Friday, March 30, 2012

It all depends on our default setting! Still chasing a bubble!

If you had read my blog 'My paradigm vanished!', you would know that we bought an apartment in JP nagar and then gave up the idea of moving there. However, we  hoped to use it on week-ends. Play tennis, swim, use the gym and even go bowling. Yes, the apartment complex has a bowling alley. Also I could use it as a transit camp and drive for my golf from there. Nothing of the sort happened.

So we decided to rent it and we looked for a tenant. Typically we wanted more rent than the market. We argued that the interiors were worth it. We also got choosy with the type of tenants or the tenants were choosy! Some wanted ideal vaastu! I remember an incident where a prospective tenant came with his wife. She had seen the aptmt. earlier and had liked it. He did not even say hello!  As I stood surprised at his attitude, he walked to the main door, took a small compass from his pocket, checked the direction of the main door, muttered no vaastu and started walking out! Tara tried to engage him in a conversation, but no luck. I later learnt that our broker had expressed our reluctance to rent the aptmt. to self-employed business men! No wonder he was upset, as he was one of them! The only sentence he spoke to me was 'I am a builder for Jains!'. That probably was to prove his credit worthiness!  In short, the apartment continued to be vacant. Finally it dawned on us, with a little bit of nudging from our daughter and friends, that it made sense to sell!

I quote from earlier blog to explain the dilemma one faces while looking to buy ( or sell!) an apartment:
'But I was getting restless and bored and Tara said she was ready to move .... but would prefer to stay in a place closer to Kumara Park! We looked at some other bubbles which had all the facilities and liked them. But the apartments on offer were all second sales and owners wanted money in two colors in spite of all noise made by Anna Hazare. He of course was targeting corrupt politicians and officials, not enterprising investors. (Hopefully their time too shall come!). Desperate, I even wished that there was an ATM type of machine, govt approved, which changed color of the money, for a reasonable fee!'

With this experience, once the decision was made to sell, I was more worried. We needed a buyer who was comfortable with only a single color of  money.  My accountant friend asked me 'Do you know that you are liable to pay short term capital gains!'  Honestly I did not!   The only way to avoid paying short term capital gains tax is to wait for three years or find ways! That is when  temptation rears its head!

There are many strange laws on income. If you own two houses, you pay the exchequer a tax on the notional income from the second house. But there is no offset for the interest lost when your house/aptmt. is under construction. Even if there is a delay, there is no relief. It is deemed a business risk. Some builders do offer a pittance for delays which will probably allow you, if you are really hard pressed, to rent out a room in the nearby basti which you probably will see from your bed room once the apartment is ready.

 Anyway, we had by then asked an estate agent, who understood our inhibitions, to look for buyers. She called one day and said  'I found a buyer who matches your needs. He  is the son of a retired IAS officer, and his father wants to pay only through cheques!' There was a moment of confusion in me. Do we tell her that we have changed our colors or go with the deal. This is when your default setting comes into play. We agreed!

I make no special claims for probity here! The gain was not too high to tilt the scale and tempt me. For some reason the south Bangalore has lost its sheen for an investor! Now that I am veteran at the sub-registrar's office, I can say that it does take time to register! Probably it is in-built into the system to discourge direct walk-in buyers or sellers. The secret is to appoint a lawyer and he will ensure that the system works like a well oiled machine. Well most of the times. Sometimes, you do get delayed, if your lawyer is not as savvy as the other. I have also heard of successful stories where a lawyer was not hired!

I have heard many arguments why so many honest people try to beat the system and cheat the governament of their dues. The strongest argument is that it will be mis-used and it is too high! Some have no alternative, the only buyer they find after a long wait, wants to pay in two colors and you have no choice as you have  committments to meet. I have seen this happen. I do not know about the other types, but I hear there is a lot of the other money sitting idle and buying apartments is one way to make it work for them.

In our case, we both, the buyer and seller hoped that somehow the extra  money we have passed on to the exchequer will find its way to a good cause and we gain merit in the eyes of the almighty.

Now that my dream bubble was sold, we looked around and have booked  one in the north of Bangalore. It is called Paradiso. I am eagerly awaiting for it to get ready. I guess it is better to be in Paradise on earth. As paradise above is a non-verifiable belief. Even if it exists, I am  not really sure I will qualify and stay there before I am asked to move on to the next birth, whatever and wherever! 

While I may not miss the sports  activities, I will sorely miss the view from our sold apartment. Having been boxed in and looking at walls, I would have enjoyed this part of the apartment.

Hope the coconut trees survive.

There is a hope that the lake will be cleaned up!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

A special day. The 'auto' drivers were in a good mood!

I like to walk, but today it was around noon and a bit hot! I saw an auto parked near the junction and its nose pointing generally towards malleswaram. I approached him a little timidly.  I do that as a rule,  I have learnt that most auto drivers have attitudes similar to owners of an expensive boutique or a jewellery shop.

While I can afford to buy an auto, the driver does not know that. In his estimate if someone is dependent on his auto, it is clear that he is pretty low in our societal hierarchy and he better behave politely.

 Has anyone ever experienced this? An auto coming towards you to pick you up. I have never had this privilege in bengaluru. They will wait for you to walk to them and if the destination you are headed does not suit them they will push off even without a glance towards you. I almost fell off once as the young driver started to move and I had half a leg into his cab. That was before I understood the rule that we have seek their permission before we get in.

Recently I read a blog about rickshaws in mumbai and it surprised me. I thought mumbaikars had a better time with autos. Apparently not. His open letter to the union of auto drivers is worth reading. mumbaikars! Welcome to the fold! Read on:
My first request is that if we do make an error of hailing one of your forces, can the person at least look at us and acknowledge us? If this is not asking for too much, then I can go on. Can he also listen to us as to where we want him to take us?

My second request is can we expect your forces to understand that Mumbai has street-jams during office hours and so, during those hours, traffic would be slow anywhere and everywhere. If this is well understood, then they would not have to rudely (apologies for this word, but many feel that this too is an understatement) tell us that he cannot go on that route as there would be traffic. Don’t tell us what every kid in the city knows..................
Finally, the cops and the government tell us that an auto is supposed to ply anywhere and we passengers simply need to board the vehicles and then tell (‘tell’, I repeat, not ‘ask’).
There is more.....

But not all auto drivers are bad. Today is a good example when they, all four of them, were polite and pleasant. I have been on an auto when the driver got off  at a junction and gave a rupee or two to a lame  beggar who was squatting on the footpath. So it should be your stars, lucky or otherwise that will decide whether you are in their route.

 Here are two I would love to tell you about.
He was polite, and as the distance was around the min. meter distance he did not put the meter on. This meant that his meter was not tampered with. Sometimes I have paid one and a half the fare  from the same point. He works ten hours a day to meet his expenses, which includes schooling for his  son in the higher secondary and daughter in middle school. He says many of his fares have his mobile number and call him a day earlier, if they need him. He did not give me his number as he does not live close by. But gave me the name of a driver who parks close to where I got off in malleswaram. He also said that as the gas price has gone up, he has to work harder.

It was not today, but I met him very recently. He is rather unique. He does not ask you where you want to go. He will tell you, 'First sit down and then tell me. I will take you there.' He also works hard and is a happy person.

 I am sure there are many more who are good and honest. We must make this group larger and more effective. I am sure they will be helpful, considerate especially to the senior citizens. They are probably keeping to themselves. We must find a way of getting their telephone numbers and spread it around to various localities closest to where they live and I am sure they will come to your rescue when you need it most.