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Posts Tagged ‘China’

Stories on Chinese Overtaking Russian Home Buyers in Manhattan is Purely Anecdotal

May 4, 2014 | 4:21 pm |

russiavschina

I’m not saying the US isn’t seeing an uptick in buyers from China, especially housing markets such as Manhattan. After all, there is a global trend where money is chasing stability and safety. US real estate has been a key beneficiary of this trend.

However it is important to realize that there is no US data from independent sources that links overseas nationalities with residential real estate purchases. Why?…because of long time concerns in the US about fair housing laws and by extension, the gray area of tracking nationalities to housing purchases although it is the norm outside the US.

When any housing trend is discussed, it is important to understand where the source of the trend came from. I’d really like housing market followers to appreciate that the trend analysis on the foreign buyer subject bantered in the media as of late is literally based on nothing. There has been an outpouring of coverage of the topic over the past few months, but the sourcing is only from real estate brokerage anecdotes because that is all there is for reporters to work with. I was interviewed for some of the following articles but disagreed with the general story premise, and I assume that is why my view wasn’t inserted.

Whichever stance you take on this particular trend – that Russians used to dominate the Manhattan housing market and how the Chinese have taken their place at the top – there really is no wrong answer, because there are no facts. All sourcing on the topic to make that point are from real estate agents referring to their opinion, often based on their past few transactions.

Russia
I first noticed this new new storyline when Russia invaded Crimea. Would the Russian position as the number 1 foreign buyer of real estate in Manhattan now go away? The brokerage community, or at least a couple of real estate agents claimed this to be the case.

I have no evidence to the contrary even though there are huge capital outflows from Russia that began with the Russian invasion of Crimea. In my view, the real estate agents were confused by the high profile sales by Russian buyers (think of Russian Oligarch buying 15 Central Park west for $88M) and perhaps has some direct feedback in some of their own transactions. However I don’t think Russians were ever the top homebuyers in Manhattan, just the highest profile.

If we have learned anything from the current Manhattan new development boom, it is the fact that high profile, high end transactions are not a proxy for the balance of the market much like a handful of high profile Russian purchases are not a proxy for some sort of Russian real estate dominance.

Manhattan Real Estate Feels a Russian Chill [NYTimes]

China
Now that the Russians are “out” (see previous) of the top spot, that must mean that the Chinese are “in.” Check out the headlines to this storyline although much of these articles build on the Reuters piece (linked below) which is based on real estate agent anecdotes. A slew of brokerage PR driven stories on the Chinese are now dominating the real estate headlines in New York City.

Perhaps this uptick as something to do with recent closings at well published Chinese buyer favorites like One57 and perhaps the fact that China is poised to become the world’s number 1 economy.

NY real estate firms woo Chinese buyers [China Daily] The Chinese take Manhattan: replace Russians as top apartment buyers [Reuters]

U.S.CHINA’S RICH BECOME BIGGEST FOREIGN APARTMENT-BUYERS IN MANHATTAN [Al Jazeera]

Who are the dominating the foreign buyers of Manhattan real estate?
Anecdotally I think it remains Canadians but is dominated by Europe (UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Ireland, etc combined) because they are still the largest tourism group. Brazil doesn’t get enough respect since they are the 3rd highest source of tourism to NYC. This list is 2 years old but I doubt China has passed Europe or even come close but this is, shall I say, “anecdotal.”

From NYC & CO., here are New York City’s top international sources (2012 figures):

  1. Canada 1,063,000
  2. United Kingdom 1,033,000
  3. Brazil 806,000
  4. France 667,000
  5. Germany 605,000
  6. Australia 595,000
  7. PR China (excl. Hong Kong) 541,000
  8. All Middle East (incl. Israel) 478,000
  9. Italy 449,000
  10. Mexico 387,000
  11. Eastern Europe 384,0000
  12. Spain 380,000
  13. Japan 328,000
  14. South Korea 281,000
  15. Argentina 272,000
  16. Ireland 224,000
  17. India 215,000
  18. Israel 203,000
  19. Netherlands 203,000
  20. Sweden 190,000

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Interview on CCTV America, State of Fannie Mae

April 4, 2013 | 7:25 am | bloomberglogo | Videos |


[click to play - starts at 13:50]

I spoke with Michelle Makori on the state of Fannie Mae (who just reported a record profit). CCTV America is part of China Central Television (CCTV), the largest television broadcaster in China.

