The Russian bear growls across the Atlantic

Rich Russians are 'raiding' the US property market and buying real estate at an astonishing rate, according to agents.

Many wealthy Americans face a long wait to sell their luxury mansions and apartments but if they can attract a buyer from Russia they are quids in.

In New York City, for example, foreign buyers now make up 15% of the market with Russians the largest group, according to Hall Willkie, president of real-estate firm Brown Harris Stevens.

'A few years ago we didn't see any Russians. But now, especially at the high end of the market, they are buying big apartments so they are a significant factor,' he said.

He and other agents put the latest trend down to Russia's booming economy. Moscow real estate is among the worlds costliest so it is perhaps no wonder that Russians are attracted by what are 'bargain' properties in their eyes.

The Miami area is also popular with Russians with its upscale shopping, hip nightlife and an escape from Moscow's harsh winters. In Miami Beach, a Russian paid $10.6 million in April for an unusual white concrete house with five boat sails on its roof and two curved terraced pools. Nelson Gonzalez of Esslinger, Wooten, Maxwell in Miami, says he has shown several Russian's a$35 million house on Indian Creek.

Fertilizer mogul Dmitry Rybolovlev may have recently paid almost $100 million for Donald Trump's oceanfront mansion in Palm Beach, Florida and oligarch Roman Abramovich, has recently bought a $36.4 million 200-acre ranch in Snowmass, Colorado, but it is not just well known Russians who are crossing the Atlantic.

A number of brokers in Miami now advertise in Russian magazines. San Francisco-based brokers Misha Kurgatnikov and Victor Borelli met with a delegation of more than 100 Russia-based brokers representing wealthy Moscow clients interested in buying distressed luxury properties in California and Las Vegas.

Michael Valdes, a broker with Miami-based SOL Sotheby's International Realty who focuses on the Russian market, says he has 14 active Russian clients, ranging from a couple shopping in Palm Beach with a budget of $20 million to $30 million to a hedge fund looking to buy condos in bulk.