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[Manhattan Absorption] March 2013 – What a Difference a Year Makes

April 7, 2013 | 11:10 am | Charts |


[click to expand]

Absorption defined for the purposes of this chart is: Number of months to sell all listing inventory at the annual pace of sales activity. (The definition of absorption in my market report series reflects the quarterly pace – nearly the same)

I started this analysis in August 2009 so I am able to show side-by side year-over-year comparisons. The blue line showing the 10-year quarterly average travels up and down because of the change in scale caused by some of the significant volatility seen at the upper end of the market. The pink line represents the overall average rate of the most recently completed month.

Side by side Manhattan regional comparison:

March 2013 v. March 2012


[click images to expand]

In sub-$3M the market pace is moving twice as fast as the 10-year average and also faster than the $3M+ markets. Especially note the acceleration below $1M in the side by side comparison to 2012 above.


Manhattan Market Absorption Charts 2013 [Miller Samuel]
Manhattan Market Absorption Charts 2012 [Miller Samuel]

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[Manhattan Absorption] February 2013 Shows Not Enough Supply To Wet A Sponge

March 18, 2013 | 1:16 pm | Charts |


[click to expand]

Absorption defined for the purposes of this chart is: Number of months to sell all listing inventory at the annual pace of sales activity. (The definition of absorption in my market report series reflects the quarterly pace – nearly the same)

I started this analysis in August 2009 so I am able to show side-by side year-over-year comparisons. The blue line showing the 10-year quarterly average travels up and down because of the change in scale caused by some of the significant volatility seen at the upper end of the market. The pink line represents the overall average rate of the most recently completed month.

Side by side Manhattan regional comparison:

February 2013 v. February 2012


[click images to expand]

Although everything seems to be absorbed at an historically fast pace, co-ops are generally being absorbed more slowly in nearly every price segment below $5M.


Manhattan Market Absorption Charts 2013 [Miller Samuel]
Manhattan Market Absorption Charts 2012 [Miller Samuel]

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On Bloomberg TV, Surveillance w/Tom Keene 3-11-13: Housing, Mortgages, Rising Prices

March 11, 2013 | 11:46 am | | Public |

Had a great visit with Tom Keene this morning on Bloomberg TV’s Surveillance along with Scarlet Fu and Sara Eisen. It was simulcast on Bloomberg Radio.

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.

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[Manhattan Absorption] January 2013 Absorbing Faster Than Paper Towels

February 4, 2013 | 11:57 am | Charts |


[click to expand]

Absorption defined for the purposes of this chart is: Number of months to sell all listing inventory at the annual pace of sales activity. (The definition of absorption in my market report series reflects the quarterly pace – nearly the same)

I started this analysis in August 2009 so I am able to show side-by side year-over-year comparisons. The blue line showing the 10-year quarterly average travels up and down because of the change in scale caused by some of the significant volatility seen at the upper end of the market. The pink line represents the overall average rate of the most recently completed quarter.

Side by side Manhattan regional comparison:

January 2013 v. January 2012

[click images to expand]

All market segments below $5M, which is roughly 95% of the housing market are seeing their fastest pace (lowest absorption rate) in the 12 years I’ve been tracking listing inventory.


Manhattan Market Absorption Charts 2013 [Miller Samuel]
Manhattan Market Absorption Charts 2012 [Miller Samuel]

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[Housing Recovery Update] Proclamations Over Reasons, Statistics Over Logic

December 13, 2012 | 10:20 am | |

Once a month a local real estate broker passes out monthly updates of our local Connecticut housing market at our commuter train station. He’s a nice affable guy and I get to hear him explain the market to people as we wait in the warm station. He said this to me after I took a look at his handout this morning,

“The statistics aren’t too shabby, eh?”

And I smiled and responded, “that’s the power of record low mortgage rates.” to which he gave me the “thumb’s up” gesture.

And he’s right, his MLS statistics show a very much improved housing market from a few years ago and nearly all of the improvement has been mortgage rate related.

His view of housing is not unlike most public economic prognosticators from Wall Street, NAR, NAHB and real estate brokerage firms, consumers and general in-the-media-all-the-time types.

