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Terri Robinson helped Bill and Hillary Clinton purchase their D.C. residence after Hillary Clinton was elected senator of New York in 2000. She has also worked with congressman (and potential Barack Obama White House Chief of Staff) Rahm Emanual and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
“Actually,” says Robinson, “I ended up buying her previous apartment [in the West End] and I live in it.”
Robinson is in for a busy 2009. In the following months, thousands of new political appointees will move to D.C., while others—Republican operatives, former congressional leaders, Bush appointees—will presumably leave the region. Before the crush of calls comes Robinson’s way, I decided to pick her brain about what the next few months will mean to the D.C. real estate scene.
So, what types of people are going to be looking to sell or buy as a result of the new election?
It’s very exciting because a lot of people have been waiting for the election. It really makes a difference in terms of whether they stay in Washington. If you’re a democratic-leaning person, you would find your income might change—whether you’re a lobbyist or a lawyer, or frankly a business person. There are enough people in private business, and in law firms, and associations that will make changes and actually might hire. So, what you’ll find is law firms will expand in certain areas:[could be] healthcare, energy, or taxes—it depends what the issues are.
In the 1960s, a lot of members of congress would come here and maintain their residence in their district, and they would move to Washington and buy a home, and then they would be able to maintain two homes. Now, it’s too expensive to do that. Now, a lot of members of congress don’t make changes immediately. They might rent, if they don’t have any personal means, because members of congress don’t make a great salary, which a lot of people don’t realize. A lot of them will share housing on the Hill.
And a lot of people in New York seem to be downsizing on Wall Street, and they seem to find D.C. a great opportunity. It’s an easier place to live, and the homes are less expensive. I’ve been seeing that [people actually buying homes here] since the summer. Washington and New York, you do see a lot of exchange—some of them are entrepreneaurs, they’re starting their own businesses: asset management, financial.
So, have you received calls already, even before the election, from people expecting to move as a result of the changing administration?
No. I can honestly say the only people that called me are [members of congress] that said ‘If I don’t get re-elected, I’ll be leaving.’ But, I would say that most people have waited for this election. It has been very quiet for the last 30 days.
How many people called you?
I don’t want to say. But, I will say this, if people were elected only by a small margin, they don’t necessarily buy. They don’t know if they’re going to be here in two years. The cost of maintaining a home here, buying and selling—it’s expensive.