Who is Better for the Real Estate Market: McCain or Obama?


Do you think that John McCain or Barack Obama has better policies for the real estate market?

I’m curious about how folks see the 2 major party presidential handling the real estate marketplace and I’m interested in starting a discussion taking into account, tax policy, monetary policy, and other factors. I don’t want to hear anything about McCain’s 7 houses or Obama’s deal from Rezko (I brought ’em up so you don’t have to) . . . I want to start an intellectual dialogue based on policy.

Feel free to share your ideas here in the comments, or if you’ve got your own blog, write your thoughts and point to the post so we can discuss. We’ll link to any posts out there that take a serious, and hopefully, non-partisan look at these two gentlemen and their policies affecting the market.

Things to consider:
capital gains tax, real estate tax, inflation, interest rates, dollar strength, leanings on regulation, position on Fannie/Freddie and bank bailouts, effects on investors, homeowners, real estate agents, lenders, etc.

I look forward to hearing all of your opinions, and I hope that everyone is mature enough to stick to the topic at hand!

About Author

Joshua Dorkin

Joshua Dorkin (@jrdorkin, Google+) founded BiggerPockets.com when he saw a need for free, trustworthy information about real estate investing online. Over the past 12 years, Josh has grown the site from self-funded hobby to full-time job and passion. Today, BiggerPockets brings together over 600,000 members, housing the world’s largest library of real estate content, iTunes’ #1 real estate podcast, and an array of analysis tools, all geared toward helping users succeed.


  1. McCain is better.

    High income taxes means lower rents for residential. High income taxes means less spending, leading to lower rents at retail commercial. Higher income taxes means lower employment and less profitable employment for companies, meaning lower rents at office space. Higher income taxes for you mean less money to roll back into real estate.

    Any time the government raises taxes that’s money being sucked out of the private economy. Some spending is necessary, but the US already has pretty high taxes (once you combine Federal and State level taxes) compared to low-cost-of-government competitors like Ireland and Eastern Europe.

    Real estate is a long-term investment. It’s safe from inflation and rents rise with economic growth. At the end of the day, anything that hurts economic growth harms the ability to raise rents in the long term.

    And before anyone brings up war spending, it doesn’t matter for our purposes what the money is spent on unless it’s a rent-subsidy to home owners. Whether its spent on medicaid or a war in Iran, it doesn’t matter to real estate. What matters is the amount of taxes collected. Period. And Obama wants more of your money than McCain does.

  2. Joe Manausa - Tallahassee Real Estate on

    I really doubt your article will generate much conversation as most people (even Democrats) do not think the Democrats stimulate the economy. The real estate market will survive any presidency, it will just be quicker and more vigorous with a McCain Presidency, at least that is how I see it.

  3. Bringing back Bill Clinton would stimulate the housing market and the high tech IPO market. We had a great economy under Clinton, and only he can deliver a good economy to America. (KIDDING)

    NOT. (yet some folks think the above is true)

    The president does not really influence things like the price of a house nearly as much as people think. Every downturn has been followed by an uptick. The market will do what the market will do.

    Taking the credit or pointing the blame is a fun political game that the republicans and democrats play every four years….. but I do not think that these self serving public servants whom top our government make nearly the difference that they seem to think.

    My thought is we should fire every member of congress and let a fresh crop of enthusiastic new congressmen and women try a crack at running the show for a couple of years. Who cares which party, they care about America the first few terms…then they learn to just sing the party tune. Fire them all.

  4. I don’t get the guy who says Dems do nothing for the economy. Were you in a coma during the Clinton years and then also blacked out during Bush? Remember when we had a balanced budget, a growing economy and not throwing away billions of dollars on a war that no one understands? Yeah, that was a Democratic administration. Then Bush took over and it all went to hell from there. This is all beside the point anyway if you ask me. Right now we need to be asking ourselves who is better for human beings and I believe it’s the candidate who has the power to unify a country that is constantly at war with itself in washington. That would be Barack Obama.

    Forget fear, realize that leadership should be about unity, not partisan politics…. VOTE OBAMA!!!!

  5. Clearly the Obama fan didn’t read the instructions. This discussion is about talking about issues, not cheerleading, not criticizing. If you’re unable to discuss issues, then get lost.

    Thom – thank you for sharing your thoughts on the economy, but as I said to the other gentleman, please stick to the discussion at hand without the partisan wrangling.

  6. Sorry Josh, if I broke the rules. I actually was trying to be non-partisan in my point that it really does not matter which party is in power…they both suck, and neither party seems to help the common man. While I took a shot at Clinton for not being personally responsible for all the good that existed under his administration, Bush is not responsible for all the bad in the world. It is just the game.

