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Real Estate

The Strangest Real Estate Deals
Vladimir Kozlov

rom time to time, really bizarre properties are offered for rent in Moscow, ranging from an apartment completely decorated with furs to one with a prison-like look, or featuring a jacuzzi as the main highlight of the living room. However, potential leaseholders’ requests can also be quite unconventional, from Feng shui-based planning to a 50 sq. metre wardrobe.

“Mantelpieces, billiard tables, jacuzzis and expensive accessories in the apartments have ceased to look as something unusual and striking,” Georgy Dzagurov, general director of Penny Lane Realty, told PASSPORT. “What could be really amazing are apartments with unique decorative elements and creative stuff.”

“Often, this kind of creativity is pushed to absurdity, and the property looks just ridiculous,” he went on to say. “But one should give credit to those properties for their originality.”

As one of the most striking examples of originality bordering on ridiculousness, Dzagurov mentioned an apartment in central Moscow, which was completely decorated with fur. “The furry apartment” made quite a lot of noise in the Russian blogosphere just over a year ago, and some media even ran stories about it.

Just about everything in that otherwise typical 1970s-era apartment, including the toilet and washing machine, is covered with hare tails, and the legs of the coffee table are wrapped in rabbit hides. Furs and hides are all over the apartment, and some of them even hang from the ceiling.

Bloggers discussing that extravagant property pointed out that most people coming to see the apartment as potential tenants went there just for its extravagance, with no intention of actually moving in. There were enough reasons discouraging potential tenants, from the furs making the entire apartment very flammable to the huge amount of dust accumulated on the furs and the smell. However, since the apartment is apparently not on the market at the moment, it must have found a tenant.

Another example of an unconventional apartment, according to Dzagurov, is a premium-class one located on Arbat. “At first sight, it is a regular elite apartment, featuring expensive furniture, and well renovated,” he said. “But it has one important peculiarity: a crystal bath tub. That’s an increasingly unusual element, but to appreciate it, one has to be a fan of things like that.”

“In Mansurovsky Pereulok, there is an apartment featuring plastic partitions between rooms instead of walls,” Irina Yulmetieva, head of relocation services at Four Squares Relocations, told PASSPORT. “And they don’t even reach the ceiling, [as in] some sort of a Modernist style project. So you can absolutely hear what is going on in the other parts of the apartment.”

According to Yulmetieva, a 170,000 sq. metre apartment located on Komsomolsky Prospekt features the living room full of house plants, which provide a striking difference in the quality of the air. She also mentioned an apartment on Sadovo- Kudrinskaya Ulitsa, whose design in grey colors produces a totally prison-like feel.

“Skaryatinsky Pereulok has an apartment block, in which, all three-room apartments have the toilet installed directly in the kitchen,” said Dzagurov. “[That’s] a unique but, at the same time, the stupidest idea. Meanwhile, an apartment offered for rent on Ulitsa Bolshaya Polyanka is decorated in dark colors, with all accessories made of metal. [It produces] a strange feeling, scary and unusual.”

Another property that generated quite a lot of buzz when it was brought to the market about a year and a half ago was a one-room apartment in Krasnopresnensky neighborhood. Located in a good building and recently renovated, it featured a big jacuzzi right in the living room, separated from the rest of the apartment only by a curtain. Meanwhile, the apartment had no kitchen at all.

Dzagurov mentioned an apartment in central Moscow, which was completely decorated with fur. Just about everything in that otherwise typical 1970s-era apartment, including the toilet and washing machine, is covered with hare tails, and the legs of the coffee table are wrapped in rabbit hides.

Among the most extravagant rental offers was also a yacht docked in Yuzhnoportovy neighborhood. The owner was renting it out at a price comparable to that of an economy class apartment in Moscow.

Meanwhile, sometimes, the owners of regular apartments make them look like boats. A Bolshaya Filyovskaya Ulitsa apartment offered for rent featured a bathroom decorated to look like a yacht cabin, Dzagurov said.

He also recalled a boat-themed apartment in Plotnikov Pereulok, with curved walls, a decorative steering wheel and various kinds of seashore souvenirs and shells all over the place. “When you are inside, it is really easy to think that you are on board a ship. The total area is 100 sq. metres,” he commented. “And I think that the property is worth looking at.”

The unconventionality of a rental penthouse in Zvenigorodskoye Shosse, also mentioned by Dzagurov, is that absolutely all items of furniture and interior design are custom-made, while the walls were painted by professional artists. But living in that uniquely designed property wouldn’t come cheap, setting the tenant back $35,000 a month.

However, potential leaseholders’ rental requests could also be quite extravagant, sometimes matching the most bizarre rental offers.

She also mentioned an apartment on Sadovo-Kudrinskaya Ulitsa, whose design in grey colors produces a totally prisonlike feel.

According to Yulmetieva, there are customers requesting Feng shui-based floor plans, who show up to see apartments they consider moving in, armed with schemes and compasses.

Last year, Penny Lane Realty made a top ten of the most extravagant rental requests from its customers. The list was topped by a Korean family who requested the installation of an extra fridge and an extra washing machine as they refused to wash their clothes and rags for mopping the floor in the same machine.

One young Russian woman looking to rent an apartment in the centre of the city had to wait quite a long time until a suitable option turned up: she requested an apartment that would have two entrances, something quite unusual for regular Moscow apartments. The reason for that unconventional request was that the woman was seeing two men at the same time and wasn’t happy with the prospect of them bumping into each other at some occasion.

Russian women’s rental requests seem to be even more extravagant than those from people coming from different cultures. Another young woman was looking to rent a oneroom apartment that would also have a 50 sq. metre wardrobe. Those who are familiar with floor plans of typical Moscow apartment know that a request of that kind was doomed to go unmet. Still, the customer found a solution by renting a four-room apartment, whose owner agreed to install wardrobes in one of the rooms. But it was most likely smaller than the requested 50 sq. metres.

In another case, an ex-pat customer wanted a “test stay” in the apartment he was considering moving in, similar to a test drive of a car, insisting that that was a common practice in the country he came from. The owner refused and the customer moved in anyway. But the introduction of a “test stay” practice would have created sort of a dangerous precedent, allowing cunning people to spend a few nights for free in a luxurious apartment in central Moscow.

According to realtors, the most difficult customers are architects and designers, as well as people interested in yoga and astrology. The former often request expensive customdesigned apartment just to steal some ideas for their own work and end up renting unimpressive and much cheaper apartments.

Meanwhile, fans of yoga and astrology not only request apartments that would have a particular location with relation to the wind rose, but would also pay very close attention to the digits in the numbers of the apartment and the building, which by themselves or in their sum should produce a certain figure. But even if a suitable option has been found, a deal involving an astrologer could always be cancelled at short notice if the stars are not in the right alignment on the day when the contract is due to be signed.

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