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Selling to Russians News: Cultural differences between Russian and other countries' realtors
March 06, 2014

Hi Everyone,

Cultural differences between Russian real estate agents and other countries' realtors

"Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma" as Sir Winston Churchill said once. Still true for Westerns and also for Easterns as Russia is sort of in the middle between the two worlds and had developed its own traditions, ways and mentality.

There are many things you probably have to know and take into consideration if you are going to approach the lucrative Russian real estate buying pool of cash investors in your country.

First and foremost – sending around email messages "I have a wonderful something for sale" in English and other languages or in some machine translated awkward and funny Russian is easy and free, but wouldn't do anything for your sales as you usually get what you paid for...

We already learned from the previous issue of this newsletter that nowadays Russian real estate agents selling international properties in Russia are not really looking for you as a partner, it is the other way around – you have to convince them that you and your properties deserve their attention.

So, what cultural differences should you consider while approaching Russian realtors with your offer of cooperation?

Russians are quite self-sufficient and comfortable with their own language and expect their foreign partners in real estate sales to adjust to it. The whole world is doing business mostly in English when there are parties from different countries involved, and yes, some Russian real estate agents know some English and even some Russian buyers would, but it is to your great advantage to approach them in Russian (whether you hire Russian-speaking staff or a freelancer to help you overcome the language barrier).

Learning a few words in Russian yourself (even if they are just "hi", "bye" and "thanks you") you can make a good impression on your potential partners in Russia as everybody knows how difficult Russian is for foreigners, and you made an attempt and you are a great guy then;-)

In spite of possibly criticizing their own government a lot, Russians are basically very proud of their language, history, culture, and all together of being Russian. Having been treated badly by Soviet authorities, then suffering all kind of turmoil during the so called "perestroika", living now under often corrupted authorities, Russian people acquired this attitude that anybody might be willing to take advantage of them. When talking about terms and conditions of the deal you offer to potential Russian partners keep in mind that they are most of the time suspicious about any new business unless they already trust you.

Word-of-mouth is even more important in Russian culture than in any other probably. Russians would definitely take any advice of a friend much more willingly than any logical explanation from a stranger. For you it usually means that to win the first client is the most difficult part, then having his friends and relatives as clients would be a walk in the park – of course, if that first client was happy with you, your property and services.

There are also some less significant things to mention as the following: Russians do not smile too much and do not make a "small talk", but it does not mean at all that they are impolite or disapproving of you, it is just their nature and manner of talking.

Your questions about Russian culture are always welcome.

To your best business success,


Olga Kellen,
"Anything Russian",
English - Russian Translator,
Associate member of ATA,
American Translators Association
Author of the e-book for realtors
Selling to Russians

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