Matrix Blog

Posts Tagged ‘New York Observer’

[Quadrillions In Indebtedness] 4Q 2008 Manhattan Market Overview Available For Download

January 8, 2009 | 2:25 am | | Public |

The 4Q 2008 Manhattan Market Overview that I author for Prudential Douglas Elliman was released on Tuesday.

Other reports we prepare can be found here.

The 4Q 2008 [data]( and a series of updated [charts]( are also available.

All in all, well over 100 media hits covering the report (that we know about, but who’s counting) without a formal press release. Apparently there is interest in the Manhattan housing market.

An excerpt

…At the close of the prior quarter, there was significant turmoil in the financial markets and unprecedented intervention by federal government agencies. The bailout of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and insurance giant AIG, the investor run on the money market Reserve Primary Fund and the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, marked a significant change in the Manhattan housing market as well as the US housing market. The fourth quarter was characterized by a sharp decline in contract activity and a downward correction in contract price levels. Sales contract activity showed evidence of a decline in activity of 40% to 75% compared to the same period last year. Contract price levels showed an average decline of 20% from August 2008. As a result of the 45-60 day lag between contract and closing date, a decline is anticipated in both the number of sales and closing price levels in the first quarter of 2009…

In 2005, I began posting the links of the coverage of each report to see how each media outlet reports the market using the exact same data. I find it to be an interesting way to look at how this information is interpreted and presented.

The media coverage of the report was provided here as they were released (in no particular order). The headlines selected below provide an interesting media perspective of the report contents since every outlet was working off the same information. I didn’t include all the wire stories from AP, Bloomberg or Reuters.



Tags: , , , ,

[No Sleep Till Brooklyn] 2Q 2008 Brooklyn Market Overview Available For Download

July 11, 2008 | 12:52 am | | Reports |

The 2Q 2008 Brooklyn Market Overview that I author for Prudential Douglas Elliman was just released.

It is the first comprehensive report of the entire borough, which is sort of surprising to me. Look for lots of additional data and charts on the market in the coming weeks. No sleep till Brooklyn!

Other reports we prepare can be found here.

A year’s worth of historical aggregate [data]( (will have 5 years online in the coming weeks) and a series of [charts]( will also be available soon.

An excerpt

…The median sales price of a residential property in Brooklyn slipped 1.9% to $525,000 from $535,000 in the prior year quarter. Average sales price increased overall due to the influence of new condo development activity on overall prices. The average sales price of a Brooklyn property was $588,441 this quarter, 2.4% higher than the prior year quarter average sales price of $574,454. Condo prices, on a price per square foot basis, were up 16.4% to $575 from $494 in the prior year quarter. There is broad disparity between new development and re-sale condo prices. The price per square foot of a condo in a new development was $649 per square foot, up 27.5% from the $509 price per square foot of the prior year quarter. Over the same period, re-sale condos averaged $496 per square foot, up 7.4% from the $462 price per square foot of the prior year quarter…

In 2005, I began posting the links of the coverage of each report to see how each media outlet reports the market using the exact same data. I find it to be an interesting way to look at how this information is interpreted and presented.

The media coverage of the report will be provided here as they are released over the week (in no particular order).

Brooklyn home sales skid 44%; prices slip [New York Daily News]
Brooklyn Home Sales Drop 44% as Banks Tighten Lending [Bloomberg]
Brooklyn’s home sales and prices cooling [Crains New York]
Williamsburg, Greenpoint Home Prices Jump As Borough-Wide Sales Slump [NY Observer]
New Condos Saving Brooklyn Housing Market [NY Sun]
Brooklyn sales volume sees sharp drop [The Real Deal]
Second Quarter Brooklyn Market Report: Sales Nosedive! [Curbed]
Miller Samuel Report: Sales Down; Bstone, Burg Prices Up [Brownstoner]

Tags: ,

[Party Like Its 2009] 2Q 2008 Manhattan Market Overview Available For Download

July 2, 2008 | 11:58 am | | Public |

The 2Q 2008 Manhattan Market Overview that I author for Prudential Douglas Elliman was released today. Other reports we prepare can be found here.

