For sellers

Thought your property had good selling points and would appeal to the Russian taste? Think again.

10 October 13

As an agency that spans vendors in the UK and Ireland and buyers in Russian and Belarus, we often find we become a cultural bridge between these quite distant cultures where much is often ‘lost in translation’. Frequently we speak with vendors who tell us how they have upgraded their properties, perhaps changed the kitchen, fitted high gloss white cabinets, put down real wood floors etc. From a European perspective, we find these changes as modernising, uprated, improving and most crucially value increasing. However, Russian buyers will not always agree. As with all cultural traits, history plays a huge influence in the tastes and desires of individuals and very often our interpretation of ‘better’ and ‘modern’ lead us to believe the value of our properties overseas are somehow connected to our own culture back at home. Little do we know that white kitchens are reminders of a bleak communist past, likewise the bland grey communist exteriors so typically found in areas under Soviet influence have encouraged their inhabitants to desire a brighter inside, colourful and contrasting rooms.


Almost everyone who has been involved in the Bulgarian property market or who has ever been to Bulgaria has at one point marvelled at a bright orange kitchen or a lime green bathroom suite, wondered endlessly how in this day and age anyone in their right mind can ever conclude that these 70’s colours are in any way the best choice for a newly built property.  However, you would be failing to see that this is merely the result of someone else’s current fashion, current influences and thus their best taste. It is no more wrong or right than our magnolia walls, Ikea accessories or laminate floors.


Recently we produced an episode similar to A Place In The Sun with Russia’s BN TV, the journalist filling Amanda Lamb’s role made great effort to explain to their Russian viewers that the wooden floors were actually finished and no carpet was due or missing, likewise the painted walls were finished and no wallpaper had been omitted or is yet to be applied. The difficulty for vendors of European tastes comes when trying to stand Soviet shoes to better appreciate the current buyer’s demand, if you are seeking to sell your Bulgarian property to the current Russian demand.


See a good example below: originally sold by us some 6 months ago, this property was previously a smart, white, ‘modern’ apartment with Ikea style clean line flat packed furniture, a minimalistic contemporary look. Having been sold to a Russian family, all those ‘selling points’ that the vendor thought added value actually represented problems to the new owners as they sought to remove them all, refurbish and replace with items of their taste at a cost of an additional 10,000 Euros. It would be quick to assume that this is poor taste and has only created a disastrous embarrassment of a rainbow property, yet we would be wrong; it has indeed improved the appeal of the property as it is now much more in line with the typical Russian tastes of the typical Russian buyer.


Channel 4’s most famous property developer, Sarah Beeny, repeatedly tells us all that we must keep the common buyer’s requirements in mind and never decorate to suit or satisfy our own personal tastes. A lesson that many vendors in the current Bulgarian market will do well to consider when seeking to appeal to a Russian audience or at least appreciate why they are not as taken by the property as they might expect.