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One57 Flip Analysis From Manhattan’s Peak New Development

November 15, 2017 | 4:47 pm | | Articles |

For those of you that read my weekly Housing Notes, you’ll know I refer to 2014 as “Peak New Development” for the Manhattan housing market. “Peak Luxury” works as a label too.

Bloomberg news broke the story that a $50M+ condo purchased in 2014 just sold at a foreclosure auction for $36,000,0000. There were five bidders. It’s been the fourth resale since the market peaked and the sixth overall – so I created a graphic of all the resales to show how they fared before and after the 2014 “peak.”


The Bloomberg story (that I got to chime in on) lays out the details of the One57 auction sale: One57 Foreclosure Shatters Price Dreams at Billionaires’ Tower

The story reached #1 as the most read on the 350k± Bloomberg Terminals worldwide yesterday.


It is important to remember that there are still a fair amount of units remaining that are priced at 2014 levels. Extell, the developer, has their work cut out for them to compete with current market conditions.

While One57 is a symbolic poster child for the new dev phenomenon, it is not a proxy for the entire new development market. Some projects were priced more reasonably at the peak, hence they haven’t fallen as much. In addition, the quality and design of each project can vary greatly. One thing is clear – since the 2014 peak, investors don’t have the same potential for big and fast returns on flips – their initial strategy was to buy early and realize instant equity as the sponsor increased the offering prices. That scenario no longer applies. Since the market has more choices for buyers now than it did back during peak, One57 is no longer seen as a “new” building like it was back then.

CNBC picked up the story – My firm and I get a shoutout during the conversation on Sqawkbox which was pretty cool.

Luxury condo in One57 tower sold in New York City’s biggest ever foreclosure auction from CNBC.

And here’s the transcript on yesterday’s PBS Nightly Business Report show (owned by CNBC) with the shoutout that is making the rounds.

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On Bloomberg TV: What’d You Miss? 10-5-2017

October 5, 2017 | 8:25 pm | TV, Videos |

I had a fun conversation on Bloomberg Television with Scarlet Fu, Joe Weisenthal and Julia Chatterley. We were discussing the results of our research behind the Elliman Report: Manhattan Sales 3Q17 that was just released. Here is the Bloomberg story on the report results.

Here’s a portion of the interview.

If you’d like to see the whole segment, my interview starts at the 48:40 mark although I really like the format and the hosts so you might want to watch the whole show.

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The NYC Downtown Resurgence After 9/11

September 11, 2017 | 9:40 am | Milestones |

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 16 years already since 9/11. The name of the attack is now referenced as a noun and every year I think about the events of that day – getting emails from out of state friends and colleagues asking if I was ok, with one asking if I was still alive; Watching the second tower fall; walking to Fifth Avenue and then to Sixth Avenue to see the towers in flames; No cell service; losing all access to public transportation; literally walking northward out of Midtown with throngs of others; getting a lift from my friend’s mom to Westchester county, then borrowing the car to get home to my family in CT; Debriefing with my neighbors who were standing outside like everyone else trying to learn what happened; learning that a parent of my of my son’s classmates was in the tower; hearing stories from neighbors who were talking to someone on the phone in the towers when a plane hit and the line went dead.

It seemed that everything I knew was going away and never coming back. Yet NYC showed me it never quits and I’m proud to be part of it.

Here is my interview with Tom Keene on Bloomberg TV this morning on the resurgence of downtown over the past 16 years.


UPDATE Immediately following the television spot, I walked over to their radio studios and spoke with Tom again as well as David Gura. My interview with Tom Keene and David Gura on Bloomberg Surveillance Radio so click on the graphic below and go to the 10-minute spot:



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VIDEO Nightly Business Report: U.S. Luxury Market Trends

August 6, 2017 | 7:54 pm | TV, Videos |

Diana Olick of CNBC interviewed me on the reason behind the luxury market uptick as a companion piece to her story on the luxury report released by Redfin.

The luxury real estate story starts at 20:58 into the broadcast:


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[Forbes] Penthouse Juxtaposition – What Developer Wants v. What Market Supports

June 15, 2017 | 5:14 pm | TV, Videos |

No one will argue that a $70 million penthouse can be special. But when a penthouse has many open houses and sits on the market for more than a year, it seems reasonable to wonder about pricing.

