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Trump or Sanders Would Be Terrible for Housing Market, Say Real-Estate Experts

Photograph via iStock.

Real-estate experts and economists who study the housing market may be quietly rooting for Hillary Clinton in this year’s presidential election, according to a survey conducted by the real-estate website Zillow. The site’s panel of 107 real-estate analysts, economists, and academics predict that home prices across the United States will grow between 3 and 4 percent over the next few years, but that those gains could be quickly upended if either Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders were to become president.

Zillow’s panel felt that Clinton, the likely Democratic nominee, is more likely to pursue polices that positively impact home prices and housing finance reform. Of the people surveyed, a 33 percent plurality said a Clinton administration would have a positive effect on home prices, while 31 percent said she would improve housing finance policies. Clinton’s campaign in February published a housing agenda that calls for a $25 billion “housing investment program” and grants of up to $10,000 for low-income families trying to make down payments.

The outlook under Sanders is very dismal, with 59 percent of panelists who expressed an opinion saying the self-described “democratic socialist” from Vermont would have a negative effect on home prices, and 65 percent saying he would hurt efforts to reform housing finance. Like Clinton, Sanders has also laid out housing policies that promote home ownership, but his focuses more on replenishing the federal National Affordable Housing Trust Fund and lowering the credit score needed to secure prime-rate mortgages. Both Clinton and Sanders also want to create more affordably priced rental units. Despite the relatively close policy prescriptions offered by the two Democratic candidates, Zillow’s panel knocks Sanders because of his “far-left taxation plans”; Sanders has proposed tax policies that would see income taxes go up on nearly all levels of income.

Sanders might have scored the lowest, but Zillow’s panel was expressed concern that Trump might become the 45th and final President, with 45 percent saying that the developer and brand manager would hurt housing prices, 48 percent saying that he would wreck chances of housing finance reform, and 59 percent saying he’d hurt the overall economy. Other than claiming to make the “best deals,” Trump hasn’t said anything specific about housing policy since launching his campaign, but the people Zillow surveyed had their reasons.

“When asked why Trump would impact their expectations so negatively, panelists largely pointed to his inconsistency on policy, unpredictability as a candidate and lack of political experience,” Zillow writes. They might have also been turned off by Trump’s statements in 2006 and 2007, when he said “I sort of hope” the real-estate market would tank.

Zillow conducted its survey in late April, when the Republican field still featured Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Ohio Governor John Kasich. Cruz fared poorly, too, though Kasich—who finished fourth in the delegate count after the field winnowed down to three candidates—was the only one to do better than Clinton.

Whoever ends up in the White House, though, Washington’s housing market continues to move much differently than the country’s. Another Zillow report released Tuesday found that the area’s supply of entry-level homes is down 8 percent over the past year, with “bottom-level” houses down by 14 percent. Meanwhile, a separate survey found that it takes an income of at least $83,104 a year to live comfortably.

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Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.