The [data]( and a series of [charts]( are also available

An excerpt

…Like the prior quarter, fewer sales occurred compared to the prior year quarter, but more than the corresponding quarter two years prior. There were 3,081 co-op and condo sales collected at the close of the quarter, down 21.8% from the prior year quarter. The decline in activity was evenly spread across coop and condo property types with the lower level of demand related to tighter credit and a weaker economy. With tighter credit conditions for market participants existing today as compared to last year, it is reasonable to expect a lower level of activity relative to 2007 for the remainder of 2008. In fact, there were more co-op and condo sales in 2007 than in any other year over the past 20 years…

In 2005, I began posting the links of the coverage of each report to see how each media outlet reports the market using the exact same data. I find it to be an interesting way to look at how this information is interpreted and presented.

The media coverage of the report will be provided here as they are released over the week (in no particular order).

Manhattan Second-Quarter Apartment Sales Fall by 22% (Update1) [Bloomberg]
Manhattan apartment prices zoom but more on market [Reuters]
Wall Street’s ills weaken Manhattan apartment sales [NY Daily News]
Curbed Roundtable: July State O’ the Market Report [Curbed]
Manhattan housing prices edge up, but sales slow [The Real Deal]
The High-End End? [New York Observer]
Manhattan apartment sales drop, but prices climb [Associated Press/Businessweek]
Manhattan housing market slows [Crains New York Business]
Manhattan real estate starts to soften [CNN/Money]
Apartment Sales Remain Vigorous in Manhattan [New York Times]
City Housing Slump May Hit In 2009 [New York Sun]
Sales still falling in Manhattan [Inman News]

[July 2, 2008] [Bloomberg TV](

[July 2, 2008] [NY1 TV](


[Attitude Forecast Flies] Warm & Fuzzy Logic By Gloomy Or Happy Shiny People

June 30, 2008 | 10:11 am | |

Hey, admit it – most of us are confused about the state of the economy and housing. The increasing number of solutions and policy provided by government and through politics seem to make matters worse. There is more information out there than ever before.

In fact, it’s enough to accept the idea that ignorance really is bliss. Just ask a happy fly.

Absent of hidden agendas and built-in bias in many reporting sources, the abundance of macro data can’t lay it all out because it’s backward looking. I definitely see all of this in the coverage of real estate in the New York region and I am sure the same thing goes on in most markets.

Its less about the macro data and more about interpretation of the data to yield a coherent and reasonable picture of the future. This gets back to understanding what value is (aka housing prices) – a current perception of a future condition as it relates to a specific property.

But perception varies widely across demographics (that’s why the Dodd bill using the term “true value” is so crazy)

Education, income and party all seem to play a role in the shade of rose-colored glasses worn:

More Gallup charts here.

Baby boomers see the glass as half empty and since they are the largest demographic portion of the economy, it influences the overall media coverage on all things economic.

Since we are a consumption economy, forecasts on consumption (and it’s impact on housing or housing’s impact on consumption) tendencies might be more accurate using more warm and fuzzy indicators like the University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment.

  • First, while most other macroeconomic data report what already happened, the ICS data report on consumers’ views about their own and the economy’s recent, current, and expected economic conditions.
  • Second, consumer attitudes may incorporate households’ estimates of the impacts of rare or even unique shocks, whose effects cannot be directly estimated from past experience or data.
  • Third, households’ answers might reflect changed expectations and uncertainties about future conditions that have not yet occurred.

But only when the economy is weak…

Consumer attitudes are more reliable as a forecasting tool when the economy is weak.

With all the flies buzzing around, I’m feeling a bit agitated (idea: that could mean greater accuracy).