Samantha Sharf at Forbes presented a great video that juxtaposes the amenities of the apartment with my perspective on the state of the super luxury market and the next possible housing cycle in front of us. When they filmed this in Bryant Park, there were many people standing and watching off camera which was kinda fun despite my serious slouching.


[click on image for video]

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Westchester to Manhattan Commute Time by Housing Cost

April 7, 2017 | 10:34 am | | Infographics |

Because I’m a little behind, the awesome infographic below by Michael Kolomatsky appeared in the New York Times real estate section a few weeks ago: How Much Is Your House Worth Per Minute?.

My original version covering Fairfield County was so popular they wanted me to do recurring versions. This one was much harder since there wasn’t an obvious “sweet spot” but the concept was the same. And best of all, it’s pretty darn cool.

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Mansion Global’s State of the Real Estate Market Event

February 15, 2017 | 1:47 pm | | Public |

Speaking about the state of the real estate market tomorrow morning. Looking forward to it! The cool graphic below is enough of a reason to attend. 😉

The original invite graphic was also pretty cool.

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NYT Calculator Chart: The Resale Pendulum Swings Toward Middle

January 21, 2017 | 2:50 pm | | Charts |

I love the way the NYT Real Estate section handled the data from our Elliman Report series to present the Manhattan resale market.

2017-1-22NYTcalculator

I added my chart on bidding wars below – falling as supply enters the market, causing resale prices to soften.

4qoverlistmanhattan

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China: A Housing Market Without Re-sales?

November 27, 2016 | 5:54 pm | | Favorites |

I just returned from China for the second time in a little over a year and have yet been able to make sense of their domestic housing market. I am not talking about their must discussed housing bubble phenomenon or whether they have a housing bubble in the truest sense. I am talking about what seems to be a lack of a re-sale market.

After years of communist rule, the concept of home ownership in China is relatively new and appears to be in its early stages of development. Because growth in housing construction has been astronomical with all sorts of distorted metrics – their use of cement in 3 years (2011-2013) was more than the amount used in the U.S. over 100 years (1901-2000).

cementuseinchina-gates

Housing accounted for at least 15% of GDP in 2015, down from 22% in 2013. This is why we are seeing large Chinese construction companies working all over the globe these days – due to oversupply of new housing in China. The opportunities for revenue growth at the same pace seems limited.

On the bullet train we rode from Bejing to Shanghai, there were high rises under construction on both sides of the train tracks for most of the 5.5 hour trip. It’s hard to comprehend how much construction is underway without seeing it first hand, but it is massive.


Ghost Cities v. Ghost Towns
Unlike ghost towns in the U.S. which are abandoned after the economic forces are no longer in play, ghost cities have never been occupied. I think this is a pretty obvious flaw of central planning. I learned that incentives play a big role in unnecessary construction. In order for provinces to receive income from the central state, they are encouraged to generate GDP. Construction of apartment buildings is a quick way to boost GDP but there didn’t seem to be concern about their eventual occupancy (a la, build it and they will come). Also since the government owns the land, developers pay ongoing fees for using it. Our tour guide said that there were at least 40 ghost cities in China although this study says there are less. Here is a map of known ghost cities:

ghostcities

Multiple generations pooling their equity
Housing prices have been rising at about 17% annually for a decade – versus 11% disposable income growth of city dwellers. Rising prices have forced many buyers to pool the financial resources of as many as 3 generations of family. This shows how much is at stake for the Chinese government – if the housing bubble was to collapse. Yet same people I spoke with that expressed faith in the housing market showed grave concern over the integrity of their stock market. What alternative investments aside from housing does the typical domestic investor have? Especially since Chinese housing prices increased 53% in the past year?

fpchinesehousing16

However I am trying to get an answer for a much more basic point.

Is there a substantial Chinese re-sale market?
I feel way out on a limb when I say the following: few investors actually sell their apartments in the newly constructed apartment buildings.

I asked investors and real estate professionals in the Chinese housing market; four of our tour guides of the past few years; various people I met there during The Real Deal Shanghai conference: “Do investors sell their new apartments?” I consistently got a blank stare for a few moments as if the question had never come up before. A few people told me that buyers hold on to their investments for the long term and “no one sells.” On one of the real estate panels I moderated in Shanghai, a real estate professional made a comment that Chinese investors always prefer new.

