For any overseas Pakistani out there wanting to tap into Pakistan’s real estate market, now is the right time! With the government providing ease in property investment for overseas Pakistanis, the graph is going up for the property market. Also, thanks to the advancement in technology, including the ever-increasing penetration of social media in our lives, nothing is hidden from the public eye. This means, potential overseas buyers can find out every bit of detail regarding property investment in Pakistan, while not leaving the comfort of their homes. Through YouTube videos, reviews on Facebook and a series of pictures on the net, you can virtually visit the land you have set your eyes on. However, do your homework before choosing the property you want to invest in. It is a task that requires through research, a sharp mind, good analytical skills and a third eye that can sense any sort of fraudulent practice. Here are a few tips to consider in this regard:
Basic Investment tips for Overseas Pakistanis
Let us first discuss a few basic investment tips for overseas Pakistanis
Is this a safe project to invest in?
The first question that comes up when planning to purchase property is if a housing project is safe to invest in. If it falls within the administration of municipal authorities like Capital Development Authority (CDA), Karachi Development Authority (KDA) and Lahore Development Authority (LDA) or under a regulated administration body like Defence Housing Authority (DHA) or the Pakistan Armed Forces (PAF), then it’s bound to be a safe investment opportunity. Also, check if the residential scheme is approved by the government authorities. If a project is still awaiting the government’s approval, it should be enough to set off alarm bells for potential buyers. Lack of approval, more often than not, means there is a high possibility that the authorities have cancelled the housing scheme. Your safest bet is, therefore, investment in well-known, approved projects only.
Check track record of the builder
You can trust with closed eyes if the developer or builder is a known figure in the realty market with a track record of successful housing projects. Rufi builders, Saima Group and Pakistan Navy have a number of large-scale residential schemes under their belt. You can invest in the various housing opportunities they offer. Mostly, a trusted developer will give a timeline as to when the project completes. You can make a decision based on how well, and quickly, they are working on an ongoing scheme; this will help you determine whether they will deliver in time or not. When choosing a property, be it for buying or even to rent, the rule of thumb is to make your decision based on what you see and not on ‘what they promise to deliver.’ Ask these questions: Is there electricity, gas, water available? How robust is the basic infrastructure, e.g., roads and drainage? How do people commute? Is the security system up-to-date? Is it a load-shedding free zone?
Beware of fraudulent practices and scams
Hire a legal service that can do the background checks for you. Explore every bit of detail that you can find related to a property developer. Here is a check-list to consider before buying property:
- Approved layout plans/building plans
Credible projects have some kind of plan or design that potential buyers can review. All of these layout plans must be approved by the relevant government authorities.
- A historical record of property’s ownership
It’s crucial that you demand proof of the developer’s history of ownership of the property they are selling. All authentic developers will have official records of their current and previous projects.
- Property seller should have possession of the property in black and white
Investing in real estate is a major decision for all kinds of buyers. It requires a significant sum of money, therefore, you should make sure to demand and verify official documents that prove the seller in fact owns the property that is being sold.
- All dues on the property have been cleared
Don’t buy anything that has dues such as utility bills and property taxes, etc, pending. If a seller is willing to put this financial burden on you, then it’s best you don’t deal with them at all.
- Demand the original copy of registry
Although we’ve already discussed the importance of documentation, this part needs special emphasis. Always demand the title document and/or the allotment letter. Make copies. In fact, it’s always a good idea to immediately scan and save all such documents.
Facilities for overseas Pakistanis to invest in Pakistan
Government of Pakistan has formed a body to facilitate overseas Pakistanis by the name of Overseas Pakistani Foundation (OPF).
Membership of Overseas Pakistani Foundation
According to the official website of Overseas Pakistani Foundation, Overseas Pakistanis who are settled abroad since 23rd March, 1979 on valid work visa by the Protectorate of Emigrants, Bureau of Emigrations & Overseas Employment (BE&OE) and Overseas Employment Corporation (OEC) are registered with Overseas Pakistani Foundation and can avail its services. If any Pakistani living abroad is not registered with OPF can simply register themselves by paying PKR 2000. You will remain an OPF member as long as you stay abroad.
Reasons of investment in Pakistan for expats?
One of the major reasons of investment in Pakistan for expats is that Pakistan is undergoing rapid economic development. Overseas Pakistanis invest in Pakistan in a number of sectors. From agriculture, retail, IT & telecom, power & energy, mining, tourism, textile, pharmaceutical, automotive to financial services Pakistan’s investment scene is ripe with multiple opportunities for overseas Pakistanis. Detailed policies and acts have been shared by Investment Facilitation Centre of OPF.
Important legal guidelines for overseas Pakistanis investing in business in Pakistan
Property investment for overseas Pakistanis has now become quite easy. OPF has provided detailed financial and legal guidelines for overseas Pakistanis wanting to invest in Pakistan.
- Whenever doing any financial transactions with business partners always pursue legal channels
- Verify all necessary documents before investing in new business. It is best to visit the actual site before you decide to invest
- Prepare a written agreement discussing rights and duties of all shareholders/ investment and business partners. This partnership agreement must be duly signed by all concerned
- Next step is to get it registered with government’s business regulatory services like Federal Chamber of Commerce & Industry (FPCCI) or Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP)
- Never give General Power of Attorney to anyone. If really necessary, only assign Special Power of Attorney mentioning specific purpose. Be cautious that the holder of General Power of Attorney enjoys all legal powers including the right to sell property without notifying the owner
- Never sign any blank paper
- Do not give a copy of your national identity card (CNIC or NICOP) or any other important identification document to anyone for any purpose. Whenever it is necessary, put a cross on it and write the purpose on it.
Facilities for overseas Pakistanis to buy property in Pakistan
Property investment for overseas Pakistanis has become easy as OPF itself has established housing schemes in different areas of Pakistan. Plots in these housing schemes, as OPF claims, have been allotted to overseas Pakistanis. These schemes are located in Islamabad, Gujrat, Lahore, Dadu, Peshawar, Mirpur (AJK) and Larkana.
Guideline provided by Overseas Pakistani Foundation for buying property
- If you plan to buy property offered by a private housing scheme, verify from the local regulatory authority like Lahore Development Authority (LDA), Malir Development Authority (MDA), Faisalabad Development Authority (FDA), Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA) and Capital Development Authority (CDA) if the housing project is officially approved
- Inquire from the administration of housing scheme whether they will transfer the land in your name or just give you the allotment. OPF advises that it is better that the land is transferred in your name
- If you are purchasing property from an individual person, verify the registry title of the seller from the local authorities
- Once you have purchased property through Registered Sales Deed, ensure that mutation is entered in land record as it validates you as the property owner otherwise only sales deed will not serve the purpose
- Open plots are most prone to illegal possession, therefore OPF advises that you construct a boundary wall with a gate to safeguard your property
- Before purchasing property, publish a notice in your local newspaper
Plots or houses? Take your pick
First things first; make up your mind. Where exactly do you think you should invest? Follow a property portal like Zameen.com for more updates. Are you looking for long-term investments for your children or are you looking for a house/apartment where you would like to live five years down the lane? People buy property for different reasons. It all depends upon how risk-averse you are, what type of profits or returns you are planning to achieve – is it capital appreciation you are looking for or a side income from rent? People who want long-term investments often purchase land, so when the property’s value goes up, they will resell it to gain profits. Following are some of the options to explore when looking to buy residential plots in Karachi the city of lights. You can also search for a number of plots up for sale in the popular city of Lahore. Multan is also a popular city when it comes to investing in plots for sale. Due to ongoing developments because of CPEC, Gwadar is offering a number of plots for sale. If you are searching for specific areas within each city, then residential plots are up for sale in DHA City Karachi. It is the first sustainable, smart and green city of Pakistan. It is located 56 km away from the main city. DHA City Karachi is one of the best choices for property investment for overseas Pakistanis. Lake City-Lahore is a gated community along the Raiwind Road and is a top choice for property investment for overseas Pakistanis.