    I am an undecided voter, so I look closely at what they say. But every politician says all sorts of stuff and then they never seem to deliver…so it really does not matter as much as we think. That was my point, that it is all BS.

    I am not sure either man will have an effect on the markets. Congress makes the laws. They are all self serving, so we are lost on many of these issues.

    We need results, not words. I can’t tell who will actually be able to turn this ship. No clue.

    Again, sorry if you thought I was playing politics… I was trying to make the point that it is all messed up on both sides. Very messed up.

  7. Thom – No problem, no harm, no foul. In the past 10 years I’ve been a member of both political parties, but I’m finding myself more and more leaning towards the middle for the same reasons you outlined — all talk and little action.

    Lets move on and get back to our thoughts on policy, and thanks for your follow up!

  8. If the government can harness the technology that Obama’s campaign has been so great to communicate with, I can only see improvements and cost savings by streamlining communications. I know it’s not much, but do think a younger, more progressive thinker will help give hope (I didn’t mean to use that in any way because of Obama’s campaign) and excitement to the younger generation and keep the great advances we seen in technology continuing to march ahead with mainstream America supporting them.

  9. Two things strike me about this question. Who will their economic advisers be because most politicians know very little about economics? And does the president even have that much control over the economy? I think congress will have a far greater impact on where the real estate market goes from here.

  10. i know Obama wants to raise capitals gains taxes. From what I have read he won’t get it to previous levels (28%), but may get it over 20%. This would certainly influence anyone thinking of selling and showing a gain. so maybe less sales, less incoming tax.

    also people who compare “the clinton years” to the current dem candidate, you are comparing two completely different people.

  11. What saddens me is that so far there are many comments on the subject, but hardly anyone has had an intelligent thing to say. Everything here is partisan drivel. Does anyone actually take the time to inform themselves, or are we all voting based on party?

    There’s got to be some folks out there who have taken the time to learn about the policies of the two people who would be president. Anyone?

  12. Job creation drives the real estate industry here (and everywhere else). The candidate whose economic plan creates the most jobs will do the most to help real estate recover. In his acceptance speech, Obama said he wants to invest in infrastructure repairs — upgrading roads and bridges, renovating water and sewer systems. These are good paying jobs that, as he said, cannot be shipped abroad. It will be interesting to see what McCain says on the same subject.

  13. Interesting VP choice by McCain. Certainly a grab for the Hillary supporters, but her lack of real experience could be a problem. I agree with those who have said the economy will take care of itself, but economic policy will have an impact. I am definitely middle of the road and my choice does center around economic issues. It is interesting to see how the Obama supporters are trying to make McCain seem like GWB, but the right wing seems to think of him as a democrat. At this point I definitely think that McCain will be better for real estate investors, with everything else? Who knows.

  14. I believe Barack Obama will be better for the real estate market.


    Reading Obama’s plan on his website (which I assume is rare on this board, given the comments) he is basically going to help the homeowner (especially low income homeowners) that are struggling and prevent future foreclosures and market meltdowns by implementing smart safety-nets and needed regulation.

    McCain on the other hand has no plan on his website that addresses the real estate market and home owners that are suffering specifically, that I could find. So, ultimately, based on his light economic plans that are present, it seems that his fiscal policies are the same policies employed for that past 20 years (more de-regulation and corporate tax cuts) that create these economic environments like we’re currently in. Lastly, two quotes I would like share. Guess who said them:

    1.) “The issue of economics is not something I’ve understood as well as I should.”

    2.) “I wish inflation was zero.”

    Give up…. John McCain.

  15. I think Obama’s efforts to shore up the personal economy of most wage earners will be better for the economy than McCain’s likely focus on benefits tilted toward high wage earners.

    High wage earners, under any president, will find ways to invest profitably (i.e. capture business profits from the large number of working folks).

    Republican economic policies have drained expendable income and savings from the average worker and concentrated wealth among a small percentage of the population. That is bad for business. It’s tough selling anything, property, services, etc. when the great majority of people are cash strapped.

    I’m for good paying jobs in America. I can’t sell a rehab to the few wealthy people in town nor to a Chinese factory worker. So, I think the Democrats’ posture on everything except capital gains will be a plus for me and my business (except at tax time!). But, hey, there’s no sense in wanting a good America without being willing to pay for it.

  16. The policies of both candidates will eventually ruin the economy. Sure, maybe they have some band-aids that will help them get elected.

    Both are gutless politicians who will do nothing to drive down the huge national debt. We will keep borrowing money from Saudi Arabia and China to pay for this stupid war. Your grandchildren will be saddled with such a massive debt that it staggers the imagination.

