Home Buyers and Sellers Real Estate Glossary

Every business has it’s jargon and residential real estate is no exception. Mark Nash author of 1001 Tips for Buying and Selling a Home shares commonly used terms with home buyers and sellers.

1031 exchange or Starker exchange: The delayed exchange of properties that qualifies for tax purposes as a tax-deferred exchange.

1099: The statement of income reported to the IRS for an independent contractor.

A/I: A contract that is pending with attorney and inspection contingencies.

Accompanied showings: Those showings where the listing agent must accompany an agent and his or her clients when viewing a listing.

Addendum: An addition to; a document.

Adjustable rate mortgage (ARM): A type of mortgage loan whose interest rate is tied to an economic index, which fluctuates with the market. Typical ARM periods are one, three, five, and seven years.

Agent: The licensed real estate salesperson or broker who represents buyers or sellers.

Annual percentage rate (APR): The total costs (interest rate, closing costs, fees, and so on) that are part of a borrower’s loan, expressed as a percentage rate of interest. The total costs are amortized over the term of the loan.

Application fees: Fees that mortgage companies charge buyers at the time of written application for a loan; for example, fees for running credit reports of borrowers, property appraisal fees, and lender-specific fees.

Appointments: Those times or time periods an agent shows properties to clients.

Appraisal: A document of opinion of property value at a specific point in time.

Appraised price (AP): The price the third-party relocation company offers (under most contracts) the seller for his or her property. Generally, the average of two or more independent appraisals.

“As-is”: A contract or offer clause stating that the seller will not repair or correct any problems with the property. Also used in listings and marketing materials.

Assumable mortgage: One in which the buyer agrees to fulfill the obligations of the existing loan agreement that the seller made with the lender. When assuming a mortgage, a buyer becomes personally liable for the payment of principal and interest. The original mortgagor should receive a written release from the liability when the buyer assumes the original mortgage.

Back on market (BOM): When a property or listing is placed back on the market after being removed from the market recently.

Back-up agent: A licensed agent who works with clients when their agent is unavailable.

Balloon mortgage: A type of mortgage that is generally paid over a short period of time, but is amortized over a longer period of time. The borrower typically pays a combination of principal and interest. At the end of the loan term, the entire unpaid balance must be repaid.

Back-up offer: When an offer is accepted contingent on the fall through or voiding of an accepted first offer on a property.

Bill of sale: Transfers title to personal property in a transaction.

Board of REALTORS® (local): An association of REALTORS® in a specific geographic area.

Broker: A state licensed individual who acts as the agent for the seller or buyer.

Broker of record: The person registered with his or her state licensing authority as the managing broker of a specific real estate sales office.

Broker’s market analysis (BMA): The real estate broker’s opinion of the expected final net sale price, determined after acquisition of the property by the third-party company.

Broker’s tour: A preset time and day when real estate sales agents can view listings by multiple brokerages in the market.

Buyer: The purchaser of a property.

Buyer agency: A real estate broker retained by the buyer who has a fiduciary duty to the buyer.

Buyer agent: The agent who shows the buyer’s property, negotiates the contract or offer for the buyer, and works with the buyer to close the transaction.

Carrying costs: Cost incurred to maintain a property (taxes, interest, insurance, utilities, and so on).

Closing: The end of a transaction process where the deed is delivered, documents are signed, and funds are dispersed.

CLUE (Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange): The insurance industry’s national database that assigns individuals a risk score. CLUE also has an electronic file of a properties insurance history. These files are accessible by insurance companies nationally. These files could impact the ability to sell property as they might contain information that a prospective buyer might find objectionable, and in some cases not even insurable.

Commission: The compensation paid to the listing brokerage by the seller for selling the property. A buyer may also be required to pay a commission to his or her agent.

Commission split: The percentage split of commission compen-sation between the real estate sales brokerage and the real estate sales agent or broker.

Competitive Market Analysis (CMA): The analysis used to provide market information to the seller and assist the real estate broker in securing the listing.

Condominium association: An association of all owners in a condominium.

Condominium budget: A financial forecast and report of a condominium association’s expenses and savings.

Condominium by-laws: Rules passed by the condominium association used in administration of the condominium property.

Condominium declarations: A document that legally establishes a condominium.

Condominium right of first refusal: A person or an association that has the first opportunity to purchase condominium real estate when it becomes available or the right to meet any other offer.

Condominium rules and regulation: Rules of a condominium association by which owners agree to abide.

Contingency: A provision in a contract requiring certain acts to be completed before the contract is binding.

Continue to show: When a property is under contract with contingencies, but the seller requests that the property continue to be shown to prospective buyers until contingencies are released.

Contract for deed: A sales contract in which the buyer takes possession of the property but the seller holds title until the loan is paid. Also known as an installment sale contract.

Conventional mortgage: A type of mortgage that has certain limitations placed on it to meet secondary market guidelines. Mortgage companies, banks, and savings and loans underwrite conventional mortgages.

Cooperating commission: A commission offered to the buyer’s agent brokerage for bringing a buyer to the selling brokerage’s listing.

Cooperative (Co-op): Where the shareholders of the corporation are the inhabitants of the building. Each shareholder has the right to lease a specific unit. The difference between a co-op and a condo is in a co-op, one owns shares in a corporation; in a condo one owns the unit fee simple.

Counteroffer: The response to an offer or a bid by the seller or buyer after the original offer or bid.

Credit report: Includes all of the history for a borrower’s credit accounts, outstanding debts, and payment timelines on past or current debts.

Credit score: A score assigned to a borrower’s credit report based on information contained therein.

