Tag Archives: Builder Buyer Conflict

When consumer activism turns into blackmailing

Posted on by Track2Realty
Track2Realty Exclusive

Bottom Line: With the growing spate of consumer activism in real estate, element of consumer blackmailing has also made inroads.

Consumer Activism, Consumer blackmailing, Homebuyers protest, Grievances of homebuyers, India real estate news, Indian property market, NRIs worry in property market, Track2Realty, Track2Media ResearchA Ghaziabad-based developer was approached by 20 customers en block. Prima facie there was nothing to suspect. The developer was rather happy that in a slow moving market he had a bulk buyer deal walking up to his sales table. However, he was soon exposed to the unpleasant reality of organized consumer blackmailing.

These homebuyers started accusing, demanding, arm-twisting, protesting before media and threatening to drag him to the court. Taking at the face value of consumer grievance, he later got to know that this is the modus operandi of some of the local influential people to get together and put the developer in a spot.

“I was told by some other developers that these people have got good media connection. So, even if they cannot harm you legally, they are influential enough to create an ambience that is not good for the brand image or the sales channel. So, I did what some other developers had done in the vicinity. I gave them exit with lucrative buy-back offer to save the reputation of my company in a market where the collective consciousness and media will make it believe that the builder is at fault in any case,” admits the developer on condition of anonymity.

Indian real estate, of late, has woken up to the new reality of consumer blackmailing. While in most of the cases the grudge of the homebuyers has been genuine; it seems there is an organised mechanism emerging that want to encash upon the homebuyers’ acrimony with the developers.

There has also been instance when the victims suddenly turned out to be crusaders; of course the gains (monetary and otherwise) not withstanding. A classic case in point is when the Competition Commission of India (CCI) imposed penalty of Rs 630 crore on DLF, for ‘unfair trade practices’ and ‘abuse of market dominance’ with project Belaire. The Belaire Owners’ Association had then suddenly became self-styled crusaders against developers. They started openly advising several Residents’ Welfare Associations (RWAs) from Gurgaon to Greater Noida how to resolve their flat-related problems.

The moot point remains as to whether homebuyers’ legitimate grievances being addressed can empower a group of victims to suddenly emerge as de facto consumer courts overnight?

Qubrex, the real estate brokerage firm that presented an expert report to the CCI on the market share of DLF to establish its dominance in Gurgaon, also got its hands full, with various buyers seeking its help against developers.

Madhrendra Sharma, a Supreme Court lawyer points out that some of the homebuyers approach the court with such flimsy grievances that there is no ground for any legal case. He believes the problem lies in the way real estate business has grown; it has arm-twisted the homebuyers; and in the way some smart homebuyers’ are finding an opportunity in adversity.

“I advised a builder client to expose the racket of some organized pressure groups in his project. They were arm-twisting the developer with demands that were neither part of builder-buyer agreement nor part of industry practice at large. But the developer instead settled it with them out of court as the case might have affected his overall reputation,” says Sharma.

Raj Gala Shah, Partner, Zara Habitats tries to put up a brave face when he says that consumer activism can turn into blackmailing only if the developer has failed to provide correct information to the said consumer from day one.

“If no information has been concealed from the developers team while selling /marketing the property then there seems to be no cause of worry towards any instance of consumer blackmailing. It would be inappropriate to term a consumer’s demand for his right as consumer blackmail,” opines Shah.

Consumer blackmailing might have serious consequences for the grievances of the legitimate buyers. It might lead to a perception gaining ground that all the consumer activism is handwork of vested interests. This can defeat the homebuyers’ cause the way it has been with the PILs (Public Interest Litigations) where the respective courts started objecting to the locus standi, motive and objective of many of these cases.

Media might be a party in fuelling the fire with consumers’ aspirations but in the court of law only and only the evidences will stand to scrutiny. However, the perception of consumer blackmailing as a prevailing reality will definitely hurt the legitimate consumer activism in the long run. 

By: Ravi Sinha

Realty terms buyer needs to know

Posted on by Track2Realty

Carpet AreaTrack2Realty tries to simplify the real estate terminologies in practice that often confuses the buyers. There is no rocket science in real estate that buyers can’t adopt and understand for their own better understanding of the most valuable asset called house.

Carpet Area is the area within the walls of an apartment that is for the exclusive use of the buyer. While computing the carpet area, the terrace and balconies are usually considered as half the actual area. Normally in large societies with many common amenities, the carpet area could be as less as just 2/3rd of the built up area.

Built-up Area includes the carpet area and thickness of external walls, internal walls, lobbies and corridors, basements, atriums, in some places lift areas, staircases, generator & electricity rooms etc. Normally while purchasing a flat you will have to pay for the built up area where as you will get to occupy or use exclusively only the carpet area.It is typically 10-20 per cent more than the carpet area and is also sometimes known as the plinth area.

Super built-up Area includes common amenities, such as the area of lift shafts, lobby, and corridor, proportionately divided among all flats. The common usable areas, such as a swimming pool, garden and club house, may also be included in it. Per square foot rate quoted by the developer is typically applied on the super built up area to determine the value of the flat. This is the reason super built-up area is also sometimes referred to as the saleable area.

Floor Space Index (FSI) is the ratio between the total built-up area and plot area available allowed by the government for a particular locality. In plain English this means, the buildable area on a plot of land. An FSI of 1 means that the area of construction should be equal to the area of the plot—for example, a plot of 10,000 sq ft can only have a built-up area of 10,000 sq ft and no additional construction would be allowed.

Premium FSI refers to permission obtained to build extra floor space by paying a premium. For example, if the normal FSI in the area is 1.5 the builder can pay premium FSI charges (a certain per cent of the guideline value of land) and build area more than 1.5 times the plot area. This would help builders better utilise space where the price of land is prohibitively high, resulting in extra value for the buyer.

Guideline Value & Market Value Guideline Value of a land is the value of the land as determined by the government, based on the facilities and infrastructure growth in that locality. The stamp duty and registration charges for registering a property deal, is based upon this Guideline Value. The Guideline Values are revised periodically to have them in sync with the Market Value. Market value as the name denotes is determined by the demand and supply forces in the market and factors like type/age of property, quality of construction, location, infrastructure and amenities available, maintenance etc. Market Value of the property is the price that the property commands in the open market. This will invariably be the price, which you will pay for your property. Depending upon the location and the city the difference between guideline and market value can be low or high. In Indian cities the difference range is between 30-70 per cent.

Stamp Duty is the tax paid to obtain the stamp paper on which the sale deed is written and signed by both the parties prior to registering the same. The payment of proper Stamp Duty on instruments like Sale Deed bestows legality on them. Such instruments get evidentiary value and are admitted as evidence in the court of law. Stamp duty is payable usually by the transferee/purchaser, or if agreed by both the seller and buyer equally.

Registration Charge is the fees associated with getting the legal title registered in the buyer’s name. This legal activity is conducted in the sub-registrar’s office in the local court.

Common Area Maintenance (CAM) is a charge that is payable after possession of the property and is recurrent. Common area maintenance charges is the specified share of certain defined costs that include maintenance, repair, replacement, inspection, improvement, operation, and insurance of the common area shares by all the residents of the building together with any costs allocated to administration and overheads.