Sunday, 8 April 2012

Green homes buck real estate sloth, banks offer rate cuts

Green homes are defying the slump in real estate market. Banks, buoyed by this ‘slow but steady’ demand, are mulling higher loan rate cuts for an ‘ecological cause’.

Buildings are categorised green if they use recycled material and locally available resources, harvest rainwater, promote renewable energy, have sewage treatment plants and are built in a manner maximising natural light play thereby reducing energy expenses by up to 30%.

“The real estate market is undergoing a sloth phase owing to rising prices and higher home loan interest rates. But niche customers seeking nature-friendly ambience within city limits have kept our green projects going comfortably,” Kolkata-based Infinity Group chairman Ravindra Chamaria said on Sunday.

Chamaria was in Guwahati to promote the Rs 100crore Infinity Heights, the first green residential resort in eastern India offering 145 flats atop a hillock. The group had earlier undertaken a green housing complex with a pre-certified gold rating from Indian Green Building Council. The group’s Kolkata Infinity Benchmark is the world’s seventh platinum rated green building certified by the United States Green Building Council.

According to Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority, green buildings were desirable. “But they come for a price exclusive of the registration fee,” a senior officer said.

Guwahati has the highest registration fee – 16.5% – for commercial flats in India. The Assam Real Estate and Infrastructure Developers’ Association is fighting this ‘criminal imposition’.

Registration issue aside, investing in green buildings is worth it, said Infinity Group vice-president RK Poddar. “The initial investment balances out when one keep saving 30% on montly energy bills, 30-40% on water bills and breathing better indoor air quality. Besides, banks are coming out with higher rate cuts for such buildings,” he added.

“We are the only bank in the country offering 0.25% concession in interest rate and waiver of processing fees to customers who go for green projects. The concession could be more in the days to come,” said a State Bank of India officer.

Private banks too are catching on, drawing up plans to offer green home loan rate concessions between 0.50% and 1%.


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