E-registration of property promises freedom from long queues, touts
If you have ever visited the office of a sub-registrar of property, you will readily agree that the process is not usually a pleasant one. These offices are often housed in shabby buildings that are infested with middlemen out to fleece homebuyers. Often, there are long queues due to which the buyer has to wait for a long time for his turn. With the Maharashtra government initiating the online registration of sale agreements of properties (for the primary market), buyers are likely to have a more wholesome experience in the future.
This initiative had begun during the Covid-19 pandemic. Now homebuyers of Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA)-approved projects have the option to register their sales agreements online, sitting in the developer’s office. Currently over 400 developers in Maharashtra have opted for the e-registration system.
While several states offer e-registration of leave and licence agreements (for renting property), none offers it for sale of property.
Developers are provided access to a self-help portal through which they can create logins and apply for e-registration of their projects by uploading the requisite documents. “Once the documents are approved by the authorities, the registrations of home-buyers can be completed at the developer’s office through the online portal,” says Shalin Raina, managing director, residential services, Cushman & Wakefield India.
First, digital signatures are affixed to the sale deed and it is uploaded. The challan of the stamp duty paid along with proof of TDS (tax deduction at source) deducted by the developer are also uploaded.
Next, thumb impressions and pictures of the buyer (or joint buyers) are taken. Once the procedure is completed, the buyer gets the digital certificate.
The e-registration process is expected to allow homebuyers to avoid long waiting periods. “Developers are likely to allot time slots and manage the process better,” says Anand Moorthy, chief business officer, data intelligence and asset management, Square Yards.
Buyer will also not need to bring along witnesses. “In e-registration, the authorities have done away with the requirement to have two witnesses for registration of the agreement. Aadhar card authentication and digital signatures have been incorporated in the process,” says Raina.
Buyers will also be able to avoid paying speed money.
E-registration will benefit the state government also. “During the pandemic, registration of properties had ground to a halt, severely denting the revenue of a state like Maharashtra. E-registration will prevent a repeat of that in the future,” says Rajkumar Singh, head–residential services (West), ANAROCK Group.
Procedure limited to primary sales
Physical presence is still required for the verification of biometrics. “With improvement in technology, one can expect the entire procedure to go online in the future. This will allow people living even in other cities and states to complete the registration procedure without having to visit Maharashtra,” says Subhankar Mitra, managing director, advisory services, Colliers India.
E-registration needs to be extended to secondary market sales. Other states also need to roll it out.
E-registration will not overcome the issue of the same property being sold and registered in more than one person’s name, or a property being sold that is already mortgaged to a bank. “In India, people believe that if they have got their property registered with the sub-registrar, that will protect their title rights. That is not true, as umpteen court cases testify. And online registration will not take care of that issue,” says Moorthy. Systems need to evolve further to prevent that from happening.
Get title check done
Before going for online registration, visit the website of the Inspector General of Revenue (IGR). “You will find a lot of information on the steps involved, documents required, amount of stamp duty and registration charge to be paid, and so on,” says Mitra.
Before going for e-registration, get a competent lawyer to do a title check of the unit you are buying. “This will ensure the property you are paying for is not already sold. It will also ensure there is no bank charge on the property. If that is the case, get a no-objection certificate from the bank and ensure the money you pay goes into the bank’s escrow account,” says Moorthy.