However few, if any, prognosticators understand why or seem interested in understanding whether it is sustainable (aka forecasting a trend). Once a metric shows promise, it will rise forever, or something like that.

Here’s my town recap for November being presented as a report (with a wildly low 15 sale data set). All the percentages reflect November 2012 over November 2011:

  • New Listings -40%
  • Pending Sales +36.4%
  • Homes sold +15.4%
  • DOM +53%
  • Average Sales Price +29.4%
  • Average Dollar Volume +49.3%

Despite the low data set, the results are remarkably consistent with national trends. Now look at why these metrics actually changed:

  • New Listings -40% [tight credit pressing inventory down because sellers can’t buy]
  • Pending Sales +36.4% [record low (and continuing to fall) mortgage rates + high rents]
  • Homes sold +15.4% [behind pendings because pace of sales accelerating as rates fall]
  • DOM +53% [older stagnant inventory is getting sold off from lack of supply]
  • Average Sales Price +29.4% [more high end sales are moving this year]
  • Average Dollar Volume +49.3% [same as above]

If you pull the plug on low rates, the housing market (literally) plunges. No one is suggesting this is the scenario that will occur but the national housing market feels incredibly fragile to me.

But why should I (or anyone else) actually care whether we understand what’s actually going on? The stats show sales and price numbers are higher than last year – “bullet dodged” – that’s all we need to know – we did the math.

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Serious Jibber-Jabber: Lessons from Nate Silver to Filter Out Housing Noise

December 10, 2012 | 7:00 am | | TV, Videos |

I really enjoyed this “Charlie Rose”-like interview by late night TV host Conan O’Brien and statistician Nate Silver on his “Serious Jibber-Jabber” series. I recently bought Nate’s book “The Signal and the Noise: Why Most Predictions Fail but Some Don’t” and it’s next on my reading list (actually I bought 2 copies because I forgot I had pre-ordered on Amazon for Kindle and ordered again from Apple iBooks, Doh!).

What I found intriguing about the discussion is how much effort it takes to filter out the noise and get the to meat of the issue as well as getting outside of your self-made insulated bubble to be able to make an informed decision – aka neutrality.

Real estate, like politics, is a spin laden industry whose health is very difficult to gauge if you rely on people and institutions who have a vested interest in the outcome. i.e. Wall Street, rating agencies, government, banks, real estate agents etc.

Some interesting points made:

  • During the bubble, for every $1 in mortgages, Wall Street was making $50 in side bets.
  • Many people during the housing boom saw it was a bubble but didn’t want to miss out. They would see the green arrows pointing up on CNBC screen and it became very hard to be contrarian and be left behind.

The current “happy housing news” that is all the rage seems to draw a parallel with the pundits who got the election outcome all wrong yet all were experienced in politics. The housing herd is disconnecting from what the data is showing.

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Luxury Real Estate as the New Global Currency

November 18, 2012 | 5:46 pm | | Articles |


[click to read article]

Over the summer Camilla Papale, Douglas Elliman’s CMO asked me if I would present something about the state of luxury real estate for their Elliman Magazine (and iPad app!). The finished result contained 3 parts:

  • I wrote a brief piece about the influx of international demand as high end consumers were seeking a safe haven from the world’s economic problems. I called the piece: “LUXURY REAL ESTATE AS THE WORLD’S NEW CURRENCY” This post’s title was my working title which I also liked.
  • Plus I did a little research on housing prices across the globe using Knight Frank’s resources and
  • I moderated a discussion on the subject with Dottie Herman, President & CEO of Douglas Elliman, Patrick Dring, Head of International Residential at Knight Frank, and Liam Bailey, Head of Residential Research at Knight Frank. They all provided great insights to the subject.

Here’s the full piece in Elliman Magazine . I’ve inserted a portion of the presentation below in 2 parts:

LUXURY REAL ESTATE AS THE WORLD’S NEW CURRENCY

Since the beginning of the global credit crunch in 2008, luxury real estate has morphed into a new world currency that provides investors with both a tangible asset and a cachet that cannot be found within the financial markets. It’s as if these emboldened investors zoomed out of their local Google Earth view to discover the wider global perspective on luxury real estate.

