[NeighborhoodX] With Data As A Commodity, Interpretation Becomes The Differentiator

March 19, 2017 | 2:48 pm | | Columns |

My friend and colleague Constantine Valhouli, founder of NeighborhoodX pens an excellent piece on how the analytics that can be derived from raw data separates seemingly similar real estate resources. And he loves price per square foot. I serve as an advisor to his firm as well as a co-consumer of caffeine whenever possible. He may periodically drop in here on Matrix with some insights derived from his neighborhood analytics.

-Jonathan J. Miller


With Data As A Commodity, Interpretation Becomes The Differentiator

by Constantine Valhouli

When data becomes a commodity, context, and analysis for that data become a critical point of differentiation. This is particularly true for real estate data.

The major real estate portals active in New York City – Realtor, StreetEasy, Trulia, and Zillow – are all relying on the same underlying data: listings from real estate brokerage firms, multiple listing systems and public record. As a result, what differentiates one portal from another is the user experience. This UX is a combination of the (hopefully) intuitive site navigation and the contextual information that helps users make more informed decisions about the various listings.

Those three factors – listings, navigation, and contextual information – come together in the search functions on a real estate portal.

Why? Even as the web has streamlined the housing search, it remains cumbersome. We’ve previously analyzed how the same search on different portals will yield different number of listings for the same neighborhood (Austin, Boston, NYC) – which means that buyers will have to duplicate their search across several portals to be sure they are finding all the relevant properties. Other times, the listings aren’t actually in the neighborhood they claim to be. All of this puts the burden of analysis onto the site user.

The real estate search recently became even more cumbersome and opaque. The major real estate portals which are active in New York City no longer have an option to sort properties by price per square foot.

On these portals, users can search by most or least expensive, by largest or smallest, or by newest – but these metrics are not as useful as looking at price per square foot. Sometimes a large property that appears expensive can be a bargain on a per-square-foot basis. Other times, some of the least expensive properties in a neighborhood are asking the highest prices per square foot for that neighborhood. The ability to sort listings by price per square foot is a minor feature, and relatively easy to implement. But the omission speaks volumes. Without this option, it is no longer possible for consumers to quickly sort properties to get a better sense the price/sq.ft. range in a neighborhood. Or to know whether a particular property is asking too much (or is a relative bargain) compared to the neighborhood. This also means that it is harder for sellers to value their property accurately.

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[Three Cents Worth #291 Ski] Aspen Sales at $10 Million and Above Stay Consistent

August 31, 2015 | 6:19 pm | | Charts |

It’s time to share my Three Cents Worth (3CW) on Curbed Ski. Whether I’m on the trail, on the lift or in the lodge, I’m always taking notes with my gloves off.

Check out my 3CW column on @Curbedski:

Over the last decade, sales of high end Aspen residential properties have followed a logical flow, consistent with the overall U.S. housing market. Activity peaking in 2006; extinguished with the Lehman Brothers collapse in 2008; weakness in 2011; showing elevated levels over the past year; all tell the national real estate story. And recently…

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[Three Cents Worth #290 NY] Tracking 24 Years of Manhattan Sales and Rental Prices

August 23, 2015 | 6:09 pm | | 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:

It’s been a while since I dropped in on Curbed with a Three Cents Worth post but since I’m currently huddled next to an air conditioner, I really needed to take my mind off the heat and humidity. I thought I’d reach back into history and trend the year-over-year changes in the Manhattan sales and rental markets. I presented the median rental price and median sales prices by quarter back to 1991 measuring their year over year percent change. I’m surprised I haven’t done this before since there is so much discussion about the relationship between the two markets, and whether it’s better to rent or buy…

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My latest Three Cents Worth column: Three Cents Worth: Tracking 24 Years of Manhattan Sales and Rental Prices [Curbed]

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Bloomberg View Column: Rent Control vs. Keeping Landlords Happy

June 26, 2015 | 10:00 am | | Charts |

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Read my latest Bloomberg View column Rent Control vs. Keeping Landlords Happy.

