IFRIC 15 standardises accounting practice across jurisdictions for the recognition of revenue by real estate developers for sales of units, such as apartments or houses, 'off plan' – that is, before construction is complete.
Observations about IFRIC 15:
- Fundamental issue. The fundamental issue is whether the developer is selling goods – the completed apartment or house – or is selling a service – a construction service as a contractor engaged by the buyer. Revenue from selling goods is normally recognised at delivery. Revenue from selling services is normally recognised on a percentage-of-completion basis as construction progresses. IFRIC 15 provides guidance on how to determine whether an agreement for the construction of real estate is within the scope of IAS 11 Construction Contracts or IAS 18 Revenue and, accordingly, when revenue from the construction should be recognised.
- IAS 11 or IAS 18? An agreement for the construction of real estate is a construction contract within the scope of IAS 11 only when the buyer is able to specify the major structural elements of the design of the real estate before construction begins and/or specify major structural changes once construction is in progress (whether it exercises that ability or not). If the buyer has that ability, IAS 11 applies. If the buyer does not have that ability, IAS 18 applies.
- If IAS 18, service or goods? Even if IAS 18 applies, the agreement may be to provide construction services rather than goods. This would likely be the case, for instance, if the entity is not required to acquire and supply construction materials. If the entity is required to provide services together with construction materials in order to perform its contractual obligation to deliver real estate to the buyer, the agreement for the sale of goods under IAS 18.
- Implications of IFRIC 15. The main expected change in practice is a shift for some entities from recognising revenue as construction progresses to recognising revenue at a single time – at completion upon or after delivery. Agreements that will be affected will be mainly those currently accounted for in accordance with IAS 11 that do not meet the definition of a construction contract as interpreted by the IFRIC and do not transfer to the buyer control and the significant risks and rewards of ownership of the work in progress in its current state as construction progresses.
IFRIC 15 is effective for annual periods beginning on or after 1 January 2009 and must be applied retrospectively. Earlier application is permitted. Click for the Press Release (PDF 55k).