Real Estate for Small Investors, is it?

First of all, apologies for a delayed post this time. We were hooked up with some Real Big issues!

So tell us, where do you think is money in RealT Sector? Or is it just a fad & small investors can never make out anything from this sector?

As far as what we have concluded from our secondary research data, it seems that more than 65% of people are not interested in investing in real estate primarily because they think – “we require huge investments to buy a property!”

We would not completely deny this fact but at the same time, it doesn't entirely hold too. Before we go any further and clarify this ‘myth’, let us first give you a glimpse of where money lies in RealT Sector:

So as apparent from the above categorization (we are assuming that you are a normal investor with not much knowledge of other fields of real estate), there are several fields apart from transactions and development from which you can make money in this sector. Take for example Relocation Services. By relocation services, we mean that you can provide services to relocate people or businesses & arrange for accommodation and other services in case required by them. This will provide you with an opportunity to make some handsome amounts with fewer efforts.

Services like ‘Appraisal’ require technical know-how of how to value a given property. If you have the proficiency to do this, you can make this as your career and trust us, you won’t require anything else to pursue as your profession.

On the similar lines is another vertical – ‘Property Management’. As Portfolio Manager is to Stock Market, Property Manager is to Real Estate. And we think that we need not to reiterate how much fortune a Portfolio Manager makes! If you have some expertise and experience in the field of real estate, this is your place to be.

How can Small Investors invest in Real Estate?

This is probably the most important question that haunts every middle-class individual when he/she starts earning. With the rise of middle class population in India in recent years, people who just graduate from the universities look forward to invest in some vehicle. But due to unavailability of any structured or convenient vehicle for investment in Real Estate, the obvious choice that they are left with is – Stock Market or Fixed Deposits.

We would like to throw some light on how a mid-income group person or a small investor can invest & make money in this market. There are several measures available for this purpose, few of which include:
  • Affordable Housing
  • Attractive EMI schemes
  • Joint Investments
  • Private Lenders
  • REITs

Within the scope of this post, we will just try to explain Affordable Housing & later we will take on other measures.

Affordable Housing

As per JLL’s report on ‘Affordable Housing in India – 2012’, there is no clear-cut definition of the term ‘affordable’. This is because it has different meanings in different scenarios as it is a relative concept. Just going by KPMG’s definition of affordable housing, it can be seen as:

Income Level
Size of Dwelling Unit
Economically Weaker Sections
<INR 1.5 lakhs pa
Upto 300 sq. ft.
EMI to Monthly Income: 30% to 40%
House price to annual income ratio: Less than 5:1
Lower Income Groups
INR 1.5-3 lakhs pa
300-600 sq. ft.
Middle Income Groups
INR 3.0-10 lakhs pa
600-1200 sq. ft.
  Source:  KPMG

Affordable housing is a new concept which emphasizes on catering the needs of the above 3 mentioned income group individuals. The differentiation is based mainly on the size of dwelling unit and the location of the unit.

Small investors, typically falls under the umbrella of Middle Income Group. There are a number of trusted and reputed players in the business of affordable housing all over India, mainly in the metropolitan cities where the concentration of LIG’s and MIG’s is maximum:

Source: JLL Research, 1Q12

Closing Remarks: It is said “where there is will, there is way..” This falls apt in case of real estate investing. Though seemingly very tough, it becomes simple if you want to devise ways in this sector. And believe us, the pace and size of returns which you can expect from real estate is far more than any other investment.

---- Thanks for reading J ----

Transacting & Using your Real Estate Asset

After a project is constructed, it is time for actual transactions and possessions to happen. There are various intricacies involved in these seemingly simple stages. Let's see how.


The sell and purchase transactions in the real estate sector follow several innovative methods. More often than not, builders initiates the transaction process much before the actual project is constructed - as soon as from the concept stage. Just to have a better picture of this look at the following chart:

The above chart is a snapshot of one of the prevalent schemes that builders follow for selling off the constructed property. This process of interval payments ensures that ready supply of funds is available with the builder which can be used to service the operational costs of the project.

Usually the process of transactions is carried out by:
1. Brokers
2. In-house marketing
3. Word of mouth publicity

Out of the above 3 channels, brokers are the most prevalent and considered-effective means of carrying out transactions. In Indian scenario, especially, brokers form an integral part of the real estate value chain. Although they are the most convenient means of sell/purchase of properties but having brokers in the transaction process gives rise to a plethora of additional costs for both the parties - buyers and the sellers.

