Trumped Up! The Impact of the Trump Presidency on the NYC Housing Market
I think it’s safe to say that not many of us here in the (mostly) blue state of New York were expecting Donald Trump to get elected president. Political opinions aside, it’s the new reality, and with such uncertainty and surprise, there are surely to be ramifications top to bottom on the political, economic, social, and ecological stages. Having said this, we are here in New York City, and we are homeowners, so let me get down to brass tacks on how I think his election will affect our housing market.
Interestingly enough, and probably the headlining fact about Trump as president is that he has no track record. I mean nothing by this except, we can’t look at how he has voted and moved on laws, plans, programs, etc, in the past because he hasn’t ever voted. Recently, Ralph McLaughlin, Chief Economist at Trulia (parent company to Zillow), said “The president-elect has basically made his campaign oriented around uncertainty.” My grand prediction is that I have no prediction! If anyone thinks they know what’s going to happen, they are just as uncertain as the rest of us.
Nevertheless, let’s look at some additional facts and opinions as a way of potentially providing some context into the future. Firstly, Jonathan Smoke – Chief Economist at Realtor.com – analyzed the last 20 years of presidential elections (5 total) and concluded that outside of the neighborhood of Capital Hill, elections have no major or consistent impact on home sales or prices. Much larger influences are economic booms or busts. This begs the question; will Trump’s presidency create a boom or bust?
Well, since the day he was elected Trump has said priority #1 was cutting taxes and spending on infrastructure. Ironically, although Republicans tout themselves as fiscally conservative, an all Republican Washington usually means more spending. More spending means more fiscal debt which likely means the Federal Reserve will have to print more money (think back to the recession and bailout), which will keep interest rates down. So, while infrastructure and lower taxes, should in theory, spur wealthy New Yorkers into buying mode, it could also keep interest rates low. Yes, they’ve ticked up a bit recently but I think this is a classic market overreaction. We could ultimately be looking at a very healthy NYC housing market – if rates are low and people are saving more money and living in better cities, that should lead to a good residential real estate market.
But, there are risks here. Trump has also said that he will repeal Dodd-Frank which was enacted in the wake of the financial crisis. Those laws were put in place to safeguard against toxic lending (did you see The Big Short?). If Trump deregulates, lower taxes, and spends on infrastructure it could potentially be the beginning of the end.
Ultimately, we are right back where we started, which is to say, we just don’t know. Only time and actual policy changes will lead to potentially major impact on our market and for now, lest we forget, President Obama is still in office.