Property law slashes house prices

Amid confusion over whether a law relating to apartment ownership will be replaced, property prices in Himachal Pradesh have plumetted up to 30 per cent in the past year, real estate experts say.

“The prevailing prices are 25 to 30 per cent less than last year’s,” said a Shimla-based realtor. A two BHK flat in Shimla, Kasauli and Solan towns is now selling for approximately Rs 25 lakh. A three BHK is for Rs 35 lakh to Rs 45 lakh and a cottage costs anywhere between Rs 60 lakh and Rs 80 lakh, he said.

The Himachal Pradesh Apartment and Property Regulation Act of 2005 enables builders and developers to build and sell flats and cottages in the state.

While revenue minister Kaul Singh says a moratorium on the registration of new flats was imposed by the previous BJP government to monitor realtors, former town and country planning minister Mohinder Singh claims the ban could not be implemented following judicial intervention.

Kaul Singh said the former town and country planning minister asked the Assembly on August 29 last year that the Apartment and Property Regulation Act would be repealed and a new comprehensive legislation would be introduced.

Mohinder Singh had even told the Assembly that fresh registration of flats would not take place till the new act comes into existence.

“Soon after the declaration, the minister gave permission to five or six realtors to build flats,” Kaul Singh said. Individuals who had planned to buy or invest in the domestic housing in the state are a confused lot. “Some builders had moved the Himachal Pradesh High Court against freezing flat registrations. The court allowed the registration process till the new act came into force,” Mohinder Singh said.

But those in the realty sector say the market took a downturn since the minister’s announcement last year.

“Flat sales have crumbled to their lowest point in more than a decade with prices falling up to 25 per cent. People are not even investing in luxury cottages at prime destinations,” said a builder setting up cottages on the outskirts of Solan town.

There is a slump even in Shimla, Kasauli, Dharamsala and Palampur towns, once the preferred destinations for investors.

“A bill may be introduced in this assembly session or in the next (monsoon) to do away with the existing act and by incorporating it with the Town and Country Planning Act. Regulating construction by realtors may rest on the Himachal Pradesh Urban Development Authority (HIMUDA),” said an official.

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