Curb appeal: The visual impact a property projects from the street.

Days on market: The number of days a property has been on the market.

Decree: A judgment of the court that sets out the agreements and rights of the parties.

Disclosures: Federal, state, county, and local requirements of disclosure that the seller provides and the buyer acknowledges.

Divorce: The legal separation of a husband and wife effected by a court decree that totally dissolves the marriage relationship.

DOM: Days on market.

Down payment: The amount of cash put toward a purchase by the borrower.

Drive-by: When a buyer or seller agent or broker drives by a property listing or potential listing.

Dual agent: A state-licensed individual who represents the seller and the buyer in a single transaction.

Earnest money deposit: The money given to the seller at the time the offer is made as a sign of the buyer’s good faith.

Escrow account for real estate taxes and insurance: An account into which borrowers pay monthly prorations for real estate taxes and property insurance.

Exclusions: Fixtures or personal property that are excluded from the contract or offer to purchase.

Expired (listing): A property listing that has expired per the terms of the listing agreement.

Fax rider: A document that treats facsimile transmission as the same legal effect as the original document.

Feedback: The real estate sales agent and/or his or her client’s reaction to a listing or property. Requested by the listing agent.

Fee simple: A form of property ownership where the owner has the right to use and dispose of property at will.

FHA (Federal Housing Administration) Loan Guarantee: A guarantee by the FHA that a percentage of a loan will be underwritten by a mortgage company or banker.

Fixture: Personal property that has become part of the property through permanent attachment.

Flat fee: A predetermined amount of compensation received or paid for a specific service in a real estate transaction.

For sale by owner (FSBO): A property that is for sale by the owner of the property.

Gift letter: A letter to a lender stating that a gift of cash has been made to the buyer(s) and that the person gifting the cash to the buyer is not expecting the gift to be repaid. The exact wording of the gift letter should be requested of the lender.

Good faith estimate: Under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, within three days of an application submission, lenders are required to provide in writing to potential borrowers a good faith estimate of closing costs.

Gross sale price: The sale price before any concessions.

Hazard insurance: Insurance that covers losses to real estate from damages that might affect its value.

Homeowner’s insurance: Coverage that includes personal liability and theft insurance in addition to hazard insurance.

HUD/RESPA (Housing and Urban Development/Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act): A document and statement that details all of the monies paid out and received at a real estate property closing.

Hybrid adjustable rate: Offers a fixed rate the first 5 years and then adjusts annually for the next 25 years.

IDX (Internet Data Exchange): Allows real estate brokers to advertise each other’s listings posted to listing databases such as the multiple listing service.

Inclusions: Fixtures or personal property that are included in a contract or offer to purchase.

Independent contractor: A real estate sales agent who conducts real estate business through a broker. This agent does not receive salary or benefits from the broker.

Inspection rider: Rider to purchase agreement between third party relocation company and buyer of transferee’s property stating that property is being sold “as is.” All inspection reports conducted by the third party company are disclosed to the buyer and it is the buyer’s duty to do his/her own inspections and tests.

Installment land contract: A contract in which the buyer takes possession of the property while the seller retains the title to the property until the loan is paid.

Interest rate float: The borrower decides to delay locking their interest rate on their loan. They can float their rate in expectation of the rate moving down. At the end of the float period they must lock a rate.

Interest rate lock: When the borrower and lender agree to lock a rate on loan. Can have terms and conditions attached to the lock.

List date: Actual date the property was listed with the current broker.

List price: The price of a property through a listing agreement.

Listing: Brokers written agreement to represent a seller and their property. Agents refer to their inventory of agreements with sellers as listings.

Listing agent: The real estate sales agent that is representing the sellers and their property, through a listing agreement.

Listing agreement: A document that establishes the real estate agent’s agreement with the sellers to represent their property in the market.

Listing appointment: The time when a real estate sales agent meets with potential clients selling a property to secure a listing agreement.

Listing exclusion: A clause included in the listing agreement when the seller (transferee) lists his or her property with a broker.

Loan: An amount of money that is lent to a borrower who agrees to repay the amount plus interest.

Loan application: A document that buyers who are requesting a loan fill out and submit to their lender.

Loan closing costs: The costs a lender charges to close a borrower’s loan. These costs vary from lender to lender and from market to market.

Loan commitment: A written document telling the borrowers that the mortgage company has agreed to lend them a specific amount of money at a specific interest rate for a specific period of time. The loan commitment may also contain conditions upon which the loan commitment is based.

Loan package: The group of mortgage documents that the borrower’s lender sends to the closing or escrow.

Loan processor: An administrative individual who is assigned to check, verify, and assemble all of the documents and the buyer’s funds and the borrower’s loan for closing.

Loan underwriter: One who underwrites a loan for another. Some lenders have investors underwrite a buyer’s loan.

Lockbox: A tool that allows secure storage of property keys on the premises for agent use. A combo uses a rotating dial to gain access with a combination; a Supra® (electronic lockbox or ELB) features a keypad.

Managing broker: A person licensed by the state as a broker who is also the broker of record for a real estate sales office. This person manages the daily operations of a real estate sales office.

Marketing period: The period of time in which the transferee may market his or her property (typically 45, 60, or 90 days), as directed by the third-party company’s contract with the employer.

Mortgage banker: One who lends the bank’s funds to borrowers and brings lenders and borrowers together.

Mortgage broker: A business that or an individual who unites lenders and borrowers and processes mortgage applications.

Mortgage loan servicing company: A company that collects monthly mortgage payments from borrowers.

Multiple listing service (MLS): A service that compiles available properties for sale by member brokers.

