Before the ribbon-cutting celebration for Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago, Donald Trump Jr. took some time to answer a few questions from Chicago Agent’s senior editor, Zipporah Porton. Below is a transcript of the interview.
Zipporah Porton: Can you tell me a couple of positive things about the real estate market right now?
Donald Trump Jr.: Well we’ve seen a very rapid downturn over the last few months and at the same time we’ve seen prices come down to a level where things are starting to look like buys again. I think we’ve normalized and the only difference I’ve seen in sales right now that I think will change in the next few months is there seems to be a fairly large gap still between where sellers and buyers are. Sellers have this “built in equity” into their homes and they’re not at the point where they’ve realized that it’s not quite where they’d like it to be.
It’s hard to say “Well, I made $300,000 on my home.” It’s like, “No no no, you had made $300,000. Now you’re probably at 100 or 200.” But whatever it may be and as a little bit of time goes on in the next few months people will start realizing [what’s going on] and those gaps between sellers and buyers will be getting a little bit closer and you’ll start seeing a lot more transactions taking place.
I think we’ve just been in a good spot where there’s been a good re-centering of where median prices should be across a spectrum of real estate. I think we’re lucky, certainly, in the high-end sector, we’re a little bit hitched. There’s always speculators, but people aren’t as concerned about getting a mortgage or they’re usually able to pony up the difference in the equity. I can’t get 90 percent financing, well I can get 80, 70, 60, whatever it may be, and they can usually stroke that check fairly easily so it hasn’t affected us that much.
ZP: What do you enjoy about working with realtors?
DTJ: So many real estate guys say aw, brokers, I hate brokers. When it really comes down to it, the realtors are our bread and butter. They make it possible for me to sell developments. I mean, there’re people who try to do everything in-house and they try to cut it out because they could save a point or two, but in the end I think it’s counterproductive. Realtors have always been there to move product. You know, it’s their job to do so. And no one understands the local marketplace better, especially for us as a global company.
I was thinking, we’re going to come in and do it our way in New York, and that’s just not the way things are done and I think we know that and we’ve worked well with the local realtors here to do what we’ve been able to do here, which has been amazing. And no one said it would happen a few years ago and now we’re in it and it’s very real. And so, I think realtors sometimes get a bad rap and they really don’t deserve it because they’re great at what they do.
ZP: What’s your favorite part of this project?
DTJ: I’ve been involved with this for a long time, and I think the overall aesthetic is perhaps very different from what you typically see in a conference building and your Upper East Side trump condominium. It has a much more contemporary feel, design, look; whether it is a set of brass and glass. It’s a much lighter stainless and platinum type deal. It’s been a long project so we’ve been working on it for a very long time. We keep track of the interior and this, that and the other, and finance stuff.
For me it’s been great, it’s kind of a personal project. When you’ve been involved from the very beginning and it’s just been a phenomenal project to work on, I don’t even want to say [what my favorite part is] because it’s just one of these interesting things. Real estate development takes time. About the time you’re getting bored with one phase and you’re saying enough, you’re kind of into the next and so every aspect of it is really exciting. And just because something is hot today doesn’t mean that the other things aren’t just as personal to you. Really the whole building and the culmination of everything that’s happened is what’s making it so phenomenal for me.
ZP: What do you enjoy doing when you’re in Chicago?
D: Actually, I was here with my daughter a couple of weeks ago my wife said “You’re going to Chicago every week, you’re going take me!” So they came with me, and my little daughter, she’s eleven months. Eleven and a half months now. I took her to the Children’s Museum and you know what? This is a great city, great feel, very clean, well-run, and I think the one thing that I love about it is that it has a lot of the things that New York has to offer without the pretension.
I’m a young person- young enough. I’m 30 so I used to be young, but now I’m a little bit older, but I come here and I have friends that graduated from Wharton with me and they moved here and I’d go out with them or come out for a couple days and it really felt like you could go anywhere and you could be 25 and you weren’t looked down upon. It doesn’t have that snobbery that you get sometimes in New York and I think that’s a nice thing. It’s nice not to feel like you have to dress a certain way. Not to feel excluded for, you know, nothing other than age. And, so, it’s very interesting to see that and it’s great. Great eateries and just great overall feel.
Z: That’s all I have. Thanks!