Real Estate Tips for NRIs

Buying Property in India

Victory Valley, Sector 67 - Gurgaon

You have worked hard, saved up, and are now looking for a good investment opportunity. Maybe your goal is to move back home to India to be with your family within a few years. Maybe you have considered the high return on investment potential as India comes to the forefront of the world’s economy. Whatever your reason, there are many considerations to be made before you take the plunge to purchase real estate in India. Many of us have heard the horror stories of people who have lost money from fraudulent developers, inexperienced brokers, and projects that have been delayed for over 6 years with no end in sight. We have also heard stories of great success: a plot of land that has appreciated 96x over 20 years; a new apartment purchase that was sold for 40% over the initial purchase price only 6 month before. How do you ensure that you become one of the success stories?

Who can buy property in India?
Investment Options
Choosing a Property
Buying Process
Repatriation of Funds
About IREO
Real Estate Facts for NRIs

Who can buy property in India?

Non-Resident Indians and People of Indian Origin are allowed to purchase non-agriculture land in India with no restrictions. A Non-Resident Indian (NRI) is an Indian citizen who is abroad for business or another circumstance for an indefinite period of time. A Person of Indian Origin (PIO), is eligible to buy property if a) he/she at any time held an Indian passport; b) he/she or either of his/her parents or  grandparents was in Indian citizen; c) he/she is married to an Indian citizen or a PIO. For the purpose of simplicity, NRIs refer to both for the remainder of this article.

Back to top

Investment Options

Depending on risk appetite, one would put money in either long or short term avenues.  In North America, equities are volatile. The average Bank of America high yield CD is currently 0.7%, and the real estate market suffered a decline of almost 11% in 2009 alone. In India, The State Bank of India is giving a 3.5% interest rate annually to NRI accounts. Conversely, real estate in the National Capital Region increased 54% in first quarter 2010 alone.

"In India, The Sutate Bank of India is giving a 3.5% interest rate annually to NRI accounts. Conversely, real estate in the National Capital Region increased 54% in first quarter 2010 alone."

Picture taken from here

Back to top

Choosing a Property

First, you should determine the purpose of this purchase.  Do you eventually want to live there? Is this for a parent? Is this strictly an investment? Your answer will affect where and with which developer your purchase will be made.

Secondly, determine a budget. New construction properties are an excellent investment or modern, end use property, but there is more than just base sale price to consider. Reputable developers will be forthcoming with each charge associated with the purchase, including preferential location charge (PLC), external development charge (EDC), infrastructure development charge (IDC), parking, club membership fees, maintenance charges, etc.  Additionally, with any property, considerations should be taken account on charges upon possession: stamp duty, registration charges, legal fees, brokerage fees (if applicable), yearly taxes and more.

IREO Waterfront in Ludhiana, Punjab

Next, focus on a city or region. For example, if you want to be close to Delhi, you have the choice of many new developments in Gurgaon and Noida. Investigate current and future infrastructure in the city of your choice, including connectivity to national highways, airports, and public transportation. One critical factor to consider is the job growth rate and employment opportunities when determining future rental income and resale value. Also, examine convenience factors and quality of life, including access to shopping and greenery.  These factors have all generally resulting in appreciation of home value.

Additionally, when choosing a new construction property, it is crucial to research builder reputation, including ease of transaction, on-time delivery, compliance with the buyers agreement, quality of construction, and delivery of amenities promised. Some insight to the builder’s financial status is if banks have approved home loans to be given to buyers of the project. Based on your budget, look for the development that has the highest quality and offers modern amenities, such as clubhouse and pool. The asking price of the home should commensurate with existing marketing value of comparative properties.

Back to top

Buying Process

One little known fact is that you can buy property in India without ever leaving the US.  You are able to appoint power of attorney to someone in India to sign the papers at the time of property possession and registration.

The booking amount for property is typically 10% of the base sale price, which can be made via wire transfer or INR check from established NRE/NRO accounts maintained with banks in India. Some developers, including IREO, give the option to pay in USD check, eliminating an additional step for many NRI buyers.

Developers typically offer two payment plans. In a down-payment plan, the buyer pays 85% of the total sale price within 30-60 days of booking, and the remaining 5% is paid at closing. The benefit to this option is that a substantial discount is offered as an incentive to pre-pay. With a construction linked plan, payments are made in installments based on stages of construction. Over the course of about three years, installments are made approximately every 2-3 months. The advantage to this method is that capital is not blocked due to delays in construction.

