The section of your real estate cover story that identifies suburbs of big cities for good bargains (Buy in Suburbia, October 2009) was extremely informative. However, as a potential investor, I think that the options listed were too few. Also, given that there are several factors to be considered before selecting a location, can you tell me the parameters that were chosen for zeroing in on the suburbs featured in the story?
Katherine Braganza, Panaji
We had deliberately recommended only a few suburbs because we wanted to identify the best options. There certainly are a lot more suburbs that offer good bargains. We considered factors like the degree of price correction in the market, the price of new projects launched in the area, the potential for appreciation in prices (measured by the employment opportunities in the area), as well as the support infrastructure being developed in these locations. We also worked out rental returns because a significant number of investors look at income from rent as a reason to invest. You could use the same criteria to rank other suburbs.
I enjoyed the story on travel services for the differently abled (Designed to Make a Difference, September 2009). Recently, my cousin, who has polio, accompanied us on a family holiday. We stayed at a hotel which had no special facilities for him. Can we sue a hotel if it does not cater to the differently abled?
Kunal Biswas, Kolkata
The Ministry of Tourism has issued new guidelines for hotel classification, according to which it is mandatory for hotels of all categories to have rooms designed specifically for the differently abled. However, as such rooms are limited in number, you will need to book in advance to ensure their availability. If you are still denied these services, you can take the matter to the grievance redressal cell in the Ministry of Tourism or to a consumer court.
I was planning to buy a laptop for my son, who has just joined college, but after reading your story on netbooks (Packing a Punch, October 2009), I think it will be more appropriate to pick up the latter. However, it is likely that he would also want to watch movies on the laptop. Please advise.
Ranjan Saarthi, Hyderabad
You can buy an optical drive that can be plugged into the USB port of the netbook. This will allow your son to watch movie DVDs. The price range for the drive is Rs 1,400-5,000. If he wants to record movies, you can opt for a high-end version.
The direct taxes code proposed by the government has queered the pitch for investors. Removing the exemption on HRA and making PPF withdrawals taxable will hit the salaried class hard.
Sandeep Kumar, Amritsar
The direct taxes code will come into effect only after it is passed by Parliament. While it proposes to tax incomes from all sources, the liberal tax slabs will ensure there is no change in the tax outgo. Only the web of deductions and exemptions has been removed.
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