Ranked 87th, I’ll Take It

May 14, 2008 | 10:43 am | Public |

The New York Observer, with it’s new ownership, has devoted the back portion of its publication to real estate coverage which has a lot of good stuff and has garnered a lot of attention in the process. One way to do this is to publish a list…

Here’s the list
The 100 Most Powerful People in New York Real Estate

I made 87th, which is both flattering and surreal since the diversity and quality of accomplishments runs the spectrum. So I think this is a good thing? Hey, I am the only appraiser on the list.

Jonathan Miller
President and CEO of Miller Samuel
His huge market reports for Elliman can stir up exhilaration or dread about the state of the city, the kind of thing that makes or breaks a bubble. Plus, his firm did $5 billion in Manhattan evaluations last year, which means there’s a relatively good chance he’s appraised you.

My profile is one of the few without a picture, but they use my eye in the center of the cover of today’s paper (inside the first “0” of “The 100”). 😉

Spoken like an 87th ranked individual…

Ok, back to work.


[Transition Report] 1Q 2008 Manhattan Market Overview Available For Download

April 2, 2008 | 12:02 am | | Public |

The 1Q 2008 Manhattan Market Overview that I author for Prudential Douglas Elliman was released today. Other reports we prepare can be found here.

The [data]( and a series of [charts]( will be uploaded today as well.

An excerpt

…The elevated pace of sales from the past 5 quarters cools as the volatility in the financial markets begins to touch Manhattan. Based on activity in the first quarter it is likely that the record number of sales in 2007 will not be repeated in 2008. Sales in the current quarter declined to levels seen two years ago. The reduction of available credit, less favorable mortgage terms, the national economy moving towards a recession and the specter of additional layoffs in the financial services sector over the next two years has begun to restrain the demand for Manhattan residential real estate. Still, the regional economy is performing well, tourism and hotel occupancy rates are at or near record levels and the New York City government is financially well positioned for the next two years. The US dollar has set new lows against several currencies, which continues to bring new sources of demand, with specific emphasis on condo new development projects….

In 2005, I began posting the links of the coverage of each report to see how each media outlet reports the market using the exact same data. I find it to be an interesting experience.

The media coverage of the report will be provided here as they are released over the week.

Manhattan Apartment Prices Hit Record High Despite Slump [NYT]
Housing Slump — in New York ? [WSJ]
Manhattan Condo, Co-op Sales Decline Most in 18 Years (Update2) [Bloomberg]
Trouble in the sky-rise? [The Economist]
Co-op, condo sales dive in Manhattan [NY Daily News]
Manhattan apartment prices increase [The Real Deal]
Manhattan Home Sales Slow, Prices Rise [AP]
Manhattan apartment prices rise but sales fall [Reuters]
First Quarter Reports: Real Estate Cooling [New York Sun]
Average Manhattan home hits record $1.6 million [CNN/Money]
Manhattan apartments: prices up, sales down [Crain’s]
First Quarter Market Reports: Prices Up, Sales Down [Curbed]
Condos Ascendant! But What Price Victory? [New York Observer]
Manhattan Apartments Remain Pricey, Slowdown Ahead [Gothamist]
NYC home sales drop [Times Leader (PA)]
Housing Market Tracker – It’s About Affordability, Stupid.[Seeking Alpha]
Manhattan Home Sales Slow, Prices Rise [Huffington Post]
Manhattan apartment sales drop off in 1st quarter, but prices still climb due to luxury sales [MN Star Tribune]
Real estate data show market cooling [Metro.US]
Property in Manhattan at an 18 year Low [Investment Markets]
What Slump? Manhattan Housing Prices Hit Record High [NY1]

Radio and TV clips

[April 2, 2008] [CNN en Espanol](
[April 2, 2008] [Bloomberg TV](BLOOM_04-02-2008_05.24.29.wmv)
[April 2, 2008] [NY 1](NY1_04-02-2008_07.14.06.wmv)
April 2, 2008] [Bloomberg Radio](

Tags: ,

[Miller Samuel Love] Miller Samuel And Radar Logic Part Ways For Now

March 7, 2008 | 5:54 pm | | Public |

Last September I announced in my “Radar Love” post that our Miller Samuel firm was being acquired by Radar Logic. It was an exciting time for my family, my company and of course, me.