HOW DID WE GET HERE? The US dollar has weakened in the years following the collapse of Lehman Brothers in the onset of the global credit crisis. The S&P downgrade of US debt in August 2011 from its benchmark AAA rating brought a flood of investors into US financial securities. That meant that our currency allowed us to buy less abroad, and the strength of other currencies provided international buyers with large discounts when purchasing property in US dollars. But it went further than that.

THE RISE OF LUXURY REAL ESTATE AS A “SAFE HAVEN.” The volatility of global financial markets and the resulting political fallout shook investor confidence, which in turn spurred a rise in foreign buyers seeking a safe haven to protect their assets. A wave of international buyers from Europe, South America, and Asia entered the US housing market, helping set record prices and revive luxury markets including New York, The Hamptons, and Miami.

SUPPLY-DRIVEN DEMAND. The luxury real estate market has become defined by the supply of available properties. While demand has remained constant and elevated, inventory has become a critical variable, particularly at the very top of the market, where surging international demand for one-of-a-kind properties has surpassed the limited supply. The resultant record-breaking sales of “trophy” properties have enticed more owners of luxury homes to make them available for sale.

THE RISE OF THE “TROPHY PROPERTY.” The trophy property has become a new market category that does not follow the rules and dynamics of the overall marketplace. One stratospheric price record is being set after another, and it is not only the list prices that are defining these record sales; the rarity of location, expanse of the views, quality of amenities, and the sheer size of these unique homes have all played an important part in attracting the interest of foreign buyers.

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? Driven by the global credit crunch and political instability, the two factors that are expected to remain unchanged for the next several years, the US luxury housing market is expected to remain a “safe haven” for foreign investors for quite some time.

A CONVERSATION ABOUT THE COMMERCE OF GLOBAL LUXURY REAL ESTATE

I sat down with Dottie Herman and our friends across the pond, Patrick Dring, Head of International Residential, and Liam Bailey, Head of Residential Research at Knight Frank, to chat about the state of real estate in the prime markets across the globe and the rise of a foreign investment phenomenon.

JONATHAN MILLER: Douglas Elliman has a broad coverage area that includes some of the most affluent housing markets in the US. Are you seeing any short-term issues that may influence luxury investor decisions over the coming year?

DOTTIE HERMAN: At the end of this year, we may see a repeat of the consumer behavior we saw at the end of 2010 when US capital gains tax rates were expected to rise. Ultimately, the rates did not increase, but many consumers in the luxury market took preventative action before the potential tax increase and raced to close their sales by the end of 2010. Despite the ups and downs in the quarters that followed, the luxury housing market was not adversely impacted in the long-term.

JM: Paddy, according to Knight Frank’s Global Briefing blog, housing prices in central London are up sharply, but the pace of growth appears to be slowing, perhaps because of the new stamp duty (a tax on properties priced at £2M–the equivalent of $3.15M–or more). What does this mean for the luxury market?

PADDY DRING: In short, the £5M ($7.85M) market is up year-on-year. The new stamp duty on property sales above £2M seems to be having an impact only on the band just above the new £2M threshold. Foreign demand remains high and, notably, we have sold to over 62 different nationalities within the last 12 months. They are less affected by the changes in stamp duty, since the rates in London are still in line with many other European countries.

JM: Dottie, your firm has sold a large number of luxury properties this year, despite a lukewarm economy and tight credit conditions. Record sales and listing prices are becoming nearly commonplace and a significant portion of this demand for luxury real estate is coming from abroad. Do you see this developing into a long-term trend?

DH: It’s certainly been a year of records and I do think we are embarking on a period where luxury real estate has the potential to outperform the rest of the housing market. Several of the markets that we cover, Manhattan and Miami in particular, have been firmly established as highly sought-after international destinations. As much as we fret about how slowly our economy is recovering, the US has proven itself as a “safe haven” for many international investors who are concerned about the turmoil of the world economy and political stability. Luxury investors from much of Europe, Russia, Asia and South America have been buying here at the highest pace we have seen since the credit crunch began.

