Will Swine Flu Tank the Housing Market?

Last Updated May 4, 2009 6:22 PM EDT

Dear Ali;
Now that hundreds of people in America are ill with swine flu, is the potential epidemic going to tank the housing market?
A: No -- at least not according to Donald Trump, Jr., ("Donnie") who was actually asked about the link between swine flu and real estate prices by Stephane Fitch, a reporter from Forbes.

His response: "the effects are likely to be short-lived and not priced into real estate."

In this fearful climate it's natural to look for ripple effects from shocking one-time events -- surely bad news is going to beget more bad news? However, if you look at historical market prices, you'll find that's not often the case.

For example, as a New Yorker who reported on 9/11, I can tell you that the effects of even that widely covered tragedy didn't make much of an impact on residential real estate. I wasn't a real estate agent then, but I watched the real estate market because I was interested in buying downtown. And while apartment prices did drop in downtown New York City, it wasn't by much, and the drop didn't last that long.

The way I remember it, 9/11 depressed downtown real estate prices by about 10 percent for about 10 minutes.

So even if you live in a state that's been hit hard by the flu, like New York (73 confirmed cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control) or Texas (41 confirmed cases), you have more important things to do than worry about its impact on the value of your home. Trust me -- and if you don't trust me, trust Donnie Trump.

  • Alison Rogers

    Since graduating from Harvard summa cum laude, Alison Rogers has been a reporter, an editor, a real-estate agent, a Wall Street desk jockey, a columnist, a failed flipper, and a landlady. A member of the National Association of Realtors, she currently sells and rents luxury co-ops in Manhattan for the Chelsea-based firm DG Neary. (If you've got $27,500 a month, the firm has an apartment for you!) Her book, Diary of a Real Estate Rookie, was called "a valuable guide for rookie buyers" by AOL/Walletpop, "beach-read fun" by the New York Observer, and "witty" by Newsweek.