Every real estate agency has its own property database. Most of the agencies tend to serve the interest of the seller rather than the buyer due to commission arrangements.
It is most likely that more than one real estate agency will be involved in a property transaction. There will probably be one agency that represents the seller, an agency that represent the buyer and if the seller not only requires cash, but also property as part of the deal, there might be a third agency involved. The third agency will usually represent the property the seller is interested in.
There are no strict or standard rules that are applicable for all Russian real estate agencies. Every agency sets its own service agreements for the buyer. Only few agencies have English speaking agents. Contracts and documents in languages other than Russian are hard to find.
Nowadays, Russian and foreign investors have the same property rights in Russia. However, there is still one exception, an individual’s local residency registration (propiska). Simply put, a Russian person does not have to own the property in order to have the right to occupy it.
In the big cities, there are many communal apartments. The residents of the communal apartments are a number of co-owners and/or occupants, each one of the residents has the right to occupy their own, separate rooms.
Mortgages in Russia
Mortgage programs in Russia are not well developed at present. In approximately 80% of real estate transactions the seller cannot move into another location until his own property is sold.
Usually the seller will not have a place to live between the two transactions, therefore, he will require a place to move into on the day the title of the property passes from the seller to the buyer. This type of transaction is called in Russian, avstrechnaya pokupka, a purchase where two ends meet.
If a buyer is interested in purchasing a communal apartment, all or most of the property owners will usually require a housing solution in order to agree to move out of their current apartment. This type of transaction is very complex as it involves more people than just an average real estate transaction. The name of this transaction is rasselenie, a move out transaction.