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[The Atlantic] 2000 Years of Economic Power Measured by GDP

June 21, 2012 | 1:08 pm | Charts |


[click to expand]

I was sent this chart via my friend who saw it in The Atlantic who sourced it from prolific blogger Paul Kedrosky. Given all the US real estate demand coming from foreign buyers I really liked the context this chart provides.

…dive into 2000 years of economic history, this time through the lens of GDP per capita around the world. This metric helps us identify where growth in wealth occurred, as opposed to just growth in population (e.g.: India and China had thee-quarters of world GDP in 1 AD because they had three-quarters of the world’s population).

Developed countries are taking market share from the US but I like how it illustrates how large the US economy really is. Was surprised to see the Russian share so small, especially over the past decade.

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[In The Media] Bloomberg News 3-23-2010

March 24, 2010 | 12:18 pm | irslogo | Public |


[click to play clip]

I did a short interview on Bloomberg yesterday regarding their coverage of Knight Frank’s 2010 Wealth Report

The Bloomberg coverage was in reference to my contribution to the report via interview where they matched me up against their analyst Xavier Wong, Head of Research for Greater China and Hong Kong.

The prime New York market, where prices fell 12.5% in 2009, is gaining strength , but the recovery is tentative, says Leading New York property commentator Jonathan Miller

The frozen market in Manhattan in the first half of 2009 gave way to a much stronger second half of the year. By the summer, the market began to see a recovery in sales activity following an improvement in economic confidence prompted by a revival in the stock market.

While the market has undoubtedly improved compared with last year, we ought not to get too excited. The recovery of late 2009 was a short-term uptick, due in large part to a release in pent-up demand. My view is that the surge in demand is not the start of a rising housing market. While sales are up sharply, prices have moved “sideways.”

I have some lingering concerns for the New York market in 2010. The market has been aided by government stimulus measures – tax credits for first time buyers, in particular. This package will expire in mid-2010. While the US economy is growing, the high rate of unemployment – around 10% and somewhat higher locally – as well as a tight mortgage lending environment do not provide a firm basis for ongoing growth in house prices.

A real fear for 2010 is rising mortgage rates, currently at near record lows. The potential for growing foreclosures, which were not a problem in 2009, is another real factor.

One segment of the market that has seen a noticeable uptick has been international demand, where the weak dollar has prompted interest from Asia, Europe and South America. Demand from South Korea has also become more noticeable.

Looking outside New York, both Boston and Washington DC have also improved, with rising resale volumes in both markets. On Long Island, the Hamptons luxury second home market has surprised everyone with its resilience to date. As a discretionary market, there was general concern that this region would see large declines in prices and sales from the 2008 and early-2009 market turmoil. In fact, both sales and price trends have remained in line with the Manhattan market.

Watch the clip which summarizes the report [Bloomberg]
Open 2010 Wealth Report [Knight Frank]


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[Knight Frank Research] The Wealth Report 2010 – Global High End Housing Down 5.5%

March 23, 2010 | 6:30 pm | bloomberglogo | Public |

[click to open report]

The Wealth Report 2010 was released today by Knight Frank Research. It is a much anticipated annual survey targeted at the high end consumer with great detail on global residential property trends. The report covers 56 high end housing markets across the globe.

Check out The Housing Helix podcast for my interview with Andrew Shirley, Editor and Liam Bailey, Head of Residential Research for the Knight Frank Wealth Report 2010.

I had provided commentary on the NYC housing market for the report.

….While the market has undoubtedly improved compared with last year, we ought not to get too excited. The recovery of late 2009 was a short-term uptick, due in large part to a release in pent-up demand. My view is that the surge in demand is not the start of a rising housing market. While sales are up sharply, prices have moved “sideways.”…

Some interesting data points:

  • Overall annual global decline was 5.5%
  • Monaco saw prices as high as $5,900 p/SF US.
  • 73% of cities saw year over year declines versus 40% last year.
  • Middle East down 27.5% – the largest decline – Dubai showed a 45% drop.
  • Asia Pacific up 17.1% – the highest increase – Shanghai showed a 52% gain.

