When presidential candidate Donald Trump made a disparaging remark about real estate agents and brokers at a campaign rally last month, many listeners may not have realized that “The Donald” is one of their own.
That’s right. Donald J. Trump — the Republican frontrunner for the highest office in the land — is a licensed real estate broker in New York. So are his adult children, Donald Jr., Ivanka, and Eric.
The Trump Organization owns Trump International Realty, a luxury brokerage based in Manhattan with branch offices in Westchester, New York; Jupiter and Miami, Florida; Charlotte, North Carolina; Chicago; and Las Vegas.
But a remark Trump made at a Dec. 21 political rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan, may leave the nation’s more than 1 million licensees wondering what a Trump presidency would have in store for them.
“These PACs [political action committees], the money is all being stolen from inside cuz the consultants are like bloodsuckers. They’re ten times worse than a real estate salesman or broker, ten times, which is saying pretty bad stuff,” he said.
The full speech is available here (see minute 29).
It is unknown at this point whether Trump’s comment was based on his personal experience in the industry in general or on his experiences with Trump International Realty in particular.
Or whether the mogul, famous for his seemingly off-the-cuff remarks, considered that he and his children fell under the broker rubric and therefore might be included in the comparison to “bloodsuckers.”
The Trump Organization did not respond to a request for comment for this story.
Inman also contacted more than a dozen executives, agents, and brokers who either currently or previously worked for Trump International Realty. All either declined to comment or did not respond to requests for comment.
Trump and his children launched Trump International Realty in 2012 with more than $300 million of listings in New York City — most of them Trump properties, according to the Wall Street Journal. The firm’s website currently lists 36 agents and brokers.
Trump may or may not be involved in the day-to-day operations of Trump International Realty. But “Mr. Trump is personally involved in everything that his name represents,” according to the leadership page of the brokerage’s website.
Some agents laughed off the rhetoric of a candidate known — and sometimes cherished — for spraying vitriol at various demographics.
“I am an agent and this is funny,” said one agent on Facebook. “Just because people viewed Realtors and Brokers a certain way doesn’t mean it applies. If one is upset over what Trump said, it must be true. LMAO!”
But some agents and brokers were not amused by Trump’s apparent adherence to the general public’s low opinion of the real estate industry.
“I have had the opportunity to help first-time home buyers, families, parents of college students, and investors buy and sell homes,” wrote Phoenix real estate agent Nick Bastian on his blog.
“Not one of them was left feeling like their blood had been sucked. In fact, I am so fortunate to feel like I have made a real difference in their lives and to feel like we were able to help with these transactions.”
Trump’s comment inspired Inman contributor and real estate broker Leigh Brown to challenge the nation’s more than 1 million Realtors to donate blood.
“The Realtors that I know are not bloodsuckers. They are hardworking entrepreneurs” who support their communities, she said.
Additional reporting contributed by Teke Wiggin.
Editor’s note: This article’s headline was changed to clarify that Trump compared real estate brokers to bloodsuckers. He did not directly call brokers bloodsuckers.
What did you think of Trump’s remark? Do you think a Trump presidency would be good or bad for real estate agents and brokers? Have any of the other presidential candidates made comments about real estate that you disagree with? What advice would you give real estate agents? Let us know in the comments below.