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How not to go wrong when looking for accommodation in Moscow
Vadim Lamin, head of department of luxury flats at Penny Lane

housands of foreigners arrive in Moscow every day; on business trips, to take up temporary or permanent jobs, for a rest. The question which bothers them most is always how to find somewhere decent to live. Unfortunately, when looking for flats, most foreigners come up against serious problems…

The first time my friend Hans arrived in Russia, was when he was invited to work here. The first thing he had to do was to look for a good flat, something that he needed for the kind of job he had. He looked on the internet (he spoke Russian fluently), and entered: “rent a flat” in the search box. Thousands of sites, all offering luxury apartments, came up on screen. He found what looked like a luxury flat for a modest price. The only thing he could see as being a minus were poor quality photos of the actual flat.

Then he saw the same flat, presented by other agents on the same site for more money. These other proposals offered more details and better photos. He phoned the number on the advert where the price was the cheapest, met with a real estate agent, and they went to look at the flat. He was extremely surprised when the landlord asked for a completely different price (the highest price of all the offers on that site). The agent wanted to show Hans other flats, but the foreigner’s trust in that agency had been completely destroyed, and he declined.

After that, Hans decided to adopt a different strategy. He drew up a list of the most reliable (the ones that have been on the market longest) real estate agencies in Russia, and chose one of them. He was quickly and professionally presented with a suitable flat. Moreover, he was offered legal support for the whole length of his tenancy, and help solving technical and organisational problems when moving.

Vadim Lamin, head of department of luxury flats at Penny Lane commented:

“It’s true, you can find the same flat being advertised on one site for different prices. Here it is important to note the name of the agency offering the flat, and try to find out as much as you can about the history and manner of work of that agency.

“What happens is that as soon as a reputable agency, one which has been in the market a long time, advertises an exclusive property, other, usually smaller and less reliable, companies copy the information and advertise the same property for a much lower price, without even contacting the landlord. When people are attracted by the lower price, they are either offered another flat, or as in Hans’s case, they are taken to see the flat where they find out about the real price and conditions.

“There is a lesson to be learned here: so as not to be disappointed when trying to rent a flat you like, use a wellknown agency with a popular brand and a good reputation. Generally speaking, such companies adopt an individual approach to each client, have an extensive data-base with realistic prices and reliable service.”

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