In light of this strong growth, the Hong Kong government has threatened measures to restrict the market – notably through mortgage lending restraint, reducing, for example, the mortgage limit for luxury property from 70% to 60%. Despite these potential restrictions the market continues to grow.

This example points to an interesting development. The crippling impact of property bubbles bursting in Europe and the US has created a much more confidently interventionist approach in China, Hong Kong and Singapore (where cooling measures were introduced in September last year) among other markets.

Listen to the interview with Knight Frank [The Housing Helix Podcast]
Download The 2010 Wealth Report [Knight Frank]


[click to play clip]

Update: Just came across the Bloomberg video and my interview giving a quick take on the US luxury portion.


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[In The Media] Fox Business C-Suite Interview for 5-16-08

May 16, 2008 | 11:09 am | nytlogo | Videos |

Well this morning, I got up at 4:15am to do a live C-Suite interview on Fox Business News at 6:45am. Always fun and I enjoyed meeting Jenna Lee in person after having known her only via telephone when she was a reporter. I must have done ok since they invited me back next friday morning. ;-)

Here’s this morning’s clip.

We talked about both housing starts and my appraisal firm, Miller Samuel. I had thought that the April numbers would show further decline. March was the lowest in 17 years and was down by 2/3 from the January ’06 high. Economists surveyed generally thought starts would be down around 1.4%.

Surprisingly, starts were up.

Starts jumped 8.2% but that was due to multi-family starts. Single family starts were actually down 1.7%. Overall starts are down 30.6% from the same time last year.

Bad Stats 101

Check out the Census’ press release quote:

Privately-owned housing starts in April were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,032,000. This is 8.2 percent (±14.5%)* above the revised March estimate of 954,000, but is 30.6 percent (±6.7%) below the revised April 2007 rate of 1,487,000.

Translation of up 8.2 percent (±14.5%): Overall housing starts were anywhere from -6.3% to +22.7%. Seems wildly vague, doesn’t it?

Single-family housing starts in April were at a rate of 692,000; this is 1.7 percent (±11.7%)* below the March figure of 704,000. The April rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 326,000.

Translation of down 1.7 percent (±11.7%): Single-family starts were anywhere from -13.4% to +10%. Seems wildly vague as well.

If you think about it, nothing has really changed since last summer’s credit crunch that would change the direction of the housing market.

  • How can we talk about a bottom yet?
  • What market force is going to get more people to buy right now?
  • What economic force is going to stimulate demand as we approach or are in a recession?

The credit markets are still frozen, mortgage rates have risen, underwriting standards are higher and reduced the buyer power of consumers.

The headline increase in starts means nothing; it is all due to a rebound in the hugely volatile, but essentially trendless, multi-family sector,” said Ian Shepherdson of High Frequency Economics.

Builders have been reluctant to build because demand for new homes has plunged and the supply of unsold property remained high. The latest data show new-home sales, for March, were down 36.6% from a year earlier. On Thursday, the National Association of Home Builders reported its index for sales of new, single-family homes slipped to 19 in May from 20. The gauge is based on a survey of builders asked about prospects for sales.

“The magnitude of the housing bubble was unprecedented, and the corrective process promises to be a long and painful one,” MFR Inc. Joshua Shapiro said of the NAHB data. “Hence, it is hardly surprising that builder sentiment is still languishing very near its all-time low.”

As far as Miller Samuel (my appraisal firm) goes, we have been booming since February. Fox Business inadvertently inserted a text banner during my interview that referred to our now defunct acquisition by RL from last fall. I had terminated the take-over in March.

Our firm is built for a down housing market because lenders as well as other clients actually want to know what the value is and the nuances of housing markets we cover, rather than only the number needed to make the deal. We did not fare as well as others during the housing boom because of the erosion of underwriting standards and the shift of appraisal work from retail lenders to mortgage brokers.

The current lending environment is encouraging, in a contrarian sort of way, by getting back to basics. Hopefully this will permeate the entire lending process.

