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Case Study: 5 Steps to Selling Properties to Russian Buyers
July 03, 2019
Let's go step-by-step through the process of marketing and selling properties in any country of the world to the Russian buyers - and we'll take Malta as a country for our example. Why Malta? It's small, but popular among foreign real estate buyers (including Russians), English is the second official language, and thus it's rather easy for me to collect statistics for this article.
Step 1. Decide whether Russia is a promising market for your property for sale (Maltese, in our case).
Let's start our research online, of course. According to some reputable internet sources, one third of real estate buyers in Malta are foreigners, and Russians dominate the list of expensive Maltese properties buyers. Good enough for us to market to the Russian buyers?
Why are the Russian nationals interested in Malta? Among other reasons that are common for any foreign buyers (diversified investments, for family life, vacationing, etc.), there is also The Malta Individual Investor Programme. It provides Malta citizenship-by-investment, and the Maltese passport is great for living, working, studying in any European Union country and for traveling the world without visas, too.
Why is the Maltese government interested in providing citizenship to foreigners? The program has brought more than a billion euros to this small island country since its launch about 5 years ago.
Step 2. Decide on the language of your marketing to the Russians.
There's no doubt the language of marketing to the Russians must be Russian. We talked about it many times in the past: Russian internet searchers browse the internet in Russian, and if you are not there - I mean your property doesn't show up in RuNet (Russian internet) - you miss the whole point of marketing to the Russians.
The stats show that only 3% of the population of Russia know English. And here's another thing about any foreigners: even if they do know your language, they still prefer to read and search internet in their own native language. Later we'll find out how many Maltese properties the Russians can see in Russian, and you'll realize that there is no sense for them to search in English at all.
Step 3. It is a good idea to look at your competitors in RuNet who sell Maltese properties (recommended).
For that you need help of a person who knows Russian, internet and real estate. I'll do a brief research here to complete this article for you and prove the point. If you don't know Russian and do not want to spend on hiring help, you may skip this step (although important!) and proceed your own way without paying any attention to the competition (although not recommended).
Knowing what and where your direct competitors advertise in RuNet, can actually save you money as before starting your Russian marketing you would have already learned what's better for you.
For example, let's see what a potential Russian investor finds in the Russian major search engine Yandex when he searches in Russian for "to buy real estate in Malta". It's a very general term, of course, while in each particular case he would probably search for a particular type of a property, price range, and possibly a particular area in Malta.
Well, our imaginable Russian investor will face 6 million websites… (Such a small country and so many websites!) It's not reasonable for you to compete for such general term as "real estate in Malta" on your own, as the websites that show up on the first pages already belong to very important players in the field - real estate portals and big Russian real estate agencies.
But you can look for ways to advertise your property for sale on their websites, learn about their terms, conditions and pricing (if not free), and decide for yourself whether it's the way to go for you.
If we search for "condo in Malta", there are 2 million websites… still not manageable on your own to be on top… we all know that nobody looks after 1-2-3 first pages of results for any internet search!
Now you understand the reason for doing a preliminary research, so that you do not spend your marketing money on websites that are not at the top?
Step 4. The time has come to choose between active and passive marketing to the Russians.
Each real estate marketing way - active or passive - has its pros and cons, and you can undertake both simultaneously.
Advertising your property or properties for sale in Russian on your own would be an active way of marketing (you are in charge of what-where-when-for-how-long, you pay for advertising, but there is no commission on sale to pay later). In the previous step you've already collected the info on what it might cost you - to compare to your available marketing budget to decide whether it's a suitable method for you.
Getting into partnership with Russian realtors to sell your property or properties would be a passive way of marketing (you inform the Russian realtors about what you want to sell, make an agreement, just wait for them to send you a buyer that they find by means of their own marketing, and pay them their share of a sale commission agreed upon). If you decide to go this way, you should identify the proper Russian realtors who sell your country over there in Russia and entice them with your offer of cooperation.
Here again you'll need help with language, business culture, and often with correspondence (many Russian realtors who deal internationally do know one or the other foreign language, but still would prefer to communicate in Russian over any other languages - at least at the beginning, before any strong relations have been established).
Notes: to make your campaign of partnering with the Russian realtors effective, you have to contact those who have experience in selling your country's properties in the Russian buying market. Talking about Malta, for example, I've checked one of the prominent international real estate portals in Russian, and the results are as follows: there are more than 500 real estate companies in the portal's directory, but only 5 of them can claim any experience with Maltese properties.
Another thing with the specialized realtors in Russia that you've decided to partner with: they are located in various cities and areas of big cities, thus having absolutely different clientele of buyers, and you have to contact as many of them as possible to get access to as many databases of theirs as possible (no MLS in Russia, each real estate company maintains their own set of properties and group of buyers).
Step 5. Communication at closing.
When you have a buyer traveling to see your property in person and hopefully close the deal, you have to make sure that a local Russian-speaking person will be available to help. It would be a pity to lose the sale at this final stage after all the effort and money spent on marketing to get this buyer!
It is especially important, if you advertise on your own, and thus receive the Russian buyer on your own. In case of cooperation with a Russian real estate agency, they may or may not have a bilingual representative of theirs in your area, and if they do not have anyone who can interpret, you are responsible for securing adequate local interpreter's help for the Russian buyer of yours.
To your best business success,
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