Matrix Blog

Market Reports

NYT v. WSJ Smogdown: Status of Chinese Investment in U.S. Real Estate

December 1, 2015 | 11:39 am | nytlogo | Favorites |

[Source: Yahoo News]

Last weekend I read two terrific articles on Chinese real estate investment in the U.S. but they seemed seemed to conflict – check out the headlines:

New York Times Chinese Cash Floods U.S. Real Estate Market

Wall Street Journal Chinese Pull Back From U.S. Property Investments The subtitle says it all – The nation’s economic and stock-market slump puts buyers on the sidelines

Are the Chinese flooding the U.S. market now or are they pulling back? Which is it? Or is it both?

In my recent trip to Shanghai, I spoke to and interviewed many, many real estate investors at The Real Deal Forum. I got the impression that investment has pulled back a bit in 2015 but expectations were high that investment would expand again, although not to the level of the past 5 years. Of course I was doing this in a biased environment – at in investor conference. I was consistently told that government efforts to prop up the stock market spooked much of the smart money out of the market since the actions were taken to calm everyday investors.

The New York Times piece seemed prompted by a P.R. pitch from the Chinese developer for their Dallas suburb project enticed with a suburban angle. It was a refreshing angle since Chinese real estate investment in the U.S. has been an urban narrative and specifically focused on the high end. The article illustrated just how massive the investment patterns have been. To date the narrative has been focused on super luxury condos in expensive metropolitan areas, while the suburbs got limited attention.


The WSJ article is more orientated towards the past few weeks while the NYT article is a longer term view. Both publications place emphasis on NAR’s Profile of International Home Buying Activity whose results emphasized the Chinese investment surge of the previous year. The survey results only reflect the market through last March, so it is 9 months behind the current market. The Chinese investment numbers are staggering, and they are probably understated. Since the NAR report is simply a survey of it’s members and NAR has limited exposure to New York City, especially Manhattan – a hotbed of Chinese real estate investment activity.


Incidentally, do the above 2 charts look similar? They both relied on the NAR report.

The NYT piece set the table on the entire multi-year phenomenon using a ton of cool charts while the WSJ attempted to illustrate the change in recent weeks Both outlets were forced to rely on a lot of anecdotal to make their case. Both articles are consistent with my views as each provided a different context.

The NYT piece provided the long term historical view and the WSJ was a short term snapshot.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

[Three Cents Worth #288 Hamptons] Comparing Price Trends in the Hamptons and Manhattan

June 3, 2015 | 6:25 pm | curbed | Charts |

It’s time to share my Three Cents Worth (3CW) on Curbed Hamptons, at the intersection of sand dunes and real estate in the East End of Long Island, NY.

Check out my 3CW column on @CurbedHamptons:

Now that we’ve crossed over into June, I thought I’d illustrate the price trend relationship between the Hamptons and Manhattan. The former seeing a majority of single family sales and many second home purchases. The latter with a housing market of 98% apartments and single family family sales are a rounding error. Despite the differences in their housing stock, their behavior in terms of price trends has been similar over the past decade…


[click to expand charts]

My latest Three Cents Worth column: Three Cents Worth: Comparing Price Trends in the Hamptons and Manhattan [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

Three Cents Worth Archive Curbed LA

Three Cents Worth Archive Curbed Ski

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

North America Leads Luxury Housing Trends in 2Q14 – Knight Frank

July 30, 2014 | 12:34 pm | delogo |


Knight Frank published their quarterly Prime Global Cities Index today and North America led the way as a region with a 14.5% rise in prices. “Prime” translates to “Luxury” in US housingspeak. We provide research for their Manhattan and Miami results through the Elliman Reports we prepare.

The report conclusion succinctly summarizes the state of high end housing today and speaks to the global phenomenon:

…the index’s annual increase of 6.2% in the year to June is above the long-run average of 4.6% recorded since Lehman’s collapse in the third quarter of 2008, underlining the extent to which prime property has become a favoured asset class globally.

