Chances are good that until recently, you never heard of Bedminster, NJ. But this once-sleepy rural town is now on just about everyone's radar, thanks to the ascension of President Donald Trump, and the frequent sojourns to his Trump National Golf Club, aka the "Summer White House," located there. In fact, the 45th president is in the midst of a 17-day "working vacation" there, his fifth visit to the posh resort since taking office in January.
Certainly the frequent presidential stays have had a big impact on the life of this town.The many horses in local stables have become less skittish about the roar of helicopters overhead. Deli owners are no longer fazed by the rush of Secret Service agents popping in for bagels. And club members are no longer quite so startled by drive-by anti-Trump protesters as they tee off.
But are Trump’s frequent Bedminster visits turning out to be a boon or a bust for the local real estate market?
Bedminster has become a household name'
John Turpin of Turpin Real Estate, which has served Bedminster and the surrounding markets for nearly 60 years, says that thanks to the president, business does indeed seem to be ticking up.
"Property prices in Bedminster are up by 14% for sales over $1 million over the past 12 months versus the previous 12 months," Turpin says. Plus, "our recent sale of one of the area's classic estates for $8.5 million certainly demonstrates renewed interest in the properties that have been a hallmark of Bedminster over the past century. The fact that Bedminster has become a household name can only be a positive for the local real estate market."
Since Bedminster is only about 40 miles from Manhattan, some real estate experts anticipate that this area could become a magnet for a fresh wave of New York City's movers and shakers.
"Presidential visits will possibly put this town on the radar of well-heeled New Yorkers looking for slightly more affordable alternatives to Greenwich or Westchester," says New York real estate agent Emile L’Eplattenier.
And all this interest could be inflating prices: Currently, the median listing price for the 70 homes for sale in Bedminster hovers at $782,000, up significantly from $448,000 just a year earlier (you can check out more info about Bedminster and other towns at realtor.com/local).
In particular, short-term rental properties might be the real cash cows in this market, says Shane Lee, an analyst at RentHop.
"Assuming some people would want to visit Bedminster because of the president’s frequent stays or to protest, money could be made through vacation rentals," Lee says.
The downside to having a president in town
Yet some doubt that Trump's occasional appearances in Bedminster will carry quite as much housing weight as many might think.
"Trump is a divisive president—I doubt that a few vacations in Bedminster will have the same effect as, say, [Barack] Obama moving into Kalorama in Washington, DC," says L’Eplattenier. In fact, that divisiveness could already be negatively affecting some of Trump's properties, L’Eplattenier points out.
Another concern home buyers might want to take into account is the extra traffic and security measures that descend whenever Trump comes to town.
"Having firsthand experience of President Obama coming to Los Angeles, I can tell you that this is going to cause some issues in Bedminster, too," says Los Angeles real estate agent and investor Tyler Drew. "A president's arrival means road closures, freeway detours, and even airspace disruption and no-fly zones."
As such, he adds, "I wouldn't hold your breath for a long-term return on investment if you are buying in the area."
Bottom line: "Don’t overestimate the Trump effect," says Lee. "It’s still too early to say if the president’s frequent stays are bringing any added value to the real estate market in Bedminster. Sellers should focus on the comps—for instance, similar houses in the same neighborhood—and the actual market trends such as mortgage rates, supply, and demand."
"Never compromise your real estate investment strategy because someone famous is making frequent trips—doing so is a recipe for disaster," says Abhi Golhar, host of Real Estate Talk. "A market that has gained artificial value will always correct. For those looking to buy, be careful, as you'll be paying an unnecessary premium because of the hype."