The landscape of real estate insolvency is evolving rapidly, placing an increased focus on the rights and interests of homebuyers. Recent developments signal a trend towards protective measures, designed to safeguard their investments. These evolving norms are not only setting a new benchmark for transparency but are also recalibrating the balance of power in insolvency proceedings.
The Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act (RERA) mandates that all real estate projects must be registered and comply with its provisions, ensuring that buyers have access to accurate and timely information about the projects they invest in. The requirement for developers to maintain escrow accounts is a critical safeguard which earmarks funds for the completion of each project. This significantly reduces the risk of fund diversions and ensures that projects are completed on time.
Another strategy that ensures better management of assets is the choice available to segregate bank accounts for real estate projects during the corporate insolvency resolution process (CIRP).
This initiative also tackles a significant concern for homebuyers: the worry that their invested money might be diverted to support failing projects.
The expedited execution of registration/sublease deeds during CIRP is a promising development for homebuyers. While it is intended to speed up the handover of properties, the associated legal and administrative procedures could introduce new complexities. These challenges can be navigated by establishing a streamlined legal framework, bolstering administrative efficiency and implementing mediation channels for swift financial dispute resolution. Using technology to manage the documentation flow, pre-emptive dispute resolution mechanisms and clear judicial pathways for rapid handling of cases could further smooth the process.
The approach to invite separate resolution plans for individual projects within a single insolvent entity marks a shift towards customisation in insolvency resolutions. This acknowledges that each project has distinct financial and operational conditions. Crafting unique solutions that reflect these nuances and incorporating inputs from a range of stakeholders, including the homebuyers themselves, can enhance decision-making and expedite the resolution process.
Protecting Homebuyer Possessions
Another important measure proposed is the exclusion of units already in possession of homebuyers, from the assets to be liquidated. This initiative aims to protect homebuyers, who have met their payment obligations, by ensuring that they are not left in the limbo if a developer goes into liquidation. Though there are enough judicial precedents supporting this protective stance, its execution will require careful adjudication to maintain fairness across the board during the insolvency process.
These proposed changes are reflective of a shift towards prioritising homebuyers in the realm of real estate insolvency. They represent an amalgamation of updated compliance requirements, financial safeguards, provisions for quicker possessions, unique resolution plans and a shield for homebuyers during liquidation proceedings.
This pivot to a homebuyer-centric model comes with its own set of challenges. The heightened regulatory scrutiny calls for a detailed administrative oversight which could potentially complicate the insolvency resolution landscape. Hence, developers and investors are now tasked with navigating a more regulated business environment, which could reshape the investment dynamics in the real estate sector.
(The writer is Partner - Deals, PwC India.)