The housing boom was tough for appraisers who refused to bow to pressure to push values higher than they should have been and the work was given to those who would.

But the world is changing, and like the IRS, we are here to help…




From the:

Who Cares But
It’s Still Cool
Department:

Christine Haughney’s Collateral Foreclosure Damage for Condo Owners in the NYT yesterday that sourced and used us for background, was the most emailed article in the New York Times both yesterday and today. THAT is cool (to me). It was designated to be an A1 story but was bumped for the earthquake in China coverage.


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With The Credit Market Upheaval, I Am Seeing Red

August 23, 2007 | 3:40 pm | nytlogo |

With the credit market turmoil, I have begun to wonder whether I am seeing red and gravitating towards all things red. In real estate parlance, this could mean the real estate market is HOT or the real estate market represents DANGER.

Red is a color that represents an extreme.

The other day, I got the second issue of Portfolio magazine, which is a terrific new Conde Nast publication and has a great interactive web site. The covers alone are worth the purchase price. There have been a few articles that cover real estate topics. The one I really enjoyed was called Little House on the Red Prairie by John Cassidy.

The US is the largest debtor in the world with $10.7 trillion on $13.6 trillion economy (hey that’s 79% financing, sort of). Once the Fed started raising rates in June 2004, in the first of 17 consecutive increases, there was an expectation that housing would cool. But some of the highest appreciation rates for appreciation rates occured after this point.

Since the middle of 2004, the Fed has taken the federal funds rate—what it charges banks on overnight lending—from 1 percent to 5.25 percent. Nor mally, such a dramatic shift would prompt a sell-off in long-dated Treasury bonds and a rise in long-term interest rates. This time, that didn’t happen. Thanks to all those central banks stocking up on paper issued by Uncle Sam, the interest rate on 10-year and 30-year Treasurys, rather than jumping to 7 percent—which might have been predicted based on past experience—stayed closer to 5 percent.

The author suggests that China’s investment in low-yield treasuries helps keep access to US markets and technology. Low mortgage rates fueled the burst in home price appreciation of 2003-2005.

And then of course, there is the little red paper clip…

In today’s New York Times, there was a very entertaining article about how Kyle MacDonald was able to trade a red paper clip for a house in: Trading Up From Red Paper Clip to White Picket Fence. This lead to a book deal along the way.

Of course that’s a simplistic version of the story. Basically he posts an announcement on Craigslist and the trades keep growing in scale. Public relations followed and a town in Canada opted to give him a house. Not a full proof way to get into real estate, but its certainly different and creative.

It was a dull day in Montreal, two summers past. The young MacDonald, his fair girlfriend toiling at her labors, was Lying About the House in their minuscule apartment, thinking about What a Drag It Is to Pay Rent and how nice it would be to Own Your Own Place and Stuff Like That when a thought occurred. What if he could trade a red paper clip for a house? Not in one swap but in a bunch of swaps, as in the game Bigger and Better, which he did play when he was but a youth.

Here’s an ABC News segment…

This story should probably be a staple (sorry) of everyone’s news reading today.


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Hold Out Becomes Island

March 28, 2007 | 6:54 am | nytlogo |


It is not uncommon for tenants and homeowners to refuse to move out or sellout to developers. They simply don’t subscribe to the argument by the developer that, besides the money, it is being done for the greater good. In order to apply pressure, the developer builds taxpayers, usually one story buildings with short term tenants that pay enough rent to cover the real estate taxes. The developer simply waits, sometimes for decades until they are able to aquire the site.

Here’s an old New York Times article that provides some hold-out stories.

The page one photo in the New York Times yesterday was something more surreal. The Chinese developer simply dug out around them. The homeowners in New London, CT who were booted from their private homes by eminent domain might look at this for inspiration.

Update: More photos.


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[Getting Graphic] Speeches, Stocks And Safety

February 28, 2007 | 9:44 am | nytlogo |

Getting Graphic is a semi-sort-of-irregular collection of our favorite BIG real estate-related chart(s).

Click here for full sized graphic.

Greenspan gives a speech in Hong Kong [NYT] and mentions the r-word (recession) as being a possibility in the US and the following day, after just reaching a record, the Shanghai Composite Index corrected sharply (but its up today) [WSJ].

