Rental boom reaches its highest point

Property agents are unanimous in saying that the rental market is booming, with 15 or more people clambering to lease each one-room apartment in Minsk: the most popular size. If the situation continues, auctions may become commonplace.
By Oleg Maximovsky

Belzhilnedvizhimost Agency employee Marita Andreeva tells us, “It’s become really difficult to rent cheaply or easily, with landlords setting unrealistic conditions — such as advance payments for six months. Meanwhile, demand is growing enormously.”

A few years ago, a similar situation was observed in the middle of August. “Now students, taught by bitter experience, have become smarter,” notes portal analyst Yelena Maslovskaya. “Facing the problem of finding a new flat each academic year, they’ve taken to renting through the summer instead.” The Head of the Your Capital Real Estate agency, Natalia Radenya, admits that demand is exceeding supply, especially as many potential landlords won’t become active until autumn, being on holiday at present.

“In the property business, we do see seasonal trends,” continues Ms. Radenya. “In the winter time, our agency receives about 50-60 or even 100 apartments daily for rent while we’re only receiving a maximum of 30-40 per day at present. Meanwhile, there are thousands of requests; demand is immense.”

Rising demand can be partly explained by Minsk’s growing attractiveness to foreign specialists. In mid-late July, the average price for rental housing in the capital began at $220 per month for a one-room apartment, $300 for two rooms and $450 for three. However, prices are creeping up by a few Dollars on a weekly basis, simply due to greed, which is accommodated by an open, market economy. Owners are able to raise rents, so they choose to do so. “Some are even asking $300 for a two-room apartment without furniture — just bare walls — somewhere like Kamennaya Gorka, which is not even near a metro station,” admits Ms. Andreeva.

The regional aspect
Other cities besides Minsk are also seeing an influx of non-resident students, although prices tend to be more realistic. In Brest, a one-room apartment is fetching upwards of $100-120 (long term). Two rooms fetch $170-200 while three rooms cost from $300.

In Gomel, a one-room flat also begins at $100, reaching even $180, while $200-250 is asked for two rooms and $350 for three. Three-room apartments in the centre of Gomel are occasionally advertised for $170 but property agents warn of fraud. Grodno offers studio flats for $150 per month, two rooms for $150-200 and three for $150-300 while Neman advertises ‘a three-room apartment for the price of two’. The regional centres of Vitebsk and Mogilev have similar prices, differing only in nuances of location. 

Of course, more provincial towns are another matter entirely. Volkovysk offers long-term apartments for rent from $80, while Ostrovets has two-room apartments for as little as $20 per month.

Property agents note that prices countrywide may see prices dip by November, with January and February seeing the biggest hike in demand. As we approach the new academic year, a small but widespread increase of rental prices will be seen, as August promises a stampede for the best bargains.
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