Sales in Trump Buildings Fall Off

Sales in Trump Buildings Fall Off

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The Koeppels were never huge fans of Donald J. Trump, but gave little thought to the fact that their home carried his name.

Until the 2016 election. This summer, the couple, who were in the process of retiring and moving full time to their country house in Rhinebeck, N.Y., listed their apartment with the Corcoran Group for $2.85 million.

Two people showed up at their open house in late September. No one made an offer, even after the Koeppels dropped their price by $55,000. Then, in mid-October, their broker suggested cutting the price by another $100,000 and they decided to delist it.

“We’re taking it off the market,” Mr. Koeppel said. “My sense is that there’s a definite negative impact to having Trump’s name there right now. For me personally, I’m embarrassed to tell people I live in a Trump building.”

While there are other factors that may explain why the Koeppels’ apartment has had no takers — $3,711 in monthly common charges and real estate taxes is no small sum — the couple is not alone in thinking this caustic campaign season has had an unforeseen effect on the Manhattan residential properties that carry the Trump name.

Just south of Mr. Koeppel’s condo, at three neighboring buildings that are largely rentals, residents are attempting to have Mr. Trump’s name removed from the properties, the doormen’s uniforms and the lobby floor mats.

And north, at 220 Riverside Drive, Ian Shrank, the owner of a 1,900-square-foot 36th-floor condo, has been petitioning to have the Trump name removed from that building. So far, those efforts have not borne fruit, and Mr. Shrank declined to comment, saying that any attempt to discuss the matter could only lead to more unwanted publicity for the building he loves and the name on it that he doesn’t.

But in a letter to shareholders dated Oct. 14, the condo board explained it was rejecting Mr. Shrank’s petition because it does not have the authority to adjudicate the matter, and that a decision to change the name would require a two-thirds majority vote. (Only 57 owners out of about 400 signed the original petition posted on Brick Underground.)

There are clearly dissenters arguing to keep well enough alone. Abe Botha, an associate broker at Douglas Elliman Real Estate who has sold several dozen apartments at Riverside Boulevard, said he was more concerned about the larger New York real estate economy than about fallout from the presidential race.

“There’s an overall softening,” he said, adding that Mr. Trump still has his supporters, including some on Riverside Boulevard who see having the Trump name as a bonus. “There are plenty of people who would purchase in one of the Trump buildings, probably as many as who wouldn’t.”

Mr. Botha did not seem eager to mention in an interview that he is an owner at Riverside Boulevard as well as a broker there.

And there was Mr. Botha on a perfect Sunday afternoon, sitting in the lobby of 200 Riverside Boulevard, thumbing his smartphone as he waited for someone to come and fall in love with the $1.01 million 11th-floor one-bedroom that he represents and that has now been on the market for more than four months.

Trump Tower, at 721 Fifth Avenue, has been regularly targeted by protesters as well as paparazzi looking to catch a glimpse of Donald J. Trump, who lives in a three-floor, marble-accented penthouse there.

Credit
Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

Nearby was a broker from Corcoran, taking what may be a last whack at trying to sell the Koeppels’ apartment. How was that going, a reporter asked. “Slow,” said the broker, who did not wish to be identified.

There is increasing data to suggest that potential homeowners may be wary about buying in properties carrying the Trump name. Over the last two years, the amount of available inventory from Trump-branded residential buildings in Manhattan has stayed relatively constant, according to listings pulled from StreetEasy.com.

For the 12 months ending October 2015, there were 159 apartments sold at 10 Trump condominiums, including a $21.38 million penthouse at Trump Park Avenue that was sold by Mr. Trump shortly after announcing his candidacy. That number on StreetEasy fell to 117 sales for the period between November 2015 and October 2016, a drop of more than 26 percent. The decrease is especially notable when compared with the performance of the overall Manhattan resale condo market, which showed an increase of 3.8 percent.

