Moscow’s #1 Real Estate Online Platform Goes Public | CIAN Launches IPO.

CIAN is the online platform that offers nearly every available property in Moscow. If a property is available for sale or for rent in Moscow, there is a nearly 100% chance that it will be listed on CIAN. And now CIAN is offering an initial public offering in both New York and Moscow.

In a previous post, I detailed how to use CIAN to find an apartment in Moscow.

Reuters has done a fantastic job of explaining the nuts and bolts of the IPO. In this post, I would like to explain why I use CIAN with my Moscow real estate agency, and also talk about some of the other players in the Russia online real estate space.

There are certainly some juggernauts in the Russian online space. Avito is hands down, Russia’s largest online trade platform. This is the site you would use to buy and sell anything from used furniture to finding a guy with a truck who can help you move. It also offers real estate listings. According to the Russian business news site RBC, Avito has a market value of $4.9 billion. Avito attempted to buy CIAN recently, but that deal was blocked by the Federal Anti-monopoly service with the argument that they would then control more than 50% of the online real estate space.

The Russian real estate market has been white hot this past year, and CIAN is a central player.

The primary online Russian giant is, of course, Yandex. They aren’t just an online search engine like Google, or just a news aggregator. They have merged with Uber to control the booming taxi market, have their own car-sharing service, and also provide home grocery and restaurant delivery, to name a few. Yandex is a smart and powerful company, so when I heard that they were moving into the real estate space a few years ago, I assumed that this spelled the end for CIAN. I couldn’t have been more wrong. CIAN is continuing to raise the rates for posting properties on their site, and agencies and homeowners alike, are paying up.

Looking for an English-language Real Estate Service in Russia?

The other interesting player is Sber, formerly known as Sberbank, that is now successfully diversifying into areas outside of banking. Sber offers a platform where an owner can offer their property, the buyer can organize financing, and all of the legal matters are taken care of in the bank, thus making redundant much of what a realtor offers. With Sber’s muscles, I am also fascinated that they don’t seem to have much of a dent in CIAN’s business.

Avito, Yandex, and Sber are very much national names, used in nearly every nook and cranny around this vast nation. CIAN is more Moscow specific, which makes sense given the enormous economy of the capital city. In my view as a Moscow realtor, the key advantage CIAN has against its competitors is an easy-to use-platform with a strong accountability feature. If I’m looking at an ad on CIAN, I am almost 100% sure that the ad is real. On other platforms, I don’t have this confidence.

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It will be interesting to see the future of CIAN with the looming IPO, and with their reported plans for expansion around the nation. For Moscow realtors like me, we continue to see CIAN as THE central player in the online real estate scene in Moscow. And it will be fascinating to see what plays Avito, Yandex and Sber have up their sleeves.

And on a personal note, with all of these massive, smart, and nimble companies essentially removing the need for much of what realtors offer, I have seen many of my competitors close up shop. And I am inspired to provide more value than an online platform, through understanding of the local market, knowing what negotiation levers are available and providing comprehensive due diligence throughout the process.

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