Matrix Blog

Migration, Psychology, Demographics

It’s St. Joseph’s Day – What Does It Tell Us About Housing Trends?

March 19, 2014 | 11:16 am | |

wsj3-14stjoseph
[Source: WSJ]

Last week I can across Sanette Tanaka’s WSJ column “Spreadsheet” titled “Bless Our Happy Home Sale” that talked about the tradition regarding St. Joseph. I waited to blog about it until today since March 19th is actually St. Joseph’s Day (BTW: who is getting any work done this week with 3/17 St Patrick’s, 3/18 March Madness brackets and now this?).

I love the phrase within the WSJ graphic: “Faith in Action.”

I previously wrote about this here in September 2005 and in October 2007.

Traditionally, Joseph, the husband of Mary, is hailed as the patron saint of home and family. Some believe that burying a statue of St. Joseph in the yard helps sell a house.

Here’s how it the process works when selling your home:

  1. Bury the St. Joseph statue upside-down in your yard, facing toward the house listed for sale.

  2. Sell the house.

  3. The Seller digs up the statue and puts it in the new home in a special place.

The last 4 years of statue sales show a pattern consistent with NAR’s existing home sale pattern with the housing market rebound beginning in 2011.

Who says housing trend analysis is devoid of emotion. Got it?

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Yahoo! Finance Daily Ticker Interview on Housing Market, Millennials and Fogging a Mirror

April 3, 2013 | 10:43 am | TV, Videos |


[click for video]

I was interviewed on the Daily Ticker by Yahoo! Finance’s very sharp Lauren Lyster on a USAToday story that Millennials now entering the housing market. Basically I agree but we are very early in the process. Household formation has been restrained since the financial crisis began 5 years ago but rising rents and falling mortgage rates are perhaps forcing the issue.

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[The Assessor] The Differences Between High and Low End Absorption

June 22, 2010 | 12:03 pm | |


[clip to open article]

In today’s WSJ there is a chart I made covering Manhattan absorption market wide by price segment – inspired by my monthly report series.

The article sort of suggests that condos are doing better than co-ops as a generalization, which isn’t quite correct or I am over analyzing the results. However, one thing is certain:

Absorption for lower-end condos and co-ops is being driven by conforming mortgage financing being more readily available than jumbo financing.

My takeaways from the chart are:

  • Co-ops are taking longer to absorb than condos above $3M (not considering “shadow inventory” of new development.
  • Co-op and condo absorption is generally on par with the 10 year 9.9 month average overall rate of absorption.
  • Co-ops edge out condos (faster) below $1.5M
  • Co-ops over $10M are significantly higher than condos but this segment is about 1% of all sales so the results are easily skewed.
  • Lower priced property generally absorbs faster.

Absorption has greatly improved from last summer yet there is still a distinction in performance between the upper and lower end of the market.


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[Sienna Research] 4.7% of New Yorkers Want To Buy, Most Since Lehman Tipping Point

June 11, 2010 | 3:15 pm | |


[click to open survey]

The Sienna Research Institute conducts a monthly New Yorker Consumer Poll every month. This month showed that more New Yorkers planned to purchase homes than immediately following the credit crunch in the fall of 2008:

4.7% of consumers in the state plan to buy a home this year, compared with just 3.4% in April and 3% in May 2009. As good as it is, the latest reading is still far shy of the three-year high set in June 2007, when 5.6% of New Yorkers said they wanted to buy. Conversely, in January 2009, at the lowest ebb in the last three years, a mere 2.2% said they would buy a home.

In fact the improvement in consumer attitudes toward housing are far more optimistic than overall confidence compared to 3 years ago.

New York consumer buying plans for homes are down 0.6% from the same period in 2007 while the New York Consumer Confidence Index is down 15.1% over the same period.

Apparently New Yorkers are more confident about their housing future than their overall lives.


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[College Degree Sprawl] San Francisco and NYC are Bastions of Smart People

June 2, 2010 | 1:00 am | |

Source: Extraordinary Observations [click to expand]

In a newly discovered blog, Extraordinary Observations by Rob Pitingolo (ht: WSJ/Real Time Economics), I found a refreshing look at a key economic resource: “people” in his post “Where the Smart People Live”.

One of the trends I had observed during the housing boom was a move toward new urbanism. Re-purposed (my favorite new word) commercial buildings in urban centers to residential units and public spaces. It began to feel like urban areas were getting the better of the suburbs and perhaps, in theory, the more upgraded urban markets attracted talent from markets that didn’t adapt to the trend.

Rob’s analysis looked at city and urban density patterns and even “degree sprawl.” Really clever.

It’s becoming increasingly accepted that there is real economic value to bringing a lot of smart and entrepreneurial people together in the same place. This can be tough to measure, unfortunately. Perhaps best proxy we have available is educational attainment – usually measured as the number of people in a particular place with bachelor’s degrees or higher, as reported by the Census Bureau.

Where the Smart People Live [Extraordinary Observations]


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Everyone (Unemployment) Is Not Equal

February 16, 2010 | 12:19 am | |


[click to open report]

This report sort of blew me away. When I think of unemployment I usually see it as an across the board phenomenon. I’m not sure why I would see it that way since housing markets don’t behave that way.

