While the U.S. housing market continues to struggle, there is one bright spot for those who sell apartments: Russians are investing plenty of money in high-end real estate, especially in New York City. In The New York Times, Alexei Barrionuevo describes a real estate strategy meeting at which "brokers sipped wine and nibbled cheese, a panel of lawyers and a banker reviewed some of the biggest sales made to Russians, including the $188 million spent on properties in Florida and New York by trusts linked to Dmitry Rybolovlev, who made billions from potash fertilizer; the $48 million that a composer, Igor Krutoy, paid for an apartment at the Plaza Hotel; and the $37 million spent by Andrei Vavilov, a former deputy finance minister, on a penthouse at the Time Warner Center."

Yep, all in all, in the past four years, according to The Times, "Russians and other citizens of the Soviet Union" have spent more than $1 billion in U.S. residential real estate. And it's predicted that this is only the beginning, especially as the number of billionaires in Russia and Ukraine grows, and those billionaires seek to put their money outside of the reach of Putin's government. 

Not only do Russians buy "trophy apartments and houses," they also spend a lot of cash on remodeling and redecorating, and on "rare art" and "one-of-a-kind yachts." And where there are Russians to spend that money, there are brokers and developers hoping to cash in by offering luxury residences that are just the sort that Russians, apparently, like: "Central Park views in modern, full-service buildings with on-call concierge service are high priorities." (They also usually spend twice their original budget, which means brokers fly to them like moths to a flame.)

So, how do you know someone's Russian, aside from their wrap-around terrace with a great view? The Times offers up some key anthropological details:

They frequent the Japanese restaurant Nobu and drink at the Standard Hotel in the meatpacking district, brokers said. Many are in their 30s and 40s. They are obsessive about keeping in shape and are often seen with a series of female companions, Ms. Teplitzky said.

Some of them roll about town in customized Rolls Royces where the doors open at the opposite hinge to allow women to step out easier in heels, added Ms. Teplitzky...

 

“When I am with them, I feel like I am in a movie,” Ms. Teplitzky said. “It is a complete different world.”

Also, they buy in cash. Your "in Communist Russia" joke has officially jumped the shark.