By SANDEEP RUNWAL

The real estate industry, a vital contributor to the economy and the second-largest employment generator, is on the brink of potentially transformative changes. The sector eagerly anticipates the 2024-25 budget announcements, which are expected to significantly influence its future.

In the previous year, the Central and State governments implemented a series of reforms and incentives to rejuvenate the economy. These efforts have been instrumental in sustaining the growth momentum of the real estate sector.

A major focal point for the Government continues to be affordable housing. We suggest an increase in the cap for interest rate deduction under section 24(b) from Rs. 2 lakh to Rs. 5 lakh per annum. Additionally, there is a call to redefine affordable housing, proposing an increase in the cap from Rs. 45 lakh to Rs. 1 crore, particularly in metro cities. This change is expected to significantly boost both affordable and mid-segment housing.

The industry also anticipates the continuation of incentives for affordable rental housing schemes. Tax reliefs for such projects could accelerate investment and aid in achieving the Government’s ambitious ‘Housing for All’ goal. Further expectations include tax benefits for first-time homebuyers and the re-introduction of GST with an input tax credit on under-construction properties. These measures are anticipated to stimulate demand among homebuyers.

Other suggestions include tax reliefs to fuel significant growth in the real estate sector, single window clearance, and reduced home loan interest rates. The reintroduction of subvention schemes is also on the wish list, which would assist homebuyers in aligning their payments and encourage home buying decisions.

There’s a call for an increase in the SWAMIH stress fund and the creation of a second tranche with a corpus of ₹50,000, aimed at completing stalled realty projects and ensuring adequate liquidity.

A long-standing demand of the sector has been the granting of ‘industry status’ to real estate. This year, there is a hopeful anticipation that the Government will address this issue.

In summary, the real estate sector expects the Government to take decisive actions in the upcoming budget to fortify not only the real estate market but the entire economy. These measures should aim at addressing critical issues, ensuring job creation, and sustaining growth momentum. (The author is President, NAREDCO Maharashtra)