Ratings agency Fitch Ratings expects the impact of implementation of Goods & Services Tax on real estate sector to be neutral.
Property developers will be subject to a final effective Goods & Services Tax rate of 12% on property sales, because the tax authorities will assume that land costs consist of one third of the sales price for which the 18% GST rate will not apply.
This will still be 7.5% points higher than the former 4.5% effective sales tax. However developer’s ability to claim input tax credits will also increase with the imposition of GST, because input credits can now be claimed against steel and cement, which are key raw materials.
“The impact of GST on property prices will not be significant if developers pass on these benefits to customers – we expect home prices to rise by no more than 1%-2% if the benefit of lower costs is passed on. The higher end of that range would apply to developers which cater to higher-income customer segments, where land prices are higher and profit margins wider,” Fitch Ratings said in its report.
0Fitch expects the impact of GST on property sales also to be limited because the tax will only apply to sales made after 1 July 2017, whereas most large homebuilder’s FYE18 (March 2018) revenue and cash flows will stem mainly from sales made before that.
Furthermore, sales contracted after 1 July off new projects should not be affected because developers should be able to reflect the impact of GST in new construction contracts. However, sales contracted after 1 July from existing projects – i.e. where construction is underway – may have to reflect the full 7.5% price increase stemming from GST, because renegotiating existing construction contracts with contractors may prove to be challenging.
The ratings agency believes that property sales will weaken for one to two quarters as a result, but we expect sales to normalise beyond that time frame. Over the medium term, developers may be encouraged to pass on the cost benefits to customers to comply with the anti-profiteering clause introduced in the Central Goods and Services Tax of 2017.
It expects that developers may also choose to pass on cost benefits to customers to try and limit a prolonged slowdown in property sales, in an industry where demand/supply fundamentals are already weak.
Among rated companies, Indiabulls Real Estate Limited (IBREL, B+/Stable) has some headroom in its rating to weather a longer-than-expected weakening in sales, and this is reflected in Stable Outlook. Lodha Developers (B/Negative) has limited rating headroom because of leverage which is already high, and this is captured in our Negative Outlook, Fitch added.
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