The Allure of Real Estate in the Mountains: How experienced professionals fall for the bait

Allure of Acquiring Real Estate In The Mountains How experienced professionals fall for the bait –

A few months back I was enjoying my cappuccino at a cafe in Mukteshwar, seeping in the lush green valley view with the golden hues of sunset spreading across the forests and the cool breeze refreshing the senses. What serenity!

My trance was broken somewhat with a jolt, by an extremely loud pitched agitated barrage of expletives coming from the table behind me. I turned spontaneously, with an intent to request a lower pitch and stopped, as I witnessed a smart well dressed guy in his mid forties on his phone, pacing rapidly around his table with his fair complexion slowly turning from carrot to beetroot red – and his black coffee obviously no longer a hot beverage.

I couldn’t help overhearing what he was saying (didn’t have to make an effort though as the pitch was only going uphill) words like police complaint, refund, cheats, connection with the authorities etc. Wouldn’t require a genius to gather that a deal has gone sour.

After about ten more stretched minutes (I had gone back to my cappuccino and the view by then) the voice (noise) settled down. The gentleman called the waiter and ordered a refill of his cuppa. I turned around again and looked at him with a smile – God bless, I hope all is well.

An exasperated shrug in response, but he got up and came over to my table extending his hand

“Aakash Khanna from Noida” – CEO of an MNC “xxx”

I introduced myself and we started chatting standing at the window bay as the sun set behind the mountain ranges

Aakash had been visiting Mukteshwar and surrounding areas for over a year now, primarily due to CSR initiatives of his company – supporting a few NGOs in the belt.

He usually stayed with a friend who had retired and settled here. I also socially know the fine gentleman and am aware of the beautiful cottage he has built and wasn’t surprised when Aakash shared that during one such visit he expressed his keenness to build a similar retirement home here. One does get enamored during visits, with the beauty, charm and appeal of this lifestyle in the mountains, more-so on witnessing a close friend happily retired and enjoying his retreat in his mountain top villa.

Aakash’s friend with good intentions, found out from his circle here and referred Aakash to an upcoming Villa community in pre-launch stage, being developed by a developer based at Noida, in a prime location here.

In mid 2022 Aakash paid advance the developer and booked his plot in the villa community; the sale deed for the same was registered towards the end of 2022:

  • While registering the land sale deed at the authority, Aakash noticed that the sellers mentioned in the document were not the developer or his Partners but a few locals. On questioning the developer, Aakash was told that they are the original land owners (11 of them) from whom the developer had bought the land (through an agreement and that is a standard practice here, nothing to worry about). He was surprised at not being informed of this earlier, all the time the developer claimed the land title to be his – and Aakash had already paid the entire sale proceedings to him by now through a receipt.
  • The Villa plot was on a paper layout at the time of sale registration, while onsite it was just a big undivided hill side. The developer had promised Aakash the plots will be demarcated with boundaries as per layout, post some leveling etc. Including Aakash’s plot – within 15-20 days. 
  • Aakash had bought a developed plot, one with a metalled approach road, retention walls and usual standard infrastructure included in the sale price of the plot. The same was promised to be completed within 90 days for the entire layout and handed over to Aakash. (As per the developer he was to launch the project at a much higher price than the pre-launch special deal he had offered Aakash, post completing the layout infrastructure and hence he cannot delay  completion, handover and possession beyond the promised three months.

During six months following and that’s when our meeting at the cafe incidentally happened, this is what Aakash told me, transpired with him

  • His plot demarcation onsite is still pending
  • The project infrastructural development is yet to kick off – no retention walls or internal metalled roads have been started – only part of the approach road to the gated complex is made and still even half of that road is unmetalled.
  • The project obviously is still not formally launched at the so claimed higher rate, and plots are still being sold positioned as “pre-launch” special offers.
  • Aakash learnt from the authorities and his friend here that the transfer of ownership and title of the plot of land Aakash had bought and registered, will be legitimate, once the mutation (khatauni) is done, which normally is effectuated on records by the seller, immediately once sale deed registration is completed and registered sale deed received from authorities. Aakash had neither been informed of this by the developer nor had any clue till then about this critical document and process. On speaking with the developer, he was told that the khatauni will be applied in due course as they will apply for it together for a group of buyers, because it’s a cumbersome process and also requires all 11 land owners to be present which can’t be done for each individual repeatedly. Not surprisingly Aakash has no sight of this mutation document, till date.