Multiple offers: More than one buyers broker present an offer on one property where the offers are negotiated at the same time.

National Association of REALTORS® (NAR): A national association comprised of real estate sales agents.

Net sales price: Gross sales price less concessions to the buyers.

Off market: A property listing that has been removed from the sale inventory in a market. A property can be temporarily or permanently off market.

Offer to purchase: When a buyer proposes certain terms and presents these terms to the seller.

Office tour/caravan: A walking or driving tour by a real estate sales office of listings represented by agents in the office. Usually held on a set day and time.

Parcel identification number (PIN): A taxing authority’s tracking number for a property.

Pending: A real estate contract that has been accepted on a property but the transaction has not closed.

Personal assistant: A real estate sales agent administrative assistant.

Planned unit development (PUD): Mixed-use development that sets aside areas for residential use, commercial use, and public areas such as schools, parks, and so on.

Preapproval: A higher level of buyer/borrower prequalification required by a mortgage lender. Some preapprovals have conditions the borrower must meet.

Prepaid interest: Funds paid by the borrower at closing based on the number of days left in the month of closing.

Prepayment penalty: A fine imposed on the borrower by the lender when the loan is paid off before it comes due.

Prequalification: The mortgage company tells a buyer in advance of the formal mortgage application, how much money the borrower can afford to borrow. Some prequalifications have conditions that the borrower must meet.

Preview appointment: When a buyer’s agent views a property alone to see if it meets his or her buyer’s needs.

Pricing: When the potential seller’s agent goes to the potential listing property to view it for marketing and pricing purposes.

Principal: The amount of money a buyer borrows.

Principal, interest, taxes, and insurance (PITI): The four parts that make up a borrower’s monthly mortgage payment. Private mortgage insurance (PMI): A special insurance paid by a borrower in monthly installments, typically of loans of more than 80 percent of the value of the property.

Professional designation: Additional nonlicensed real estate education completed by a real estate professional.

Professional regulation: A state licensing authority that oversees and disciplines licensees.

Promissory note: A promise-to-pay document used with a contract or an offer to purchase.

R & I: Estimated and actual repair and improvement costs.

Real estate agent: An individual who is licensed by the state and who acts on behalf of his or her client, the buyer or seller. The real estate agent who does not have a broker’s license must work for a licensed broker.

Real estate contract: A binding agreement between buyer and seller. It consists of an offer and an acceptance as well as consideration (i.e., money).

REALTOR®: A registered trademark of the National Association of REALTORS® that can be used only by its members.

Release deed: A written document stating that a seller or buyer has satisfied his or her obligation on a debt. This document is usually recorded.

Relist: Property that was listed with another broker but relisted with a current broker.

Rider: A separate document that is attached to a document in some way. This is done so that an entire document does not need to be rewritten.

Salaried agent: A real estate sales agent or broker who receives all or part of his or her compensation in real estate sales in the form of a salary.

Sale price: The price paid for a listing or property.

Seller (owner): The owner of a property who has signed a listing agreement or a potential listing agreement.

Showing: When a listing is shown to prospective buyers or the buyer’s agent (preview).

Special assessment: A special and additional charge to a unit in a condominium or cooperative. Also a special real estate tax for improvements that benefit a property.

State Association of REALTORS®: An association of REALTORS® in a specific state.

Supra®: An electronic lockbox (ELB) that holds keys to a property. The user must have a Supra keypad to use the lockbox.

Temporarily off market (TOM): A listed property that is taken off the market due to illness, travel, needed repairs, and so on.

Temporary housing: Housing a transferee occupies until permanent housing is selected or becomes available.

Transaction: The real estate process from offer to closing or escrow.

Transaction management fee (TMF): A fee charged by listing brokers to the seller as part of the listing agreement.

Transaction sides: The two sides of a transaction, sellers and buyers. The term used to record the number of transactions in which a real estate sales agent or broker was involved during a specific period.

24-hour notice: Allowed by law, tenants must be informed of showing 24 hours before you arrive.

Under contract: A property that has an accepted real estate contract between seller and buyer.

VA (Veterans Administration) Loan Guarantee: A guarantee on a mortgage amount backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Virtual tour: An Internet web/cd-rom-based video presentation of a property.

VOW’s (Virtual Office web sites): An Internet based real estate brokerage business model that works with real estate consumers in same way as a brick and mortar real estate brokerage.

W-2: The Internal Revenue form issued by employer to employee to reflect compensation and deductions to compensation.

W-9: The Internal Revenue form requesting taxpayer identification number and certification.

Walk-through: A showing before closing or escrow that permits the buyers one final tour of the property they are purchasing.

Will: A document by which a person disposes of his or her property after death.

Top 7 Mistakes Rookie Real Estate Agents Make

Every time I talk to someone about my business and career, it always comes up that “they’ve thought about getting into real estate” or know someone who has. With so many people thinking about getting into real estate, and getting into real estate – why aren’t there more successful Realtors in the world? Well, there’s only so much business to go around, so there can only be so many Real Estate Agents in the world. I feel, however, that the inherent nature of the business, and how different it is from traditional careers, makes it difficult for the average person to successfully make the transition into the Real Estate Business. As a Broker, I see many new agents make their way into my office – for an interview, and sometimes to begin their careers. New Real Estate Agents bring a lot of great qualities to the table – lots of energy and ambition – but they also make a lot of common mistakes. Here are the 7 top mistakes rookie Real Estate Agents Make.

