest in property as it is not going to reap any positive or profitable results. To make a profitable deal, the investor should wait for at least 2-4 years,” advises Vijay Jindal, CMD of SVP Builders India.

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