A huge diaspora of Indians settled abroad, for various reasons ranging from house for parents, to investment option; invest in Residential properties in India. The procedures, taxation etc for a NRI are different from those applicable to a Resident Indian.

Compared to most foreign markets, Indian real estate offers better investment opportunity for Non Resident Indians (NRIs). NRIs who do not have enough funds, could buy properties in India, by taking home loans. Obviously, the home loan rules are different for NRIs and resident Indians. So it is better to know the rules before delving into it. Hence, it is important to know the crucial differences. Normally, the rates are a bit higher and the eligibility a bit lower, when compared to that for a Resident Indian. It is always advisable to get the loan approval first and then decide on the property you want to buy.

The IT Act & FEMA has laid down criteria to be categorized as a NRIs. NRI is legally defined under the Income Tax Act, 1961 and the Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999 (FEMA) for applicability of respective laws. NRI is defined under FEMA as a person resident outside India who is either a citizen of India or is a Person of Indian Origin (PIO). The income generated in India is taxable in India & those earned abroad, are not taxed in India.

Qualifying Criteria for Home Loan.Coming to Home loans- a NRI can apply for it, provided he meets the eligibility criteria. Age should be above 18 years; banks decide the upper limit. 60 yrs is the upper limit in most cases. The loan tenure could be even 5 years, to max up to 30 years. Normally, one should have had a work experience of at least 2 years abroad. The loan amount depends on the repayment capabilities. Most of these vary from Bank to Bank, including the Interest rates and the processing fees.

Documentation. Some of the documents which you need to furnish are, Full passport along with work visa copy; Employer ID Card; Passport photos; Work Permit; Employment Contract; Residence proof abroad; Salary slips; PAN Card; loan application form duly filled and so on. Again, it depends on the Bank.

Repayment of Loan. Options for repayment could be transfer money through bank; have an ECS Mandate; issue PD(Post Dated) cheques etc. Ideally, the cheque / transfer should be from the Loanee’s account.

Power of Attorney (PoA). For document signature and processing etc, the NRI can execute a PoA, which is generally valid for 30 days. It ceases in case of the Principal’s demise. The POA needs to be duly stamped as per applicable stamp duty in India and duly notarized within 3 months of NRIs arrival in India.

Finances & Applicability of Taxes. As the NRI earns in Forex, there will be variation in his earnings in Rupee terms, which should be kept in mind for repaying loan. His earnings abroad would continue t be taxed as per that country’s law and his investment in property, as also loan repayment would be subject to Indian Taxation laws. NRIs are eligible to tax deduction on interest paid and loan repayment on home loan if he is NRI as per the income tax definition and files income tax returns in India. Eligibility of deduction etc under various sections hold good. So owning a property needs considering all the above, to come to the real cost of ownership for the property.

Home Loan from Foreign Banks.  Being a NRI in countries which have banks in India, could be used to advantage. Most Western countries have much lower Interest rates for loans. It could therefore be extremely valuable to exploit this option too.

Being a NRI gives you the added advantage of choosing the option of buying a property in India, or the country of residence. In case one has friends and relatives who could look after your property in India, investing in Real Estate is always a good option in India. Suffice to say that the Indian population density is high and everyone wishes to own a house. Hence, for quite some time to come, investment in property in India will be a viable fruitful option. Why miss it if you are a NRI?