Russian Is the Key to My Career Success

There’s no point trying to make it work when you know you have a language barrier. For the biggest transaction you’ll ever do in your life, you want to make sure that you understand everything that’s happening. 

If buying a house isn’t difficult enough, imagine the contract being in a different language. – Vera Rudak 

Grateful clients from the UK in Vera’s office | Sooke, BC

– Hi Vera, can you please share your background and what you do in Canada? 

I am Vera Rudak, a local bilingual real estate agent serving Victoria and Vancouver Island and I’m here to guide non-English speakers through the complicated process of purchasing a home. Originally from Siberia, I came to Victoria in 2013 with English being my second language. In 2014, my husband and I tried to sell one of our properties on Vancouver Island. The experience and difficulties of selling a home influenced me to become a real estate agent. Now, I work with Pemberton Holmes Ltd. guiding my clients, including Russian speakers, through this complex journey. The Russian language is widely spoken around the world and is especially popular in 17 countries other than Russia including Belarus, Estonia, Israel, and Kazakhstan. Many people speak Russian in Canada. 

– What role does the Russian language play in your work in Canada? Can you share some examples? 

Speaking Russian is crucial to my work. Let me expand on how my native tongue can be a real game changer. For many people, buying a house is a scary process. People aren’t sure what steps to take or where to go and sometimes they just don’t believe that they can own a home. Buying a home is also a huge investment. A lot of immigrants, including the Russian speaking community, rent a home long term because they don’t know how to navigate through the buying process. 

Real estate is totally different in Russia. Most real estate transactions in Russia are made in cash and sale-purchase transactions always take place in a bank with the bank’s safety deposit boxes acting as an escrow account to guarantee to buyers and sellers that the payment is made upon the final ownership transfer. Full funds are deposited and only released to the seller once the complete package of registered documents under the buyer’s name is presented. Once due diligence and paperwork is complete, the closing procedure begins where funds are deposited in the bank and both parties sign the sale-purchase agreement. The sale agreement is then submitted for state registration (it is called “propiska”). There are no lawyers involved which makes it less complicated than in Canada. As with every country, Russia has unique real estate processes, procedures, and nuances. 

It can be a real struggle for immigrants to keep the terms straight when reviewing jargon-laced legal and tax documents. I thought I was fluent in English when I came to Canada; however, when the time came, I found out that I had no clue about real estate terminology. Now, well-versed in real estate in both languages, I can help my clients to translate documents and communicate on the go which is far more efficient and reliable for clients than relying on online translation tools. When you try to translate a legal document literally, word-by-word, you get some funny content out of it. This is why understanding the documents and the fine print is very critical for people and can be very discouraging at the same time. Having someone who can guide them through the process in a language that they fully understand, in a culturally sensitive way, is extremely important. Each real estate offer is somewhere between 15 and 20 pages. That’s a lot of information and technical terms can be easily overlooked or misunderstood.

Did you experience any unexpected benefits of speaking Russian in your career? 

I love to help Russian millennials with purchasing their first houses the most. Although they usually speak both languages, these young people are often supported by their parents who have all sorts of questions about real-estate. Having a background in different cultures and languages helps me to connect and resonate with those who have a similar upbringing and mindset so that I can better understand their needs. Bouncing from English to Russian, I can seamlessly explain details to all parties involved. Being a realtor is a great opportunity to help my community. 

Beyond helping the Russian speaking community on Vancouver Island, I have also developed a niche clientele from all over Canada. People feel comfortable talking to me because I’m very understanding of what they’re going through. 

Do you have a funny story related to the Russian language at work? 

I once had a funny situation in my office with some walk-in clients whom I didn’t know before. A British couple entered our office in Sooke while I was on duty that day. They asked a few questions regarding local real estate and what was available at that time. We chatted for 10 minutes and the­­n left. After a few days they came  back to chat more specifically about some of the active listings in Sooke but I wasn’t in the office that day and another fellow agent was offering her services. The couple said that they were only willing to work with “that lady with the Russian accent”. Long story short, in a couple of months they happily moved into a beautiful home on Vancouver Island which I helped them to find. I still have a great relationship­­ with them. 

In my career, speaking English as a second language is a great advantage that makes me empathetic toward my clients. I can relate to and understand people better because I know that some situations are extremely challenging, and I am a “people person” who speaks the universal language of kindness. Career in real estate is a great opportunity to meet lots of wonderful people and find them a home. What could be better than turning someone’s dream into a reality, right?

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