I’ve been interviewed by Charlie Pellet of Bloomberg Radio a few times and have thought to myself, “His voice sounds really familiar.” Here’s this short video from The New Yorker that shows why.
It is hard to believe it has been nearly 9 years since I wrote my first blog post. Back then I was very frustrated with real estate world around me. The housing market was booming and my appraisal competitors were increasing their staff size by a multiple of 20 (they’re now essentially out of business). We weren’t part of the (fool’s) gold rush.
Apparently I had missed a key math and ethics class in school that would help me understand what was happening and why it was happening. Everyone seemingly was losing losing their minds – appraisers, consumers, banks, rating agencies, investment banks, investors – to a word – everyone. It didn’t help that national appraisal organizations, all of whose memberships had been dropping since appraisal licensing was introduced in 1991, did not understand or were not willing to speak out about the obvious problem. Appraisers were not allowed/not able to be a neutral valuation experts for lenders to make informed decisions on lending/risk of their collateral – lenders just didn’t care because they could off-load the risk to investors around the globe. The appraisal industry was converted nearly overnight to “deal enablers.”
I saw my career ending in 3 years if I didn’t do something. I did the only thing I could think of – start talking openly about the lack of independence the appraisal industry had at that time (amazingly, how little has changed in this regard). No appraisers I were aware of were speaking openly about the problem in 2004-2005 – our industry was living in constant fear of alienating their lender clients. Since I was losing lender clients to my rapidly growing competitors who were morally flexible, I really had nothing to lose.
My first blog post was a June 23, 2005 interview with Bob Moon at APM Marketplace in a segment called “Appraising the Appraisers” My industry was a symptom of a larger problem that eventually crushed the global economy – a credit crunch.
The original APM audio link is now broken but I have it here (I hope APM doesn’t mind).
It’s a time capsule and (I believe) worth a listen.
After all the hoopla over the recent $147M sale in The Hamptons, I compiled a list of the highest priced sales around the world I could think of. It’s not comprehensive since all the sales are in the US or UK, and there are a few out there that haven’t closed yet.
Here’s a very brief Marketplace Radio piece on this phenomenon.
Please share if you know of others!
A few takeaways:
My friend Nathan Pyle has penned a book: NYC Basic Tips and Etiquette that should be required reading, well at least required viewing for:
You get what I mean. This book is clearly for everyone.
He’s come a long way from making selfie-videos of his basketball dunking prowess. I’ve long been a fan of his art. Nathan combines nice Midwestern sensibilities (he’s from Ohio) with street smarts, artistic talent and a dab of humor.
In fact Nathan’s only shortcoming is his siding with the “GIF” (Graphics Interchange Format) pronunciation camp while I am squarely in the “Sounds like “Jif” as in the peanut butter AND confirmed by the inventor of the “GIF” camp who said, and I quote:
“It’s pronounced JIF, not GIF.”
Here are a few samples, I plan to revisit his artwork over the next few weeks. The book even provides instructions on where to eat pizza on a busy sidewalk!!! C’mon people, the value add for that alone is worth well above the very modest price! Here are a few samples…
There was a terrific Bloomberg News story by Oshrat Carmiel: Manhattan Trophy Home Sellers Test Buyer Limits on Price that delved into the disconnect between reality and perception of the luxury housing market in Manhattan. I talk about this phenomenon on Bloomberg Radio’s ‘Taking Stock’ with Pimm Fox and Carol Masser.
It all began with Sandy Weill’s $88M sale of 15 Central Park West PH20 to a Russian Oligarch back in late 2011 that closed in early 2012. He was reportedly purchasing the unit for his 20-something daughter to crash when she wasn’t at her home in Monaco but it was more likely a divorce strategy. The home sold for $13k per square foot, 30% more than the recent $10k ppsf record previously set within the building (ie definition of an outlier).
Combine this outlier with the dearth of high end new development until recently and this 13k ppsf threshold became a new pricing tool for hopeful sellers and real estate brokers of large properties. The $100M resale penthouse listing at CitySpire was the new symbol of “outlier pricing” phenomenon. Other examples of aggressive pricing are cited in the Bloomberg story.
Despite the fact that this nearly $100M subset represents a tiny sliver - a handful of listings and sales – in the overall Manhattan market, consumer (buyers and sellers) have been subjected to a buzz saw of news reports about trophy properties giving the impression that properties like this comprise most of the housing market.
In reality there have only been a handful of contracts signed near the $100M threshold at buildings like One57 and 432 Park Avenue (the near $100M townhouse contract doesn’t count because it’s roughly 1/2 the ppsf of those apt sales)..and otherwise the overall Manhattan market seeing very modest price growth.
