Matrix Blog

Suburban, Urban

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

November 19, 2016 | 7:46 am | nytlogo | 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.

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

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The Relationship Between Commute Time and Housing Prices

October 28, 2016 | 3:48 pm | nytlogo | Infographics |

Back in the mid 1990s after my wife and I moved to Fairfield County, Connecticut from Manhattan, I noticed the decline in housing prices further from the first express stop in Stamford, CT.

I worked on an updated version of the concept for this weekend’s New York Times Real Estate section: What’s Your Commute Time Worth? They did an amazing job on the graphic.

nytimesmetro-northcommute3q16

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[Speaking] The Fairfield/Westchester Chapter of REFA 10-25-16

October 11, 2016 | 10:49 am |

I’m moderating a great panel in Stamford, CT for the Fairfield/Westchester Chapter of the Real Estate Finance Association (REFA) on October 25, 2016 titled:

For Sale and for Rent, Trouble at the Top?

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Residential Real Estate has been one of the bright spots in the local economy in recent years. The single family market continues to post record sales volumes and the growth of the multi-family market in Fairfield County has been dramatic. However, there is mount- ing concern about perceived over-building at the top end of the luxury single family and multi-family markets. Where is the demand coming from? Will it continue? What prod- uct do people want? Where are we headed? We look forward to a lively and informative program.

The response so far has been heavy – click here for more information or to sign up.

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Podcast: My Port Authority of NY & NJ Interview on Regional Housing Market

September 24, 2015 | 12:16 pm | Podcasts |

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A few days ago I was interviewed by Christopher Eshleman at the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey. He works for Alexander Heil who is the chief economist and publishes a lot of great regional economic insights. Although this is a new effort, this was their first podcast conducted outside of the institution so I am deeply appreciative of the opportunity to share my views.

Christopher is a sharp guy and kept the conversation interesting (I even inserted a Jerry Seinfeld joke). It’s about a half an hour.

Check it out.

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[Infographic] NAR gets into the Urbanization Conversation

September 1, 2015 | 10:12 am | trulialogo | Infographics |

The National Association of Realtors, who is generally viewed as emphasizing suburban single family housing markets, may be plotting a new course. NAR will be sharing more releases on the topic of urbanization in the coming months. They look to be taking the same path as Realtor.com, the online entity who licenses their name from the NAR mothership. Realtor.com has cleaned up their act and has been much more focused on city life after their recent purchase by News Corp (through Realtor.com’s parent company Move), trying to become relevant again by emulating Zillow and Trulia. And of course, the consumer wins.

It’s a good thing too since urbanization is one of the most important housing trends (affordability aside) facing the housing market going forward.

Here’s an interesting infographic released by NAR today:

NARurbanismInfographic

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

June 3, 2015 | 6:25 pm | curbed2 | 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…

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[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

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Bloomberg View Column: Costly City Housing Is an Economic Drag

June 3, 2015 | 6:12 pm | BloombergViewlogoGray | Charts |

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Read my latest Bloomberg View column Costly City Housing Is an Economic Drag.

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Here’s an excerpt…

It’s tough living in a big city — the people, the traffic, the noise. Oh, and did we mention the cost of housing? Contrary to conventional wisdom, high and rising housing costs in the U.S.’s biggest cities are not ideal for an economic recovery. Just the opposite: When housing costs take a big bite out of incomes, it diverts money that could be spent on local goods and services or invested in new businesses that stimulate growth…

[read more]


My Bloomberg View Column Directory

My Bloomberg View RSS feed.

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A Century Later: Manhattan Is Less Crowded

September 27, 2014 | 12:26 pm |

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The density of the Five Points in 1910 was absolutely incredible.  The 2010 population density is much more balanced across the island.

NYU’s Marion Institute of Urban Management is offering a free seminar at the New York Public Library called “The Rise and Fall of Manhattan Density” to explain how this happened.

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Detroit: Where Hedge Funds and Goats Want to Work Together to Improve Livability

June 24, 2014 | 7:15 am |

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The city of Detroit has a problem with goats, among other significant challenges. It has been battered with political corruption (two former mayors are in jail) and it is trying to sheppard (pun intended) through a huge bankruptcy but goats are where the city draws the line.

The city also a tremendous amount of potential and is desperately trying to reinvent itself. My wife’s family is from the Detroit suburbs and I went to college in the Michigan for 4 years – one thing I noticed – the suburbs and the City of Detroit are mutually exclusive unlike most big US cities I have visited. One of the best explanations of Detroit’s fall was a recent read of mine: Detroit: An American Autopsy by Charlie LeDuff. The original urban planners got it all wrong.

But let’s talk about goats. Last year a Detroit city councilman had a vision, that vision was eventually carried out by a billionaire hedge-funder who brought unlicensed goats to control the overgrown vacant lots of Detroit. Goats as lawnmowers are used in other cities.

I don’t think many people in the US realize just how much abandoned property there is within the city boundaries – the size of Paris.

