E-Registration: A Major Step Towards Real Estate Market Transparency

The most frequently-occurring type of disagreement in Indian real estate is land dispute. Cases range from of illicit land grabbing and illegal land sales to instances of purchase of land where no actual purchase has taken place – to name just a few.

The real estate market has historically been plagued by such issues, and the current government’s initiative of facilitating e-registration to streamline the registration of immovable properties is an extremely progressive move which has been universally welcomed for its transparency and ease of use.

E-registration has simplified the process for providing evidence of titles and facilitating transactions, and will go a long way in preventing the unlawful disposal of land. This online registration system effectively put paid to the various underlying problems and loopholes in the traditional land registration process, based on the Land Registration Act of 1925, which typically involves Powers of Attorney, sale or mortgage of land and transfer of property under rent.

The Land Registration Act of 2002 introduced this new system using verified electronic signatures to transfer and register immovable property online.

The All-Important Tree Of Ownership

If a piece of land has been passed on for generations or has seen multiple owners over time, a proper hierarchy of land holding needs to be available so that current buyers or tenants can ascertain the exact value of land or the rent according to current market values.

This is possible only when there is complete transparency in document verification and full disclosure of details about the property – gross carpet area, number of rooms, foundation details and wiring blueprints. Nothing should be hidden from the future investor/buyer. E-registration has provided a much-needed level of transparency to property dealings.

The Role Of A Broker After e-Registration

Does e-registration also negate the need for a real estate broker? This is a fair question. While all details of the property may be available online, this may not be enough information to make a firm investment decision. The question of whether a particular property, regardless of how many details are available online, makes good investment sense in light of many other options can only be answered by a knowledgeable consultant. The fees a broker will charge are definitely reduced by e-Registration, but a broker is still required – not only to provide inputs on the advisability of the investment proposition, but to mediate between the involved parties and help negotiate the price.

E-registration Procedure In Urban And Rural Areas

Since property in both urban and rural areas property comes under the jurisdiction of the same State Government and both types of areas are managed under a Tehsil (aka taluka or mandal) the e-registration of property (housing or commercial rental) is fairly similar. The process will only differ if the land is vacant or occupied (built upon). For vacant land, valuation is done at current market price while for occupied land (with built-up properties like shops, flats, cottages, etc.) it is done on the market price as well as the gross investment utilized by a building. For instance, a single-storied house will be valued higher than a multi-storied house if it is a prime location. Otherwise, the latter commands a higher valuation. Also, leases of immovable property in urban areas command a higher stamp duty (6%), while in rural areas it is lower (5%).

Benefits of Land e-Registration

The usual resource challenges at Registrar offices are reduced drastically, allowing them to tend to more sensitive matters like disputes. Consumer pays a registration amount which is relatively affordable. There is no longer any need to visit different offices to register a property The details and documents pertaining to land records can be accessed online at any time. Transparency in the registration process increases significantly, thereby also rationalizing broker fees and negating the need for bribes to officials The software calculate the stamp duty on the basis of the stored data, and the duty can be paid online A state-of-the-art system will reveal the current market price of any land located at any location within the State

How To e-Register Land

The procedure of doing e-Registration of land is simple. The land registration and application form can be either downloaded online or obtained from the concerned authority’s office in the state. After the verification of form details and the related documents of the concerned person, the land is registered in a matter of days, and this marks the completion of the registration process and establishing the full-accredit ownership of the property.

Safety Of E-registration Of Land

E-registration is pretty safe. Hackers can do nothing to compromise documentation, as they do not have access to the papers owners hold relating to their land, such as transfer of Power of Attorney, land purchase deed or wills of deceased person who were entrusted with the protection of the property. Also, since most government servers are SSL encrypted with multiple layers of security and a personalized login system, it is not easy to hack consumer’s details.

However, to check the authenticity of the buyers and sellers, it is always best to consult a professional real estate consultant who has proper knowledge about the sector. Efficient background research is always the crux of any good and profitable land deal. It is important to establish that a land’s claim is retained by the owner, and that there is no scope for the land mafia or government to contest it.

Also, before signing a deal, it is always advisable to visit the site at least twice (giving a gap of a few months) in the presence of the seller or buyer in order to verify overall authenticity.

Where Is E-Registration Already Being Used?

States such as Kerala, Orissa, West Bengal, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Sikkim, New Delhi, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Chhattisgarh have the facility in force since as long as the 1990s. Such states have developed the Common Services Centre (CSC) Scheme where all registrations are verified.  These CSCs cover almost all the rural and urban areas.

What About Old Property?

For older property, the process is simple. Consumer need to register the following documents: Power of Attorney (sale, transfer, hold or deconstruct). Non-testamentary instruments which purport directly to or operate to create, declare or assign any right, title or interest of the value of one hundred rupees and upwards, to any kind of immovable property (inherited land). Non-testamentary instruments which acknowledge full receipt of payment of any consideration on the transfer of ownership to a new owner.

What Do Real Estate Experts Say?

Real estate experts are in favour of registration of land, especially e-registration, since it helps them to focus on larger projects. Since e-registration adds transparency to the nation’s real estate, it also adds credibility to each real estate agents’ and expert’s credentials. It helps to secure deals that will not land up in legal troubles, since non-registration can lead to significant legal trouble.

Overall, one should always register (or e-register) their land dealings and purchases to add a credible name to the entire holding or immovable property comprised therein at that space of land. In cases where there is a need to confer any kind of power – especially in patriarchal or commercial holdings – land registration helps the government to ascertain the rightful owner and avoid family feuds.

Also, e-registration helps in quickly producing evidence of any transaction that affects the property or confers special powers to an individual or firm. It pays to remember that a land owner does not exist in the eyes of the government unless the land has been registered. To avoid the risk of personal land being impounded, it makes sense to register all the land documents online today at the respective State’s online website.

Ashwinder Raj Singh, CEO – Residential Services, JLL India

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