Don Trump Jr. is the eldest son of real estate mogul, Donald Trump, and is a key member of the Trump Organization, which owns, develops and markets real estate around the globe. Don is also a star on the extraordinarily successful reality show, The Apprentice, and is currently focused on developing the company’s world-class golf course in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. He and his family are frequent summer visitors to Nantucket. Recently, Don Trump shared his thoughts on the real estate market and the island with Bruce Percelay.
N: You are a self-proclaimed diehard New Yorker who often finds himself on Nantucket. What is your take on Nantucket, and how do you compare it to what is usually the typical summer haunt of New Yorkers, the Hamptons?
Trump: So you’re asking me the infamous Nantucket-versus-Hamptons question? While I’m always true to my New York City roots, I can’t always say the same about the Hamptons. What I love about Nantucket is that it is an island. Now that I am married with three children, and one on the way, I think being a bit far removed from the twelve million people surrounding New York City, is a nice thing. Another advantage to Nantucket for me is that while I know some people here, I don’t know everyone, and so when I come I feel that I can actually relax.
N: There is a tremendous focus on real estate on Nantucket. What is your assessment of the direction of the housing market in general and the second-house market in particular?
Trump: I think that the housing market in general and the luxury market are two very different markets. You look at the high end here in New York City and you see record sales right now—apartments going for somewhere north of $6,000 per foot. The Hamptons and Nantucket have certain people that can afford high-end homes, and during weak markets, they are not under pressure to sell. This group does not necessarily mirror the rest of the housing market in the United States. Even with incredibly low interest rates, unfortunately many middle-market people can’t get loans or mortgages, and it is this group that is still suffering.
N: How sensitive do you feel the Nantucket market is to the movements in the stock market?
Trump: A good friend who runs perhaps the largest real estate brokerage firm in New York City says that even in high-end New York City, as well as the Hamptons vacation home market, a couple of solid up days in a row in the market and the phones ring off the hook with people trying to buy homes or trying to find vacation rentals. When you have two or three days of a down market, the phones stop ringing for a week. It makes no sense in terms of a long-term real estate investment, but people are quite reactionary. People give much more credence to what’s going on in the stock market than they likely should.
N: Are you optimistic, pessimistic, or neutral about the direction of the economy?
Trump: From where I sit, I think there are a lot of issues that we need to work out as a country. When you look at what’s going on in the euro zone, at some of the cooling in the Asian markets, and at our political landscape, decisions are being made to appease people in the short term so that politicians can get reelected. It’s hard to be bullish when you see people making poor macro decisions. I am a big believer in America and its people, but with the temporary Band-Aid decisions relative to the national debt, you have to wonder how we get out from underneath all this, without some serious form of austerity.
N: Would a Donald Trump presidency help solve our economic malaise?
Trump: Yes, I think so. I think you need someone that isn’t afraid to upset people in the short term for long-term gain. The current problem is a lot of our politicians try to pander to every single voter and every corporation, and you just can’t function that way. You need someone who has had experience running businesses as opposed to no experience at all, and someone who is not afraid to take a little bit of heat in implementing his or her beliefs. I think my father would do a phenomenal job.
N: Do you see any particular housing trends that a buyer would want to consider in the selection of their next home?
Trump: A lot of trends kind of come and go depending on the market cycle. Sometimes it’s sort of the extreme and you have to over decorate and over amenitize. Other places sort of sell themselves based on location. I’m more of a believer in just the basic “location, location, location” adage because people on the high end are likely to come in and do whatever it is they want to do within their own dwelling.
N: For younger buyers, do you think that the trauma that we’ve experienced in the housing market is going to create a long-term shift in the mindset as to the wisdom of home ownership?
Trump: Home ownership is such a part of the American dream that people tend to jump on what they perceive to be a value or a bargain. Right now, however, for most young people, the rent scenario makes a lot more sense, unless you are really able to lock in long-term fixed-rate financing. I think rates today are artificially low, and that it is not really sustainable for any period of time. Those predicting their future on low finance rates need to be wary.
While renting makes enormous sense, ultimately there is the dream of ownership, the dream of being able to invest in something, because again, thinking about young people, they may not have other great investment opportunities. If we’re talking about the average person, we’re talking basically fixed income, where there’s virtually no opportunity for growth and they probably don’t trust the stock market, but there is something nice about a tangible hard asset.
N: So do you think this a good time for a person to buy a home?
Trump: I refinanced and bought within the last two years. I think that if you do the research and you do your homework, there are opportunities to buy. There are good deals in the best markets and in the worst markets. Everything really has got to be looked at on a deal basis, and people have to make decisions and educate themselves completely.
N: The National Geographic just came out with a survey that said Nantucket was the best island in the world. You have traveled extensively around the globe, what are your thoughts?
Trump: I think it depends on what you are looking for. If you were looking for a tropical scuba diving kind of vacation, I would say probably not. But I think certainly for New England, Nantucket offers the best of all worlds. You do not have an incredibly dense population. You have great food. There are incredible beaches and opportunities to use a lot of free and public space. I would certainly rank it for me. If I were buying a home in a beach destination, Nantucket would be on my list, if not at the top of the list, but I am biased because I vacation there and have a few good friends there.
N: Can you tell us about where The Apprentice is going and what your role will be in it?
Trump: The Apprentice just keeps plugging away, even after twelve seasons, because it’s just better programming than everything else that was out there. It has been a great success. It has been fun, but certainly not something I would quit my day job for. My day job is usually on the receiving end over the boardroom table, so it’s nice to be on my father’s side of the table for a change. I just sit there and try to stir things up, which is usually kind of fun and easy, so it is a pretty cool experience. It breaks up the rest of the work year, not that the rest of the work year ever stops—it just adds a different twist during the few months while we’re filming.
N: Thank for your time.
Trump: Thank you. I look forward to being back to Nantucket this season.