An op-ed piece in the Detroit News made an argument for it, but the city was not interested.

The hedge funder explains:

Detroit is very much a place that lives by what I call ‘home rule.’ The people are bound by a lot of laws from years ago that restrict them from doing things that can help their community. The people of Brightmoor have decided to step up to ensure the survival of their families and the community. One of the ways they are doing this is with guerrilla farming. Guerrilla farming brings attention to pieces of publicly controlled land within the city that have been abandoned, left vacant or have been left to grow wildly out of control by absent owners. It cleans these areas, brings them into a productive capacity and converts them from a nuisance to an asset within the community.

The housing market won’t recover without the abandoned elements being removed ie unkept lawns, condemned housing and commercial structures. One of the surprising aspects of Detroit’s rise from the ashes has been the non-conventional nature of progress. Goats would definitely fit in.

Arguably my favorite type of goat entered this world from 1964-1967.

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Is Gentrification a Four Letter Word?

March 5, 2014 | 11:00 am | nytlogo |

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Back in mid 1980’s the front door of a new condo conversion at One Tompkins Square Park was spray painted with words “Die Yuppie Scum” and it became the battle cry for protests against gentrification of the East Village. With the eastward push of new residential development in the 1980s from the West and Central Village, residents and local businesses worried about being priced out and losing the intangibles that made the neighborhood unique – and that they would disappear along with it.

I remember appraising apartments to the east of Tompkins Square Park, seeing squatters inhabit derelict buildings, observing a burned out school bus on blocks in front of a newly converted walk-up and the self-described “Anarchists” in the park. All that is gone.

Recent discussions about gentrification have been more visible of late – and so have the discussions of the benefits of gentrification.

Merriam-Webster defines gentrification as:

the process of renewal and rebuilding accompanying the influx of middle-class or affluent people into deteriorating areas that often displaces poorer residents

Philadelphia is one of the first cities to tackle the issue in an attempt to keep the long time residents there and in doing so, helping to minimize the loss of the character of the neighborhood. It is fascinating and encouraging to see city governments be proactive on the issue since it costs money in the short term.

The initiatives, planned or underway in Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, Pittsburgh and other cities, are centered on reducing or freezing property taxes for such homeowners in an effort to promote neighborhood stability, preserve character and provide a dividend of sorts to those who have stayed through years of high crime, population loss and declining property values, officials say.

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Price per Square Inch for Pizza, Slices for Real Estate Market

March 3, 2014 | 5:58 pm |

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Now that the Oscars are behind us and the “next big snowstorm” just missed NYC, I thought I would finally talk about pizza. But because of why you are here – I’ll make price per inch and price per square foot interchangeable.

One of my favorite podcasts, NPR Planet Money had a great segment called “74,476 Reasons You Should Always Get The Bigger Pizza

The math of why bigger pizzas are such a good deal is simple: A pizza is a circle, and the area of a circle increases with the square of the radius. So, for example, a 16-inch pizza is actually four times as big as an 8-inch pizza. And when you look at thousands of pizza prices from around the U.S., you see that you almost always get a much, much better deal when you buy a bigger pizza.

Explanation of above math: 200.1 inches of pizza surface versus 50.2 inches of pizza surface (pi*r squared=surface area of a circle) And here’s an easy way to calculate the volume of a pizza if you can’t help get enough pizza geometry.

priceperinchpizzachart

Here’s the (pizza) logic
The premise of the piece is that it is much cheaper to buy a large pie than a small pie on a price per inch basis. Pricing for a large pie doesn’t expand as much as the surface area does so the price per inch drops precipitously. In the example above, the 16″ pizza wouldn’t be priced 4x as much as the 8″ pizza – probably more like 2x. Apparently pizza makers don’t take geometry seriously.

Buy the large and throw the unused portion in the fridge. Perhaps that is why people buy homes somewhat larger than what they actually need – they will grow into it.

Suburbs
In suburban real estate, after a certain point, larger the home is, generally the lower the price per square foot. There is a point of diminishing return on excess square footage. The total dollar price is higher, obviously, but the cost of additional space is usually less on a per square foot basis. Hence the pizza analogy applies.

Queen of Versailles, Florida
A well known example of diminishing return is the home featured in the documentary, Queen of Versailles. The 90,000 square foot home is so oversized for the Windmere, South Florida housing market that the vast majority of the living area likely has no value as a single family – other than to the current owners, of course.

Manhattan
In a market with one of the highest per capita population density for a US city, there is a premium for larger contiguous space so perhaps that is why we have so many pizza joints. Here is an price per square foot table by apartment size – you can see how ppsf expands with apartment size consistently over the decade (actually it has shown this pattern for the past 25 years). It’s expensive to get more living area in Manhattan.

manhattanppsftable

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New Yorker Cover’s “Crossroads” (aka Urban v. Suburban)

September 10, 2013 | 12:05 pm |


[Click to see cover article]

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