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The Donald Says "Da": Sells House To Russian Fertilizer Mogul

Call it an infusion of capital into the Florida real estate market, and, more precisely, into Donald Trump’s pocket.

A Russian fertilizer mogul offers $95 million for Trump’s Palm Beach estate and the Donald says, “Da,” even though it’s a tad below his original asking price of $125 million.

(The Palm Beach Post says that while Trump is calling it a $100 million deal, the actual sale price was $95 million.)

Even the Donald knows these are troubled times in the real estate market, especially in Florida. The seller happily paid all closing costs and brokers fees and admits the buyer got “a fantastic deal.” But Trump didn't do so badly himself, given that he reportedly bought the place just four years ago for $41.35 million. Yes, he did some renovations, but I'm guessing he still scored a hefty profit.

We’ve been saying it all along: On the high end, foreign buyers are eating up U.S. real estate. It’s happening in Manhattan’s upper crusty condos and in South Beach’s beachfront abodes, and Palm Beach is no exception. Even while some PB mansions, like that of heiress Veronica Hearst, go into foreclosure, others can command a hefty price. So much for a lack of confidence in the housing market! At least international confidence.

As for the buyer, Dmitry Rybolovlev, who just so happens to be #59 on the Forbes list of the world’s billionaires, well he’s telling news outlets that this is an investment property, which means he expects the value to rise. He also may be considering tearing the place down and rebuilding; I can’t imagine how he could improve on the place, from the looks of it, unless of course he’s building his own Hermitage by the sea.

My, the Russians have come a long long way. I spent a year in college in Moscow, long before the wall came down, and I recall going to Lake Ritza, where Stalin built his dacha (country house). While we weren’t allowed to go in it (of course), we could see it near the crystal clear lake high in the mountains of the Caucasus. Let me just say, it wasn’t all that! The area, near the beaches of Abkhazia, was the Soviet version of Palm Beach, and when I was there, sunbathers shared the beach with goats.

So congratulations to Mr. Rybolovlev, the fertilizer king, who refuses to poo poo the U.S. housing market.

Questions? Comments? RealtyCheck@cnbc.com

  • Diana Olick serves as CNBC's real estate correspondent as well as the editor of the Realty Check section on CNBC.com.

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