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Assessing properties for sale must include location, courtyards, stairwells, windows, streets repair, infrastructure, utilities and a number of other factors. Location is critical. This is the top priority influencing both the quality and the price of apartments in St. Petersburg. The key is the center: around Nevsky Prospekt as well as the central island districts of Petrogradskaya and Vasilevsky Island.
Between the Neva and the Fontanka:
This area, the very center, is the most in demand, both because of its proximity to landmarks and attractions (Palace Square, the Hermitage, the Neva embankment, the Russian Museum, Nevsky Prospekt itself) and because of the breathtaking vistas, shopping areas, and workplaces. Many of the buildings in this area date from the 18th and 19th centuries and are encompassed by the City's historic preservation statutes. Views here are often superb, especially those over water, parks, or squares. In addition to the premium addresses of the Moika, Canal Griboyedova, Millonaya, Karavanaya, and the Dvortsovaya Embankment, Tavrichesky Park, and the Consulate district (Furstadskaya) are also highly prized.
Lower priced but still well located areas in the center include the area between the metro stations Mayakovskaya and Chernishevskaya, as well as St. Isaac's Square, and Dekabristov all the way to Mariinsky Theatre.
The Petrograd side:
This area is more central than is widely perceived, because of metro and bridges, and is very scenic because of the Neva and Peter and Paul Fortress. Some of St. Petersburg's oldest buildings are here, and both Kamenoostrovsky Prospect and Bolshoy prospect have excellent European-style apartments, often newly restored but with lower prices than the center.
This island, bordered by various branches of the Neva as well as the Gulf of Finland, is full of great residential neighborhoods near St. Petersburg State University, many museums and beautiful churches and squares, and some of the best shopping districts in the city.
In addition to location itself, the other major factor to consider has to do with the location of windows and the orientation of the flat. Think of the positive possibilities for views: water, museum, square, park or garden, historical monument - or the negative: alleyway, narrow street, heavy traffic. The view and the window orientation is a critical factor in price and choice. Courtyard windows also need to be assessed: deeper into a large building are inner courtyards, which can be beautiful or ugly depending on the orientation of the windows. Another factor is the state of upkeep or restoration.
One should never overlook structural questions: the condition of the building supports, the foundation, and floors and ceilings, and the state of upkeep and repair. A thorough inspection of pipelines, basements, roofs, and stairways should always be done. Neighbors are also a factor, as are street entrances. Renovation may be necessary.