To Michael Vargas, a principal of the Manhattan-based Vanderbilt Appraisal Company, the data had clear indications. “Absorption rates are a pretty good way to look at this,” he said. “There has been a reassessment of that brand, on the part of property owners. Where that brand used to enhance value, it is now being perceived as a detraction to value. It’s a slowdown in the real estate market combined with a negative view of the brand.”

At Trump Park Avenue, the 30-plus-story former hotel that Mr. Trump purchased in 2002 and converted into condos, 10 apartments sold last year while eight were delisted. This year, six apartments sold and 18 units were listed but later taken off the market, according to StreetEasy.

The condominium buildings on Riverside Boulevard told a similar story, with the number of listings taken off the market rising to 82 from 67, even as available units inched downward. This was also the case at Trump International, the 44-story condominium tower at the northern tip of Columbus Circle, where six of 14 units sold this year, compared with 14 of 20 last year.

“I can’t see any good near-term or long-term effect for this campaign on Trump’s real estate brand,” said Robert Dankner, the president of Prime Manhattan Residential. “Does the election bring attention to Donald Trump’s brand?” Mr. Dankner said. “Yes. Does it increase the good will toward his brand? No. He’s turning a lot of people off, with his divisive statements that are directed toward specific nationalities and religions.”

Still, few brokers who have sold apartments in Trump buildings seem willing to go as far as Mr. Dankner, citing both Mr. Trump’s long history of lawsuits and Mr. Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner’s standing in the real estate community, thanks in part to his status as the owner of the New York Observer.

David B. Dubin of Douglas Elliman, who is a broker of a $2.195 million apartment at Trump Tower that has been on the market for more than nine months, said only, “I don’t want to discuss the election.”

Repeated attempts to obtain comment from representatives of Mr. Trump were unsuccessful.

Nikki Sun, another Douglas Elliman agent, who listed a unit at Trump SoHo, a hotel and residential condominium, was more forthcoming. Back when the cozy 11th-floor hotel room at the Trump SoHo first went on the market in the winter of 2014, the seller was asking $949,000, Ms. Sun said. Numerous price reductions followed, and two real estate brokers came and went as the unit’s price dropped to $900,000, and then $800,000, before hitting $799,000; it was subsequently taken off the market.

Selling the property has been “a huge problem,” Ms. Sun said. “My owner bought it for around $1.025 million. Now she’s taking a huge loss.”

As Ms. Sun was quick to note, her problems with the listing extend beyond Mr. Trump’s campaign and include the fact that some major banks do not lend to buyers in hotel/condo buildings. But, she added, “I have international buyers who said right away, ‘I do not want to be associated with Trump anything.’ ”

At Trump Tower, it is particularly hard to argue that Mr. Trump’s dominance of the news cycle is bringing the sort of attention buyers and sellers crave. Paparazzi line up outside regularly to catch Mr. Trump entering and leaving the building, where he lives in a three-floor, marble accented penthouse. Protesters parade by, carrying slogans that refer in explicit terms to both Mr. Trump and his opponent, Hillary Clinton.

The human genome researcher William Haseltine, who for several years owned a 4,719-square-foot condo in Trump World Tower at 845 United Nations Plaza, sold his 86th-floor apartment for $14.8 million in January, long before the campaign reached its zenith. “I think there is an effect,” he said, of the election, especially considering the building’s sales pitch to foreign dignitaries. “Just before you called, my wife and I were talking about how we were pleased we sold it when we did, because if we had it to sell it now, it would be worth perhaps 30 percent less.”

Carl Giuseppone, a former owner at Trump World Tower, said that “when Trump is alienating a lot of people because of his rhetoric, it gets very difficult to move property.”

But Don Reiss, a 71-year-old homeowner and lifelong Democrat at 220 Riverside Boulevard, remains optimistic this will blow over.

“It’s like buying a stock that goes down for a little while,” Mr. Reiss said.

Perhaps that explains why the seller of a $35 million penthouse at Trump Park Avenue delisted the apartment back in December after having no luck finding a buyer in the current market.

The owner’s name? Donald J. Trump.

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