As WSJ sums up the report results:

According to a study from Northeastern University’s Center for Labor Studies, unemployment for those in the top income decile–individuals earning more than $150,000 a year–was 3% in the fourth quarter of 2009. That compares with unemployment of 31% for the bottom 10% of income, and unemployment of 9% for the middle decile.

The differing rates of underemployment–including those working part-time for economic reasons–are also notable. Underemployment for the top 10% was 1.6%, while the bottom was 21%.



[Over Coffee] Quote: Our man Jonathan Miller drops the truth bomb

November 15, 2009 | 11:25 pm | |

In reference to my New York Times quote this weekend by Vivian Toy – Bidding Wars Resume:

Jonathan J. Miller, the president of the appraisal firm Miller Samuel, estimated that two-thirds of the roughly 4,000 [8,389] apartments for sale in Manhattan are priced too high for the current market.

“So,” Mr. Miller said, “you have this weird situation right now where you have above-average inventory, but people are fighting over the ones that are priced correctly.”

(I’m not sure where the 4,000 number came from because Manhattan 3Q 09 showed 8,389 but the specific amount is irrelevant.)

The difference between a bidding war of two years ago and the current market is the irrational nature of bidding wars back then – it was all about “winning.” The market today is about obtaining value – with prices having fallen an average of 25% since pre-Lehman.

Also, there is a larger disconnect between buyers and sellers than a few years ago as measured by the lower pace of sales. There was a reprieve this summer when sales surged, but listing inventory is still above average levels and a higher level of listings are priced above market level leaving purchasers fighting over a smaller selection.

Although this is anecdotal, I do believe that there are fewer bidding wars that occur above list price than we saw a few years ago.

When my friend and bigger than macro Big Picture blogger Barry Ritholtz refers to me as “Our man Jonathan Miller drops the truth bomb” I am confident I nailed the current state of bidding wars.



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[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.


[MetroResidential TV] Appraisal Tips For Sellers

August 5, 2009 | 12:56 pm | Public |

Jeff Appel and Cathy Hobbs have launched their real estate show MetroResidential TV this summer and I wish them well with the venture. It airs on Sunday mornings in the NYC region at 9am on WPIX-TV. I’ve known Jeff for years through his mortgage brokerage work and public speaking. I’ve also known Cathy for years as an emmy winning reporter for WPIX.

In this clip, Jeff touches on the appraisal process from the seller’s perspective and I provide a few common sense points for sellers.

Watch the clip (short commercial first).

Its funny but when they zoom in on an appraisal report while introducing me, they show one of my competitor’s names on the top of the report form. 😉

This clip originally aired on July 16th, I believe and is being re-broadcast this Sunday.

My favorite is number 3.

Appraisers get tired of sellers and agents in their personal space during the inspection, peering over our clipboard and pointing out (obvious) things like “this is the kitchen”, “this is the bathroom”, etc.



[Case-Shiller Index] 18.1% Becomes 17.1%, But M-O-M Is More Positive

July 28, 2009 | 1:35 pm | |

The May 2009 20-City Case-Shiller Composite Home Price Index fell 17.1% from May 2008, the fourth month in a row that the y-o-y rate of decline for the index gotten smaller. 17.1% is still a sharp decline.

We may be on the way to recovery,” said Maureen Maitland, vice president of S&P’s index services. “I say ‘may’ because it’s only been a couple months of data and home prices are seasonal … It will take a couple more months to see if we have turned around.”

This quote from S&P kind of confused me since, S&P/CSI has been seasonally adjusted since November 2008.

What’s got everyone so excited is m-o-m:

Looking at the monthly data, 13 of the 20 metro areas reported positive returns; and the 10-City and 20-City Composites reported positive returns for the first time since the summer of 2006. To put it in perspective, these are the first time we have seen broad increases in home prices in 34 months. This could be an indication that home price declines are finally stabilizing”.

WSJ/Real Time Economics has a nice summary of the release.

Remember, this index tracks prices only, not sales activity. Sales trends lead price trends.

I think the takeaway with the release is that the rate of decline is getting smaller which is a good thing and it does suggest the potential for improvement going forward. But this provides no support that the moment is at hand and its only up from here. Still, I’ll take what I can.

WET BLANKET UPDATE: Confidence among U.S. consumers fell more than forecast in July


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Case-Shiller Index: 18.7% Becomes 18.1% = Market Falling, Just Not As Much

June 30, 2009 | 2:54 pm | |

Here’s a cool WSJ interactive map on the results and here is the official CSI press release.

The general media coverage focus on the April S&P Case Shiller numbers talks a lot about the 3rd consecutive month of the ease in the rate of price declines. But the jobs outlook slipped, sapping consumer confidence.

An interesting, and in my view, likely housing double dip may be seen in the Case Shiller Index caused by performance differences in the bottom and and top half the the market.

Here’s the 20-city breakdown:

While the Case Shiller Index isn’t a tool to price specific property or markets, it shows macro trends and does a lot to set consumer housing market psychology.

Here’s Shiller’s interview on Fox Business today (I was interviewed by the same anchors about 30 minutes later on the issue of HVCC) talking about his new trading tool for housing. Mike at Altos Research does a brilliant job explaining how the new ETF works.


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