Matrix Blog

Development, Construction, Architecture & Land

Greenwich CT Pre-Lehman “Reno, Then Flip” Mentality Is Long Gone

February 26, 2016 | 9:41 am | delogo | Charts |

Fairfield County, CT is one of the more recent editions to our Elliman Report series. Greenwich, CT as a submarket has proven to be a market still strongly linked to the heady days before the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008 and the beginning of the financial crisis. There remain many owners of high end homes purchased a decade ago that remain value-anchored to those days of yore.

I took a look at the last 15 years of residential sales, measuring the amount of time that passed from a home’s prior renovation to sale. From the late 1990s to Lehman, there was a compression of time from renovation to eventual sale, reflective of the speculative conditions leading up to Lehman. Reno a home, then sell it. During those days, business cards passed out by doctors and lawyers at Greenwich cocktail parties were either “hedge fund manager” or “developer.” Not so much anymore.

Subsequent to Lehman, the late 1990s pattern that preceded the U.S. housing bubble returned by 2010 and has remained remarkably stable since.

4Q15GR-sincelastreno

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Billionaires’ Row: I Can See For Miles And Miles, Until You Can’t

December 21, 2015 | 2:12 pm | nytlogo | Favorites |

UPDATE: The following article made the front page of the NYT today, my 13th A1 appearance (but who’s counting?).

New York Times’ Matt Chabin writes a piece about the “Super Tall” phenomenon on Manhattan’s West 57th nicknamed “Billionaires’ Row” called Developers of Manhattan Spires Look Past 1,000-Foot Neighbors.

“It’s like the Who song,” said Jonathan Miller, president of the appraisal firm Miller Samuel. “You can see for miles and miles and miles. Until you look into your neighbor’s building.”

The changing skyline is a well worn and controversial discussion throughout much of Manhattan’s storied (pun intended) real estate history. It’s quite amazing to appreciate how much the skyline has changed over the past century, nearly always moving taller. In the current iteration of growth, the potential benefit seems to be the financing of affordable housing.

billionaires row skyline

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[Video] China’s investors and the safe haven of American real estate

August 31, 2015 | 4:10 pm | yahoofinance2 | TV, Videos |

Here’s a summary of potential future actions by Chinese investors with the recent spate of volatility in the financial markets.

According to Jonathan Miller, president of appraisal firm Miller Samuel, the tumult in China may lead to even more money finding its way into American residential and commercial real estate. “There are not a lot of investment vehicles in China,” said Miller. “You have the [Chinese] housing market, which is a pretty significant bubble. You have thousands of ghost cities that have been constructed. On top of that, you have a pretty volatile stock market situation. So there is some speculation that there actually will be outflow as a result of this and maybe that will end up in the U.S.” Costello concurs with Miller, noting that China’s insurance companies have been allowed by their regulators to invest in foreign real estate only since 2012. “Unless and until they have to cover losses at home, they’re not going to sell these properties,” said Costello. “They’re going to hold them for the long term.”

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Most NYC building permits since ’63 – Brooklyn nearly equals rest of city

July 30, 2015 | 10:20 am | wsjlogo |

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Source: WSJ

Yesterday evening Josh Barbanel at WSJ posted a milestone piece on the current building boom: Construction in New York City Goes Through The Roof: New residential permits surge as developers rush to qualify for tax break

There has been an incredible surge in NYC residential building permits, the most in more than 50 years. It’s amazing to see the Brooklyn permit total nearly reach the total of remainder of the city tallied together.

New York City is entering what could be the biggest building boom in a generation, census figures show, as work gets under way on hundreds of residential projects in neighborhoods across the city. In the first six months of the year, developers received new residential building permits for 42,088 apartments and houses in the city, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, already more than in any full year since 1963, when nearly 50,000 permits were issued.

While permit numbers don’t translate directly to what will actually get built, it is clearly a sign of a significant pipeline in the making.

Reasons?

  • Expiring tax abatement program encouraged developers rush in and start foundation work by June 15
  • Alternative financing around the globe chasing higher returns that low rates can’t deliver
  • Little regulatory oversight because of Dodd-Frank bogging down traditional commercial lenders
  • Significant pent-up demand from 2008-2012 unleashed on the market
  • Improving economy with near record employment growth

UPDATE – I neglected to be more clear and say that this surge will likely collapse in the near future, since the jump in permits is likely to be wildly exaggerated as a result of the first reason above.

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[VIDEO] Fox Business ‘Risk & Reward’ w/Deirdre Bolton 7-27-15

July 27, 2015 | 10:22 pm | TV, Videos |

Always great to swing by and speak with Deirdre Bolton on her Fox Business show “Risk & Reward.” However today’s show was a bit of a mess for me. Working on 4.5 hours of sleep I said I was talking about “interest-free” then changed it to “principal-free” mortgages – LOL – good grief! Note to self: “interest-only.” Plus my company name was reversed 2x and the chyron had it backwards as well. Didn’t discourage me though – always fun to do the show.

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Will London (or any large city) Become a Bad Version of Dubai?

July 15, 2015 | 2:24 pm |

Dubaization Defined.

This video is an epic condemnation of the new wave of architecture associated with super luxury housing that is redefining the London skyline presented by – The Guardian.