Here’s the table…

[click on table to open report]

Tags: ,

Bloomberg Surveillance TV – Guest Host 6-25-14

June 25, 2014 | 8:30 am | bloomberg_news_logo | TV, Videos |

UPDATE: above clip just added – expanded conversation.

Got to guest host an hour (6am to 7am) of Bloomberg Television’s Surveillance with Tom Keene, Scarlett Fu and Adam Johnson to talk housing. The above is just a couple of minutes of the hour (yes, you’re spared). We spoke about Case Shiller, New Home Sales, biting in World Cup Soccer, my fireman son using a GoPro in fires and LeBron/Carmelo’s real worth among other things. Like I said, we did talk housing.

Adam brought up a great point – while the economy is always characterized as 70% consumer driven, 16% of that is actually health care spending so the overall number is really 54%.

Very smart conversations (the topic of biting included). Always fun to join them.

Tags: , ,

Pending Home Sales Fall Short of Year Ago Sales Surge

May 29, 2014 | 4:29 pm | Charts |

[click to expand]

The NAR released their Pending Home Sale Index today for April which aggregates signed contract data for the month. It is generally 2 months closer to the “meeting of the minds” between buyer and seller than their existing home sale report, that is based on closed sales (and 4 months faster than Case Shiller).

Pending Home Sales Index is not “forward looking”
In my chart above, and if you know me, I hate seasonal adjustments (SA) in housing data so this chart uses NAR’s reported numbers without adjustments. NAR always frames this release series as “forward looking” when it really is “less backward looking” because it is based on contracts, not closed sales. The end of May report reflects April contracts, half of which were probably signed in Late March. With a 2 month spread between contract and closing dates, this report is the most recent US housing market snapshot but nothing about it is actually “forward looking.”

With all the weather talk and mixed housing market messaging over the last month, this release brought us a broad range of interpretation, from “plunging” to “edging higher.”

Well, which is it? Or could it be both? Yes it can. We just need context.

According to Housingwire (uses SA numbers): Pending home sales plunge 9.2% in April So much for that post-winter, pent-up demand

Pending home sales for the month of April plummeted 9.2% compared to April 2013, the National Association of Realtors reported Thursday.

Contracts signed to buy existing homes increased 0.4% in April compared to March 2014, but that’s coming off three months of flat sales blamed on cold weather.

The expectation had been for at least a 2% gain month-over-month.

According to Diana Olick at CNBC (uses SA numbers), Pending home sales up just 0.4% in April, missing expectations

Warmer weather and higher expectations failed to cause a meaningful surge in home sales.

Signed contracts to buy existing homes increased just 0.4 percent in April, according to a monthly report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The expectation had been for at least a 2 percent gain sequentially.

The Realtors’ so-called pending home sales index is now 9.2 percent lower than April of 2013.

What’s going on?

If you look at the above chart you can see that last year’s pending home sales were surging up until May 2013, their highest level in 3 years (since the federal homeowner tax credit program as part of the stimulus). The surge in contracts in the first half of 2013 was born out of consumer fears that rates were going to rise. In addition, all the pent-up demand accumulated during the two year period preceding the US election and fiscal cliff deadline was released into the market. Many fence-sitters became decision-makers.

This winter’s harsh weather could have delayed buyers and we should be seeing this uptick in activity by now. We probably are seeing it but it no match for the year ago surge in activity but now the market is being characterized as weak or weakening. The problem with that description is it assumes that 2013 was a normal trend of an improving market. Well it wasn’t.

So yes, sales are down from the 2013 sales surge anomaly and the weather time-shifting buyers forward further into spring this year was no match for it. In fact, I suspect the next month will show the same type of “weakness” and the PHSI results probably can’t show real improvement at least until June.

Tags: , , , , ,

PBS Newshour – Making Sense of Weak US Housing Reports

April 28, 2014 | 5:10 pm |

Michelle Conlin of Reuters gives a nice overview of the state of the US housing on PBS, talking through the national reports that hit us recently. Check it out. This month’s weak NAR Existing Home Sales report has unleashed a surge of housing self-loathing (although today’s PHSI seems to take some of the drama/edge off).

