A first-time customer in a property exhibition narrates his experience. Be warned, it is a sad tale
The Big Day had finally arrived. Rajiv Saxena, 28, (name changed on request) of Vile Parle in western Mumbai took a half day off from work on 21st Oct and went to visit a property exhibition at Bandra-Kurla Complex. His wife had called him five times since the morning to confirm that he was visiting the exhibition. His better half wanted to move out of the 1BHK the Saxenas were living in for five years.
But Rajiv, being shy and reclusive, was reluctant to visit the exhibition and instead preferred to talk to a broker friend. But as always, his wife had the last word. Being from a middle-class upbringing, Rajiv had first glanced at the bottom of the newspaper to check the registration fee. Rs50.
"Okay, no problem," he told himself. He arrived on time and saw some heavily-built men dressed in tight black T-shirts at the entrance. He saw no counter for tickets. He thought the newspaper might have made a mistake and smiled to himself on having saved Rs50. But as soon as he moved in, his jaws dropped. He saw a long counter from one end to another with REGISTRATION written on it in bright red.
He asked one of the men (who looked more like bouncers) with some forms standing at the counter. "Do I need to register and pay?"
"Of course," came the reply. He reluctantly filled up the form, gave his mobile number and paid Rs50, all with a grim look on his face. With a badge in his hand, he entered the exhibition. The first stall, shining with bright lights, caught his eye. As he tried to climb the steep staircase to enter the stall, he found a man dressed in a suit obstructing his way.
Rajiv looked up. The man said "Yes." Mr Rajiv thought for a moment, took a deep breath and said in a soft voice, "I'm looking to see some properties." The man replied, "Please register yourself first." Rajiv thought for a moment and said to himself, "Another registration, another Rs50."
He was greeted by three smartly-dressed ladies in white shirts and black trousers. One of them asked, "Where are you looking for the flat, sir?" Rajiv replied, "Western line". "Where in the Western Line?" the woman asked. Rajiv thought, "Oh! I forgot to ask my wife."
"Andheri," prompted the lady. Rajiv nodded. He filled up the form but he thanked God that no money was charged from him this time. He was asked to sit in a sofa until he was summoned. After 5 minutes, the same lady asked Rajiv to accompany her and meet her colleague who was supposed to assist him.
Around two-three men were already surrounding the 5ft long, 10-inch in diameter roundtable. The man spoke in impeccable English. "We have this under-construction project coming up at Mahakali Caves in Andheri and a 2BHK of 1,053 square feet. It will cost Rs136 lakh, exclusive of all stamp duties and registration charges."
Rajiv did some quick mental math and converted the figures into understandable ones. He thought, "Rs1 crore and Rs36 lakh." His mind went into a tizzy. His middle-class upbringing came to the fore.
"How much is the discount?" he asked. "No discount sir... This is an exhibition…" Rajiv felt a vibration in his pocket and pulled out his cell-phone. He expected his wife would have been calling him up to check where he was.
No, he did not recognise the number. He picked up the call. "Welcome to **** property exhibition! Have a great day!" a voice thundered from the other end. For a moment, Rajiv thought it was an automated call but the voice sounded real. He cried out, "Why are you calling when I'm here at the exhibition?" The call was disconnected. From the other end. Rajiv thought, "Thank God, it was not from my wife."
Rajiv moved on to another builder's stall. He went to a table where a lady was assisting a customer. He stood there and listened to the conversation. The lady mumbled, "Yes sir."
"I'm looking for a 2BHK property in Andheri," Rajiv said. The lady took out a brochure with an 'ongoing' project picture in Andheri and started writing on it. "Area is 1,400-1,700 square feet, loading is 26% less, Rs16,600 per square feet with Rs100 for floor rise, and March 2012 is the possession." Rajiv tried to make sense of all these numbers. He asked a simple question. "How much will it cost for a 2BHK?"
"Rs2.75 crore to Rs3crore", was the prompt reply. Needless to say, he thanked the lady and moved on.
Rajiv turned to another row and saw a queue of another block of builders. But this time, he couldn't go forward and talk. He saw smartly-dressed girls in coats with make-up smeared all over their faces staffing the reception. It looked more like a fashion show than a property exhibition, he thought.
He saw the same scene in another block. "Thank God, my wife is not here," Rajiv told himself. Finally, he selected a block which had a few people hovering around the reception. He picked up a brochure and asked a simple question, "What will be the total cost of a 2BHK in this project?"