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Here’s an excerpt…

The past few weeks have offered a window on the tensions between landlords and tenants in New York’s real estate market. Amid the political machinations in the city and the state’s capital, the New York State Assembly let rent controls lapse, temporarily placing more than 2 million tenants in housing limbo. A tentative deal has since been worked out to extend the regulations for four years but the details are not yet available…

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Bloomberg View Column: Want a House? Good Luck With the Down Payment

June 25, 2015 | 10:56 pm | | Charts |

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Read my latest Bloomberg View column Want a House? Good Luck With the Down Payment. This post also went #1 on the Bloomberg Terminal and on the public facing BloombergView.com site for 2 days. Super crazy.

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Here’s an excerpt…

Saving for a down payment has long been a big challenge for anyone who wants to buy a home. And it got harder after the financial crisis, as lenders insisted on down payments of 20 percent or more for conventional mortgages, which make up the bulk of the market…

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

June 25, 2015 | 10:49 pm | | 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…

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

June 3, 2015 | 6:25 pm | | 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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My latest Three Cents Worth column: Three Cents Worth: Comparing Price Trends in the Hamptons and Manhattan [Curbed]

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Bloomberg View Column: Costly City Housing Is an Economic Drag

June 3, 2015 | 6:12 pm | | 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…

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[Three Cents Worth #287 NY] Tracking New York Rents and Asking Prices Over a Century

June 3, 2015 | 6:04 pm | | 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:

Back in 2011, I embarked on a fun research project for Douglas Elliman’s 100th anniversary, in which I traced how sales prices and rents changed since the 1910s. I explain in detail how I did the research here, but I ended up with a very loose proxy to represent price per square foot for sales and average monthly rents during each decade…

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Here are some other ways to view the 100 year trend based on feedback from readers.

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My latest Three Cents Worth column: Three Cents Worth: Tracking New York Rents and Asking Prices Over a Century [Curbed]

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[Three Cents Worth #286 NY] How Many NYC Apartments Are Bought With Cold Hard Cash?

May 30, 2015 | 5:53 pm | | 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:

The Washington Post published an article last year titled “8 in 10 Manhattan home sales are all-cash,” a statement that was (and still is) hyperbole; the actual figure was 45 percent. The data is worth revisiting, though, and I thought it might be a good time to look at the makeup of Manhattan apartment purchases in regards to cash versus financing. Obviously, there has been some confusion in the past, so I thought it would be helpful to display a year’s worth of trend data…

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My latest Three Cents Worth column: Three Cents Worth: How Many NYC Apartments Are Bought With Cold Hard Cash? [Curbed]

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[Three Cents Worth #285 Ski] Aspen Real Estate Has Had Many Peaks, But It’s Not Peaking

May 22, 2015 | 8:00 pm | | Charts |

It’s time to share my Three Cents Worth (3CW) on Curbed Ski, whether I’m on the trail or in the base lodge of a ski mountain near you…or I’m in the lift line taking notes with my gloves off.

Check out my 3CW column on @Curbedski:

For my first Three Cents Worth column on Curbed Ski, I felt compelled to provide a look at one of the priciest ski towns around: Aspen, Colorado. As a real estate analyst and appraiser for nearly 30 years (and a skier, of course!) I have relied on information culled during the research for the quarterly housing market report for Douglas Elliman. In Aspen, the first quarter of 2015 reflected a thorough shift towards larger home sales resulting in large aggregate housing prices gains…

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My latest Three Cents Worth column: Three Cents Worth: Aspen Real Estate Has Had Many Peaks, But It’s Not Peaking [Curbed]

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[Three Cents Worth #284 Miami] Miami Drill Down: Picking Up the Scraps of the Financial Crisis

May 21, 2015 | 8:00 pm | | Charts |

It’s time to share my Three Cents Worth (3CW) on Curbed Miami, at the intersection of neighborhood and real estate in the Magic City. And I’m taking notes on the beach.

Check out my 3CW column on @CurbedMiami:

As we make our way through the second quarter (more than halfway!), I took a look at some trends extracted from the first quarter reports we prepare for Douglas Elliman. I went all out and created a four charter that addresses a number of issues born out of the financial crisis that still touch the current market..

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My latest Three Cents Worth column: Three Cents Worth: Miami Drill Down: Picking Up the Scraps of the Financial Crisis [Curbed]

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