A positive example in this respect became the long awaited amendments to Act # 214 FZ enacted by Federal Statute of July 18, 2006, # 111 FZ “On introduc ing amendments to the Federal Act “On participation in shared construction of blocs of apartments and other real estate objects and on introducing amendments to some legislative acts of the Russian Federation”. The amendments in question facilitate procedures for developers and create conditions for boosting up volumes of house building, including the following:
modification of procedures of cancellation of the agreement on participation in the shared construction both by private co investors (in the part of limitations of possibilities for the unilateral refusal of the agreement) and developers (simplifica tion of the agreement cancellation procedures), along with setting for the latter procedures of return of funds in the event of cancellation of the agreement;
relief of the property developer of the absolute liability for any defects of the object of shared construction;
Pechalnye tsifry. Kvartirny ryad, 30 Nov 6 Dec 2007, # 48 (619) p. A negative element of such a variant will become a greater diversity of the bankruptcy law, which already provides for peculiarities of pursuance of insolvency procedures with respect to strategic enterprises, agricultural, financial organizations, subjects of natural monopolies, etc.
RUSSIAN ECONOMY IN trends and outlooks exclusion of the joint and several liability of the bank and the property devel oper with regard to obligations secured by a collateral under maintenance of equal rights of submortgagee banks and individual co investors under satisfaction of their claims in the event of recovery of the collateral;
cancellation of the obligation to publish in the media a project declaration, which should contain information on the property developer and the object of con struction, while maintaining the developer’s obligation to provide the declaration to any person and inform of earlier completed projects;
introduction of obligations (housing certificates with a double face value in terms of price and area) which fixes the owner’s right for receipt from the issuer of domestic premises with the possibility for selling the securities in question and the developer’s obligation to buy them with indexation);
limiting the amount of monetary resources attracted from individual co investors (together with loans received from banks) with the value of construction of the house, as per the project declaration;
decrease of the amount of the penalty cost payable by the parties that par ticipate in the shared construction for abusing their mutual obligations.
The new version of the law creates more favorable conditions of saturation of the housing market by encouraging investors who have tried to avoid risks associ ated with newly constructed housing. One can also hope for a better funding of construction projects, as the cancellation of the joint and several liability of banks and property developers should form an operative motive to the former to renew disbursing loans to the latter at the former scale. Plus, great hopes are laid upon issuance of obligations.
Meanwhile, there persists a whole series of still unresolved challenges. Many developers still ignore standards that regulate procedures of purchasing by private individuals of apartments in newly built houses. There persists the risk of double sales of housing, as the preliminary sale agreements are not subject to the state registration. As deals involving promissory notes, they likewise appear yet more exposed to fraudulent acts than the shared participation contracts. That is why the enforcement of the new version of the Federal Act “On participation in the shared construction…” is likely to imply limited effects137.
Another important legal novelty became amendments to the Town Planning Code that took effect as of January 1, 2007. They are aimed at lifting administrative barriers and improvement of mechanisms of involvement in the economic turnover of sites designated for construction of housing.
Resolving numerous conflicts that have arisen around allocation of land for construction, they allow allocation of sites without holding tenders, provided the respective agreements had been concluded prior to the late 2004 or the place ment of objects on the site had been approved before October 1, 2005. This grants the property developer with the right to develop earlier frozen sites. The amend ments introduce criteria of recognition of the territory due to be developed for the Pro “serye” skhemy I kvartiry v novostroykakh. Kvartirny ryad, 7 13 Dec 2006, # 49 (620), p. 16 Section Institutional Problems purpose of house building. The investor can acquire the right to conclude a territory development agreement at an auction or without holding that, provided the housing is to be built on the basis of placement of an order for the public or municipal needs. Local self governance bodies now can enjoy the right to use sites owned by the municipality or falling under the category of unlocated property as collateral against loans for building local infrastructure. To encourage house building, it is suggested to introduce greater rental payments for land in three years after its al location.
In addition, the noted amendments provide for formation of a uniform system of public evaluation of the project documentation and a single supervisory body in the construction sector138, to be formed by the Rosstroy and the RF Ministry for Re gional Development. The goal is to reduce construction costs (in the part of the costs associated with reconcilement and approvals) and contraction of the length of conduct of evaluations.
In the circumstances, the government still sets the goal of boosting volumes of placement of new housing in operation, as they still are inferior to the pre reform ones. In addition to the mortgage mechanisms, it raises the issue of development of a savings system, which should enable private individuals to buy housing via special savings banks, which should not require any liquid pledged real property. A part of the government guarantees should be diverted from municipalities straight to real estate developers in the form of banking loans. The State Duma will consider a document on the transition from the state licensing, which was extended through the 1st half 2007, to self regulation. Should the Duma pass the bill, the greatest challenge should become the problem of amounts of contributions payable by par ticipants in the self regulated organizations (SRO) to a compensations fund to sat isfy possible damages of individuals that may suffer from fraudulent activities. It is planned to spent RUR 5 bln. on modernization of the public utilities infrastructure and over 1 bln. – on rehousing of families from the untenable housing. One of the pools for funding the housing sector modernization will be formed using the USD 200m worth loan from EBRD. To develop the industry for construction materials, it is planned to allocate sites for new production facilities and cancel import duties on a series of production equipment.
