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Trump's childhood home on auction block again

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This house is where President Trump lived until he was four years old, before moving to a much larger house behind it.

New York

US President Donald Trump's childhood home in New York is once again heading to the auction block, after an unsuccessful attempt to sell at US$2.9 million earlier this year.

The auction will conclude on Nov 14, after a review of qualified bidders who submit written offers and a refundable 10 per cent deposit. There is an undisclosed reserve price, meaning the seller may choose not to sell below that threshold, and no starting bid will be announced.

It last sold for US$2.14 million in 2017 to a limited-liability company represented by a law firm that specialises in Chinese foreign investment, but it is not clear that the home where Mr Trump spent the first four years of his life is now owned by a Chinese investor. The property taxes on the roughly 2,000 sq ft home in Queens were US$9,587 this year.

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The home, a relatively modest five-bedroom, Tudor-style house in Jamaica Estates, is in the middle of a tree-lined residential block in a neighbourhood where single-family homes have recently sold for a median US$980,000, according to StreetEasy.

"The value here has nothing to do with the real estate," said Misha Haghani, principal of Paramount Realty USA, the auction company, which has sold the property twice before - in 2016 and again in 2017 - both times at a significant premium for the neighbourhood.

Finding a buyer who might actually want to live in the house has been a challenge, given the inflated price. In late 2016, shortly before Mr Trump was inaugurated, the home closed for nearly US$1.4 million - 78 per cent more than when it sold in 2008 for US$782,500. The buyer, Michael Davis, a real estate investor, quickly flipped the property, reselling it about three months later for US$2.14 million, a 54 per cent premium on what he paid.

The buyer and current owner, a limited-liability company called "Trump Birth House", listed Michael Tang, a lawyer, as its representative. He is the managing partner of a New York law firm that specialises, in part, in real estate investment made by overseas Chinese buyers. Mr Tang said that he would not comment on the owner and noted that he is no longer the representative for the limited-liability company.

Mr Haghani, who would not name the owner, said it was not someone in the Trump family and that his client had bought the property as an investment.

In February, the owner listed the property with the brokerage Compass for US$2.9 million, with staging that included a life-size cutout of Mr Trump and a framed sign in a bedroom that suggested the future president may have been conceived in the room. Just 10 days later, the listing was taken off the market, said Edward Hickey, the listing agent, because of overwhelming response, much of it from the media. Mr Haghani's firm was brought in because of its past experience selling the home at auction and is now partnering with the brokerage.

Built in 1940 by Mr Trump's father, Fred Trump, a real estate developer, the house is where the president lived until he was four years old, before moving to a much larger house behind the property.

"I'm sure there are investors, especially Trump supporters - and maybe even some Trump haters - who would love to buy the property," said Mr Haghani, perhaps to make a political statement.

He suggested that kindred groups might pool their resources through crowdfunding to win the highest bid. The owner, he added, was not particular about what a buyer would do with the house. NYTIMES