The government has been trying to cool the market, requiring much larger down payments for investors, i.e. 70% and limit purchases to 1 per investor, but demand and creative work arounds, such as bogus divorces to skirt restrictions, remains high.


U.S. re-sales (existing sales) have accounted for roughly 85% of total U.S. housing sales over the long run. Granted, China is new to the concept of home ownership so the re-sale market would not dominate housing sales like it does in the U.S. But without a vibrant re-sale market, the “value” derived from Chinese housing market indices tell us Chinese housing price trends must be almost exclusively based on the newest home construction sales prices and that equity is not tangible.

Home sales seem to be a one-way transaction. Investors that buy a home feel wealthier as their investment rises in value. Theoretically that gets them to go out and consume, i.e. the wealth effect. However the market share of consumer spending in China is roughly half the 60% market share seen in the U.S. so they have a long way to go. While the Chinese investor may enjoy rental income when an active rental market exists, domestic housing purchases seem to be driven by a long term equity play.

I have found no anecdotal evidence of the widespread selling of existing properties that were recently developed. There doesn’t seemed to be a tangible moment when the recent investor expects to cash out the equity realized on their purchase of several years ago. If this is an incorrect observation and there indeed is a vibrant and active re-sale market of newly constructed housing, I was unable to see one or be told of one by consumers and real estate investors who live there.

So please clue me in.

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YIMBY: Low-Income Housing

November 25, 2016 | 2:02 pm | | Infographics |

lowincomevvaluetrulianyt

The YIMBY (Yes-In-My-Backyard) movement is fairly new.

In the United States, early leaders of the YIMBY movement include Sonja Trauss in San Francisco and Nikolai Fedak in New York. The first ever Yes In My Backyard conference was held in Boulder, Colorado, in June 2016.

Nikolai has done an amazing job at chronicling the explosion of new development in NYC over the past several years with his must read web site New York YIMBY.

One of the misconceptions with the NIMBY movement which is largely the opposite of YIMBY is the idea/rule of thumb that low-income housing always drags down property values of nearby properties. In an era challenged by the lack of any type of affordable housing, this makes a bad situation worse.

According to this recent research by Trulia (FYI – I was part of their industry advisory board from 2006-2014), and notably in aggregate form, the impact seems to be non-existent in the majority of the markets covered. One can’t conclude there is no impact as a general rule but it does show that should not be the default assumption.

The above infographic is from this Weekend’s New York Times’ real estate section column called ‘Calculator’ – Low-Income Housing: Why Not in My Neighborhood?. The methodology used in the Trulia research was the following:

To measure this, Trulia compared the median price per square foot of nearby homes (within 2,000 feet of low-income housing) with that of homes farther away (2,001 to 4,000 feet) over 20 years, starting 10 years before the low-income housing was built and ending 10 years after.

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NYT Calculator: Suburban Sales Boom Measured By Houses on Monopoly Board

November 19, 2016 | 7:46 am | | Charts |

The New York Times created another super cool graphic in their new Calculator column, based on my idea. In the fall of 2015 I observed a massive surge of sales in Westchester County (north of NYC for those not familiar with our area). However median sales price was nearly flat during this period. This was phenomenon repeated in all of the counties that surround NYC – except for NJ since I don’t cover that market yet but anecdotally I believe the same phenomenon is occurring there. I believe this moment was the point where the affordability challenge became so severe that renters and move up buyers had to move out of the city.

Specifically, Brooklyn showed a surge in median sales price from 2009 with a modest growth in sales. Westchester reflected the opposite patterns of Brooklyn. Westchester county sales boomed over the same period while the growth in median sales price was much more tepid.

westchestervbrooklyn11-2016

Below is the NYT graphic for the suburban sales boom article.

11-18-16nytcalculator

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Artelligence Podcast with Marion Moneker: Jonathan Miller, CEO Miller Samuel, Inc.

November 19, 2016 | 4:03 am | Podcasts |

Marion Moneker of Art Market Monitor reached out to me to explore the similarities and differences between the high end art and real estate markets. He captured our discussion for this episode of his Artelligence Podcast: Jonathan Miller, CEO Miller Samuel, Inc.

Here’s a brief description of his podcast:

The Artelligence Podcast unpacks the mysteries of the global art market through interviews with collectors, dealers, auction house specialists, lawyers, art advisors and the myriad individuals who make the art market a beguiling mixture of sublime beauty and commercial acumen.

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