1) No Business Plan or Business Strategy

So many new agents put all their emphasis on which Real Estate Brokerage they will join when their shiny new license comes in the mail. Why? Because most new Real Estate Agents have never been in business for themselves – they’ve only worked as employees. They, mistakenly, believe that getting into the Real Estate business is “getting a new job.” What they’re missing is that they’re about to go into business for themselves. If you’ve ever opened the doors to ANY business, you know that one of the key ingredients is your business plan. Your business plan helps you define where you’re going, how you’re getting there, and what it’s going to take for you to make your real estate business a success. Here are the essentials of any good business plan:

A) Goals – What do you want? Make them clear, concise, measurable, and achievable.

B) Services You Provide – you don’t want to be the “jack of all trades & master of none” – choose residential or commercial, buyers/sellers/renters, and what area(s) you want to specialize in. New residential real estate agents tend to have the most success with buyers/renters and then move on to listing homes after they’ve completed a few transactions.

C) Market – who are you marketing yourself to?

D) Budget – consider yourself “new real estate agent, inc.” and write down EVERY expense that you have – gas, groceries, cell phone, etc… Then write down the new expenses you’re taking on – board dues, increased gas, increased cell usage, marketing (very important), etc…

E) Funding – how are you going to pay for your budget w/ no income for the first (at least) 60 days? With the goals you’ve set for yourself, when will you break even?

F) Marketing Plan – how are you going to get the word out about your services? The MOST effective way to market yourself is to your own sphere of influence (people you know). Make sure you do so effectively and systematically.

2) Not Using the Best Possible Closing Team

They say the greatest businesspeople surround themselves with people that are smarter than themselves. It takes a pretty big team to close a transaction – Buyer’s Agent, Listing Agent, Lender, Insurance Agent, Title Officer, Inspector, Appraiser, and sometimes more! As a Real Estate Agent, you are in the position to refer your client to whoever you choose, and you should make sure that anyone you refer in will be an asset to the transaction, not someone who will bring you more headache. And the closing team you refer in, or “put your name to,” are there to make you shine! When they perform well, you get to take part of the credit because you referred them into the transaction.

The deadliest duo out there is the New Real Estate Agent & New Mortgage Broker. They get together and decide that, through their combined marketing efforts, they can take over the world! They’re both focusing on the right part of their business – marketing – but they’re doing each other no favors by choosing to give each other business. If you refer in a bad insurance agent, it might cause a minor hiccup in the transaction – you make a simple phone call and a new agent can bind the property in less than an hour. However, because it typically takes at least two weeks to close a loan, if you use an inexperienced lender, the result can be disastrous! You may find yourself in a position of “begging for a contract extension,” or worse, being denied a contract extension.

A good closing team will typically know more than their role in the transaction. Due to this, you can turn to them with questions, and they will step in (quietly) when they see a potential mistake – because they want to help you, and in return receive more of your business. Using good, experienced players for your closing team will help you infinitely in conducting business worthy of MORE business…and best of all, it’s free!

3) Not Arming Themselves with the Necessary Tools

Getting started as a Real Estate Agent is expensive. In Texas, the license alone is an investment that will cost between $700 and $900 (not taking into account the amount of time you’ll invest.) However, you’ll run into even more expenses when you go to arm yourself with the necessary tools of the trade. And don’t fool yourself – they are necessary – because your competitors are definitely using every tool to help THEM.

A) MLS Access is probably the most expensive necessity you’re going to run into. Joining your local (and state & national, by default) Board of Realtors will allow you to pay for MLS access, and in Austin, Texas, will run around $1000. However, don’t skimp in this area. Getting MLS access is one of the most important things you can do. It’s what differentiates us from your average salesman – we don’t sell homes, we present any of the homes that we have available. With MLS Access, you will have 99% of the homes for sale in your area available to present to your clients.

B) Mobile Phone w/ a Beefy Plan – These days, everyone has a cell phone. But not everyone has a plan that will facilitate the level of use that Real Estate Agents need. Plan on getting at least 2000 minutes per month. You want, and need, to be available to your clients 24/7 – not just nights and weekends.

C) Computer (Preferably a Laptop) – There’s no way around it, you have to have a computer & be savvy enough to use email. You would be wise to invest in some business management software, as well. If you’d like to save some money (and who wouldn’t) then you can get the client & email management software Thunderbird from http://www.mozilla.com and you can get a free office suite from http://www.openoffice.org The only downside to these programs is that they do not sync with your PDA or Smart Phone. A Laptop is a BIG plus because you’ll be able to work from home or on the go. New Real Estate Agents are often surprised by just how much time they spend AWAY from the office, and a laptop helps you stay on top of your work while on the go.

D) Real Estate Friendly Car – You don’t have to have a Lexus, but your Miata won’t do the trick. Make sure that you have a 4 door car or SUV that is comfortable and presentable. Keep it clean, and for God’s sake, don’t smoke in it! You’re going to spend a LOT of time in your car, and put a lot of miles on it, so if it’s fuel efficient, it’s a BIG plus. If you’re driving a sporty convertible, or still have your KILLER Jeep from college, it’s time to trade it in.

4) Lack of Proper Funding

If you’ve taken the time to create your business plan, than you should definitely have your budget, but I can’t stress enough the importance of having and following your budget. However, the budget alone doesn’t address the important aspect of funding. 90% of all small businesses fail due to lack of funding. Typically, new agents will want to have 3 months of reserves in savings before taking the leap into full time agency. However, money in the bank isn’t the only way to answer the question of funding. Maybe your partner can support you for a certain period of time. You can keep a part-time job that won’t interfere with your business as a Real Estate Agent. Many successful waiters make the transition to successful real estate agents with no money in the bank. When you start your new business, don’t expect to earn any income for, at the least, 60 days.

