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India's improved real estate transparency? Top Chicago firm's ranking based on land law Modi wants to scuttle

By Our Representative
A top Chicago-based real top consultancy firm has praised the Narendra Modi government for improving India’s Global Real Estate Transparency Index (GRETI) ranking to the 36th position this year from the 40th in 2014 on the basis of the “proactive measures” to increase transparency in the real estate sector through an Act, which it wants to scuttle.
The 36th position is for Tier 1 cities, with a population of 100,000 or more. It is 39th position for Tier 2 cities (with a population between 50,000 and 99,000), and 52nd for Tier 3 cities (with a population between 20,000 and 49,999. While for Tier 2 cities there is an improvement by three ranks, for Tier 3 cities, the ranking has gone down by two points (see chart).
In India, the Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) report says, “Land records have started to be digitised and made available via an online database, while the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act has simplified procedures for acquiring land and determining fair compensation to sellers.”
Though passed by the last UPA government in 2013, ironically, the firm says, the law was enacted in 2014, but refuses to recall Modi efforts to scuttle it through repeated ordinances in 2014-15. The Act, as passed in 2013, has been under unprecedented criticism from the corporate sector and its supporters, who believe call it the main hurdle in “developing” industrial projects because of its clauses of consent and social impact assessment.
Worse, refusing to recall the year when the Act was passed, Anuj Puri, chairman and country head, JLL India, says, India “moved up by four ranks thanks, in large part, to the Modi government’s aim to stimulate growth and reduce red tape”, adding, this was aided by “improved market fundamentals” and “policy reforms like Land Acquisition Act.”
Titled “Global Real Estate Transparency Index, 2016: Taking Real Estate Transparency to the Next Level”, the report says, India remains in the “semi-transparent category”, adding, “The Anglosphere continues to dominate the ‘Highly Transparent’ group – the United Kingdom (1st), Australia (2nd), Canada (3rd) and the United States (4th) hold the top positions.”
Pointing out that top 10 ‘Highly Transparent’ countries account for 75% of global real estate investment, the report basis its analysis on factors such as high-quality accessible market data, fair transaction processes, strong corporate governance, stringent regulatory enforcement, clarity of property ownership, high ethical standards, green building regulations, and so on.
In all covering 109 countries worldwide, while the survey does mention the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016 as a measure to help improve real estate transparency, it insists, India “should provide more buyer protection and an equitable platform to resolve disputes.”
The Real Estate Act 2016, it is well known, makes it mandatory for project developers to register with the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA). Based on Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) Bill 2013, it obliges the builder to quote prices based on carpet and not super built-up area.
The report wants India to further improve its “regulatory reforms” essential for further progress, saying “Our survey reveals that among the ‘semi-transparent’ group (in which India is among the very top) there is a notable disconnect between the existence of regulations and actual enforcement – particularly in land use planning, contracts and building codes.”

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