I was so confident in the deal being completed by year end that I agreed to assume the role of Executive Vice President and Director of Research before the deal closed. I created the RPX Monthly Housing Market Report, provided my expertise, spoke on behalf of the company on real estate matters and made presentations at conferences.

The end of the year came and went.

I have decided it was best for Miller Samuel to move on.

Our parting with Radar Logic is amicable and I wish them great success. The firm is comprised of brilliant, innovative, hard-working people and I am glad that I had the experience of working with them.

It is a tumultuous time for residential real estate. It is a watershed moment for the appraisal industry, the economy is moving towards recession, the credit markets are in disarray, foreclosures are rising, there is a presidential election that promises much change and most importantly, the iPhone is going to get a lot of cool applications.

In other words, the real estate market actually needs neutral valuation experts more than ever.

Miller Samuel will continue to be an appraisal and consulting firm that many consider the best in the business. We will explore new opportunities, continue to prepare and expand our series of market reports on the New York region and provide housing commentary in a local, national and international context.

More to come and thanks for listening.

Ok, back to work.

Jonathan Miller
Miller Samuel Inc.
Real Estate Appraisers & Consultants

UPDATE (Mar 07, 2008 7:00PM ET): Press release placed on MarketWire by Radar Logic.

UPDATE 2: News coverage:
Miller Samuel, Radar Logic Break Off Engagement [New York Observer]
Miller Samuel backed out of merger with Radar Logic [Crains New York]
Miller Samuel parts ways with Radar Logic [Inman News]
Miller Samuel backed out of merger with Radar Logic [The Real Deal]


[Form-Fillers Anonymous] The Power Not To Check A Box

January 19, 2008 | 7:10 pm | |

The recurring theme as of late is appraiser pressure.

Near the top of all the various appraisal forms designed by Fannie Mae, considered the standard by the residential mortgage industry, is the “neighborhood” section. It contains a series of check boxes that appraiser uses to identify the overall trend of the neighborhood where the subject property is located.

An appraiser in California is suing Washington Mutual Bank, the embattled mortgage lender who is under regulatory investigation by the Office of Thrift Supervision after the New York State Attorney General initiated a law suit against one of their primary appraisal vendors. The appraiser was supposedly blacklisted by WaMu for checking the “declining” box on her appraisal forms, because she observed price declines in the market she was covering.

The action is surprising to me since appraisers are usually the recipients of punishment. The appraiser is hired to render an opinion about the local housing market. Based on the lawsuit, this appraiser was not allowed to present her opinion without retribution. Kudos to her. The typical new type of appraiser born out of the housing boom, would not have checked that box and that makes me angry.

This was my comment to the Wall Street Journal about this last week.

Jonathan Miller, a New York appraiser, said pressure on appraisers not to check the “declining” box in their reports is widespread and that many appraisers submit to such demands. But “if you do that,” he says, “you’re not doing an appraisal anymore — you’re a form-filler.”

I always viewed these check boxes as an “on/off switch” and ethical appraisers that would check these boxes were placed at high risk to lose their retail banking clients because those clients had to sell the mortgage paper to investors. There was generally less concern about banking clients that held the reports in portfolio.

Fannie Mae released policy guidance last year that would cut back the allowed mortgage by 5% if this check box was selected. It is logical for Fannie Mae to implement this policy since it is an underwriting decision whether or not to lend or how much to lend in a market. The appraiser is merely the observer and the valuation expert, and the appraiser has nothing to do whatsoever with making underwriting decisions for the lender.

On the other end of the spectrum, I remember getting calls about not checking the “Increasing” box when the market began to rise in the late 1990s so as to be more conservative. Of course we would decline the instruction explain how we could not implement the request without a full disclosure and disclaimer. We found that most of the other appraisers on the approved panel of that same bank, would readily agree to the lender instructions without resistance.

Where was our profession’s backbone? Good grief.

