NEW YORK (MainStreet) As turmoil continues to mount in Ukraine, wealthy Ukrainians have fixed their gaze on the New York real estate market to secure their assets.
But they're not looking at condominiums and co-ops here.
"They want to buy new construction, because there's not many questions asked," said Jacky Teplitzky, a real estate broker with Douglas Elliman. "With condos and co-ops, they'd have to give more information about themselves, which they don't want to do because this is a connected world and when there's turmoil, there could be some people left behind in the Ukraine who want to know where their money comes from or oppose their move to the U.S."
In matters of real estate and money, they have a desire to be traceless, anonymous.
"Wealth comes with plenty of intense emotions, so perhaps it's little wonder that even the better-off prefer to discuss almost anything else, including those famous dinner party taboos of politics and religion," said Nigel Green, founder and CEO with the deVere Group.
While U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russia's Sergey Lavrov discuss sanctions against Russia today in Rome, Teplitzky has been taking calls from wealth managers and accountants in the Ukraine about the best real estate investments for Ukrainians exploring ways to keep their money safe while the crisis with Russia is resolved.
"I started receiving calls last Friday and these phone calls have been steady every since," said Teplitzky, who specializes in Eastern European buyers. "Most of these people already have assets outside of the Ukraine, but this issue is pushing them more to think about where to put their money."
Buildings currently under construction that Teplitzky is recommending include 432 Park Avenue and 157 West 57th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues in Manhattan.
"These buildings sell for $7,000 per square foot and up, and the money they are looking to invest is way past $5 million," Teplitzky told MainStreet. "The Ukrainians you see featured on television are often peasants, but there are very wealthy people there. Some of the oligarchs are of Ukrainian descent, and they are exploring their options."
Whether Russia will face sanctions over its military incursion in Ukraine's Crimean peninsula remains to be seen. Until then, Ukrainians are looking to the West as a safe haven politically and financially.
"Anytime a country sees political or economic turmoil, savvy investors will seek ways to secure their funds," said Dylan Pichulik, CEO of XL Real Property Management. "From a global standpoint, New York continues to prove itself to be a relatively stable market that's continuing to see steady growth in pricing and new construction."
--Written by Juliette Fairley for MainStreet