In Jhoanna Robledo’s article this week: This Man Knows What Your House Is Worth: An appraisal of Jonathan Miller, she does an excellent job covering a dull and boring topic: Me.

Admittedly, I was nervous, wondering how this article would turn out.

When they approached me, the piece was going to be more personal, including interviewing friends from my younger days including Bart Simpson (really! and he happens to be an appraiser) and Woody Wheeler, who was my group leader when I rode my bike across the US in ’76 (Wheeler, really!). A warm thanks to everyone who was quoted.

Fun stuff. But they neglected to include my banged up but beloved HP 12C as a tool, as well as my Mac 17″ Powerbook.

Update: What’s In Jonathan Miller’s Pocket? [Curbed]

Ok, thats enough fun for now. Until the next one, its back to the real estate economy.


  1. L'Emmerdeur April 9, 2007 at 4:45 pm

    Wanna feel even more special? I’m pretty sure I walked by you in Grand Central last week. You were wearing a light brown coat and talking to another gentleman. I guess with this New York magazine article, I should be sending this in to Gawker Stalker!

  2. Jonathan J. Miller April 9, 2007 at 5:09 pm

    Too funny – yes I wearing a light brown coat. 😉

  3. Yesim Numan April 9, 2007 at 6:01 pm

    Now that you’re officially a celebrity, I can sell our picture at the Elliman X-mas party on Ebay! 🙂 Great article.

  4. Chris April 10, 2007 at 9:07 am

    Jonathan, congrats, and Apples Rule!!

    In regards to Steinberg’s comments. He is talking about new condominium conversions/construction. First, this is a small part of the market. Second, these sales are typically not “market value” anyways. Third, he is only bringing this up as “spin” to try to further the idea that agents are better at valuing properties. Why do I think so? Because he deals mostly in Soho & Tribeca and most of his listings are not new conversions or construction. I am hoping he had better points that the author failed to quote.

    He also states that “[w]hat’s happening with signed contracts is a better barometer of the condo market.” This is not new. The most recent data is the best data. But, if a property is under contract the agent is not supposed to give that info out. Steinberg may be able to get this info out of Elliman’s database, but this is limited. Agents are more willing to give out contract prices to an appraiser than to a competing firm’s agent.

    Hey Steinberg, next time someone asks for a comment for a story they are writing about someone, try to put your own own interests on hold. [mental note: If I ever need to sell a 10 million dollar loft, don’t use Steinberg.] I kid. In fact if you need an agent for a loft, he is probably a great agent for the purpose.

    Another point is agents are biased. In fact, an important skill for appraisers to learn is how to interpret “agent speak.” For instance:

    Triple mint, mint, or excellent = Good
    Fair = Needs lots of work (Estate)

    Do you know how many times I have heard “my broker friend said my home is worth a million bucks.” Now an agent like Steinberg is an expert on the loft market. But he will always tell a potential customer his “optimistic” value. Why? Because he is human. Brokers are salespeople (middlemen) and they are are motivators. They are “glass-is-half-full” kind of people.

    Another point: A good appraiser (emphasis added) will have much more experience than a good broker. Here is what I mean. A good appraiser may perform a thousand appraisals in 4 or 5 years. (maybe less or more depending). Most agent only get a handful of listings every year. They do not have as much exposure. On a daily basis appraisers are looking at building and market info. I admit there are agents out there that have had thousands of listings in the past 4 or 5 years. But these “super agents” are the top 1% AND they neither see all of these properties (because they have an army of assistants) nor do they analyze every one as in depth.

    I have had the pleasure to meet many experienced, knowledgeable, and intelligent agents. The goods ones are priceless and perform superbly for their clients. I am sure Steinberg is one of them. But appraisers perform a vital function in this mechanism. We do what nobody wants to do. Everyone in the deal wants the high value. Their job is to tame the exuberance. Where the agent says the glass is half-full, Jonathan says that glass has external obsolescence. Basically what I am saying is, if an appraiser gets a little limelight, step aside.


  5. Jonathan J. Miller April 10, 2007 at 9:20 am

    Thanks for your thoughts Chris – great stuff.

  6. Eric April 11, 2007 at 1:08 pm

    I enjoyed your article and appreciate your blog. Regarding your 17″ Powerbook, I am in total agreement…an invaluable tool. With a background as a Microsoft support specialist, I was leary to jump on the Apple bandwagon, (all be it a tiny bandwagon). However, now working in video production, I have to confess I will never go back. We are and always will be a Mac shop.

    Online WalkThru

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