5) Refusing to Spend Money on Marketing

Most new Real Estate Agents don’t realize that the hardest part of the business is finding the business. Furthermore, they’ve just shelled out around $2000 for their license and board dues, so the LAST thing they want to do is to spend more money! Again, the problem lies in the lack of understanding that you’ve just jumped into the Real Estate Business, you haven’t taken a new job. And any good businessperson will tell you that how much business you GET is directly correlative to how much you SPEND on marketing. If you choose the right brokerage, then you will get some good inbound leads. However, don’t neglect a good, personal marketing campaign from the beginning to get your own name out as the Real Estate Agent to go to.

6) Not Focusing Their Marketing Efforts in the Most Effective Areas

One reason why many new Real Estate Agents who do begin spending money on personal marketing stop is because they spend it in the wrong place. The easiest place, and where conventional Real Estate tells you to spend your money, is in conventional print marketing – the newspaper, real estate magazines, etc… This is the most visible place to see real estate advertising, it’s where large offices spend a good part of their money, and so many new agents mistakenly spend their money here. This becomes very frustrating to new agents because of its low return. Large brokerages can afford to spend their money here because they’re filling two needs – they’re marketing their own properties for sale while creating new buyer traffic for their buyer’s agents. New Real Estate Agents should look to their own sphere of influence and referral marketing to see the most effective return on their investment. An agent can spend as little as $100/month marketing to their family, friends, and colleagues and see an incredible return. There are many great referral systems around that all focus on the same premise – that if you consistently market yourself to your sphere of influence as the Real Estate Agent to go to – then you will get more business. The key is to pick a system and to follow that system. You will see results.

7) Choosing the Wrong Brokerage for the Wrong Reasons

New Real Estate Agents choose their new broker for a variety of reasons – they have a good reputation, they offer the most competitive split, the office is close to their house, etc… While these alone aren’t bad reasons to choose a broker, they aren’t going to do a lot to help you in your success. The #1 reason to choose a broker, and the question to ask is, “What do you offer your new agents.” If the answer is, “The most competitive split in town” you should definitely keep looking. Remember, 100% of $0 is still $0. If you’re leaning towards the largest broker in town, who has a great reputation, remember this: You’re starting a BUSINESS not a JOB. While it might be fantastic to brag to your friends about landing a job at a prestigious company, it’s no accomplishment to hang your license on the same wall in the same office as other successful agents.

Your #1 concern when interviewing new Brokers is what they offer you as a new agent. Do they have incoming leads? What does their training program consist of? What’s their retention level? What’s their average sales price? Do they encourage their agents to promote themselves? A Broker’s purpose is to help new agents start successful careers and to help established Agents progress their careers to the next level. As a new agent, concern yourself less with commission split or agency name and more with specific programs and agency standards.

A new career in Real Estate is very exciting. Starting a Real Estate business provides the new Agent with opportunities for limitless potential and freedom. New Agents have a notoriously high failure rate, however, so a new Real Estate career can also be a very scary prospect. However, if you avoid the 7 Top Mistakes Rookie Real Estate Agents Make, then you’ll be far ahead of the competition!

The Real Estate Sector

Boom & Bust of Indian Real Estate Sector

Engulfing the period of stagnation, the evolution of Indian real estate sector has been phenomenal, impelled by, growing economy, conducive demographics and liberalized foreign direct investment regime. However, now this unceasing phenomenon of real estate sector has started to exhibit the signs of contraction.

What can be the reasons of such a trend in this sector and what future course it will take? This article tries to find answers to these questions…

Overview of Indian real estate sector

Since 2004-05 Indian reality sector has tremendous growth. Registering a growth rate of, 35 per cent the realty sector is estimated to be worth US$ 15 billion and anticipated to grow at the rate of 30 per cent annually over the next decade, attracting foreign investments worth US$ 30 billion, with a number of IT parks and residential townships being constructed across-India.

The term real estate covers residential housing, commercial offices and trading spaces such as theaters, hotels and restaurants, retail outlets, industrial buildings such as factories and government buildings. Real estate involves purchase sale and development of land, residential and non-residential buildings. The activities of real estate sector embrace the hosing and construction sector also.

The sector accounts for major source of employment generation in the country, being the second largest employer, next to agriculture. The sector has backward and forward linkages with about 250 ancilary industries such as cement, brick,steel, building material etc.

Therefore a unit increase in expenditure of this sector have multiplier effect and capacity to generate income as high as five times.

All-round emergence

In real estate sector major component comprises of housing which accounts for 80% and is growing at the rate of 35%. Remainder consist of commercial segments office, shopping malls, hotels and hospitals.

o Housing units: With the Indian economy surging at the rate of 9 % accompanied by rising incomes levels of middle class, growing nuclear families, low interest rates, modern approach towards homeownership and change in the attitude of young working class in terms of from save and buy to buy and repay having contributed towards soaring housing demand.

Earlier cost of houses used to be in multiple of nearly 20 times the annual income of the buyers, whereas today multiple is less than 4.5 times.

According to 11th five year plan, the housing shortage on 2007 was 24.71 million and total requirement of housing during (2007-2012) will be 26.53 million. The total fund requirement in the urban housing sector for 11th five year plan is estimated to be Rs 361318 crores.
The summary of investment requirements for XI plan is indicated in following table

SCENARIO Investment requirement
Housing shortage at the beginning of the XI plan period 147195.0
New additions to the housing stock during the XI plan period including the additional housing shortage during the plan period 214123.1
Total housing requirement for the plan period 361318.1

o Office premises: rapid growth of Indian economy, simultaneously also have deluging effect on the demand of commercial property to help to meet the needs of business. Growth in commercial office space requirement is led by the burgeoning outsourcing and information technology (IT) industry and organised retail. For example, IT and ITES alone is estimated to require 150 million sqft across urban India by 2010. Similarly, the organised retail industry is likely to require an additional 220 million sqft by 2010.

o Shopping malls: over the past ten years urbanization has upsurge at the CAGR of 2%. With the growth of service sector which has not only pushed up the disposable incomes of urban population but has also become more brand conscious. If we go by numbers Indian retail industry is estimated to be about US $ 350 bn and forecast to be double by 2015.

