A guide to Moscow's residential property market (part 1)

Moscow’s residential property market can be confusing for an international assignee, whether he or she is moving to the Russian capital with a family, or seeking a smaller apartment to rent. Moscow-based Intermark Relocation has produced this useful guide.

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Moscow&#x;s residential property market can be confusing for an international assignee, whether he or she is moving to the Russian capital with a family, or seeking a smaller apartment to rent. Moscow-based Intermark Relocation has produced this useful guide.Houses and townhouses in Moscow are practically non-existent (with very few compounds as exceptions). The majority of the market volume is represented by apartments in residential buildings of various types.Types of residential building and entrances The price of an apartment depends, to a very large extent, on the building it is located in and the quality of the entrance. The poor quality of many entrances is caused by the fact that many of them still belong to the government, which not only fails to renovate them, but also imposes a lot of &#x;red tape&#x; on apartment owners who want to renovate at their own coast.Apartment sizesMost Moscow apartments are not very large &#x; typically between 50 and 150 square metres.Most apartments have two bedrooms (on average 38% of the market) or three bedrooms (on average 27% of the market). Please keep in mind that, in Russia, one usually counts the number of rooms rather than bedrooms, and refers to the above as three- and four-roomed apartments. One-roomed apartments constitute only 3% of the market, and one-bedroomed apartments 19%. Four-bedroomed and larger apartments are just 13% of the market, and are hard to find.The number of rooms is an important factor influencing the price &#x; for instance, if we take two apartments of similar size, location and quality, one of which has more rooms, it will be more expensive.BathroomsEn-suite bathrooms are not common. Often, you will find two-bedroomed apartments with only one bathroom and a guest toilet. In pre-revolutionary and Stalinist-type houses, this is often because the piping system does not allow re-plumbing.Furnished and unfurnished apartmentsThere is no difference in price between furnished and unfurnished apartments. As a rule, smaller apartments (one or two bedrooms, up to 100 square metres) are furnished, and larger apartments (three or more bedrooms, above 100 square metres) are unfurnished.Not all landlords will agree to move the furniture out, and, if they do, it may increase the asking price, because the landlord will incur moving expenses and the cost of furniture storage.Some unfurnished properties may be furnished upon request. Similarly, this will be reflected in the price.Unfurnished apartments always have kitchens with cupboards, gas/electric stove, fridge, and extractor fan. A dishwasher is not always installed. Bathrooms are usually fully fitted with sanitary equipment and a washing machine (please note that a separate dryer is very rare and has to be additionally requested. In most cases, there will be either only a washing machine or a washer and dryer combined.)In most cases, unfurnished apartments have light fixtures. Curtains/blinds are not a must but a possibility. It is not typical for Russians to have blackout curtain/blinds in bedrooms, and, if you require them, they need to be negotiated with the landlord as extras.There is no defined market standard for what a furnished apartment must contain! It rather depends on the particular landlord and whether he has lived in, or rented, this apartment before. Keep in mind that, in general, dishes, cutlery, bedlinen and towels are not provided.&#x;TECHNICAL DETAILSHeating and hot waterMoscow has a centralised heating system. It is switched on by the local authorities in October, and switched off in May (the exact time depends in the average temperature each year).The hot water supply is also centralised for the majority of houses. It is switched off every year for two to three weeks between May and August, for general servicing and maintenance works to the piping system. Therefore, most apartments are equipped with a boiler for hot water during servicing.Satellite/cable televisionEnglish-language channels are provided by two official satellite TV providers (Kosmos TV and NTV+) and several cable/ADSL providers (Akado, Stream, and some other local ones). The installation charge is usually covered by the landlord and the monthly fee by the tenant.It&#x;s common practice for landlords to provide one satellite connection (one receiver), which means that it is possible to connect only one TV set in the apartment to it. If more than one is required, either additional receivers have to be installed (and the monthly fee paid for each of them) or the TV sets are connected by cable, but, in this case, all the televisions will show one channel at the same time.Such satellite TV providers as Sky, Astra, HotBird and others are not officially represented in Russia. This means that, though there are companies that are ready to install such equipment, they do not provide a guarantee. If the signal is lost and the dish has to be readjusted or new equipment installed, it will incur an additional charge, which will have to be covered by the tenant.Such dishes often have to be quite large, and they cannot be installed in new residential complexes (such as Triumph Palace, Alya Parusa) as well as on many other buildins; the Moscow authorities do not allow the installation of large dishes on main streets and historic facades.The difficulty and expense of installing such dishes means that, even if it is technically possible, most landlords are not ready to provide them.InternetThere are a lot of Internet providers in Moscow. The most common ones are Stream, MGTS, and Akado.Most landlords in Moscow provide internet access as standard. WiFi or extra access points have to be additionally agreed with the landlord. The landlord usually covers the cost of equipment and line installation, while the set-up on the tenant&#x;s computer is covered by the tenant.It is worth keeping in mind that not all providers have the option of unlimited traffic.TelephoneThere is a city telephone line installed in most apartments. Usually, the landlord covers the monthly charge for it and the tenant pays for calls to mobile phones and long-distance/international calls (local calls to city-line are free). Most expats also use telecom cards or Skype for making international calls.For further information, go to www.intermarkrelocation.ruPart 2 of this article will be published in November 2012.