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As Trump Condo Prices Fall, Bargain Hunters Rush In.
Donald Trump

As Trump Condo Prices Fall, Bargain Hunters Rush In.


NEW YORK (AP) — The building has stunning views of the Manhattan skyline, its spa offers deep-tissue massages, and the fancy restaurant off the lobby serves prime steaks. Best of all, many apartments at the Trump World Tower are selling at a steep discount — assuming the buyer doesn't mind the name over the door.

“Fifty percent of people wouldn’t want to live in a Trump building for any reason... but then there are guys like me,” says Lou Sollecito, a car dealer who recently purchased a two-bedroom unit with views of the Empire State Building.

The purchase price was $3 million, which was nearly a million less than the seller's 2008 price.

Bargain hunters are swooping in to take advantage of prices in Trump buildings that have dropped to levels not seen in over a decade, a drop brokers attribute to a combination of the former president's polarizing image and the coronavirus pandemic. It's a stunning reversal for a brand that once drew the rich and famous who were willing to pay a premium to live in a building with Trump's gilded name on it.

An Associated Press review of over 4,000 transactions in 11 Trump-branded buildings in Chicago, Honolulu, Las Vegas, and New York over the last 15 years discovered that prices for some condos and hotel rooms for sale have dropped by one-third or more.

This is a drop that outpaces drops in many comparable buildings, leaving units for sale in Trump buildings for hundreds of thousands to up to a million dollars less than they would have cost years ago.

“They’re giving them away,” says Lane Blue, who paid $160,500 for a studio in Trump’s Las Vegas tower in March, $350,000 less than the seller paid in 2008. It was his second purchase in the building this year, and it might not be his last.

It's impossible to say how much the Trump name is to blame; many units for sale are in cities hard hit by the pandemic, or in hotels that had to close, or in condo buildings that are much older than their competitors, making comparisons difficult.

Still, Trump's red-meat rhetoric and policies haven't helped. Within a year of taking office, hotels and condo buildings in Panama, Toronto, and Manhattan that had paid millions to use his name began removing it from their facades.

After Trump was accused of inciting the mob that stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, things went from bad to worse. Banks refused to lend to him, the PGA canceled a tournament at his New Jersey golf course, and New York City fired him as manager of a public course in the Bronx.

Gary Gabriel, who owns an apartment in Trump Palace on Manhattan's Upper East Side, says, "I'd be happy if his name was removed."

It is also a chance.

“We can see the river, the lake, and it has a downtown view,” says Nilufar Kabir, who paid $680,000 for a one-bedroom unit in Trump’s Chicago condo-hotel in February, nearly one-fifth less than the seller’s asking price.

Other condos in Chicago's Trump International Hotel and Tower have dropped even more, 34% during his presidency, according to Gail Lissner, managing director at the consulting firm Integra Realty Resources, compared to a 6% drop at 18 nearby luxury condo buildings of similar age.

“You can live in a luxury building for a non-luxury price,” Lissner explains.

Prices dropped even further for units in the 96-story Chicago building designated for hotel guests, a category hard hit by pandemic travel restrictions, but Lissner excludes them from her analysis because there are no comparable hotel units in nearby buildings to compare them to.

Prices at Trump's hotel in Las Vegas have fallen 4% since he took office four years ago, while average prices at three dozen other hotels in the city that also sell condominiums and rooms have risen 14%, according to data compiled by Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices broker Forrest Barbee, and prices per square foot have fallen 66% since the Trump building opened a dozen years ago.

According to research firm CityRealty, Trump-branded buildings in Manhattan have fallen so far, down to 15-year lows, that they have lost their premium for the first time, selling at lower prices per square foot than the average for all condo buildings.

“I have never seen buildings plummet so dramatically,” says Ondel Hylton, senior content director at CityRealty, which has a webpage tracking the eight Manhattan buildings still bearing the Trump name.

Some buyers believe the same thing.

“People will forget about him in ten years,” says a New York banker who requested anonymity to discuss a second Trump World apartment he purchased last month for $2.1 million, a two-bedroom overlooking the United Nations.

Alternatively, they could simply vanish.

“Does it get bad enough that they rebrand?” wonders the new owner of a Trump hotel room near Hawaii’s Waikiki Beach, though he figures it won’t matter given the bargain price — $505,000, which is more than $300,000 less than the seller paid.

It had the same view when Trump took office, and prices at the Trump International Hotel in Waikiki fell 23% over the next four years, according to real estate brokerage Bradley & McCann. The nearby Ritz-Carlton also took a hit, falling 20%, but Trump fared far worse when compared to a broad sample of three dozen Honolulu hotels that also sell rooms: Their prices fell only 3% over the same four years.

Executive Vice President of the Trump Organization, Eric Trump, refused to comment.

It's difficult to calculate the exact cost to Trump's company because it sold most of the units it owned in his branded buildings years ago, though it still has dozens in Chicago and Las Vegas that are worth much less now.

The former president's image and future branding are likely to suffer the most, as developers who used to pay him millions to use his name are unlikely to strike deals with him if they believe it will cause prices to fall.

Those golden five letters above the door once drew buyers like Derek Jeter, Johnny Carson, and Liberace, but they are now so divisive that many recent buyers refused to have their names used in this story, fearing that boycotts against Trump would harm them.

Blue, a Vegas buyer who owns a California air freight company, is unconcerned, calling Trump "one of the greatest presidents ever" and believing that the outpouring of hatred for him will pass.

“Things wash away, people forget, and people move on,” he says.

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Randy Herschaft, an Associated Press researcher in New York, contributed to this report.

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