Tags: ,

[Contrarian Report] 4Q 2007 Manhattan Market Overview

January 19, 2008 | 1:28 am | | Radio |

The 4Q 2007 Manhattan Market Overview that I author for Prudential Douglas Elliman was released earlier this month. I neglected to post this on Matrix earlier because [insert excuse here]. Other reports we prepare can be found here.

The [data]( and a series of [charts]( are also available.

About two years ago, I began posting the links of the coverage of each report to see how each media outlet reports the market using the exact same data. I find it to be an interesting process.

Here was some of report coverage based on the same data (you get the idea):

The Link List

The New York Times Wall Street Journal Bloomberg New York Daily News The New York Post CNN/Money Reuters The Real Deal Financial Times The New York Observer Inman News Pravda New York Magazine The Guardian (UK) Gothamist

Radio and TV clips

[January 3, 2008] [WNBC-TV](
[January 3, 2008] [Bloomberg – On The Economy](
[January 3, 2008] [WCBS](
[January 3, 2008] [WPIX](
[January 3, 2008] [Fox 5 TV](
[January 3, 2008] [Bloomberg TV](
[January 3, 2008] [WABC TV](
[January 3, 2008] [WNBC HD TV](
[January 3, 2008] [NY -1](
[January 3, 2008] [Fox Business Network](
[WCBS Radio](
[NPR Radio](

Tags: , ,

[Crunch Report] 3Q 2007 Manhattan Market Overview

October 2, 2007 | 11:23 pm | | Radio |

The 3Q 2007 Manhattan Market Overview [pretty version will be posted later this week] that I author for Prudential Douglas Elliman was released today. The report is prepared in the same manner as in quarters past but in association with Radar Logic, where i am the director of research.

The numbers were released and my summary of their interpretation were provided to the media for the coverage today. The actual [data]( and [charts]( will be available later this week as well.

More than a year ago, I began posting the links of the coverage of each report to see how each media outlet reports the market using the exact same data. I find it to be an interesting process.

This list of articles is presented basically when I found them. I also include some duplicate news feeds because I like to see what regions are interested in the story – I place those near the bottom because of the repetition. I’ll keep adding links through the end of the week.

The Link List

Manhattan Home Prices Rise 2.3% on Luxury Condo Sales [Bloomberg]
Home Prices Buck Trend, for Now [New York Times]
Manhattan continues to buck U.S. housing trend [Reuters]
Manhattan housing boom continues [CNN/Money]
Manhattan apartment market prices hit record high [New York Daily News]
Manhattan Apartment Prices Soar, Bucking the Trend [CNBC]
Manhattan Housing Market Still Sturdy, For Now []
Manhattan housing market still healthy [The Real Deal]
No City For the Young [The Real Estate/New York Observer]
Manhattan real estate bubble hasn’t burst [Newsday]
Your Morning Credit Crunch: Manhattan Stays Bullish [Curbed]
Manhattan real estate sales, prices still climbing [Inman News]
Pre-Credit Crunch Apartment Prices Increase Real Estate [New York Sun]
NYC Real Estate Prices Strong – For Now [Gothamist]
No Surprises In Manhattan Real Estate Poll [NY Press]
Manhattan housing prices in record high [Construction Digital, UK]

Radio and TV clips

[October 2, 2007] [CNBC](

[October 2, 2007] [Bloomberg Television](

[October 2, 2007] [NY1 News](

[October 2, 2007] Bloomberg Radio

Tags: , ,

Between The Lines, My Parking Space Is A1

July 12, 2007 | 12:35 pm | | Public |

Yesterday I got the word that a New York Times story on parking spaces I was interviewed for was going to make the front page, known as A1 or Page One by regular readers. About 20 minutes after I got the call, I started getting email alerts that Lady Bird Johnson had passed away at the age of 94. Not to get sidetracked from the point her but I really enjoyed Robert Caro’s 2 biographies of Lyndon Johnson: Means of Acent and Path to Power.

I had been certain my story would get bumped from A1 forever or another day. I was pretty excited this morning to find Vivian Toy’s story: For Parking Space, the Price Is Right at $225,000 on the front page. Its my 5th time on the front page of the NY Times (but who’s counting) and it is not any less exciting than the first time (back in 2000).

