Property News

Language barriers…

Language barriers…
If you want to do business with lucrative foreign markets, where there are still buyers investing big sums in real estate, you need to get one step ahead of your competitors.

Russia and China are two massive markets where the need to communicate with your clients is vital.

For example as recent figures and signs point to China overtaking the US as the world’s largest economy within the next few years, real estate agents are acting fast by beginning to learn Chinese in order to get into the market.

When the New York market frazzled in 2008 following the financial crisis, Sotheby’s International Realty team began to focus on Asia, reported the New York Times. They began to send brokers over to Asia to learn the language.

More recently, US brokers have been attending classes in Mandarin and business culture at the State University of New York's Confucius Institute for Business. The program is seeing strong interest from real estate brokers eager to sell to the Chinese.

Russia is no different with up to seven time zones and many dialects to learn, which perhaps makes it even more difficult than China, however most current interest comes from the Moscow and St Petersburg regions.

If you attend a property exhibition in most countries such as Spain or Dubai you can often get away with English. Not the case in Russia where you either need to speak the language or you will have to rely on a good translator.

Many magazines like International Residence and internet sites such as will publish in Russian but offer advertisers free translation support.

However perhaps the most important part of the selling process is back at home base. Having made the effort to exhibit abroad or perhaps book a series of advertisements, you can take all the leads back home only to find the trouble can start. Is there anyone who can speak to your Russian customers when they call for information or want to fly over to inspect your development?

Developers keen to do serious business with Russian investors will either need to start taking Russia lessons or better still employ a Russian speaking full time member of staff. (See our story about Kingdom Property in Thailand in this newsletter) Not too much investment when you could be selling up to a dozen US$500,000 homes.