Thus rosining income levels and changing perception towards branded goods will lead to higher demand for shopping mall space, encompassing strong growth prospects in mall development activities.

o Multiplexes: another growth driver for real-estate sector is growing demand for multiplexes. The higher growth can be witnessed due to following factors:

1. Multiplexes comprises of 250-400 seats per screen as against 800-1000 seats in a single screen theater, which give multiplex owners additional advantage, enabling them to optimize capacity utilization.

2. Apart from these non-ticket revenues like food and beverages and the leasing of excess space to retailer provides excess revenues to theatre developers.

o Hotels/Resorts: as already mentioned above that rising major boom in real estate sector is due to rising incomes of middle class. Therefore with increase in income propensity to spend part of their income on tours and travels is also going up, which in turn leads to higher demand for hotels and resorts across the country. Apart from this India is also emerging as major destination for global tourism in India which is pushing up the demand hotels/resorts.
Path set by the government

The sector gained momentum after going through a decade of stagnation due to initiatives taken by Indian government. The government has introduced many progressive reform measures to unveil the potential of the sector and also to meet increasing demand levels.

o 100% FDI permitted in all reality projects through automatic route.
o In case of integrated townships, the minimum area to be developed has been brought down to 25 acres from 100 acres.
o Urban land ceiling and regulation act has been abolished by large number of states.
o Legislation of special economic zones act.
o Full repatriation of original investment after 3 years.
o 51% FDI allowed in single brand retail outlets and 100 % in cash and carry through the automatic route.

There fore all the above factors can be attributed towards such a phenomenal growth of this sector. With significant growing and investment opportunities emerging in this industry, Indian reality sector turned out to be a potential goldmine for many international investors. Currently, foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows into the sector are estimated to be between US$ 5 billion and US$ 5.50 billion.

Top most real estate investors in the foray

Investors profile

The two most active segments are high networth individuals and financial institutions. Both these segments are particularly active in commercial real estate. While financial institutions like HDFC and ICICI show high preference for commercial investment,the high net worth individuals show interest in investing in residential as well as commercial properties.

Apart from these, the third most important category is NRI ( non-resident Indians). They mostly invest in residential properties than commercial properties. Emotional attachment to native land could be reasons for their investment. And moreover the necessary documentation and formalities for purchasing immovable properties except agricultural and plantation properties are quite simple. Therefore NRI’s are showing greater interest for investing in Indian reality sector.

MAJOR INVESTORS

o Emmar properties, of Dubai one of the largest listed real estate developer in the world has tied up with Delhi based MGF developments to for largest FDI investment in Indian reality sector for mall and other facilities in Gurgaon.

o Dlf India’s leading real estate developer and UK ‘s famous Laing O Rourke (LOR) has joined hands for participation in airport modernization and infrastructure projects.

o A huge investment was made by Vancouver based Royal Indian raj international cooperation in a single real estate project named royal garden city in Bangalore over period of 10 years. The retail value of project was estimated to be around $ 8.9 billion.

o Indiabulls real estate development has entered into agreement with dev property development, a company incorporated in Isle of Man, whereby dev got subscription to new shares and also minority shareholding the company. But in recent developments indiabulls have acquired entire stake in dev property development in a 138 million-pound sterling (10.9 billion ruppees) share-swap deal.

o Apart from this real estate developments opens up opportunity for associated fields like home loans and insurance. A number of global have shown interest in this sector. This include companies like Cesma International from Singapore, American International Group Inc (AIG), High Point Rendel of the UK, Colony Capital and Brack Capital of the US, and Lee Kim Tah Holdings to name a few.
Following are names of some of the companies who have invested in India

International developer Country Investment
(US $ million)
Emmar properties Dubai 500
Ascendas Singapore 350
Salem & ciputra group Indonesia 350
GE commercial finance U.S 63
Tishman Speyer Properties U.S 300

Simultaneously many Indian retailers are entering into international markets through significant investments in foreign markets.

o Embassy group has signed a deal with Serbian government to construct US $ 600 million IT park in Serbia.
o Parsvanath developers is doing a project in Al – Hasan group in Oman
o Puravankara developers are associated with project in Srilanka- a high end residential complex, comprising 100 villas.
o Ansals API tied up with Malaysia’s UEM group to form a joint venture company, Ansal-API UEM contracts pvt ltd, which plans to bid for government contracts in Malaysia.
o Kolkata’s south city project is working on two projects in Dubai.
On the eve of liberalization as India opens up market to foreign players there is tend to be competitive edge to give quality based performance for costumer satisfaction which will consequently bring in quality technology and transparency in the sector and ultimate winners are buyers of this situation.

However this never ending growth phase of reality sector has been hard hit by the global scenario from the beginning of 2008. Analyst say situation will prevail in near future, and latest buzz for the sector comes as a “slowdown”.

Sliding phase of the reality sector

In this present scenario of global slowdown, where stock markets are plunging, interest rates and prices are mounting, the aftermath of this can now also be felt on Indian real estate sector. Overall slowdown in demand can be witnessed all across India which is causing trouble for the major industry players. Correcting property prices and rentals are eroding away the market capitalization of many listed companies like dlf and unitech.

