The Russian government has signed off on a plan to make it easier to register real estate ownership - one of the key factors that go into making up the World Bank's "Doing Business" ranking.
The new rules say that the time of state registration of ownership must fall to seven days by 2018 from 20 days currently. Other changes to ownership register must be recorded within five days, down from the current regime of 20 days.
At the same time, it will be possible to register real estate online, rather than traipsing down to a state office, which will also speed things up. In order to facilitate online registration the government intends to launch a special website.
The move illustrates neatly Russia's strategy to attempt shortcuts to improve its investment image. President Vladimir Putin has made it a priority for Russia to improve its miserable 112th place in the 2013 "Doing Business" ranking, setting a target of entering the top 20 by 2018 in a bid to raise the investment attractiveness of the country. To that end, Moscow is honing in on the 10 key categories used to calculate the index and developing "roadmaps" on how to improve them. Registration of real estate is one of the things that Russia is really bad at.
However, the length of the registration process itself is not the issue for commercial developers. Rather, it's the laborious process of gathering the necessary permits and retaining them throughout the project, or getting it hooked up to service infrastructure such as electric, gas and water.
At the same time, the registration procedure has caused severe financing problems for developers over the past few years. Current legislation makes it impossible to enforce pre-leases ahead of registration, which is the standard source of collateral for banks in most global markets.
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