Tag Archives: Crowdfunding

Is this time for crowdfunding in Indian real estate?

Posted on by Track2Realty
Track2Realty Exclusive

Bottom Line: While crowdfunding is a recognised model for real estate finance in many parts of the world, there are several practices in the Indian market which loosely resemble the same. Ravi Sinha takes a look.

Crowdfunding, Crowdfunding in India, Crowdfunding in Indian real estate, Debt Crowdfunding, Equity Crowdfunding, Crowdfunding laws, Regulations for crowdfunding, India real estate news, Indian property market news, Investment in Indian property, NRI investment in Indian propertyCrowdfunding in the property market, the world over, is mostly associated with the commercial real estate segment. The most common forms of crowdfunding in the developed property markets are debt and equity.

In debt crowdfunding, developers pre-sell a project, to launch a business concept, without incurring debt or sacrificing equity/shares. In equity crowdfunding, a group of lenders receive shares of a company, usually in its early stages, in exchange for pledged money. The company’s success is determined by how it demonstrates its viability.

Debt crowdfunding may sound similar to pre-launches in India’s housing market. After all, the risk elements are pretty much the same. Investors can take a hit, if their project goes into default, or if the value of the property decreases. There are no guarantees and investments are not insured by any regulating agency.

If we look at the matured property markets, like the United States for example, what we find is that even there regulators at the Securities and Exchange Commission find it very hard to strike a balance that could ensure that while the developers could raise funds from investors but the investors are not left unprotected.

However, in India, crowdfunding is neither officially allowed, nor will any developer go on record, admitting that pre-launches are their way of attracting crowdfunding.

Investing in start-up projects and early stage businesses, whether one calls it crowdfunding or pre-launches, involves considerable risk, such as illiquidity, lack of dividends, loss of investment and dilution. Diversion of funds have also been reported, with many pre-launch schemes, thus hurting the execution of the project.

The developers, on their part, maintain that pre-launches are not crowdfunding. Sandeep Ahuja, CEO of Richa Realty, believes that in a pre-launch, an investor or a buyer puts money on apartment, which may come at a discounted price and has the option to exit the project at any time thereafter, by selling the apartment.

“In case of crowdfunding, the investor is typically investing a very small amount and does not get any specific apartment earmarked/allotted to him. The investor makes money, once the project is completed and the profits are declared, or the property is leased out,” Ahuja explains.

Abhay Kumar, CMD of Grih Pravesh Buildteck, makes a strong pitch for crowdfunding in the housing market. The concept already exists in the Indian market, in the form of loose alliances, he says. “In the commercial segment, crowdfunding can provide assured returns, while in the housing market, pre-launches serve the purpose to some extent. The moot question, is whether we can institutionalise it, to address the liquidity concerns of developers and also safeguard the interest of investors,” wonders Kumar.

 

Crowdfunding different from organised REIT

Posted on by Track2Realty
Track2Realty Exclusive

News Point: Crowdfunding in real estate is different from the organised model of REIT and it is yet to gain ground in Indian realty due to lack of trust & transparency.

Crowdfunding, Real estate crowdfunding, Organised funding in real estate, REIT, Indian real estate investment, India real estate news, Indian property market, Track2Realty, Track2MediaAt a recent seminar in Delhi on financial planning and investment in Indian real estate, someone from the audience asked a pertinent question as to how is crowdfunding different from other organised and institutionalised form of investment in the sector. Another investor was curious to know as to how is crowdfunding different from Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT).

With real estate giving better ROI than any other investment vehicle in the country the investors in the India are today exposed to what is happening in the global market. The investors are hence curious to explore what has been tried and tested format in other matured markets – crowdfunding.

However, though crowdfunding the world over has been about peer to peer funding, there are many challenges in the Indian real estate market in absence of any organised trust/agency that make crowdfunding a non-starter.

So, what makes crowdfunding different from REIT. Rattan Hawelia, Chairman of Hawelia Group tries to explain it in simple terms. According to him, REIT is an investment option where the investors can put their money in large-scale properties which is open to everyone by buying stocks. But with REIT the investors only know the portfolio and not the properties. However, in crowdfunding, individuals can single out a particular building or builder to invest in.

“Crowdfunding has more flexible underwriting norms than probably what REIT can offer. That makes it a high risk and high return game. After all, REITable properties are established income producing assets while crowdfunded projects are mostly newly launched and start-ups that need early stages of funding,” says Hawelia.

David Walker, MD, SARE Homes finds another difference between the two when he says REIT has already gained official sanction, while crowdfunding is still not officially recognised in India, unlike in the emerged economies. “Once approved and regulated, crowdfunding has the potential to become more popular than REIT and other organised investments. The latter are cumbersome for retail investors, who prefer customer-friendly investment avenues, as crowdfunding happens to be in the West.”

Sandeep Ahuja, CEO, Richa Realty says in REIT usually many properties are pooled together and the investment is listed and can be transacted. Crowd funding, is mostly done on a single project. It is also not traded on any exchanges and thus not as liquid as a REIT investment.

Requesting anonymity, a developer who has successfully formed a loose alliance of initial investors to get the crowdfunding tries to explain a method in the madness. He asserts that in a market like India where all the legitimate funding options are increasingly drying up there is absolutely no harm in getting crowdfunding as long it is not violating the law of the land.

“Any investor at any given stage of investment through any means knows his consumer rights. So, there may not be a regulating agency like the REIT for crowdfunding in India, yet it is a legitimate business transaction between the willing parties concerned. Many private deals, both debt and equity, happen without the regulator coming into the picture” says the developer.

There is no denying that the ROI would be higher than the REIT for the parties interested to lend to the developers through crowdfunding. Yet, the risks are also much higher in a market like India where access to right information is challenging and transparency is lacking.

Moreover, crowdfunding is definitely very different from REIT – be it with the operational methodology, nature of investable properties, legal framework or the alliance between the concerned parties. And hence, in the absence of any prescribed guidelines the few and far between crowdfunding (if at all they can be called crowdfunding in the conventional sense of the term) is always covert than overt in the Indian real estate.

By: Ravi Sinha