Notice how Greenspan still carries more weight than Bernanke in terms of an immediate market reaction after a speech?

Combine this phenomenon with the coincidence that Freddie Mac announces more restrictive parameters for subprime lending (sorry, 3rd consecutive day of talking about subprime), durable goods orders shows weakness and all of a sudden, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is falling 400 points, aided by a glitch in computerized trading.

Thats quite a sequence of events for anyone to process. However for perspective, thats a 3.29% drop in the DJIA index, only 4.4% from its record high and yet it still remains above 12,000. I don’t want to sugar coat the drop because it is still a large drop, but on Black Monday, September 19, 1987, the index dropped even more. It fell 508 points but it fell from 2,500 and nearly 23% of value was erased in a single day. Quite a different senario than 3.29%. I remember being in Kansas City visiting friends on that day in 1987 thinking I was out of business. Real estate was over. (Of course I had that same feeling on September 11, 2001).

Warning – statistical aside: Every day, the rise and fall in the DJIA is chronicled in thousands of nightly newscasts. The other day the quote went something like this (I am embelishing here just a little bit):

Stocks slid 5 points as investors grew skittish about the price of rice in China and the growing political clout of left handed orthodontists…

Thats 5 points of a total index of about 12,600 points at that time or a .0004% drop. This is more akin to a rounding error and not an indicator of anything, anymore than an increase of 5 points would be. I think the consumer sees these points as percentage and reads more into subtle changes than they should simply because no perspective is provided. Its like looking at existing home sale trends as a benchmark for a local real estate market. The DJIA is merely a list of major companies that may or may not reflect the overall stock market (sound familiar?).

ok, I am back from the aside.

I was listening to a group of real estate panelists at a luncheon yesterday as the stock market was falling. At the end of the panel, a question came from an audience member that went something like this:

Now that the stock market has fallen moret han 400 points today, what will be the impact on New York City real estate?

The answer given was essentially no affect but the question seems a little dramatic at this point. My mindset is usually oriented to the trend is your friend.

However, it does raise the point that perhaps the conventional wisdom of a continued improvement in the US economy is more tenuous than has been cheered for as of late. In the fall, I was drifting toward the belief that the economy was headed for a recession. My worries have lifted somewhat but I don’t carry the same optomism that the stock markets seem too.

Housing should ultimately provide more of a drag on the economy. I don’t think the impact of the slowdown has had adequate time to fully flow throw the economy. Honestly, its been a challenge to me personally to keep euphoria in check, when commenting on national trends given the better real estate conditions enjoyed in New York as compared to other parts of the country.

What does this stock market drop mean for the real estate economy?

I am not entirely sure. However, if the underlying economy doesn’t change significantly and more people become more risk averse, we may see more movement to saftey like we did yesterday as people move from stocks to treasuries. Treasury prices would go up, and as a result, yields would go down. As yields go, so do mortgage rates, helping temper growing damage caused by foreclosures and limiting the future effects of tightening underwriting guidelines.

All this from a Greenspan speech in Hong Kong. Just imagine if the speech was given at halftime during the Superbowl?


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The US Relieved That New Yorkers Can Breath Easier: London Is More Expensive

September 5, 2006 | 6:49 am | bloomberglogo | Public |

A Bloomberg and AP story on London housing prices exemplifies how fascinated we are with rankings when it comes to housing no matter where we live. CBRE compared upper end London housing prices to my most recently completed Manhattan Market Overview in the 2Q and were found to about 20% more expensive (1,200 pounds vs. 1,000 pounds).

While thats interesting, its not the reason for this post.

Look at the extent of the coverage [Google].

As of this morning, the story was picked up by 147 newspapers. Except for markets like Shanghai, Taiwan, Canada, Australia and a few major US markets and national publications, the vast majority of the coverage was in mountain, midwestern or southern states. Most of these markets did not see appreciation rates as high as the US coasts did. These markets include locations such as Alabama, North Dakota, Arkansas, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska and Wisconsin among others.

Apparently big numbers, either real estate prices or appreciation, still sell newspapers.


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