President Donald Trump wants to make real estate great again.
The former real estate developer touted his plans affecting the real estate industry before nearly 2,000 cheering agents on Friday at the National Association of Realtors® midyear meeting in Washington, DC.
During his roughly hourlong address, Trump blasted environmental and other government regulations that impede building; praised his administration’s opportunity zones, which encourage investment in struggling communities; and championed plans to overhaul the nation’s housing finance system. Realtors sporadically jumped out of their seats to applaud enthusiastically.
Standing in front of a blue backdrop lined with 16 American flags, and facing an audience dotted with at least half-dozen red “Make America Great” caps, he also praised the strong economy and took a few jabs at California and his political foes, including environmentalists.
Trump talked about the trouble he had building on about 213 acres he owned in and around Bedford, NY, more than an hour north of New York City.
“You’d have a puddle on your land and they’d consider it one of the great lakes of the world,” the president said. “The environmental stuff was getting tough. It’s getting worse and worse every year.”
His administration plans to roll back the number of ponds, streams, and wetlands that are protected under federal clean water regulations—much to the dismay of environmentalists. That would make it easier for developers to build on this land.
“We’re waging a historic deregulation campaign that especially affects the real estate industry,” he said.
The president also trumpeted the almost 9,000 opportunity zones that have been created during his tenure in office. Established by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, the opportunity zone program encourages long-term real estate and business investment in designated low-income neighborhoods. Those who sink money into those communities can score tax breaks and deferrals.
“We’re making enormous investments in distressed communities,” said Trump, dressed in a dark suit and red tie. “Very, very big, powerful, rich people are spending tremendous amounts of money [in these economically disadvantaged areas]. … Jobs are being created in neighborhoods where people wouldn’t go before.”
Trump also championed his goal of reforming the nation’s housing finance system.
“More than a decade after the financial crisis, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are still in conservatorship,” said the president as the crowd booed in agreement. “Fannie and Freddie still dominate the market with no real competition from the private sector. And the taxpayers are still on the hook if another crisis should happen. This is a pretty urgent problem.”
The president has asked the U.S. Treasury and the Housing and Urban Development Department to develop a framework for a new system. (He frequently referenced HUD Secretary Ben Carson, who was in the audience, according to an NAR spokesperson.)
“We’re looking at different alternatives,” Trump said. “We have many geniuses looking at it, and we’ll figure something out.”