Who is purchasing the most expensive real estate? Although buyers from around the globe are investing in the downturn in the U.S., the Russians are writing the biggest checks, according to The New York Times.
Since the real estate market crashed four years ago, the Times reports that Russians have signed contracts for more than an estimated $1 billion in residential U.S. properties. They have the money to buy: Forbes reports that the number of billionaires in Russia and the Ukraine has tripled since 2009, to 104.
Last month I blogged that luxury-home prices are still falling, even as less-expensive real estate is stabilizing. That's giving foreign buyers an extra incentive to buy while the market is still in decline.
Some of the biggest deals include properties worth $188 million in Florida and New York, purchased by fertilizer magnate Dmitry Rybolovlev; a $48 million apartment at New York's Plaza Hotel purchased by composer Igor Krutoy and a $37 million penthouse at New York's Time Warner Center secured by former deputy finance minister Andrei Vavilov.
Aside from the buying opportunities, it seems some of the reasons for Russian interest in U.S. real estate are political. Since privatization of many state industries and soaring commodity prices, newly minted Russian millionaires and billionaires are eager to get their money away from president Vladimir Putin's clutches.
"I think Putin scares them to death," broker Victoria Shtainer told the Times. What do you think of Russians and other foreigners buying luxury U.S. real estate?
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