Another avenue is financing through a home loans from an Indian bank including Citi, State Bank of India, ICICI, Kotak, HDFC and more.  On average, approval takes the same amount of time as it would obtaining a US-based mortgage, as there is an established credit history system in place in the States. Generally, the borrower meets 30% of the cost of the property, and the term amount does not exceed 15 years. Currently, first year rates can be as low as 8%, but can rise to 9.75% or higher in subsequent years.

You do not need to have a PIO/OCI card at the time of purchase. You must, however, establish your NRI status. The cards are needed only at the time of sale and to repatriate funds (more on that in the next section).

NRIs can acquire or dispose of properties up to two houses by way of gift from or to a relative who may be an Indian citizen or a person of Indian origin whether resident in India or not, provided gift tax has been paid.

Back to top

Repatriation of Funds

The final consideration when purchasing a property in India while abroad is the repatriation of funds from rental income and eventual sale of the property. NRIs are currently allowed to repatriate up to $1million per person each year. If you do not have a PIO/ICO card, one can be obtained from the Indian Embassy in approximately 7 days. At the time of sale, capital gain taxes will be applicable, and are considered long-term after 36 months of ownership, resulting in a significant tax break. If tax on capital gain is paid to India, the income is not subject to tax in the United States with proof of payment. Rental income must be credited to an NRO account, maintained by an Indian Bank. HSBC and Citi have NRI divisions in the US that can assist with options for these accounts.

One key factor is to access if the property developer has a property management arm to assist after possession. While you are sitting in the US, the property management company can manage security, maintenance, rental agreements to quality tenants, and the resale of the home.

Back to top

About IREO

IREO is a leading property developer in India and the largest foreign investor in the sector. Since 2004, IREO has committed approximately $2 billion of capital to 14 announced projects across India in prime locations within the Delhi NCR, Punjab, Chennai, Pune, the Goa region, and Coimbatore. IREO has a blue chip set of global investors and seven offices in India. IREO’s team consists of internationally experienced and accomplished US, Indian and expatriate professionals from diverse backgrounds to lead initiatives to deliver the best in class products and services to customers.


Victory Valley, Sector - 67, Gurgaon

Back to top

Real Estate Facts for NRIs

  1. NRIs and People of Indian Origin can buy property in India while living abroad.
  2. You can give power of attorney to a person in India to handle affairs, allowing you to purchase property in India without stepping out of the US.
  3. When choosing a location, consider connectivity to major highways, airports, and public transportation.
  4. Property in India can be purchased in INR as well as USA checks.
  5. Home loans are very easily obtainable. They are now offered by most major banks in India and are available to NRIs for buying properties in India.
  6. PIO/OCI cards are only required at the time of sale and repatriation. PIO/OCI cards can be obtained from the Indian Embassy in about 7 business days.
  7. NRIs can repatriate up to $1 million dollars per person each year while abroad.
  8. Know your builder.  Check the location and compare amenities offered in the complex. Property management companies of good, reputable builders can help you with security and maintenance, renting to quality tenants, and eventual sale of the property.
  9. Sale of property after 3 years of possession attracts lower capital gain tax for NRIs.
  10. Property can be purchased in child’s name and parents can pay for it. Child does not need a bank account to purchase property.
  11. If property is held only in a woman’s name, the registration value is less at the time of possession.
  12. Home loans are available to NRIs in the US, but loans are in Indian terms. Interest can be 10% depending on amount borrowed. Financing readily available for IREO projects, which have been approved by banks.

Back to top

4 thoughts on “Real Estate Tips for NRIs

  1. Hello,
    I am a foreign citizen staying in Canada. I want to buy property in India. I have no time to give POA to my parents in India. I am proposing to send Rs 50 lakhs to my parents in India who will buy a house in their name for me. May be after a few years, they will sell this property and return the money to me.
    Is this a good option? Will there be any problems if I act this way or is buying property in my name with a POA to my parents be the best way to go?

    • Thank you for your comment.

      Problems may arise if the property in is in your parents name and they pass away before the property is sold. They must specify in their will that you they are leaving it solely to you as a gift. Otherwise, the property will be split among all legal heirs per law. If you are an only child, this of course does not apply.

      In our opinion, the preferable way to purchase a property as an NRI is to appoint your parents as POA. It is not a time consuming process, and any attorney or CA in Canada can easily prepared the document.

      We hope this helps with your decision.


  2. Hello .
    About the POA , where should this be prepared – in the USA or India ? If the document is created in USA , is it valid and recognized for use in India ?

    Also , can you comment on taxation – as an NRI , will I have to declare this in my US returns or in India ? I gifted money to my parents prior to coming to US , if I use that money then do I still need to declare that property in US tax returns ?

  3. Greetings,

    if supposing I wanna buy property in NCR (Noida to be precise) What will be the required documentation for the same.

    Also, What is the procedure so involved?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s