Like some other industry branches, the construction sector may become ex posed to the expansion of the state not only as a regulator of the market, but a player on it. A great role in implementation of the national project on housing was assigned to the state controlled Sberbank and Vneshtorgbank (the latter has re cently taken over Industrial and Construction Bank (headquartered in Saint Peters burg). After taking over ICB together with its development subsidiary “ICB Invest group”, Vneshtorgbank is now in transition from its habitual role of creditor to huge construction companies towards implementation of its own development projects, which has already occurred in Saint Petersburg and announced in Leningrad, Kos troma and Kaluga oblasts, and Republic of Chuvashia. Today, Vneshtorgbank con This implies cancellation of some 10 kinds of evaluation and all other kinds of the government su pervision in the sector, which steered quite equivocal comments RUSSIAN ECONOMY IN trends and outlooks templates creation of a nationwide development division139. There also are voices advocating creation of a federal construction corporation, whose principal mission should be commissioning construction orders to contractors at a fixed return rate.
The national project should be further specified in the Program of socio economic development of Russian Federation in medium term (2006 2008) ap proved by Resolution of the RF Government of January 19, 2006, # 38 p. The Resolution contains a special section “Shaping the market for affordable housing”.
The section reads that at the first stage the priority national project will be im plemented along the following four avenues:
- ensuring a greater affordability of housing;
- fulfillment of the government obligations before individual categories of citizens;
- increase in the mortgage volumes;
- increase in the volume of house building and modernization of the public utilities infrastructure.
Each avenue suggests certain measures that imply development of the legal base, ensuring a balanced support to expansion of demand and offer on the hous ing market, and fulfillment of the government obligations on provision of certain categories of citizens with housing.
The main vehicles of implementation of the government support remain the federal targeted program “Housing” for 2002 2010 and its sub programs.
To make housing more affordable for young families and the young special ists in the rural areas who are in need for housing or improvement of their housing conditions, the Program provides for the following measures:
- provision of housing subsidies to young families (including subsidies for the purchase of a private house or payment of the first installment in the event of a mortgage loan) amounting to 40% of the average cost of a standard housing, including 10% at the expense of the federal budget and 30% at the expense of a regional or local budget;
- insuring mortgage loans disbursed to young families for the sake of reducing the amount of the first payment in the event of a mortgage loan (formation of the authorized capital of the respective organization at the expense of the federal budget or subsidizing citizens’ expenses on payment of the insurance pre mium);
- provision of young specialists residing in the rural areas with subsidies on con struction of individual housing, including for the purpose of repayment of the first installment in the event of a mortgage loan (subsidizing between 10% and 50% of costs of the standard housing at the expense of the federal budget is differentiated across regions, provided a certain contribution by regional or lo cal budgets).
The fulfillment of the state obligations with regard to provision of housing to individual categories of citizens is aimed at securing a possibility to purchase housing by the citizens before whom the Russian Federation has Frumkin K. Chabol po russki//Kompania, # 48 49 (444 445), 25.12.2006, p. 25 Section Institutional Problems obligations on provision them with housing or improvement of their housing conditions. This avenue implies implementation of the following measures:
- provision of housing subsidies to the citizens before whom the state has the re spective obligations (discharged military, citizens moved from “Baykonur” complex, out of the Northern Territories, compulsory migrants, and victims of nuclear accidents and catastrophes);
- fulfillment of state obligations associated with provision of housing to veterans and disabled who queue for improvement of their housing conditions, before whom the Russian Federation has assumed obligations to improve their condi tions in the process of division of powers between different tiers of government.
To ensure conditions for increase of offer of housing in proportion to the population’s growing effective demand and to enhance the quality of the provided public utilities services, the government recognizes the necessity to boost volumes of house building and modernize the public utilities infrastructure, including:
- provision of sites with the public utilities infrastructure, particularly by means of provision of government guarantees and subsidizing (up to 50%) of interest rates on loans granted on implementation of projects on equipping the sites with the public utilities infrastructure subject to conditions of co financing of such projects by regional and local budgets; allocation of the federal budget re sources subject to conditions of co financing such projects by regional and lo cal budgets, and private investors;
- establishment of a revolving fund, whose mission should be provision of support to municipalities and public utilities operators to obtain loans;
- contraction of the number of administrative barriers associated with granting real estate developers with access to the house building market, as well as de veloping the market infrastructure, increasing the efficiency of town planning and modification of the anti trust law in this particular area.
To boost up volumes of mortgage loans, it is imperative to ensure creation of conditions for the increase in disbursement of long term mortgage loans to the population on the basis of development of a uniform mortgage loan refinancing system. This would become possible, should the following measures be imple mented:
- a RUR 14.2 bln. worth increase of the authorized capital of the “Agentstvo po ipotechnomy zhilischnomu kreditovaniyu” open end joint stock company in 2006 08 and provision of the RF government guarantees on the company’s bor rowings worth a total of up to RUR 58 bln.;
- completion of the legal base for the issuance of mortgage securities;
- crafting infrastructure for the mortgage loan system and the market for mort gage securities.
The RF Government’s activities in this area should also pursue the following objectives:
- to capitalize on the mortgage loan refinancing system to boost up volumes of the co financed construction of blocs of apartments and individual houses;
RUSSIAN ECONOMY IN trends and outlooks - to give a rise to housing and savings institutions (creation of house building and savings banks);
- to lift the mandatory requirements to have mortgage papers secured with the RF government guarantee to make it possible to invest pension savings;
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