Fundaments behind slowdown…

Propetry prices move because of the basic principle of demand and supply
o when demand is high and supply low prices will go up
o When demand is low and supply high prices will go down.

For example let’s assume that somebody has bought a property for Rs X and he is trying to sell the property (say after a year), there can be three options, assumption being that the owner is in need of money and cannot wait for more than 3 months to sell the property.

1. When the property prices are gliding everywhere : now owner will try to add as much premium to the property as possible, in order to book profits, therefore he will wait for 3 months and sell off in last month at the highest bid. Where he ill get total of Rs X + Rs Y.
2. When property prices have stabilized: here owner will not be able to sell at premium and book profits due to market stabilization & since he don’t want to sell at a loss, he will try to get same amount he brought the property for. Where he’ll get total of Rs X = Rs Y
3. when property prices are going down : owner will try to sell the property at least profit or least cost. Therefore he ill get Rs X-RsY.

Reality deals in major cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad have shown enormous downfall from October 2007 – March 2008. The downfall had been cushioned by fall in stock markets as it put a stop for wealth creation, which leads to shortage of capital among investors to invest in real estate activities. Apart from this in order to offset their share losses many investors have no choice, but sell their real estate properties.

Other factors which have contributed to this slowdown are raising interest rates leading to higher costs. Due to this almost all the developers are facing serious liquidity crunch and facing difficulties in completing their ongoing projects. Situation seems to be so disastrous that most of the companies have reported 50-70% cash shortfall. The grade A developers which are facing cash crunch include DLF,MGF, Emmar, Shobha developers, Unitech, Omaxe, Parsvnath Developers, Hiranandani Group, Ansal API, BPTP Developers and TDI Group. As a outcome of this liquidity crunch many developers have started slowing down or even stopped construction of projects which are either in their initial stages of development or which would not effect their bottom line in near future.

Also with increasing input costs of steel iron and building material it has become it has become inviable for builders to construct properties at agreed prices. As a result there may be delays in completion of the project leading finical constraints.

At the same time IT industry which accounts for 70% of the total commercial is facing a slowdown. Many residential buyers are waiting for price correction before buying any property, which can effect development plans of the builder.

Aftermath of reality shock to other sectors

Cement industry hit by reality slowdown

The turbulence in the real estate sectors is passing on pains in cement industry also. It is being projected that growth rate of cement industry will drop down to 10% in current fiscal. The reasons behind such a contingency are higher input costs, low market valuations and scaled up capacity which are in turn leading to reduced demand in the industry. High inflation and mounting home loan rates have slowed down the growth flight of real estate sector which accounts for 60% of the total cement demand. The major expansion plans announced by major industries will further add to their misery as low market demand will significantly reduced their capacity utilization.
Setting up new facilities will impart additional capacities of 34 million tone and 45 million tone respectively in 2008-09 & 2009-10. This is likely to bring down capacity utilization in the industry down from current 101% to 82%. Even as it loses power to dictate prices, increased cost of power, fuel and freight will add pressure on input costs.

Ambuja Cements too is trading at a higher discount than previous down cycle, suggesting bottom valuations. However, replacement valuations for Madras Cements and India Cements indicate scope for further downslide when compared to their previous down cycle valuations.
All this has added to stagnation of the cement industry.

Dying reality advertising

The heat of reality ebb is also being felt by the advertising industry. It is being estimated that all major developers such as DLF, omaxe, ansals & parsvnath have decided to cut down on their advertising budget by around 5%. The advertising industry in India is estimated to be around 10,000 crore. This trend can be witnessed due to weakening spirits of potential buyers and real estate companies call it a reality check on their advertising budgets. A report from Adex India, a division of TAM Media Research, shows that the share of real estate advertisements in print media saw a drop of 2 percent during 2007 compared to 2006. According to Adex, the share of real estate advertisement in overall print and TV advertising last year was 4 percent and 1 percent, respectively. It’s a known fact that infrastructure and real estate companies are responsible for advertising industry maintaing double didgit growth rate. Therefore its understood that a recent slowdown in iindian reality sector has made things worse for advertising industry. The Adex report indicates that the top 10 advertisers shared an aggregate of 16 percent of overall ad volumes of real estate advertising in print during 2007. The list include names such as DLF Group, Parsvnath, Sahara, HDIL and Omaxe group. However, the real estate had maximum share in South India publications followed by North and West publications with 32% and 26% share, respectively, during 2007.

According to many advertising agencies consultants, this phenomenon is taking a toll as all real estate companies want a national foot print and also these companies are turning into professionals. Therefore they are setting standards when it comes to advertising to sales ratio.

Falling stock markets knock down reality stocks

Reality stocks have been hard hit by uncertainties prevailing in the stock market. The BSE reality index is the worst performer having shed 51% of its 52-week peak reached in reality. The BSE benchmark index has shed 24% since January. The country’s largest real estate firm DLF scrip lost 54% while unitech lost 64% from its peak. The scrips of Delhi bases parsvnath and omaxe have lost 68% each since January.

The sector is facing a major downfall in sales volume in most markets of the country. The speculators have exit the market and Mumbai and NCR, the biggest real estate markets in markets are cladding subdued sales. In Gurgaon and Noida, which had seen prices almost treble in four years, sales are down 70%, leading to a price correction of 10-20%.
Lets us have a look how major cities are affected by reality downfall.