“Tiger” he addressed me with a little misty eyes. I am the CEO of a reputed MNC, a professional with over 2.5 decades of management experience. I have been made to chase these guys since the last six months with no regard and being treated like a fool. They don’t take my calls nor turn up here post confirming to meet me and making me travel all the way. Each time I go to their Noida office, they give me a fresh date of all the above pendencies and promise to meet me here onsite to close and handover. What is my fault? 

I bought this land to build a retirement home here and live peacefully. Paid a bomb for this land (and he had as I heard the amount) instead the way I am being harassed since then by these non professional guys is totally unexpected. I don’t know the authorities and regulations here. My friend and his contacts are themselves sorry and shocked by my experience. My wife is annoyed, repeatedly taunting me for taking this step, I have lost my peace of mind!

Is this in store for every one who invests here in their dream mountain home? I have given up the idea of building my home remotely post this land purchase experience. I can’t take this uncalled for financial and mental stress any more.

I returned his gaze for sometime, both of us were silent.

“Shall I ask you Aakash – what was the tearing hurry to pay & register this land?”

He was not expecting a counter question as was visible from his expression. Aakash reflected for a while and said, well that was the condition by the developer. If I wanted the pre-launch price I had to pay the entire amount in 15 -30 days of paying the token. I insisted on the sale deed registry as I didn’t want to pay on an ATS alone. 

Secondly, I thought with the registry I will be the owner of my plot as it is back home and the value of the land will double with the formal launch of the project in a couple of months, moreover I presumed it was in the developers interest to complete the committed developments onsite within the stipulated time he was stating, as it was in his interest to do so and formally launch the project sales at the “market value!”

I smiled weakly – “The experienced CEO had fallen for the bait”

Aakash, let me share a few facts with you, though Little can be undone of what has transacted and transpired:

  • You liked the land for your home and the project. Since your good friend had taken pains to find this project on your request you also presumed you could rely and proceed, the way you did. You had comfort at the back of your mind and non doubts on intentions, which is understandable. But what is not understandable is that we are all senior professionals, and experienced to qualify & validate before making a decision, isn’t it ?
  • You should have taken a little pain to check the title of this land, it’s a simple process through the government. Registrar office locally – you would have seen the 11 local owners of the land ! Ideally a developer should own the title of the land he is developing and promoting and entering into sale agreements for, however in Uttarakhand, becoz. Of land rules, outsiders from out of state domicile/registration have limitations. These limitations on land acquisition and development are also applicable to recently registered small entities, for obvious reasons. Many land and developments here are by such remotely based entities and they resort to these workarounds. These should be avoided and can be through due diligence and verification.
  • Second, if you wanted this plot you should have negotiated with the developer on the financial and handover terms. Locked it with a refundable token and a tight time-bound ATS binding him of competing all committed developments onsite in the timelines he was assuring you of and then registering the sale. Failing which the amount with penalty should have been refundable to you.
  • Third, the mutation (khatauni) doesn’t require all sellers to be present; they have signed on the sale deed already which is registered, neither is there any requirement for it to be done collectively as they have been communicating to you. In fact the mutation is a simple process and authenticates your registered plot through a patwari and  a few other certifications and transfers the title on the government records in the buyer’s name.

Lastly, yes many professionals and home investors have faced what you have gone through, including yours truly – surprised? Why do you think I started “RealEye” when I shifted base to Mukteshwar? Not for the money my friend – but to try and ensure “Rely-bility” through Advisory, Qualification and Validation services, enabling peace of mind for home investors, something they invest their hard earned money for.

Aakash’s mutation was managed in the next 15 days by arranging a few phone calls to the developer through the authorities and accompanying Aakash for signing a few docs. The title of his plot is now “transferred” in his name, in records. 

For the plot development & handover, well he has a little longish road ahead…

Aakash thanked me profusely on getting his “Khautani” and offered to pay for my services asking for the amount payable. 

“A cup of Cappuccino my friend, each time you are here” was my quoted amount to Aakash – which he smiled and accepted.

The Allure of Real Estate in the Mountains: How experienced professionals fall for the bait
The Allure of Real Estate in the Mountains: How experienced professionals fall for the bait

Know more about the scope of RealEye’s services, here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *