Mobile Number Portability

The long-awaited mobile number portability (MNP) is finally here! The facility allows customers to change their cellphone operator without losing their phone numbers.

The MNP launch, which was deferred four times due to reasons ranging from operators not being ready with their networks to security concerns, promises to open a new chapter for India's burgeoning mobile population.

As the country’s mobile customers gear up to this new-found freedom, here's a ready reckoner on MNP that endeavours to answer all queries about MNP. Can a CDMA subscriber change to GSM network? What will be the cost of changing my service provider? How long will the transition take? This and many more such crucial queries on MNP are answered below.

So, here’s all that you wanted to know (and should know) about MNP.

Balance on prepaid cards will not be carried forward. Similarly, in case it is a platform shift you will have to change handsets. This means if you decide to move from CDMA-to-GSM or vice-versa, you will also have to change your handset.

A subscriber can stay within same technology, GSM/CDMA. Also, change to CDMA or vice versa. Both post-paid and prepaid subscribers can go for it.

How long will it take to port a number?

Seven working days. Fifteen working days in J&K, North-east.

How expensive?

Changing your mobile service provider will cost Rs 19. This will be collected by new service provider.

Can you retain your number in another city?

No. You can’t change circles. This means subscribers cannot take their Delhi number to an operator in Mumbai. They can only change their operator within Delhi.

How frequently can you switch service providers?

A subscriber must be with a provider for at least three months. Next number change not before 90 days.

Will MNP help improve quality of service?

Analysts believe that this is likely to happen only if operators believe that the churn out of their subscriber base is so high that they need to improve their service or customer care, etc.

However, surveys have revealed that the net effect of number portability is practically negligible. This means most large operators gain and lose roughly the same number of subscribers, taking away any incentive to dramatically change quality of service or customer care or pricing owing to the threat of losing subscribers or the option of gaining subscribers.

Will switching operator help me cut my mobile bill?

Mobile phone tariffs in India are already extremely competitive and so moving to a dramatically lower bill is unlikely. Some consumers who are frequent callers, an equivalent of closed user group-or family members who are currently on different networks could now move to single network to take advantage of attractive tariff packages, including free calls within the same network, etc.

However, before you make any switch check whether your operator is providing a similar option.

Home buying process – Critical steps you must follow

Buying a house can be an overwhelming experience, both financially and emotionally. To help you through the process, here we share with you a step-by-step guide to buying a house.

1. Identify the location/property:
The first step for you to take when buying a property is to narrow down a location or set of areas that you are interested in. When doing so, maintain a checklist with you things you like or dislike about certain areas/neighbourhoods. You will also want to evaluate which properties meet your needs in terms of property features like the layout, number of bedrooms, size of the kitchen etc.

If you need a loan, understand whether lenders are active in the neighbourhoods that you are considering. Not all lenders lend in all areas. Especially risky are areas that might be under dispute or are unauthorised. Similarly, when buying from a developer understand whether lenders have approved the development or not, if you need a home loan to buy this property.

2. Legal due diligence on the property:
There are two types of properties you can buy, something that is pre-existing, or that is being newly constructed. In either case, you must be sure that the seller owns the property and has the right to sell the property to you, and that later on you will not get into any confusion about ownership rights.

a) Pre-existing property:
When you buy a pre-existing property, you need to firstly transact with the seller, agree on the terms and conditions, verify documents, and finally get loan approval if you need a loan.

b) Under-construction property:
When buying an under construction property confirm that the development is legal and that sanction plans have been approved. Otherwise, you might end up paying money for something that is illegal.

3. Understand your payment plan:
Depending upon the builder and the type of property you are buying, you need to be aware of the payment plans that you will be asked to sign up for. If you are buying a pre-existing property, chances are that you will be expected to pay a lump sum for it today, rather than spread the payments across a future time period.

If you are buying an under-construction property, you might have some flexibility regarding the type of payment plan. Typical plans are of 3 types:

a) Construction linked:
You pay based on the progress of the construction of the property. Can be safest because you pay for progress rather than uselessly be out of pocket to fund a developer even when the property is delayed.

b) Time linked:
You pay according to a set timetable, whether the construction is on time or not. Risk can be that you are contractually bound to pay your instalments, even though the property is making no progress.

c) Down payment:
You pay for the property up front, but then are exposed to the risk of delays and whether the property will get completed at all or not.

The common feature in all payment plans will be that you will have to pay an initial amount (could be up to 10%) as down payment.

4. Apply for loan approval:
If you need a loan for your purchase, then it is advisable to simultaneously start the application process with potential lenders, along with the above steps. This can give you some insight on the size of the loan that you will be eligible for and the terms on which you will get such a loan. Don't delay this process as often your deal can fall through if you do not have adequate funding in place for your purchase. The lender will require certain documents from you regarding your income and tax status, as well as some property related documents. You can also get a pre-approval for a loan in case you have not selected a property as yet, but want to save time later when you have narrowed down a property. Please also understand how the lender will disburse your loan, in a lump sum or according to the payment plan you sign up for.

5. Allotment letter:
Once you have applied for a booking in an under construction property, the developer will allot you a flat. You will receive an allotment letter from the builder. This allotment letter includes the details (like flat number, area, price) of the flat that has been allotted to you, the payment details, any extra charges levied to you amenities such as car parking, club membership, and maintenance charges to be levied at time of possession and occupancy. If you have a preference for a certain floor or view, then you must request this from the builder at the time of the initial application with the builder. Once the allotment letter is given to you, your flexibility to change your unit might be limited.

6. Sale agreement:
If you are buying a pre-existing property then the seller will sign a sale agreement with you after you have agreed on the terms of the sale with the seller.

If you are getting an under-construction property, then after you have booked the apartment, over the coming months the developer will sign a sale agreement with you. This is a contract which signifies that the property has been sold to you and also highlights the details of your unit. Please cross check that all the details that were promised to you, especially the price, square footage, delivery date and penalties for late delivery and payment plans (penalty for late payment) are what you had agreed upon with the developer.

7. Possession and Registration:
The final step in the buying process is the possession of the property being transferred to you and your responsibility to get it registered in your name. Possession is the physical transfer of the property, but is not sufficient to establish legal transfer of ownership. For this you will have to get the property registered in your name in the local municipal records, with the seller documenting that the property is being transferred to you. At the time of registration you will also have to pay a stamp duty which is a government tax levied on property transactions.

Most people who buy a house find the process can be a strain, but hopefully at the end of it all you can finally have a place that you can call home sweet home!

By - India's leading one-stop financial supermarket for real estate, home loans, investments, taxes and financial planning.

Quick tips for first time home buyers

Unless you are an old hand at buying and selling property, there are some things that you will be better off knowing about if you are in the market to buy a property for the first time. Buying a home is probably the biggest purchase most people will ever make in, so it can only be beneficial to you if you can avoid making common mistakes and learn from the experience of others. Ask around within your circles of friends and family members, and use this knowledge to get smarter about your own purchase. In any case, here are some tips that we think are worth you being aware of.

1. Stick with a reputed developer:
Reputed builders have the track record of delivering projects on time. Some lesser known builders are giving fancy promises and pricing schemes that are very tempting. But, history has shown that if you can afford it you should be willing to pay the slightly higher premium charged by reputed builders. By going with a new builder you never can be fully sure if your money is safe, if the quality of the construction will be good or if the project will be completed on time.

2. Act quickly, but not in haste:
Assuming you have done the necessary research and due diligence on the property, then there is no upside in delaying your transaction/booking. By acting quickly, you can be assured that you will get a unit in the development of your choice, and more so you stand a better chance of getting a unit that meets your criteria of floor, view etc. Additionally, if you wait to act, the price might go up if other buyers have very strong demand and the supply in this development gets exhausted in the original launch phase. You might be forced to then apply in the new phase of the development but at a higher price than what you could have got in the previous phase. Don't be forced into acting in haste, but if your mind is made up, then don't delay.

3. Organize loan financing in parallel:
If you know that you will need funding, then front load the process by applying for a loan, even if you have not narrowed down a property that meets your needs ad budget. You can get a pre-approval from lenders. Once you have finalized a property, check if the lenders are agreeable to financing this property or not, before you pay your booking amount. No point in starting a transaction if getting a loan on the property is going to be a problem.

4. Take a suitable payment plan:
Choose a payment plan that you can meet, otherwise there will be expensive penalties that you will incur that will raise the cost of your final purchase prices. Don't get tempted by the offer of a discount for down payment plans, if you know you need the money for other expenditures. Don't over commit your finances. If you default then you will lose the property and it might take you a long time before you can recover your initial deposit and
instalments from the builder if at all the builder will be agreeable to refund your money.

5. Negotiate better rates:
Sometimes builders might be willing to offer one-off discounts during festive seasons or if their sales are slow. Unless you ask, you won't get. So, do ask the builder if they can give you a special deal.

6. Sell the property before registration if taken for investment purpose:
If you had bought the property from an investment perspective or didn't eventually like what you bought, it is strongly advisable that you sell the place before registering it. Registration charges, along with stamp duty, can be about 5%-6% of the purchase cost. So, unless you decide to hold on to the property for long, you shouldn't register it.

7. Tax benefits:
Become aware of the tax benefits of owning a home or multiple homes and the deductions that you can get under each of these scenarios if you have a loan on these properties. Under the Direct Tax Code, the rules related to tax advantages of home ownership might come under review. If you are buying a house purely for investment purposes, then do ask your tax and financial advisors what the current state of the tax laws are and how you can benefit the most from the current and expected future scenario so that you can make a financially efficient decision.

By - India's leading one-stop financial supermarket for real estate, home loans, investments, taxes and financial planning.

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