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Wealthy Russians Run To U.S. Real Estate After Trump Election Victory

Russians love their children too—they are buying U.S. property in its droves and deeding it to their kids.

By Jeff Vasishta December 12, 2016
Copyright: EvgenySHCH (Left) / Brian Sugden (Right)

If you thought an oligarch was something that might turn up in an expensive salad, you’re in for an education. An oligarch is a—usually Russian—billionaire wielding political influence and financial clout. There has been a spike in Russian’s super wealthy looking to buy properties in the U.S. following the election of Donald Trump, according to the global real estate consultancy Knight Frank and reported on CNN Money.

There has been a spike of 35 percent over the same time last year and controversial American president elect is thought be the reason. After he actively praised Vladimir Putin, and the Russian President did likewise, their media bromance has translated into real business. Knight Frank said Russians are buying strictly high end—between $500,000 to $5 million properties—mainly vacation homes and investments. A smaller number—10 percent—are looking to buy commercial properties.

Related: Townhouses In New York Continue To Yield Record Investment Returns

The U.S. cities of choice are distinct—Miami and New York, with some Russians quite enamored by the possibility of a warmer relationship between the future U.S. President and their leader.

“A few customers are interested in the opportunity to buy property in development projects of Donald Trump, and we have received requests from U.S. developers wishing to cooperate with Russia,” said Marina Kuzimina, head of international sales at Knight Frank Russia. She added, “Many of our customers are going go to the Art Basel Miami Beach exhibition and will see real estate there.”

Russians have been known to favor London and many oligarchs own property in the city’s exclusive areas such as Knightsbridge, Kensington and Mayfair. Their purchases of U.S. property accounted for roughly 15 percent of Knight Frank’s international sales in 2014. But some have been truly staggering. For example, Ekaterina Rybolovleva, the daughter of billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, purchased the most expensive apartment in Manhattan in 2011. The Central Park West condo was bought by a trust under her name of the then 22-year old for $88 million. Rybolovlev himself bought a $95 million beachfront estate in Palm Beach, Florida in 2008. It was sold by Donald Trump.

If Trump and Putin are touting their bromance, then current President, Barack Obama had a icy relationship with the intimidating former KGB man, working to impose sanctions over Russian aggression in Crimea. These sanctions along with a dramatic drop in oil prices sent the ruble along with the Russian economy plummeting. Turns out that many of the country’s super rich were biding their time, hoping for Trump win so conditions could improve. Apparently, in their eyes, now it has.

Related:  Mortgage Approvals Skyrocket As Vladimir Putin Orders Record New Housing

Should things turn frosty again, Russians are also investing in real estate closer to home. The Czech Republic is traditionally strong, as local market offers solid yields of six or seven percent at 2,000 euros per sq. m., compared to the neighboring Austria and Germany, where prices average to 4,000 euros per sq. m., and 3,000 euros per sq. m. respectively, according to russia-briefing.com. That makes it possible for the Russian middle class to invest in real estate at a far less risk than in Russia. Second home buyers’ behavior and search requests from the capital city of Moscow differ from those in other Russian regions.

As of Q1 2016, the main investment destinations for Muscovites’—more than 60 percent—purchasing overseas property were the UK, Switzerland, and the USA, according to Google AdWords statistics before the Presidential Election. A surprising destination for the Russian ruble was Thailand. Russians, mostly from Asian part of the country, were recently buying Thai property in large numbers until the ruble value tumbled in 2014. According to thailand.property.com 2015 year data, half of all of Russian-speaking property buyers rented out their properties in Thailand and expected 10 percent yields or more. An estimated 400,000 properties in Bulgaria own by Russians, 85 percent of the real estates are bought on the Black Sea coast and 15 percent – in the Bulgarian ski resorts, according to the country’s General Consulate data from January 2015.

According to RBC, 176 of Russian’s MPs and other state officials have apartments in Bulgaria. Yet the actual number of real estate properties abroad owned by the Russian state officials is much higher, but remained undeclared, as they are banned from owning property abroad since spring of 2013.

A lot of Oligarch’s children are about to become very wealthy trustees of American real estate.

 

 

 

Jeff Vasishta

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Jeff Vasishta

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Jeff Vasishta

Jeff is a writer, husband and father but not necessarily in that order. As a music journalist he counts Prince, Beyonce and Quincy Jones amongst those he’s interviewed. He's also owned and flipped homes in Brooklyn, NJ, CT and PA.

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