Trump Policy Impact on Real Estate Still Unclear

In 2015, more than 80 percent of EB-5 visas went to Chinese investors. Lawyers and consultants who specialize in EB-5 say interest over all in the program has been steady despite the coming expiration date. A three- to six-month straight extension is expected for the program, mainly because it is unlikely that legislators will reach an agreement on proposed reforms, including an effort to increase the required amount invested to $1 million from $500,000, before the expiration date.

Though it remains unclear what impact Mr. Trump will ultimately have on foreign investment in the New York City real estate market, what is clear is that foreign investors are carefully parsing his policies and pronouncements.

Their conclusions often differ. While uneasiness about broader changes to American immigration policy under Mr. Trump has some foreigners rushing into real estate investments in the United States, other foreigners see the president’s hard-line immigration rhetoric and tumultuous first months in office as reasons to hold off.

The uncertainty of election seasons usually make for notoriously slow real estate markets, but Christine Miller Martin, an associate real estate broker at Engel & Völkers, said Mr. Trump’s election was “the first time I’ve ever seen someone making a decision based on who’s president.”

She said she had a buyer from Mexico who during the election postponed his search for a Manhattan condo in the $3 million to $5 million range. He told her, “‘If Trump wins, I’m not going forward,’” Ms. Martin said, adding that with Mr. Trump in the White House, the client hasn’t entirely written off the possibility of buying in New York, but he isn’t looking, either.

The role of foreign investment in New York has become a defining one in recent years, with Manhattan consistently topping the list of American cities attracting foreign investment. Last year, Chinese investors were involved in Manhattan deals totaling $6.5 billion (not including individual apartment sales), followed by Germany at $2.3 billion and Britain at $1.5 billion, according to Real Capital Analytics . Foreigners and foreign-held companies have also been behind many of Manhattan’s biggest deals, like the Chinese insurer Anbang’s $1.95 billion purchase of the Waldorf Astoria in 2015.

But while most caution that it is too soon to tell how Mr. Trump’s presidency will affect this influx of capital in the long run, residential brokers say that the overall volume of deals has increased and foreign capital isn’t disappearing.

Frederick Peters, chief executive of Warburg Realty, said that so far the residential market has been “somewhat surprisingly, stronger than it was before the election.” He added: “Of course, it’s only been a few months. Realistically speaking, we’re in uncharted territory. We’ve never had a president like this.”

Economists point to several factors helping to buoy the…

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