Matrix Blog

Celebrity, Pop Culture

Housing Data as Pop Culture

February 14, 2013 | 7:00 am | delogo | Charts |


[click to open article]

A recent post in CNN/Money featured Andy Warhol’s 1984 “U.S. Unemployment Rate. No Campbell Soup Cans but it feels strange to associate his art with economic data from the 1980s. It somehow works for me. One of the coolest property inspections I made was through “The Factory” years ago.

In 2007 the “Stand-up Economist” Yorman Bauman led the way with this much watched video on the difference between macro and micro economists. “Microeconomists are wrong about specific things while macroeconomists are wrong about things in general.” HI-larious.

And recently the TV game show “Teen Jeopardy” had 5 questions about the “Federal Reserve.”

Christie’s sales rep said:

“Economic data has become popular culture. While we used to think of it as being some kind of verified information only for people who are really knowledgeable about the economy, it’s popular culture now. You can talk to a taxi driver about it.”

I completely agree. Gangnam Style and GDP now go hand in hand.

We devour housing data ie the recently released Real Deal Data Book (I’ve got a lot of charts and tables in there!)

Throw in the heavy downloads of our report series for Douglas Elliman, NAR Research, CoreLogic, Case Shiller, RealtyTrac, etc. it’s clear to me that housing data is an obsession and embedded in popular culture (thank goodness).

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[Book] APE: Guy Kawasaki Gives Us The Tools (and Confidence) To Publish

December 12, 2012 | 10:28 pm |

I’ve long been a fan of Guy’s insights and how he cuts through the $^%^&&%##**&% to get to what’s important. I first observed this when he was at Apple Computer eons ago and then when he was President of ACIUS, the database software company behind 4th Dimension we used to build Miller Samuel, and with his series of books beginning with the “Macintosh Way.” A couple of years ago I interviewed him on my podcast.

Guy, along with Shawn Welch, have written a terrific new book:

APE: How to Publish a Book (Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur). And when he dropped me a note about it I got very excited since I’ve been in “I need to write a book” mode for several years, getting nagged and nudged by friends and family. This book answers my questions and more importantly, puts me at ease with the process. I highly recommend it.

He calls it “Artisanal” Publishing, currently a wildy popular and soon to be overused word in our culture, but it’s Guy’s word and I’m a believer.

As digitization creates a revolutionary opportunity for writers to become their own publishers a new self-publishing infrastructure has emerged. This book will become the standard guide to this new publishing universe.
– Jason Epstein, former editorial director of Random House and co-founder of On Demand Books.



APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur-How to Publish a Book [Kindle Edition]

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Serious Jibber-Jabber: Lessons from Nate Silver to Filter Out Housing Noise

December 10, 2012 | 7:00 am | Videos |

I really enjoyed this “Charlie Rose”-like interview by late night TV host Conan O’Brien and statistician Nate Silver on his “Serious Jibber-Jabber” series. I recently bought Nate’s book “The Signal and the Noise: Why Most Predictions Fail but Some Don’t” and it’s next on my reading list (actually I bought 2 copies because I forgot I had pre-ordered on Amazon for Kindle and ordered again from Apple iBooks, Doh!).

What I found intriguing about the discussion is how much effort it takes to filter out the noise and get the to meat of the issue as well as getting outside of your self-made insulated bubble to be able to make an informed decision – aka neutrality.

Real estate, like politics, is a spin laden industry whose health is very difficult to gauge if you rely on people and institutions who have a vested interest in the outcome. i.e. Wall Street, rating agencies, government, banks, real estate agents etc.

Some interesting points made:

  • During the bubble, for every $1 in mortgages, Wall Street was making $50 in side bets.
  • Many people during the housing boom saw it was a bubble but didn’t want to miss out. They would see the green arrows pointing up on CNBC screen and it became very hard to be contrarian and be left behind.

The current “happy housing news” that is all the rage seems to draw a parallel with the pundits who got the election outcome all wrong yet all were experienced in politics. The housing herd is disconnecting from what the data is showing.

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[666 Park Avenue] Appraising Fictitious TV Celebrity Apartments

September 28, 2012 | 9:46 pm | Articles |


[click to expand]

In lieu of the new TV show 666 Park Avenue (the devil passed the board interview apparently), the Commercial Observer asked me for some thoughts on the value of some fictitious apartments and properties in some notable TV shows using what limited information was available back in the day and some strained logic (with a slew of hypotheticals and disclaimers) all in the name of fun.

Although the graphic incorrectly uses the building square footage total for no. 3, the graphics people at CO did an absolutely brilliant job with this – love it.

Here’s a cool web site I came across with theoretical floor plans for popular tv shows.



Lifestyles of the Rich and Fictitious [Commercial Observer]
Celebrity Floorplans [Deviant Art]
666 Park Avenue [Wikipedia]

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Treasures of New York: “Building Stories” Profile of Architect Costas Kondylis

June 14, 2012 | 3:36 pm | trdlogo | Videos |

Watch Treasures of New York: Building Stories on PBS. See more from THIRTEEN Specials.

If you missed this show on TV, it is now available in its entirety online. It’s an excellent collaboration between WNET/THIRTEEN and The Real Deal on the noted architect. I loved the way the assemblage of development air rights – basically a high stakes secret chess match – was presented.

