A funny thing happened on the way to the recession.

Just as everyone started to think about holding onto their reserves, a woman who has made a fortune in real estate commissions in Washington, D.C., decided to invest in California.

"People who buy real estate today in California will make five times what they paid for it in two to three years," she said.

That is good news to California investors, but even better news coming from a woman who apparently knows her business.

"Flamboyant" or even "eccentric" might be used to describe her: the red-headed Basheyba -- "I've never used a last name" -- who wears nothing but yellow -- "It inspires people. It's the color of the sun. It makes people happy" -- eats nothing but raw vegetables, fruits and nuts; goes to bed at midnight and rises at 3 a.m.

But stupid she is not. Last year she said she had the highest gross sales volume ($42,662,500) of anyone belonging to the Washington Board of Realtors. She figures she sold more than $100 million in properties in the last four years.

"I'm now selling my 17th embassy," she said.

Ambassadors need places where they can entertain. That was something Basheyba realized four years ago when she arrived in Washington from California. ("I go to embassy parties almost every night," she said, "and I must own 150 evening gowns." All yellow? "Absolutely.")

Originally from Baltimore, she spent some time in Los Angeles writing documentaries and acting before returning east to be with her mother, who died last year. (Basheyba is not married and would rather not give her age.) Her father and grandfather were also in real estate.

"I went back to spend my mother's last years with her," Basheyba said. "My family were orthodox Jews and my mother was a shining example for me. I think it was when I decided to go back to my roots, to become an orthodox Jew, that all these miracles started happening. I also think that when you are in the right profession, things fall into place for you.

"I believe we all have a purpose in life and mine is to put people together with propeties."

Arriving in Washington, she took a crash course in real estate and joined Town & Country Properties which she still represents. She is not licensed in California.

"I didn't know anything about real estate," she said, "but I prayed a lot."

She reads the Torah every day when she first gets up.

Soon after arriving in Washington, she spotted the late Nelson Rockefeller's estate -- "a gorgeous piece of property," she said, "on 25.5 acres in the center of Washington.

"I called his office and left an urgent message. In twenty minutes, he called me back.

"I told him I had found somebody who wanted to buy. He asked me what I thought it was worth. I said $5.5 million. His consultant then priced it at $8.25 million.

"I brought 29 developers to see the property and finally sold it for $5.5 million -- exactaly what I thought it was worth.

"He told me he thought I was a fabulous businesswoman. Coming from Nelson Rockefeller, that was really fabulous."

She also sold he Defense Communications Building in Reston, Va., to two Iranians for $2.5 million -- sight unseen except for the outside, she said, because they couldn't even step on the grass.

"That's the kind of miracle that has happened," she said. "I couldn't believe that I sold it to these two guys. They had to buy the building from my car, where they signed the contract."

Basheyba also represents California investors in Washington, which she described as a "recession-proof town."

In fact, she sold one Californian $66 million worth of property there that in a year's time has made him a profit of $12 million, she estimated.

"A lot of my clients are Californians," she said.

She sells properties in Maryland, Virginia and Washington but is buying properties for herself in California.

"I think Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., are the most lucrative places to buy real estate," she said, "Washington, because there are so many thousands of people who are running the country. Los Angeles, because it is such a viable place to be that anything you buy here will appreciate.

"California is definitely one of the places to be. Look at the influx of foreign money. It's phenomenal. They don't mind the high interest rates or prices."