India Real Estate Latest Trends | Overview | Growth | Investments

May 18, 2024
Unlocking Real Estate Investment: The Emergence of Small and Medium REITs in India

Real estate has long been a preferred investment avenue for many Indians, who often prioritise property ownership over financial assets like stocks, bonds, or mutual funds. However, the high capital requirement has kept many potential investors at bay. Enter fractional ownership and the recent amendments by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), which are set to revolutionise the landscape of real estate investments through the establishment of Small and Medium Real Estate Investment Trusts (SM REITs).

 

What is Fractional Ownership?

Fractional ownership refers to dividing the value of an asset among multiple investors, each holding a share of the property. In India, this concept is gaining traction in the real estate sector, particularly for commercial properties. Fractional ownership allows individuals with limited resources to invest in high-value real estate by pooling their money with other investors through fractional ownership platforms (FOPs). This democratises access to real estate investments, making it feasible for a broader range of investors.

 

The Role of SM REITs

The recent amendment to the Real Estate Investment Trusts Regulations, 2014 by SEBI introduces the concept of SM REITs. These trusts are designed for smaller investment amounts, ranging from Rs 50 crore to Rs 500 crore. This move is aimed at bringing the largely unregulated FOPs under a formal regulatory framework, ensuring greater transparency and investor protection.

The key objective of the recent SEBI notification of SM REITs is getting fractional ownership platforms into the regulatory framework. The new guidelines provide a platform for FOPs to exist through the formation of REITs and, more importantly, bring full transparency to investors in terms of disclosure and governance.

 

Benefits of Investing in SM REITs

Investing in SM REITs offers several advantages:

  1. Accessibility: With lower minimum investment requirements, SM REITs make real estate investments accessible to a larger pool of investors.
  2. Transparency: The regulatory framework ensures that investors receive comprehensive information about the assets, reducing the risk of fraud.
  3. Liquidity: Once listed on stock exchanges, SM REITs will provide investors with the opportunity to buy and sell their shares, enhancing liquidity compared to traditional real estate investments.

 

Key Considerations Before Investing in FOPs

While SM REITs and FOPs open new doors for investors, due diligence is crucial. Here are some essential factors to consider:

  • Minimum Investment Amount

Different FOPs have varying minimum investment amounts. It’s important to assess these requirements to ensure they align with your financial capabilities and investment goals.

  • Lock-in Period

Investments in fractional ownership properties often come with a lock-in period, during which you cannot liquidate your investment. This period can vary depending on the FOP and the specific property. Understanding the lock-in period is vital to ensure it matches your liquidity needs.

  • Asset Details

Investors should thoroughly evaluate the details of the properties being invested in. This includes the type of property (residential or commercial), location, and whether it is a completed and revenue-generating asset. According to SEBI regulations, SM REITs must invest at least 95% of the scheme’s assets in completed and revenue-generating properties, providing a safeguard against investment in high-risk, under-construction projects.

  • Tenant Profile

The potential for rental income is a significant factor in real estate investment. Examining the tenant profile helps ensure steady rental income and reduces the risk of defaults. Reliable tenants contribute to the overall stability and profitability of the investment.

 

Conducting Due Diligence

Experts say, it’s essential to recognise that the landscape and regulations surrounding fractional ownership are still evolving. Comparing this sector to the well-established mutual fund industry may not be entirely justified. They further advise investors to carefully review terms and agreements and seek assistance from legal or subject matter experts to understand the implications of each clause.

 

Making an Informed Decision

Investors should consider the properties held by the REIT, the track record of fund managers, and the marketability of the properties. It’s crucial to understand the structure adopted by the FOP to ascertain investor rights, risks, and protection measures.

 

Conclusion

The introduction of SM REITs marks a significant milestone in India’s real estate investment landscape. By formalising and regulating fractional ownership platforms, SEBI’s new guidelines offer a transparent, accessible, and potentially lucrative investment avenue. However, as with any investment, thorough research and due diligence are imperative to maximise benefits and minimise risks. With the right approach, SM REITs and FOPs can provide a gateway to real estate wealth for a broader spectrum of investors.

 

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