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30 January, 2016
The strengthening dollar has made investing in real estate for non-resident Indians very lucrative. The Indian government has also eased norms for NRI investments in India. Real Estate is one of the prime sectors which see a lot of investment from NRI's as it doesn’t require any special/prior permissions. However, it is very important to understand the financial requirements and laws while purchasing real estate in India. Here are some points to keep in mind if you are an NRI looking to make real estate investment in India.
Why invest in real estate in India?
Global Real Estate prices are sinking; however real estate investment in India is on the turn around and is expected to generate high returns in the coming years, making India a prime focus for NRI investors. The Indian realty sector is expected to become a $180 billion market by 2020 and will witness a growth of 30% over the next decade. With over a 100 smart cities coming up in the next few years there will be significant improvement in infrastructure and connectivity making it ideal for NRI's to invest in real estate.
Permissions required to buy property in India
The Foreign Exchange Management Act states that any Indian citizen who resides outside India is permitted to acquire any immovable property in India apart from agricultural/plantation property or a farm house.
The Reserve Bank of India has given permission to all non-residents who own Indian passports and people of Indian origin to make real estate investment in India. NRI's are allowed to purchase any number of both commercial as well as residential properties in India, but they cannot acquire any farm house, agricultural land or plantation property. They can acquire such property only if they have been gifted or inherited.
NRI investments in India can be made in rupees via funds maintained in any non-resident account under FEMA and RBI regulations or normal banking channels. An NRI can also transfer the property to anyone residing in India or outside by gifting, transferring or selling it.
Property Management in India is very easy and NRI's have to follow the same tax laws as Indian residents. They can even claim Rs 1 Lakh deduction under 80C for their real estate investment in India. According to the Indian Income Tax Act if an NRI owns more than one house property, one will be deemed as self occupied, while the other property even if it's vacant will be deemed to be given on rent. You will have to calculate the rental income based on valuations prescribed by the income tax rules and pay the tax accordingly. This is applicable even if NRI has one property in India and one abroad.
If a property is sold three years before the date of purchase you will have to pay short term capital gains tax has to be paid according to their tax slab as well as TDS of 30% will also be deducted.
NRI's will have to pay a tax of 20 percent if they sell their property after three years from the date of purchase. However, if an NRI is planning to reinvest the amount in another property in India or in tax exempt bonds, they will be exempt from paying tax in India, and no TDS will be deducted either.
Here is the list of documents needed for making real estate investment in India.
An NRI looking to invest in India must have a valid passport; in case he is a foreign country passport holder he must acquire a PIO Card through the embassy. The passport should clearly hold the visa stamp and the date of entry.
Pan card (Permanent account number)
An NRI must apply for a PAN card in India for submitting their taxes. Holding a valid PAN card allows you buy an ‘under construction’ property instantly.
An NRI has to submit address proofs for India and abroad while making a purchase. You can submit telephone bill, ration card, electricity bill, LIC policy, cell phone bill or any utility bill as a proof of address in India. For proof of overseas residential address you can submit any of the above mentioned documents as well as Driving license, Identity card, Work permit, Social security card, Copy of credit card as well as the last 6 months bank statements of all NRE/NRO accounts in India.
Power of Attorney
For Property Management in India, it is ideal to give a special power of attorney to someone in the city if you don’t visit the country very often. It will make it much easier to get your registrations, sale completion and other formalities done. You can also take the help of NRI Real Estate Services companies, which will aid you in getting all the documentation done easily.
Eligibility for loans
The Reserve Bank of India has laid down some guidelines for NRI investments in India in real estate sector. NRI's can avail a maximum load of 80% of the total purchase amount. The NRI has to deposit 20% of the amount and the rest can be financed by pre-approved financial institutions. The deposit amount has to be remitted via normal banking channels like NRO/NRE accounts in India. The NRI will be able to repay the principal and the interest through the banking channel only.
Can properties bought by NRIs given on Rent?
NRI investments in India are done with the idea of having a place to stay whenever they visit the country or if they choose to return someday. However leaving houses vacant for months or year's is not very feasible, so renting out is a good preposition. NRI Real Estate Services can help you in finding tenants or leasing out your property in India. The rental income earned from the properties can be credited to an NRE or NRO account. If you don’t have an NRI account the proceeds can be sent abroad directly, however you will have to show that the appropriate taxes have been paid on the rental income earned.
If an NRI sells a property, the funds from the sale can be remitted out of India or not?
Yes the funds from the sale of a property can be remitted abroad, but it has to be done through legal banking channels. Documentary proof showing source of money will be required when transferring money abroad and it should be first be deposited in an NRO bank account. The RBI has put a limit of USD 1 Million in a calendar year, which can be repatriated without any permission from an NRE account.
The Indian government has made the process of investing in real estate for NRI's very easy, so there are hardly any obstacles remaining in your way to make your dream home in India a reality.