But I digress…

One thing I learned from Vivian is that developers allocate about 150 square feet for a space. 10′ x 15′ Thats about the same size as a separate maid’s room and a similar price point.

Private parking spaces are is a rare commodity in Manhattan. Its a geographic area, where the majority of residents, don’t drive for their commute everyday. The mayor is attempting to initiate congestion pricing to make it more expensive to drive a car or truck south of East 86th Street, which is about half of the island and the most densely occupied. This concept has been successful in London. Commuting by car is not easy within Manhattan. It is expensive and slower than using the subway or other public transportation services. The public transportation system is inexpensive, generally reliable and accessible. Yet the the cost of owning a parking space is relatively expensive, given the current price point of Manhattan real estate.

It is interesting that a premium is being placed on the right to purchase a parking space since this is an area of public transportation commuters. But hey, its all about supply and demand.

My good friend and appraisal colleague in Chicago, Chip Wagner shared with me some stats from what is arguably a much more car-dependent city: $300,000 to $500,000 condo units parking spaces are $25,000 to $40,000
$500,000 to $100,000 condo unit parking spaces are $35,000 to $50,000
And highest I know of is $75,000 for over $2,000,000 properties.

Supply/Demand of parking is not out of flux like your city. Most of the new developments, the ratio is 1:1. Actually, some buildings, the parking spaces may be 4 spots for every 5 units, therefore in a building that might have a balanced or oversupply of units, might have an undersupply or balanced supply of parking spaces.

Based on a median sales price of about $550,000, the price ratio in Chicago is about 7% while Manhattan is about 25% ($225k/$895k).

As Manhattan housing’s fortunes go, so does parking.

Tags: ,

Another Appraisal Firm Enters Pressure Realm + 20,000 Reports

June 11, 2007 | 12:01 am | |

This is getting interesting.

Vanderbilt Appraisal Company LLC, the second of our two major competitors, was subpoenaed last week into the widening probe over mortgage brokers pressuring appraisers by New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.

The news coverage has been particularly heavy, likely because the firms being subpoened cover the most expensive real estate market in the US. The irony here is the fact that this investigation stemmed from subprime lending practices, of which there is a limited amount in New York City. And of course, a subpoena doesn’t infer guilt.

Appraisal pressure is a key ingredient in the problem with the mortgage industry being uncovered today and I am glad it is getting the attention it deserves. Just talking about it helps bring the problem to the forefront. There’s been a lot of news on the topic in the past week:

And in Ohio…
The Ohio Attorney General filed suit against seven mortgage brokers, 2 lenders and an appraiser last week:

A related aside (is there such a thing?)
I was struck by a specific number in the Bloomberg story that was so over the top, I wanted to mention it. Bloomberg reported that the two principals have personally done over 20,000 appraisals. However, their web site actually says that number applies to one of the principals who has personally performed more than 20,000 appraisals since 1991. The site also reports that the other principal has done about 15,000 reports over what I assume to be the same period.

If I do the math with the first principal, that is the equivalent of one person doing 20,000+ appraisals/16 years/50 weeks per year (assume a vacation)/5 days per week (assume time with family on weekends) equals 5 full appraisals from start to finish per day while owning, running and growing a regional appraisal business that includes New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Florida.

Thats about 4x the number I have personally appraised since 1986 (in 5 more years).

Now thats time management!

Tags: , ,

Get Weekly Insights and Research

Housing Notes by Jonathan Miller

Receive Jonathan Miller's 'Housing Notes' and get regular market insights, the market report series for Douglas Elliman Real Estate as well as interviews, columns, blog posts and other content.

Follow Jonathan on Twitter

#Housing analyst, #realestate, #appraiser, podcaster/blogger, non-economist, Miller Samuel CEO, family man, maker of snow and lobster fisherman (order varies)
NYC CT Hamptons DC Miami LA Aspen
Joined October 2007