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How do I protect myself when buying real estate in Russia? Scam schemes

Every year, scammers come up with new ways to wind buyers in the secondary real estate market round their little finger. How not to be caught in a net of unscrupulous sellers? Read the article.


Getting a studio apartment in the land in a cottage at a giveaway price – does it get any better? You have been living in it for three months, and then you find a notice on the wall that the house has been considered an illegal building, and by a court decision it is going to be demolished. In a hurry, you are trying to sell the apartment, but you do not have the right to do so - your homeownership is shared. Thus, in order to sell your share, you must obtain permission from all your co-shareholders, since you are not the owner of these premises.


- Read the sale contract attentively. In case the contract indicates you buy a share in the house, it is worth considering some other options.
- Do not hope on a miracle! A too low price must strike you as suspicious.
- Do not purchase an apartment in a town house or a cottage if you want to avoid such trouble.
- Have an extract from the Unified State Register of Real Estate about this property. In case the owner has already sold a share of the house, this information will be mentioned there.
- They often suggest selling a share by a deed of gift (they say, in this case they do not need to coordinate it with other co-shareholders). Do not settle for this, since you will not be able to receive your money for the donated share!


Do not be filled with enthusiasm if you have found a good-repaired small apartment, yet much cheaper than those in neighboring houses. One day you may meet an officer of the State Housing Department claiming your studio has been converted from a room in an apartment, all redevelopment made are illegal, and you have to undo it as soon as possible. A separate air extraction system and WC facility are to be removed.


- Ask the owner to provide the technical passport containing the initial apartment plan. This way you will know how the dwelling actually looks like.
- Read the contract attentively! It must be written in the sale contract whether you are going to buy the entire property or a part of it.
- Find out the average price for apartments in this area or district. If you find an apartment at an incredibly low price, something is clearly wrong with it.
- Also an apartment with a common hallway entrance for several apartments, even if each of them has a separate toilet facility, should excite your suspicion. Another thing is if this hallway is a vestibule designed during construction.


Document forgery is a classic scam scheme. A criminal decides to rent an apartment for a long while, tampers with documents and look for buyers. When you meet the “owner”, they have a full package of documents, but after buying a real proprietary shows up, depriving you of your home.

You don't even need to conclude a purchase agreement – the criminal may invite you to “check an apartment” and ask for advance money to keep this property for you only. The “owner” disappears, other people live in the apartment, and you are at a loss what to do.


- Check the owner! Go over an extract from the Unified State Register of Real Estate, it must indicate the true proprietary of the dwelling.
- Check all the documents with due diligence. Does their passport look suspicious? Can you easily peel the laminate layer off from the first page of the passport? Are all required water marks present? For example, a certificate of inheritance must bear water marks.
- Check the signatures on the papers and in the passport.
- Ask the seller for some other identification document, for example, a foreign passport or driving license; it is much more difficult to forge such a number of papers than just a passport.
- Give the deposit only to the seller. Make a receipt confirming their taking the money, and never give a great sum of money. A deposit rarely exceeds 50,000 rubles.


In the ID photo he looks more corpulent and pale, he must be right from vacation? Anyway he looks like a nice guy, all the papers are in perfect order, you sign a purchase agreement and give him money, in two weeks the real owner shows up at the door and claims his documents were stolen. Of course your new house will be taken away, and the criminal’s trail will be already gone cold.


- It is always useful to ask the seller for other identification document, such as a driving license. Do not be afraid to make the owner offended with your distrust – safety first!
- Compare the ID photo and the seller’s face attentively to make sure the papers have not been stolen.
- Make a point of the signatures in the passport and on the documents – are they surely the same?


Everything seems to go right. The apartment and the seller do not excite your suspicion, but before concluding an agreement, the seller begs you to write a lower price for the apartment (1 million rubles instead of 5) in the document in order not to overpay taxes. You like what you have done with your new cozy home, and all of sudden a person posing as an attorney contacts you and informs the former proprietary has been declared bankrupt. It is correct, if a person is declared bankrupt, all the deals they clinched last 3 years are recognized terminated. But instead of 5 million rubles you will receive only one, since this is indicated by the purchase contract. Fearing lest you will have to get into trouble, you are ready to pay the extortionists a pretty sum.


- Do not agree to understate the price in an agreement! For you, it would not be of any benefit.
- Check the seller for the risk of bankruptcy. Under no circumstances purchase immovable property from a bankrupt – it will be taken away in favor of the creditor!


You are going to buy a house from a very average run-of-the-mill kind of old lady, in a while, when you have already had your little love nest renovated, her relatives come to you. Here you go, certificate confirming my grandmother has dementia and is not legally capable to act. Money? She doesn't remember where it is. There is no way you can prove the old lady could clearly though at the moment you were concluding the contract.


- Personally accompany the seller to a mental health clinic to receive a mental health certificate. If they refuse, ask the doctor who issued the certificate if the paper is not falsified. Nevertheless, this is a red flag if the seller refuses going with you to a clinic.
- A good idea is to order a mental health examination right to the deal.
- Make sure that the seller has never been recognized legally incapable. Any notary can confirm or refute it.

Inspecting documents and checking a seller is a really difficult and complex process. You may not know all necessary details; there are many things you may pay no attention to. All this is fraught with major problems in the future. To avoid them, leave it to a team of professionals:
Tel: +7 909 961-19-09
Visit us: Moscow, Zubovskiy bulvar, building 4, room 308
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