The Economic Times
English EditionEnglish Editionहिन्दी
| E-Paper

    To avoid getting stuck in a real estate trap, younger generation should follow these 3 home buying rules


    Buy just one house in which you will live, and which will save you rent. Do not even think of buying more just for investment. No matter how much you’d love a fancy house and how great the hype, the EMI should not be more than one third of your family income.

    Getty Images
    The biggest source of problems has not been houses that cost too much but houses that have not been delivered.
    ET Calculator Banner
    By Dhirendra Kumar

    One of the (few) good things about the pandemic is that a healthy and long overdue dose of realism has been injected into the real estate market of India. As far as I can see, this has happened both to developers as well as well-off individuals who consider real estate to be a good investment. There’s plenty of news from around the country of sellers reconciling with the fact that it’s better to sell off their goods at lower prices than to wait indefinitely. Of course, the usual suspects are presenting this as an unmitigated disaster and a sign of severe business and economic conditions and so on. Maybe it is all of these, although not to the degree that they are claiming.

    However, if there is one savings and personal finance related area where we, as a country, need an adjustment to our mental models, then that’s real estate. At the heart of this whole problem, which has afflicted house-buying for almost two decades now, is an old mental model of real estate which has been handed down from generation to generation. While this model was correct in the decades before that, it was short-circuited by the new way in which real estate developers work.

    Here’s a brief description of what used to be the older model of real estate investment. There are perhaps five sources of gains in the price of property, and your final profit is a product of all these. One, the original change in usage from agricultural or barren land to residential or commercial. Two, the coming up of physical infrastructure which makes this land usable for the new purpose. Three, the improvement in residential or commercial viability as the area gets populated. Fourth, the periodic booms and busts that afflict real estate. Fifth, the general economic development and inflation of the economy that together increase demand and prices and thus become an indistinguishable part of the nominal change in the property’s price.

    In the days of your parents and grandparents, the individual house builder could capture the value accretion in three or four of these five stages, sometimes all five. Starting about 2000, the real estate developers tried to capture all five. Oftentimes the developer also tries to capture future value of the fifth stage by talking up the price that might be justifiable in the remote future. Remember, I’m just talking about the honest developers who are not in the game of just taking your money but actually have an intention of delivering something in return.

    Is it a good time to buy property? Here is expert's take

    ET Online's Shambhavi Mehrotra speaks to Raj Khosla, Founder & MD,, who explains how homebuyers can gain in terms of pricing, interest rates etc. while buying property and sheds light on the pitfalls one must look out for when it comes to real estate in this period of uncertainty. Watch now.
    In our parents’ generation, the way to build a house was to identify a yet undeveloped or underdeveloped area and buy a plot of land. Once that was done, not much could go wrong and the rest just happened. Nowadays, the rules are different. Unlike the good old days, you can’t buy cheap land on the outskirts and then start building the house a decade later, one room at a time.

    Instead, you have to risk your financial future to the dreaded EMI monster, all at one go. This means that the new rules are different. Here they are, in a succinct form:

    One, buy just one house in which you will live, and which will save you rent. Do not even think of buying any more just for investment. Two, don’t stretch yourself. No matter how much you’d love a fancy house and how great the hype is, the EMI should not be more than one third of your family income. And that’s the UPPER limit. If you can get by with less, then please do so. Three, buy a house, not a promise. This factor is improving with new real estate regulation but this is an industry that should always be treated with caution. Remember, the biggest source of real estate financial problems for savers has not been houses that cost too much but houses that have not been delivered.

    Each new generation of house-buyers tends to make the same mistakes. Perhaps with the financial caution that the pandemic is inspiring, things will change.

    (The writer is CEO, Value Research)
    (Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this column are that of the writer. The facts and opinions expressed here do not reflect the views of
    Download The Economic Times News App to get Daily Market Updates & Live Business News.

    11 Comments on this Story

    Padamnoor Pradeep31 days ago
    After the Great Depression and after Independence, there was a saying"Fools build houses, wise men (renters!) live in it!! Adding the problems created by the Rent Control Act and Land Ceiling Act Real Estate was not a great Asset Class. Some of the old problems still exist. Property in remote locations are not safe and so buy only for end use.
    C V S Murthy31 days ago
    Young India should buy only 1 house, where they intend to stay. Donot buy more homes, waste of money. Instead one can buy agricultural land if they have interest in farming, some office space if they want to self occupy. Apart from this donot invest.
    mohanqp Thomas31 days ago
    Buy only pure residential & never never go for bldgs that have commercial. It eats away your Built up paid money & make your co-operative hsg society a mess, with renovations at the commercial place unsafe & food palaces emanating the choicest smell from their chimneys.
    The Economic Times