Real estate execs talk electoral politics

From left: Jason Haber, John Catsimatidis, Adelaide Polsinelli, Jonathan Miller and Donald Trump
From left: Jason Haber, John Catsimatidis, Adelaide Polsinelli, Jonathan Miller and Donald Trump

With Election Day upon us, The Real Deal speaks with real estate insiders and dealmakers about which presidential candidate they think will win and what the outcome of the race means for the real estate market. In some cases, participants tipped their hand at how they would be voting. Donald Trump, Red Apple Group’s John Catsimatidis, Rubicon’s Jason Haber, Eastern Consolidated’s Adelaide Polsinelli and Miller Samuel’s Jonathan Miller weigh in.

Jason Haber
CEO, Rubicon Property

Which candidate are you supporting?

I’m proud to be a supporter of President Obama, … I’ve done business with members of the Romney family and have found them all to be wonderful people.  In fact, I think highly of Governor Romney.  I just happen to believe the president should be re-elected.

What would another four years of Obama mean for real estate?

Our local market is very strong right now.  We’ve come back faster than most had forecasted.  I would look to see continued growth during a second term.

What other issues are driving your decision on which candidate to support?

Domestically, there is still work to be done to restore our economy and rebuild the middle class.  The U.S. needs to balance our own national security interests against the backdrop of the Arab Spring. We need to avoid the coming fiscal cliff, find ways to properly fund our entitlement programs, and at the same time reduce long-term debt in a responsible manner.

The President inherited the Great Recession, two unpopular wars, and a large expansion of government under his predecessor. He’s navigated this country in the right direction, and I believe he’s earned the right to continue doing so.

If you were elected president, what would be your first act?

Consider how often we update operating systems on our computers, or download newer versions of apps for our smart phones.  Now consider how often we update how government functions.  We are still relying on rules and procedures that are 200-plus years old.  Congress requires a 2.0 upgrade, and as President that would be my first priority.

John Catsimatidis
President, Chairman and CEO, Red Apple Group and Gristedes Foods

Whom are you supporting?

I’m supporting Mitt Romney. The economy will not turn around unless we have a change in Washington. I have nothing against Obama. I can take you to the wall [in my office] and show you [a picture of Obama] in my apartment. We gave him a chance and he failed. He has alienated the business community; he has alienated Wall Street and he has alienated the banks. They’re the ones that provide the money to create jobs.

Does this represent a change in your voting patterns?

I was a Clinton Democrat. I loved Bill Clinton. My daughter and her husband just spent 10 days in Africa with Bill Clinton for [his foundation], building schools in Uganda and a hospital in Rwanda.

What do you think that another four years of Obama mean for real estate?

If there’s not enough money around and if people don’t have jobs, they won’t buy new apartments and they won’t buy homes. The reason the housing market is down is that the average American person is scared stiff to buy a home.

What other issues are driving your decision on which candidate to support?

[Obama] is starting class warfare. He is trying to use poor people by saying to them “look at these Wall Street guys. They’re ripping you off.” It’s not true. This is the United States of America. We reward success, not punish success.

Adelaide Polsinelli
Senior Director, Eastern Consolidated

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Whom are you supporting?

I will support the candidate [whom she wouldn’t name] who presents the best initiatives for living and creating businesses in New York and provides incentives for real estate owners to fulfill the needs of the city. I am voting for the candidate who can keep a tight rein on frivolous spending and reduce government programs that are geared towards creating a complacent work ethic. The candidate who can create meaningful long-term jobs, which will benefit growth in our core industries rather than entitlements for nonproductive segments.

What other issues are driving your decision on which candidate to support?

I am a firm believer in “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

What kind of president would you be? 

I would cut spending on frivolous expenditures, protect our country and its allies, and make America the land of opportunity for those who want to work to achieve success.

Jonathan Miller
President and CEO, Miller Samuel

Whom do you think will win?

I think it will be Obama and I don’t think it will be all that close. Although the polling numbers we are being barraged with are showing a virtual tie between the candidates, statistically that’s a flawed methodology since the candidates aren’t elected based on the popular vote (think Bush/Gore 2000), which is what most polling represents.

The housing parallel to this is someone proclaiming a housing recovery now based on recent sales price trends and falling inventory, but no solution to unrelenting and tight credit conditions, record low mortgages rates (that represent a form of stimulus and a problem when removed), a slew of distressed real estate to process and a much smaller number of healthy banks for consumers to choose from.  Simple trends versus in depth understanding of the situation.

What would another four years of Obama mean for real estate?

Neither candidate talked housing specifics in the three presidential debates, so clearly this issue is seen as too complicated for sound bites and/or too slow to resolve quickly.  I really don’t think either candidate will make much of an economic difference in the resolution of the housing crisis over the next four years.  We will see a long slow march towards stability on a national basis.

What other issues are driving your decision on which candidate to support?

It all comes down to a voter’s social policy preferences, despite the fact that I believe people tend to vote with their wallet in the long run.  Both candidates will probably achieve about the same level of success with the economy over the next four years despite the contradictory vitriolic ads, rhetoric and misleading comments.  U.S. economic problems have been building over last few decades and they are too large for a quick fix despite what is being proposed by both parties.

Donald Trump [Romney supporter]
Chairman and President, Trump Organization

How do you think the election will turn out?

I think the election is going to be a close election.

Are the candidates talking enough about real estate?

I think they’re talking about issues that are far bigger than real estate — talking about the country’s survival. They’re talking about issues that are very big issues, and it will be interesting to see [who wins].