Top 4 metros taking the lead – in slowdown

Delhi &NCR

While bears are ruling the stock market, the real estate sector in Delhi & NCR region has started facing departure of speculative investors from the market. According to these developers based in region the selling of flats has become very complicated at the launch stage due to lack of interest from the speculators. Developers attribute this to stability in prices against the past where prices were up surging on monthly basis. The scenario has changed so much in the present year that developers are now facing difficulty in booking flats which may delay their projects and reduce their pricing power for instance a year ago, if 100 flats were being sold in month at launch stage now it has come down 30-40 per month. Till mid 2007 speculators made quick money by booking multiple flats at launch of the project and exiting within few weeks or months. But now due to the stabilization of the property prices little scope is left for speculators to make money in short term. Therefore outcome is their retreat from the sector.

Mumbai

Mumbai real estate market, which witnessed huge increase in prices in recent years, which made the city to enter in the league of world’s most expensive cities, is now feeling the heat of slowdown. Property sales that have been growing at a clank of around 20% every year have been plumped by 17% in 2007-08.

Though slowdown news of property market in country’s financial capital has been much talked about, but it was first time that figures proved the extent of slowdown. Information about residential and commercial property sales from the stamp duty registration office show almost 12,000 fewer transactions during the last financial year compared to the year before. From April 2007 to March 2008, 62,595 flats were purchased in Mumbai as against 74,555 in 2006-07.
According to reality analyst sales volume can die out further in south as developers persist on holding to their steep prices and buyers anticipate a further fall with current rates beyond reach. They further add that market is on a corrective mode and downward trend is anticipated for another 12 months.

Between 1992-96, the market ran up the same way it did during 2003-07. Post-’96, the volumes dropped by 50%. This time again it is expected to drop substantially though not so steeply. The demand is now extremely sluggish and customers do not want to stick out their necks and transact at prevailing rates.Chennai in past few years we witnessed reality index gaining huge heights on BSE and it also impact could be felt allover India. Amongst them Chennai was no exception. With IT boom in past few years and pumping of money by NRI’s have led to prices touching skies. Chennai also witnessed a huge boom property prices over the last few years. However in past few months it has been facing slowdown in growth rate.

Following factors can be attributed to this:
o This is one of the common factor prevailing all over India- rise in home loan interest rates, which has made it extremely difficult for a normal salaried person to be able to afford a house.
o Depreciation of US dollar, which means NRI’s who were earlier pumping money into the real estate are now able to get less number of rupees per dollar they earn in US. Therefore many of them have altered their plans for buying house in India.
o The Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) has imposed stricter norms for apartment construction and penalties for violations are more severe than before.
o Failure of the legal system of chennai to prevent intrusion, forged documents and illegal construction has added to the problem as many NRI’S are hesitating to buy plots in chennai.
o Apart from this tsunami of 2004 has shaken the confidence of many investors to invest in real estate.

However many analyst are quite bullish about this region. Especially in areas like old mahabalipuram, south Chennai etc because of numerous IT/ITES/ electronics/automobile companies are expected to set up their centers in these areas. Once these projects are complete and companies begin operations their, many people would like to live near to such areas and outcome will be boom in residential sector.

Bangalore

As discussed for above cities Bangalore is also dwindling between the similar scenarios. Bangalore seems to be in midst of low demand and supply. This trend is due to myopic developers, due to sudden growth in Bangalore in last few years, lot of builders have caught the opportunity of building residential houses thinking their will be lot of employment, increase in salaries and hence demand for housing. Past few years have been jovial for Bangalore as IT industry was doing well and banking and retail sectors were expanding.

However with this sudden economic slowdown, due to which Indian stocks markets are trembling, interest rates are high, jobs and recruitment put on freeze have led to cessation of investment in local property markets.

According to the developers real-estate industry of Bangalore has experienced a drop of about 15- 20% in transaction volumes. Adding to it grade A developers have faced a dropdown of 50% on monthly levels of booking compared to what they enjoyed in December 2007.

Future outlook

The real estate explosion in Indian real estate is due to by the burgeoning IT and BPO industries. The underlying reason for all these moves is that the Indian real estate is tremendously attractive, because of basic demographics and a supply shortage. Truly Indian real estate is having a dream run for last five years.

However in the current scenario Indian real estate market is going through a phase of correction in prices and there are exaggerated possibilities that these increased prices are likely to come down.
In this scenario hat will be the future course of this sector?

Many analyst are of view that tightening of India’s monetary policy, falling demand and growing liquidity concerns could have negative impact on profiles of real estate companies. Slowing down would also aid in the process of exit of some of the weaker entities from the market and increasing the strength of some of the established developers. A prolonged slowdown could also reduce the appetite of private equity.

Its also been projected that large development plans and aggressive land purchases have led to a considerable increase in the financial leverage (debt/EBITDA) of most developers, with the smaller players now being exposed to liquidity pressures for project execution as well as a general slowdown in property sales. Property developers hit by falling sales and liquidity issues would need to reduce list prices to enhance demand, but many still seem to be holding on to the asking price – which, would delay the process of recovering demand and increase the risk of liquidity pressures.
It was being witnessed that before the slowdown phase the projects were being sold without any hook at an extravagant rate. But at present negative impact is highly visible as lot of high end projects are still lying unsold. In such a scenario, there may be blessing in disguise as high profile speculators will be out making way for the actual users.

But here also sector faces trouble as correction in prices has been accompanied by increase in home loan rates by the banks which have led to erosion of purchasing power of middle and upper middle class majority of whom are covered in the category of end users or actual users.
Therefore for future of real estate sector analyst call for a wait and watch method to grab the best opportunity with the hope of reduction in loan rates.