Of course having brokers for this process reduces the time-to-possession and do not divert builder's attention from his main job, but if some other effective channel can be devised for this process, we are sure that a lot of costs can be saved in every project - nearly to the tune of approximately 5-10%!


As already discussed by us in our first post - Understanding the reality in RealT – Generic Real Estate Value Chain, usage can be divided into following 3 categories, depending on the nature of use.

There are different norms and procedures for acquiring the possession of all the above mentioned categories, but more or less the underlying process is the same.

Ending Notes: With this post, we have completed an eagle-eye view of all the phases of value chain which are involved in any, literally ANY, real estate project. We will now cover various topics which we think will be benefitial for a first-time investor in understanding how one can make money here ;-)

----- Till then, Keep reading RealT Horizon :-) -----

Construction of a Real Estate Project

In this post, we will try to bring forth the details of next part of the Value ChainConstruction.

Once a person has cleared his ownership title & has arranged for his finance requirements, the next step is to actually start the construction of the anticipated property. Though it appears the most cliché and straightforward part of the value chain, but there are ‘n’ number of issues involved in this seemingly simple part too. Researches at many world-class respected Universities have revealed that this phase involves the maximum wastage – both in terms of time & money.

Figure 1: A breakup of the time involved in any real estate project over the construction period

Let’s start analyzing this phase with the help of a step-by-step flowchart of the activities involved in it: 

Figure 2: Construction flowchart

As is apparent from the above flowchart that construction phase is not that simple as it seems to be at the first sight. Due to multiple sub-phases, the amount of delays and wastes increases exponentially in this level.

The construction phase provides a lot of opportunity to improve the supply chain inefficiencies and reduce the project cost to a large extent. The multiple iterations incurred at the design phase can be reduced if there is a specialized agency to take care of it. Again, the raw-material supplies and labor requirements after the Design Phase, if handled appropriately can help the contractor finish off the work more efficiently at a lower cost and lower budget.


There are several real-estate moghuls in the market and they sure do implement several measures in order to keep a check on the issues that we discussed above. But there is definitely something missing in their efforts due to which this sector is still unable to be efficient. We suggest some of the following measures which may prove to be useful:
  • The design phase should be outsourced instead of being in-house. This is because the expertise of the building contractor is to construct, not to design. Having a specialized design agency will remove the redundant steps in this phase and come up with better and more efficient designs. Although many of the construction works being carried out these days uses this approach only, but still major chunk doesn't. 
  • Supply chain in the construction phase can be improved to a large extent if the procurement system can be tightened. The world is moving towards just-in-time (JIT) technique where only that much raw material is procured at a time as is required. But still this is absent in the real estate domain. Contractors still go for bulk purchases due to which a lot of wastage happens.

PS: There is lot to the above discussion which can be helpful for RealT apart from the above 2 points. In India, apart from the lack of ownership and proper financing, this phase requires maximum attention and through RealT Horizon, we will try to bring some of those aspects in the front.

---- Thanks for reading RealT Horizon :) ----

Financing the Real Estate by Equity

In our previous post Financing - Funding a RealT, we showed how debt can be used as a vehicle to fund your RealT project. In this post, we will try and elucidate how one can finance projects using equity.

Out of the above 3 ways, top 2 are self-explanatory. But let’s just look at the Real Estate Investors part and REIT in detail.

As can be seen from the above classification that in real estate, there are various investment fund options. Let us summarize each of these with one line explanations: 

Type of Investor
Venture Capital
They invest very cautiously in realty projects by valuing its worth using their models of valuation.
Real Estate sector has attracted a lot of FDI in India, but recently the trend has been falling. See figure 1.
Hedge Fund
Though not very popular, but Hedge Funds are increasingly moving into funding the real estate projects.
Insurance Companies
They invest in large projects having high returns for longer horizons which commercial banks generally don’t take up.
Pension Fund
Another new source of financing in real estate. They generally fund through mortgage bankers & brokers.

An analysis of Real Estate FDIs in India
Figure 1: Rising FDI share towards the end

REIT (Real Estate Investment Trusts)

This is an extremely important instrument in the Real Estate Financing as it pools in the investments from various investors and then use this fund to finance the realty projects. REITs is a vast topic in itself and we will share our views on them in our later posts. But just to explain the basic phenomenon of REIT, refer figure 2.

Figure 2: Basic mechanism of REIT formation

Note: We have just touched upon the aspects of Equity financing in real estate, however the details of many of these instruments will be covered in our subsequent posts.

                                                    ----- Keep Reading RealT Horizon J -----

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