Alain de Botton goes full on, providing heavy criticism that is well worth watching for the answer to the question: Why we are seeing the super luxury/starchitect phenomenon occur?

But the rest of the piece slips into full scale whining.

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Rotating GIFs: Cost of Land Is The Secret to Affordable Housing

July 14, 2015 | 4:48 pm |

Here’s a cool rotating gif map on rising U.S. land prices based on data taken from the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy (in partnership with University of Wisconsin-Madison).

I’ve used their data for my Bloomberg View column talking about the price of land. In short, the land is what appreciates, not the improvements to the land such as the house itself. The price of land is a key issue in the U.S. affordable housing crisis we are now experiencing.

Here’s a 40 year view on the price of land for residential development provided by Howmuch.net


Source: Howmuch.net

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Bloomberg View Column: How Long Before a Home Lists for $1 Billion?

June 25, 2015 | 10:49 pm | BloombergViewlogoGray | Charts |

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Read my latest Bloomberg View column How Long Before a Home Lists for $1 Billion?. This post went #1 on the Bloomberg Terminal and on the public facing BloombergView.com site for about a day and a half. Crazy.

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Here’s an excerpt…

When a Los Angeles hilltop home that’s under construction was recently priced at a record half-billion dollars, it looked like a one-off in excess. The same thought occurred to me late last year when real estate investor Jeff Greene, who won big betting against the housing market before the financial crisis, priced his renovated Beverly Hills, California, home at $195 million…

[read more]


My Bloomberg View Column Directory

My Bloomberg View RSS feed.

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Palace: When A $500 Million Asset Is Not A Home

May 26, 2015 | 3:15 pm | bloomberg_news_logo |

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When I was called by Bloomberg News about a new Bel Air (LA) listing that was asking $500m and another one down the block by the same architect but different developer at around $400 million, my initial reaction was laughter. I wasn’t doubting that there could be a buyer somewhere out there somewhere…but rather at the absurdity of it. It also seems like a strike against it to have a nearby home done by the same architect, no?

As I told a bank executive/client this morning that it’s clearly a strange world when someone builds spec housing for a handful of buyers worldwide and no houses in the local market have ever sold close to half the proposed asking price (including Jeff Greene’s $195 million listing that has been on the market since December.)

At a combined $100k square feet (main house + 3 smaller houses), it will be bigger than “Versailles” a 90k square foot house outside of Orlando, Florida that was the subject of the documentary “Queen of Versailles.”

According to NAR, the U.S. median home sales price is currently $219,400.

If the Bel Air home is sold, it is doubtful this would end up as someone’s primary residence. Perhaps we should label this type of asset as something else besides a “home?”

How about a Palace?

That’s what the architect suggested:

“It’s very similar to a palace,” he said. “The house is about public functions rather than domestic living.”

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[VIDEO] Chinese Housing Bubble Version of ‘The Truman Show’

April 29, 2015 | 9:31 am | nytlogo | TV, Videos |

To keep the sales going, developers in the massively bloated Chinese housing market are getting more creative. This NY Times short documentary is fantastic and surreal. I’d chalk it up to simply bizarre, if there wasn’t such a desperate undertone to it.

It reminded me of “The Truman Show” movie where everything Jim Carrey’s character saw was fake, made for him. However in the Chinese version, everyone knows it’s fake but embraces it.

With the massive oversupply, no wonder savvy Chinese investors are extracting as much wealth as they can and investing overseas in anticipation of that day of reckoning.

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[Three Cents Worth #279 NY] New York’s Building Boom Doesn’t Mean More Units For Sale

April 26, 2015 | 1:57 pm | curbed2 | Charts |

It’s time to share my Three Cents Worth (3CW) on Curbed NY, at the intersection of neighborhood and real estate in the capital of the world…and I’m here to take measurements.

Check out my 3CW column on @CurbedNY:

Now that I am fully recovered from Micro Week, I thought I would think a little bigger and present the Manhattan inventory picture by comparing new development and re-sales. I’ve charted it from the pre-Lehman high (PLH for those in the know) through the end of 2014 in two graphs. One shows the year-over-year change, and the other tracks inventory by units to help tell the whole story. Inventory was in a state of free fall for both types from 2009 through 2013, but in 2014 the picture clearly changed…



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[click to expand chart]


My latest Three Cents Worth column on Curbed: Three Cents Worth: New York’s Building Boom Doesn’t Mean More Units For Sale [Curbed]

Three Cents Worth Archive Curbed NY
Three Cents Worth Archive Curbed DC
Three Cents Worth Archive Curbed Miami
Three Cents Worth Archive Curbed Hamptons

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Wired’s Phallic Take on the High-Rise Boom

March 2, 2015 | 9:27 am |

When first moving to New York City in the mid-1980s I remember seeing this epic quote in New York Magazine:

“You know what this business is all about? Weenie-waving. Everyone does it. I do too.” -real estate developer Bruce Eichner

Fast forward to the latest copy of Wired Magazine with the theme “Sex in the Digital Age.” The real estate angle includes a mandatory SuperTall building graphic with the theme embedded subtitle.

wired3-15

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