Note to self: ask Amir Korangy, TRD’s publisher to do a doc on me someday – it would be brief, boring and attract little interest, but hey, who wouldn’t want their own doc?



  • Treasures of New York: Building Stories reveals the private life and the creative process of Costas Kondylis [WNET/THIRTEEN]

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[The Housing Helix Podcast] Dottie Herman, President and CEO, Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate

May 31, 2010 | 8:49 pm | delogo | Podcasts |

I sat down with Dottie Herman, President and CEO of Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate to talk about her journey from certified financial planner to one of the most successful real estate brokers in the United States.  Dottie leads an organization of 3,800 real estate professionals and 675 employees in more than 60 offices.  Its a candid and insightful conversation, and of course, fun and energetic.

We spoke right after our live weekly radio show “Eye on Real Estate” on WOR710 that Dottie hosts on Saturdays from 10am to noon along with her team of experts (including moi).

Check out the podcast.

The Housing Helix Podcast Interview List

You can subscribe on iTunes or simply listen to the podcast on my other blog The Housing Helix.


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[Fierce Finance] Of Wall Street Bonuses And Crooked Estates

September 29, 2009 | 4:18 pm |

Discovered a new financial services web site today called Fierce Finance that has some compelling content and a cool name. Here are a couple of the items…

Wall Street bonuses if handled correctly, may not be that controversial.

If banks are not accepting even more in taxpayer funds and are making profits legitimately, I doubt anyone will have a problem with big bonuses.

It will be challenging however after what is anticipated to be fairly large profit reports from a few of the larger financial institutions. That has ramifications for stirring up the Main/Wall Street debate, compensation restrictions by Congress (and fanning the flames of housing demand in the NYC metro area).

And a slide show of the more “infamous” properties that were tainted in controversy in the past year.

Between the SEC’s post-Madoff hyper vigilance and the intense media coverage of the financial services industry, a great deal of scandal has surfaced over the last year.

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[Over Coffee] Quote: Understated Elegance

September 1, 2009 | 4:58 pm |

I wrote about the Madoff Montauk, Long Island home in my previous post, but something else was said that is worthy of a new post.

The phrase understated elegance is common real estate brokerspeak used by some real estate agents…not US Marshals.

“Every room is situated so that you have a left to right, 180 degree angle of the Atlantic Ocean,” said Roland Ubaldo, supervisory deputy US Marshal, who conducted a video tour of the property for the press last week. “It’s a panoramic view. You’re talking about guest bedrooms, master bedrooms, foyer, you name it, [all of them] have a view of the Atlantic Ocean; it really is breathtaking.”

And for the closing pitch…

“There’s an understated elegance, I believe, in this whole residence,” said Marshal Ubaldo. “It’s simple, stylish, but it is understated.”

Could you ever imagine a US Marshal uttering those words while showing a house (carrying a weapon, I assume)? My temples pulsate every time I think of it.

But it is clear that they mean business – and intend to sell for market value so the defrauded investors get back as much as they can (admittedly nominal).



[HGTV] Uprooted Casting Call For Buyers Who Started Over

August 25, 2009 | 11:55 am |

I expected the fallout from the credit crunch would reduce demand for new housing shows and old shows like “Flip this house” Of course I was wrong and television seems to have adapted to the new market conditions quite well.

I predicted the same demise for reality television 10 years ago as well so I’ll stick to valuation and price trends.

HGTV canvassed the blogosphere sending a notice for their new series “Uprooted” which suggests that there is endless material for our national obsession that is housing.

Here are the details if you need them.

HGTV’s new series “Uprooted is looking for high-energy home buyers who are saying goodbye to their hometowns, totally picking-up, and moving to a new place where everything is different. Whether they’re moving from the mountains to the ocean, a major city to the country, or making a move overseas, HGTV wants to hear your story.

We are looking for realtors to feature on the show as they walk their clients through the buying process.

In order to qualify: * You must have begun the closing process on their new home or will be closed mid September ’09 * Your old home must not immediately be occupied (unless current residents would allow filming) * You must not be moving because of retirement or military reasons. * Price range must be between 400k to 1 million.

We are especially looking for families moving to or from one of the following locations:

  • California
  • New York
  • Hawaii
  • Oregon
  • Colorado
  • New Mexico
  • Texas

Candidates and realtors who are chosen for the show will receive compensation.

If you want to be on the show e-mail casting@departure-films.com

Please include -your contact info and company information -where your clients are moving from -where your clients are moving to -when they are moving


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Real Estate Brokers/Agents Have An Image Problem

August 7, 2009 | 12:05 pm |

Harris Interactive does a poll every year at this time on prestigious occupations.

Firefighters are at the top (one of my sons is a firefighter!) as well as scientists, doctors, nurses, teachers, military officers and real estate bloggers (ok, ok that last one I slipped in to see if you were payin’ attention).

At the very bottom of the list were real estate agents/brokers after accountants, stockbrokers (no surprise there), actors (surprising given our celebrity culture) and bankers (yep, thats for sure).

I think NAR really missed out on a great opportunity during the transition from housing boom to bust a few years ago to be a trusted resource for the consumer. Short sighted thinking then is hard to erase from the collective consciousness.

Tomorrow is never too late.