Yet none of the trophy apartment resales are selling at this new price point. Sellers have been testing the waters to see if someone across the globe will be willing to pay for something here, that in relative dollars to their home market is a good deal or they hope they will get lucky and these buyers will over pay.
Apparently these trophy sellers haven’t used the Internet.
Just got this feedback emailed from a real estate agent: In every neighborhood and property class “testing the waters” is an age-old technique that has enough utility to go on forever. As an agent, I prefer the price that results in a quick sell but I never turned down a client who insists on an absurd Ask. In most such cases, I have picked up a few customers and sold them something else they could afford before the “outlier” ran out of inquiries and the seller dropped its price or took it off the market. I like it when journalists report activity at the extremes of price and value because it helps me to identify the evolving dimensions of the market.
The Wall Street Journal released an intriguing article about the use of glass curtain walls on new buildings: Study: Glass Condos Could Pose Health Threat Through Overheating: Hot Summer Could Raise Temperatures Into Triple Digits.
The piece was inspired by content provided by the Urban Green Council, who are trying to push for more rigorous building standards in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. They’ve had a PR bonanza for this one since the story was even picked up by Gawker.
But the findings were disputed by some developers and architects, who said that glass buildings in recent years have made big advances in overall energy efficiency. That includes improved glass with special coatings to reflect heat and more insulated surfaces in building walls, to comply with increasingly rigorous city and state energy codes.
The idea of glass curtain walls became a bigger issue in the recent boom and the current boom than in years past: the technology has improved, and with shift in the mix towards luxury development, the need for expansive views and light to raise values made it more popular. The irony of this is, and this is certainly not a definitive statement, that glass curtain walls can be less expensive for luxury development than using more traditional mortar/window installs if it is not load bearing.
And Toronto seems to hate them (when not writing about Mayor Rob Ford) in this CBC piece: Throw-away buildings: The slow-motion failure of Toronto’s glass condos.
Ilya Marritz at WNYC just posted on this topic with the understated title: People Who Live in Glass Houses are Really Hot. Here’s the radio version:
Yesterday, Oshrat Carmiel’s real estate piece: Manhattan Homes Under $3 Million Never Harder to Buy hit the terminals and web site rising almost immediately to the most emailed and most read article of the day. The starting point for her article was based on my firm’s data – extracting the luxury market data from the overall market – to observe what’s happening to “non-luxury” real estate. I define luxury real estate as the top 10% of all sales prices in a period. This analysis looked at the remaining 90% and as it turns out – the Manhattan market is a lot tighter there.
I had a fun discussion with Erik Schatzker and Alix Steel about the “non-luxury” Manhattan market on their Bloomberg TV show “Market Makers.”
As of today, the Bloomberg article is still the most read on Bloomberg worldwide. Apparently there is interest in the housing market beyond the super wealthy’s real estate exploits.
It was a busy day.
Also in studio was James Lockhart, vice chairman of WL Ross & Co., formerly the head of GSE regulator FHFA. We were also joined by Nicolas Retsinas, a senior lecturer in real estate at Harvard Business School who called in – he has been on my old podcast a few times. Both provided great insight to the housing narrative.
Here’s the second clip from the same session. My basic premise is that while new home sales are rising, it will not be enough to address the collapse of listing inventory which will drive housing prices higher in the US. Hint: It’s mostly about tight credit. Housing is local and credit is national.
For each week’s Eye on Real Estate Show on WOR NewsTalk Radio 710, we include a segment called “The BlogCast” where I discuss several housing related (sometimes a stretch) posts from some of my favorite blogs. They cover topics that are current, funny or simply a “must read”.
Saturday’s BlogCast covered the following blog posts:
[The Real Estate Bloggers] The Watergate Hotel Sold To European Investment Group For many of us, the term Watergate brings back bad memories of politicians gone bad. We forget that the scandal is named after the Watergate Complex, a group of 5 buildings near the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The hotel that was attached to the complex failed in 2007 but was purchased yesterday by a European real estate management company. They plan on returning the hotel to it’s former glory while keeping the option of turning some of the rooms into condos if the market will accept it.
[Straight Talk About Mortgages] Lending Rule #101 – Don’t Loan Money to People Who Can’t Pay It Back… Duh, it’s all about common sense. People who can’t pay it back shouldn’t get the loan in the first place…
[ST Paul Real Estate] Should I take the fridge? I got a call last week from a woman who is being foreclosed upon and there isn’t anything she can do about it at this point…She wanted to know if she had to leave her appliances behind when she left her home. She told me that they are fairly new and that she would like to keep them.
If you missed this past Saturday’s show or any prior show, you can listen to the podcast at any time or subscribe to it for free via iTunes to always get the latest show delivered automatically to your computer or handheld device. My Blogcast is usually in the first hour of the show.
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