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Pending Home Sales Down 10.2% YOY And That’s Not A Bad Thing

March 27, 2014 | 11:55 am | Charts |

[click to expand]

NAR released their pending home sale index today and the news was not unexpected. US home sales volume has slowed since last spring’s taper miscue by the fed which caused mortgage rates to jump. If you look at the May surge in pending sales, sales volume, seasonally speaking (comparing year over year) has fallen 10.2% (unadjusted).

The introduction of QM earlier in the year probably doesn’t help volume levels, but I’m not really convinced that the housing recovery is actually stalling. It seems more like sales levels are settling to more sustainable levels. And as sales go, so goes the insane price gains seen in the national reports.

Tags: , , , , ,

NAR Existing Home Sales Blink, And So What?

March 23, 2014 | 9:00 am |

NAR released their Existing Home Sales Report on Thursday with a headline that read: February Existing-Home Sales Remain Subdued that blamed the severe winter weather and low inventory for lower sales.

Of course inventory has been near historic lows for a few years so that’s not a new reason. I’m left with the weather and as someone who hates to use the weather as a crutch, it seems to be a pragmatic – it’s difficult to show or be in the mood to view properties when it is zero degrees outside. The weather explanation was also used in the prior report but those contracts were signed in December for the January report, before the “polar vortex.”

However the recent hand ringing caused by the downshift in sales is the concern that the recovery is cooling off.

I see the recent fretting about the cooling of housing as an indication of how improving conditions were based largely on Fed policy and not fundamentals. The combination of rising mortgage rates and declines from the year ago release of pent-up demand post-”fiscal cliff” likely gets price gains and sales levels in sync with fundamental economic conditions.

I’ve charted NAR EHS stats from the past 4 years without seasonal adjustments. Price gains have been insane so the combination of slowing sales and rising inventory will take the froth out of the market and hopefully get us on a more sustainable path.


Tags: , , , , , , ,

[Knight Frank] Ukraine Was Weakest Property Market Yet Global HPI Jumps To Record

March 19, 2014 | 2:00 am |


Knight Frank just released their Global House Price Index which showed record results:

Growth of 8.4% in 2013 represented the highest annual rate of growth since our index started in 1995.

Dubai lead the way with a 34.8% jump in prices Y0Y while Ukraine rounded out the bottom in 56th place with a 25.9% decline over the same period. The US was ranked 9th overall.

The full report is now available and chock full of great info and insight.

Tags: , ,

Talking Rental Markets on Bloomberg TV’s ‘Street Smart’

March 14, 2014 | 5:54 pm | bloomberg_news_logo | TV, Videos |

Had a great conversation with Trish Regan on her Bloomberg TV show “Street Smart” about the Manhattan and Brooklyn rental markets and rent versus buy. This was in connection with the February Elliman rental report we published earlier that day.

It was windy and 18 degrees outside so I think I look a bit disheveled. But always fun to connect with everyone at Bloomberg whenever I visit (and maintain my Foursquare mayorship of the “green room”).

Tags: , ,

[WSJ] Good Overview on 2014 US Housing Expectations – Jed Kolko, Trulia

February 26, 2014 | 12:32 pm | trulialogo |

Jed Kolko does a nice job summarizing what the general housing market may look like in 2014 after the new home sales report came out today.

My big takeaway was that any housing market improvement will be more affected by local job and income growth rather than the “rebound effect.” This phenomena occurred in markets that were hit hardest by the downturn, yet saw the largest price increases.

I’ve added “rebound effect” to my 2014 phrase list, right after “polar vortex.”

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Manhattan Rental Market’s Rising Landlord Concessions

February 13, 2014 | 11:44 pm | delogo | Reports |

[click to expand]

Today the market report covering the Manhattan/Brooklyn rental market for January 2014 that we prepare for Douglas Elliman was published. We’ve authored the Elliman Report series since 1994.

One of the trends we’ve observed has been the recent expansion of the use of concessions by landlords to keep vacancy low as evidenced in the above chart.

You can download this report and others, view charts in a variety of markets and build custom data tables. See the report press coverage here.

Tags: ,