Romney Gets Endorsement from Fellow High-End Real Estate Owner: Trump

Donald Trump says he'd hire Mitt Romney during endorsement announcement in Las Vegas. SOURCE: UK Guardian

Update: Results of Nevada Caucus: Mitt Romney wins Nevada; Gingrich takes second, Paul third, and Santorum fourth.

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Original Post:

Mitt Romney will not be fired by Donald Trump.

In fact, the real estate developer and reality TV king -- who has often threatened his own presidential run — reversed course about the former Massachusetts governor by endorsing Romney.

Trump came out for Romney on Thursday in Las Vegas ahead of Saturday’s Republican caucus in Nevada, where Romney is expected to win big and put more distance between himself and Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum.

Like Florida, where Romney scored a big primary victory last week, Nevada is another state where the housing crisis has pounded home values and homeowners and, according to PBS, has “… higher unemployment than any other state – and, probably not coincidentally, has had the highest foreclosure rate for five years.”

This all makes for some very interesting dynamics between Romney and Trump.

For starters, a Pew survey taken last month found that 64 percent of definite and likely GOP voters said an endorsement from Trump would make no difference to them. More interesting: Thirteen percent said it would make them more likely to back a candidate, while 20 percent said it would actually make them less likely.

The endorsement reverses Trump’s put-down of Romney back in April 2011, when Trump was posturing about a potential run. Trump criticized Romney, the former Bain Capital founder and CEO, for eliminating jobs while restructuring companies.

Trump could not resist comparing his wealth to that of Romney, whose net worth is estimate to be $250 million:  “I’ve built a great company. My net worth is many many times Mitt Romney,” Trump said to CNN.

The pairing could also seem discordant to Nevada voters struggling to make home mortgage payments or who are stuck with hundreds of underwater properties. Romney owns three homes, including a townhouse in the Boston real estate market; a summer compound in Wolfeboro, NH and a beachfront home in the La Jolla real estate market of southern California.

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Nevada Home Value Data
Median Home Value for Nevada: $120,400 (down -10.7% YoY, -0.9% QoQ, +0.4 MoM)
Home values are down: -61% since the peak of the market  (April 2006)
Homes Sold for Loss: 66.6% of homes sold for a loss in November
Homes Decreasing values: 91% of homes in November saw a decrease in values

Negative Equity (Q3 2011)
Las Vegas metro– 83% of single family homeowners with mortgages are under water
Reno metro– 71%

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Trump’s real estate holdings are distinctly Trump. He has his name splashed all over condo towers in New York City. Also, he has owned several uber high-end properties, including an estate in Palm Beach, FL that set a record price when he sold it for $95 million in 2008 and a Rancho Palos Verdes home in Los Angeles that he sold for a loss in 2011.

So, in a caucus state like Nevada, where more than 80 percent of loans are underwater, it makes for interesting news that two of the country’s richest men, with some lucrative real estate holdings, have appealed to the people for support for Romney.

As least Romney has backed off previous campaign declarations that the housing market needs to correct itself, much to the chagrin of Nevadans left holding the bag.

While all four GOP candidates have come up short with solutions that would address the collapsed values and outsized mortgages — losses that Romney said banks are scared to face and write down –  Romney has paid some lip service to Nevada homeowners feeling the pain: “So many people have their homes underwater, it’s extraordinary.”

> See Romney’s 6 Homes

> See Homes of GOP Candidates

> See Candidates’ Positions on Housing Issues