The lady replied, "Rs30 lakh." Rajiv thanked his stars. He checked the brochure again. The project was in Virar. He dropped the brochure and moved on to another stall. He wondered, "From my place of work in Dadar to Virar everyday in the local trains. God help me."
Rajiv stood by another stall and started asking for a quote from yet another smartly-dressed lady. "We have one tower that will be ready for possession by 2013 and another within 3 months." Rajiv was interested and asked, "Any discounts?"
The lady started looking for help. She asked Rajiv, "Are you really interested?" Rajiv became nervous, "No, just asking." He wondered if they would push the deal down his throat. She asked Rajiv to wait for a while until the seniors were 'free'.
While Rajiv waited, he noticed something peculiar. The girls were reading out the quotes from a piece of paper which they had hidden under some documents. Rajiv wondered, "Were they hired today for the exhibition?" After waiting for 5 minutes Rajiv excused himself. On his way out, he saw attractive hoardings proclaiming, 10% down-payment, 90% on possession.
"Is this possible?" he wondered. A glance at one of these brochures got him interested. The pictures of the projects looked straight out of a scene from a Karan Johar film. "Real life getting inspiration from reel life," he said to himself, happy with his own cliché.
Mr Saxena's next thought was to try his luck in the stalls of the various banks and check his eligibility for home loans. He went to a bank stall and met a serious-looking official who was sitting alone beside a table.
Rajiv narrated his needs. "I need a home loan of Rs30 lakh, my salary is Rs25,000 per month." Out came out the calculator. Rajiv's eligibility for a home loan would have to be calculated first.
"On a salary of Rs25,000, the EMI is expected to be half - Rs12,500. On the basis of this EMI, we can grant you a loan of only Rs14 lakh," said the official. Rajiv had heard that the bank gives at least 85% of the loan value. "Does having broker friends help?" he wondered. The official agreed, but said that depends on the salary of a person.
Rajiv requested the grim official to club his wife's income, (another Rs25,000, he lied), to calculate the loan amount.
Rajiv was told that he would get the full 85% of Rs30 lakh then. But Rajiv was actually fudging the figures a wee bit. His wife was a freelance journalist - a good month would get her Rs13,200 per month.
Rajiv's hopes of getting a dream home were now just castles in the air. He took one last, mournful look at the real-estate 'exhibition'.
No, the saga is not over yet.
On the way out, he noticed a banner. "Book a property and walk away with an LCD TV free, but pay Rs50,000 to book it first." Rajiv was now thinking of some choice expletives which obviously cannot be recounted here.
(This is a true story. The exhibition is currently going on. And a few more dreams are being shattered, even as you have finished reading this).
New Delhi: The government today asked Vodafone to pay about Rs11,218 crore in taxes for the purchase of Hutchison Whampoa Ltd's mobile business in the country in 2007. The payment is to be made within a month, PTI reports.
"The I-T department today issued an order raising a tax demand of Rs11,217.95 crore on Vodafone International Holdings BV, treating it as an assessee in default... for failure to deduct tax as required before making a payment of $11,076 million (about Rs55,000 crore) to Hutchison Telecommunication International Ltd," the department said in a statement.
The Supreme Court had asked the tax department to determine by 25 October the tax liability over the deal. The Court is expected to set a date on October 25 to hear Vodafone's appeal challenging a lower court ruling that Indian tax authorities had jurisdiction on tax payments in cross-border deals. Vodafone had bought Hutchison's stake in the Hutchison-Essar mobile services joint venture in India.
BAJAJ AUTO (Q2)
Net sales: Rs43.42 billion (expected range Rs41.20 billion-Rs43.22 billion)
Net profit: Rs6.82 billion (expected range Rs6.32 billion-Rs7 billion)
HCL TECHNOLOGIES (Q1)
Net sales: Rs36.12 billion (expected range Rs34.96 billion-Rs36.40 billion)
Net profit: Rs2.99 billion (expected range Rs2.78 billion-Rs3.39 billion)
(This article is based on secondary research. The report is for information only. None of the stock information, data and company information presented herein constitutes a recommendation or solicitation of any offer to buy or sell any securities. Investors must do their own research and due diligence before acting on any security. Some of the opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and may not necessarily represent those of Moneylife).