Donald Trump lost the presidency. Residents and realtors of Trump Tower think it may become valuable again.
- President Donald Trump is projected to be the eleventh incumbent president to lose his run for reelection.
- His marquee Trump Tower in midtown Manhattan has seen heavy security, protests, and political scrutiny during his time in power.
- In 2019, Bloomberg reported that the 238-unit condominium was New York's "least desirable luxury building."
- Now, as President-elect Joe Biden prepares to take the White House, the tides at Trump Tower may be changing.
- Residents of the tower, located at 721 Fifth Ave., told Business Insider that they believe their property values will go up once Trump leaves the White House. Real-estate experts are similarly optimistic.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
It's a new day in New York City's Trump Tower.
Sandra Arnold, who lives in Chicago but has owned an apartment there for over 20 years, said that when President Donald Trump's political star began to rise, it was "terrible" in the building.
"I really did think that I want to move and sell the property, but I love New York so much," she told Business Insider.
But now that Trump has suffered a historic defeat — he's only the eleventh incumbent president to lose his reelection run — things at the swanky Midtown tower could change.
For one, residents and realtors hope that the extensive security around the building may relax. In November 2019, Trump announced that he would be permanently relocating from New York to Florida — and Arnold hopes he stays true to his word.
"I'm hoping that if he doesn't come back there, and we take his name off the building, we could have a wonderful spot to live again," she said.
Matthew Soufer, whose parents Negar and David bought one of the building's 238 units in 2017, said his family has no plans to sell it anytime soon.
"We just got it at a really nice price because when he got elected, the prices went really, really down south," he told Business Insider. "So we thought of it as an investment opportunity."
Charting the tower's decline
Bloomberg reported in 2019 that the tower — located at 721 Fifth Ave., less than three blocks south of Central Park — had become one of New York's "least desirable luxury buildings" and that the occupancy rate had plummeted.
From 2015 to 2019, the average sales price per square foot for Trump Tower apartments dropped by 37%, Forbes reports. Another one of the Trump Organization's trophy condo buildings, Trump Park Avenue on the Upper East Side, saw a similar decline, with the average sales price dropping 32% per square foot. By comparison, Forbes notes, the value of Manhattan luxury apartments overall rose 15% during the same time period.
And city property records analyzed by Bloomberg and adjusted for inflation showed that most Trump Tower condos that sold between 2016 and 2019 sold at a loss — some at by as much as 20% less than their owners originally paid for them.
The Trump Organization did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment.
Predicting a brighter future
Soufer said that his family is planning on holding onto their unit long-term, and that he hopes the value increases. His family doesn't "care much" about the political name that the building is tied to.
Mark Cohen, a broker who previously lived in the tower, said his outlook for the building is very "positive."
Cohen, of Brown Harris Stevens, currently represents three adjacent 41st-floor units for sale there. Currently used as pied-a-terre for an owner who can "jump from one to the other," Cohen said, a deep-pocketed buyer could nab all of them for $9.49 million and combine them into a mega-apartment with Central Park views.
Post-election, as emotions "calm down," Cohen added, he thinks tours and visits to the homes for sale will pick up.
"I expect the traffic will probably be more robust in this particular case because he [Trump] is not returning to reside in the building in New York," Cohen said. He's optimistic about when it "goes back to being a building like it always was before."
What's in a name?
Keller Williams broker Rana Hunter Williams has been doing business in the building for 30 years and currently represents two units, with asking prices pegged at $2.9 million and $4.5 million. She said Trump Tower's name has actually been a draw for some buyers.
"There are a lot of people that are interested in the building in a positive way" because of its political connotations — not in spite of them, Williams said. Cohen said that the name's connotations has both fans and detractors.
"It's all changed a lot, largely, with his election as president. Obviously, people have strong views," Cohen said. "So there are people who flock to the building. And then there are people that don't favor it."
Arnold, the longtime apartment owner, said that she's received some cheeky comments from friends about her property. She said that "people sometimes tease me."
Soufer said his family hasn't told social acquaintances about their ownership in the building, saying that he prefers privacy when it comes to "business decisions."
"Given the negative connotation about him and stuff, I'd rather just keep it to myself," he said.
Read more: Think NYC is dead? One of the agents behind the city's most expensive contract says 3 features are leading luxury's comeback.
The impact of COVID-19 and the election
Realtors pointed to the impact that the coronavirus pandemic has had generally on the New York housing market.
Cohen said that, prior to COVID-19, he had multiple offers on the Trump Tower apartments he was representing. But when the pandemic hit, everything was at a "standstill."
"I've seen a little bit more activity in there in recent weeks, prior to the election," Cohen said. "I think a lot of people were taking a wait-and-see sort of attitude — maybe because that building has such a personal association with the individual — that maybe they were waiting to see how things play out."
Qazi Shaukat Fareed owned a unit in Trump Tower "before Mr. Trump crashed into the political scene." He ultimately held onto the property for a year, simply renovating it to flip it, but never actually living there.
He said he would "absolutely not" buy there again.
He had seen the reports of prices dropping after he sold his unit, but thinks that people who want to live in the area will start buying again — and boosting prices.
"Later on, it might pick up a curiosity, which could raise the pay scale," Fareed said.
Arnold said she hopes that New York will recover from the devastation of the coronavirus pandemic and that she can visit soon. When asked if she still wants Trump's name removed from the building, she said, "Yes, that would be cute."
Broker Lee Summers of Compass, who is currently marketing a Trump Tower condo on the market for $7.99 million, put it succinctly: "I think the answer is: call me in January."
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