Could Trump’s anti-immigration campaign hit apartment, office markets?

“My sense is the rhetoric is definitely having an impact on both tourism and immigration:” Russell Appel

Russell Appel and Anthony Charles
Russell Appel and Anthony Charles

Donald Trump’s anti-immigration rhetoric and targeted travel ban are already having an impact on the hotel industry. Could they hit the apartment and office markets too?

Russell Appel, founder of the Praedium Group, believes so. “My sense is the rhetoric is definitely having an impact on both tourism and immigration,” he said at a Wednesday panel discussion hosted by CollabNet and sponsored by Fried Frank and Morgan Stanley. In cities like New York “population growth is coming mostly from foreign migration,” he said. “As investors, in looking forward to where demand for space is coming from, I think we have to be really sensitive to these types of issues.”

Tony Charles, the global head of research and strategy at Morgan Stanley Real Estate Investing — who shared the stage with Appel and JPMorgan Chase’s head of real estate acquisitions in the Northeast Peter Sibilia — said he has yet to see much of an impact of new immigration rules. But he argued they could become a “potential negative” for the real estate market. “Immigration has accounted for more than 50 percent of population growth in this country over the past 30 years so if that was curtailed that would have an impact on population growth, labor force, etc.,” he said.

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Appel’s comments come two weeks after Empire State Realty Trust CEO Anthony Malkin bemoaned a “P.R. bruise” to the U.S. from Trump’s travel ban against citizens of a handful of Muslim-majority countries.

Earlier in April, Marriott International’s CEO Arne Sorenson told attendees at a company meeting that the travel ban is “not good, period” for the hotel industry, according to a New York Post report. Travellers from oil-rich Muslim countries may not be numerous, but tend to spend a lot on hotel rooms. “They travel in groups of 20 to 80 and they will take entire floors at the hotel for months at a time,” David Chase, former GM of the Lotte New York Palace hotel, told the Post.