If you are looking to buy a house in Karachi, then according to popular search trends DHA-Karachi tops the list. DHA-Karachi is an upscale residential area with a regulated administration. DHA Lahore tops the list in most popular areas in Lahore to buy houses. Same is the case with Islamabad. DHA Islamabad grabs the first position in popularity ranking for investment in houses in the city.
Specific housing Schemes for overseas property investment
There are many options in property investment for overseas Pakistanis. We will be discussing a couple of housing schemes for overseas property investment in Pakistan.
OPF Housing Scheme Lahore
Overseas Pakistani Foundation – OPF Housing Scheme Lahore is spread over 2316 kanal and is only 3 km away from the renowned Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital. 10 marla houses are up for sale in OPF Housing Scheme Lahore. Property prices vary between PKR 1.9 crore to PKR 2.25 crore.
Overseas Enclave, Bahria Town Lahore
According to Zameen’s area guide on Overseas Bahria Town Lahore, “Overseas Enclave is amongst the most popular blocks of Bahria Town Lahore. Its properties are approved by the Lahore Development Authority (LDA). This block is completely developed and all kinds of facilities — from basic to luxurious — are available here. According to the project’s official website, Overseas Enclave has been “designed around scintillating scenes of the beautiful lake.” Lush green parks add to its beauty. People who wish to live away from the hustle and bustle of the city and, at the same time, want to reside in an upscale community usually go for Overseas Enclave. A large number of families are already residing here. However, it is important to note that only overseas Pakistanis can buy property here.”
There are 1 kanal houses for sale in Overseas Enclave Bahria Town Lahore. There are also 10 marla houses in the society where the property rates fall in between PKR 1.3 crore and PKR 2.5 crore. If you want to invest in plots in Overseas Enclave Bahria Town Lahore then you can buy 10 marla and 1 kanal plots.
Park View Villas Tulip Overseas Block
Park View Villas is located on Multan Road, Lahore. Orange Line Metro Station and Thokar Niaz Beg is no less than a 5-minute drive away from the main entrance of Park View Villas Housing Scheme. Popular housing scheme Izmir Town is also located in close proximity to Park View Villas Tulip Overseas Block. Many plots are up for sale in Park View Villas Tulip Overseas Block. 10 marla plots are up for sale in Park View Villas Overseas Block. Prices vary between PKR 62 lakh to PKR 73 lakh.
Tax filing for overseas Pakistanis
Tax filing for overseas Pakistanis has now been made easy. 2019 heralds good news for overseas Pakistanis. Government has loosened the noose around non-filers of tax returns for overseas Pakistani. Overseas Pakistanis can now invest in the real estate sector of Pakistan with ease. Previously, the government had made it compulsory for investors to file tax returns before purchasing any land. Overseas Pakistanis do not come under the tax net, but once they purchase property, they are liable to pay property tax in Pakistan. This will also generate maximum remittances and lessen the financial woes of the country. All of this is part of the current government’s plan to help strengthen the Pakistani economy. Now, you don’t need to file income tax returns for properties valued above PKR 5 million. In a nutshell, it is indeed a good time for overseas Pakistanis to invest in their country’s real estate market.
What are you waiting for?
House-hunting is a tedious task. However, you can take a look at Zameen’s website, if you want to strike a profitable deal. Pro tip: Before buying any property, weigh the profits that you may gain against possible losses that may incur. Keep a lookout for any emerging housing scheme in any major city. For instance, Zameen Opal in Lahore is a residential project that has recently attracted investors from across the globe. Approved by LDA, it promises to give a luxurious lifestyle to its residents. Make sure to explore this opportunity, especially considering how rules involving non-filers overseas Pakistanis are subject to change.
Stay tuned to Zameen Blog – the best property portal in Pakistan for more real estate-related analyses, tips and suggestions.