President Donald Trump and Joseph Biden (Getty, iStock)
As the pandemic continues to devastate property, industry donors have sided with Joe Biden over President Donald Trump, records show.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, a non-partisan research group that tracks money in U.S. politics, they have $ 17.1 million to date for the former Vice President's supporting campaign and political action committees and $ 15.6 million deployed for Trump.
Although markets have thrived under the presidents of both parties, Republicans have long been considered more business-friendly. And Trump comes from the real estate world. Investors place more emphasis on security than anything else, however – and the chaos of Trump's first term has led some real estate providers to withdraw their support.
Some longtime Trump supporters are holding back to donate to his campaign while celebrities are betting on Biden in New York City, where Trump started out. Other companies hedge their bets by giving both candidates.
The Democratic Challenger's support could open the door to tighter capital markets regulation and higher taxes for the rich, but many in the real estate industry are ready to take this opportunity or believe the tradeoff is worth it.
"A competent, rational, and science-based response to Covid is critical to the real estate industry," said developer Douglas Durst, president of the Durst Organization, who invested $ 14,000 in Biden's campaign.
The Trump administration has received rave support from the real estate industry in the past and has continued to do so in 2020. Nevertheless, support for his opponent rose sharply in this election cycle.
Real estate executives who have endorsed Biden this year include Charles Bendit, co-CEO of developer Taconic Investment Partners, who donated $ 2,800 to Biden's campaign in January, and Scott Rechler, CEO of RXR Realty, of the donated $ 50,000 in June.
Bendit declined to comment on his donation, but said investments in infrastructure and affordable housing are "badly needed" in New York City, where his company is based. A spokesman for RXR declined to comment.
Norman Radow, CEO of Atlanta-based developer Radco Companies, donated $ 250,000 to Biden's campaign. Jeff Worthe, president of Worthe Real Estate Group, a developer in the Los Angeles area, gave $ 100,000, as did Dan Tishman, vice chairman of Tishman Realty, and affordable property developer Jonathan Rose.
Wayne Jordan, CEO of Oakland-based investment and office development firm Jordan Real Estate Investment, also donated $ 100,000 to Biden. Michael Van Konynenburg, president of the investment bank Eastdil Secured, gave $ 50,000.
Rose, Tishman and RADCO Companies declined to comment. Jeff Worthe, Wayne Jordan, and Van Konynenburg have not returned any requests for comment.
Campaign submissions are public, and industry sources who previously donated to Biden said privately they are wary of drawing the ire of Trump and his supporters for directly supporting the Democrat. Instead, many gave generously to political action committees that spend on television advertising on Biden's behalf.
George Marcus, head of real estate broker Marcus and Millichap and Essex Property Trust, a publicly traded real estate mutual fund that owns more than 60,000 homes on the west coast, is a prolific Democratic donor.
Marcus and his wife Judith supported Biden last May by raising the candidate $ 2,800 but have not donated directly to Biden this year. However, Marcus is not in the race; He's sent nearly $ 4.5 million to political action committees spending on Biden.
A spokesman for Marcus declined to comment.
Joe Gebbia, co-founder of Airbnb preparing to go public, gave $ 100,000 to Unite The Country, a PAC that spent $ 22 million on Biden, in January. Kenneth Fisher, co-managing partner of New York-based real estate investment firm Fisher Brothers, donated $ 50,000 to the same committee. Stewart Bainum Jr., head of Choice Hotels, a hotel franchisor that operates 7,100 hotels and senior residences, donated more than $ 600,000 directly to Biden's campaign and later donated $ 2 million to Unite the Country.
Fisher declined to comment. Gebbia and Bainum have not returned a request for comment.
Most firms chose one or two candidates, but the records also showed divisions among the firms – even at the top.
Stephen Schwarzman, a strong and vocal supporter of Trump and CEO of Blackstone Group, the world's largest commercial landlord, donated $ 3 million to America First Action, a PAC that supports the president. Jonathan Gray, President of Blackstone, has spent more than $ 1.3 million on Biden and other Democrats this election cycle.
One person familiar with the company's thinking found that its employees' donations to Biden were well above those of Trump. Blackstone declined to comment.
It's not the only company that supports both sides.
Jeff Blau and Stephen Ross, the best minds in related businesses, each donated $ 35,500 to Senate Republicans, and a high-profile fundraiser Ross hosted for Trump last year sparked a backlash that the Hudson Yards mogul later regretted.
A spokesman for Related said the company had funded both sides and the company's employees supported or plan to support Biden's campaign. Ross has refused to say how he will vote in November.
While the country may be more politically divided than ever before a presidential election, many in the real estate industry are more focused on what will follow.
"The last thing the markets want is uncertainty," said Jon Woloshin, head of real estate at UBS Global Wealth Management. "Once we know who is in the White House and who controls Congress, we can talk politics."