    If you think Obama will pull us totally out of mideast affairs, you are sadly mistaken.

  17. Is History Siding With Obama’s Economic Plan?
    A NY Times article that looks at the economy under Democrats vs. Republican Presidents since WWII based on research by a university professor.

    From the article:
    “The two Great Partisan Divides [growth rates, equality] combine to suggest that, if history is a guide, an Obama victory in November would lead to faster economic growth with less inequality, while a McCain victory would lead to slower economic growth with more inequality.” The data covers the period since WWII with multiple Presidents and world economic conditions. The article is also clear that the President does not have that much direct control as mostly is comes down to the Congress.

    There is a hidden message for RE investors in the article. The people at or above the 95th percentile in terms of income have come out largely the same over the years since WWII. Their income and their decisions has left them largely immune from what ever party win the election.

    If you are a RE investor and you are successful (or will be successful) then you can rise about the economy effect. You might care deeply about the other issues one party or another focuses on but it should not be a vote based on economics.

    Vote with your heart if you like. Focus on you REI success if you want to make a difference in your life.

  18. @John Corey
    I totally agree with you. We better to vote with our heart but on the other side keep focusing on our REI success. Who role maybe will affect the economic situation, but we are the one who can decide our own succes.

  19. McCain’s policies will benefit the American real estate market and economy as a whole better. More money in the peoples’ hands to choose what they want to do with it will take us out of this slump. I also think McCain has enough sense to know when things don’t need “fixing” and just need time. Obama will say anything to make people happy, he’d poor billions of tax dollars into the market if he thought it would make him more popular. McCain knows that a more natural healing of the economy is the way it must occur. We need to stop bailing out every irresponsible business and person, if they screwed up, let them pay the price.

  20. I thought we were talking about Real Estate Investing here? There are so many variables in this business that it really depends on what your strategy is. The only way to address the original question is to make some assumptions about what the candidates will actually do. Here are my assumptions and an estimation of their impact on parts of the real estate market.

    – Obama will pass a national healthcare plan. McCain will pass a big tax cut to offset premiums.

    * Obama helps retail and commercial investors by lowering their customer’s healthcare costs and freeing up capital for expansion. McCain helps residential, middle income, because most renters will see that as extra money that they can use to increase their spending.

    – McCain will allow his party to continue its crackdown on illegal immigrants. Obama’s policies will be more lax in its enforcement measures.

    *Bad for residential investors because of increased background check requirements. Especially bad for low-income landlords who currently rent to undocumented workers because of early lease terminations, damage from ICE raids, longer apartment turn around, etc. Retail property investors in low income areas will also suffer because of secondary effects on local merchants.

    – Obama will bring our troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan sooner than McCain will.

    *Good for anyone who invests in properties near military bases.

    – McCain will pass an energy plan that increases domestic oil production more aggressively than Obama’s plan.

    *McCain is better for investors in areas like the Gulf Coast, Southwest, TX, OK, and AK.

    – Obama will pass an energy plan that will increase development of alternative energy more aggressively than McCain.

    *Obama is better for investors in research hubs and high-tech manufacturing areas like Northern CA, Research Triangle NC, Boston/Cambridge MA, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, etc.

    Also, better for light industrial RE investors

    – McCain will lower income taxes for upper income tax payers and keep taxes on capital gains where they are.

    *Better for RE investors who take lots of profits after depreciation, expenses, etc. Also good for investors who have S-Corps or whose RE income is taxed as regular income (100% equity and such)

    Also good for investors in luxury residential and retail properties.

    – Obama will make it easier for young people to attend college through increased education subsidies.

    *Obama beats McCain if you invest in near-campus housing and retail properties.

    – McCain will increase the exception amount for the inheritance/death tax.

    *Good for RE investors who care (die).

    – Obama will eliminate tax liability on social security income and expand the minimum tax threshold for very low income individuals.

    *Better for low income and section 8 residential investors.

    – Obama will increase regulation of the mortgage industry more than McCain will.

    *Obama will make it harder for RE investors to obtain financing for small properties which is bad for small residential investors. However, this is good for large residential investors because all things being equal, rents go up when its harder to qualify for a mortgage.

    – Obama will expand worker’s rights such as FMLA, Paid-Leave requirements, etc.

    Worse for retail RE investors because tenants costs increase. Better for residential because tenants income is more reliable.

    Overall, I think Obama is better for most RE investors who are not expecting to cash out and take profits anytime soon, especially those who specialize in residential RE along the east and west coasts and in low-income areas.

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