JM: Liam, the US is seeing a higher-than-normal influx of real estate demand from foreign investors who seem to be focusing on the upper end of the housing market. These investors are well represented from Europe, Asia and South America. Are you seeing the same phenomenon when it comes to luxury properties in the UK? What are the primary regions where this demand is coming from?

LIAM BAILEY: The focus of demand continues on London and its easily accessible suburbs. London is facing even higher global demand than New York, with the top end strongly led by Russia, Europe, Canada, and the Middle East, and demand in the new development investment market very much led by Asia.

JM: In the US, access to financing is a key challenge to domestic purchasers, including luxury investors. What are some of the key challenges facing your clients who are looking to purchase real estate outside of their own countries?

PD & LB: Financing remains a consideration for many, although mortgages are more available in many of the markets than people are led to believe. Of course, the property needs to be quality and in a core location and have a more conservative loan-to-value ratio, however, many of our clients purchase in cash, so they are more affected by market sentiment and, of course, liquidity if they need to sell unexpectedly in the future. Factors affecting market sentiment include the usual considerations, such as exchange rate, a stable political base, as well as a sound legal system that guarantees clarity of title and tax considerations. The latter of course is affecting not only the cost of acquisition (stamp duty), but also, in some countries, the cost of holding (wealth tax) and ultimately selling (capital gains tax). Access, infrastructure, and climate (if lifestyle-driven) all remain key, as do low crime rates as people become more aware of their privacy and personal safety.

JM: Since the beginning of the credit crunch, you’ve constantly stressed to your clients that the terms of a sale are just as important as the price of a sale, given the challenges of obtaining financing. How do international buyers fi t into this new world defined by tough lending standards?

DH: Despite mortgage lending in the US remaining tight, luxury markets in the areas we cover have improved quickly. I can only imagine how much stronger the US housing market would be if we saw credit ease to historically normal levels. International buyers tend to pay cash or obtain financing from their native countries, which has given them an advantage over many domestic purchasers. Combine the ability to pay in cash with both the weakness of the US dollar against many of their native currencies and a volatile global economy, and you can begin to understand why we are seeing a strong presence of international buyers in our markets. Like our friends at Knight Frank, these luxury investors are interested in our proven core markets that already have a large concentration of luxury properties. Overall, we continue to be excited about our market’s expanding presence in the global luxury housing market—there are many opportunities out there for this new international investor to explore.



Luxury Real Estate as the World’s New Currency [Miller Samuel (pdf)]
Luxury Real Estate as the World’s New Currency [Douglas Elliman]
Elliman iPad App [iTunes]

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[Manhattan Absorption] October 2012 – Tighter Under $10M Than Last Year = 99% of Market

November 12, 2012 | 2:35 pm | Charts |

Absorption defined for the purposes of this chart is: Number of months to sell all listing inventory at the annual pace of sales activity. (The definition of absorption in my market report series reflects the quarterly pace – nearly the same)

I started this analysis in August 2009 so I am able to show side-by side year-over-year comparisons. The blue line showing the 10-year quarterly average travels up and down because of the change in scale caused by some of the significant volatility seen at the upper end of the market. The pink line represents the overall average rate of the most recently completed quarter.

Side by side Manhattan regional comparison:

October 2011 v. October 2012

[click images to expand]

The rate for the overall market has accelerated from the year ago period. However the $10M+ market, which is roughly the starting point for the top 1% of the market saw a slow down in the absorption rate, perhaps as more property owners in that market segment try to:

  • “copy cat” the “trophy sale” success seen earlier this year;
  • more listings entering the market to beat the possible expiration of the Bush tax cuts on 12/31 resulting in an increase in capital gains.

Manhattan Market Absorption Charts 2012 [Miller Samuel]
Manhattan Market Absorption Charts 2011 [Miller Samuel]

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[Manhattan Absorption] August 2012 – It’s A Lot Faster On The Down Low

September 24, 2012 | 3:35 pm | Charts |

Absorption defined for the purposes of this chart is: Number of months to sell all listing inventory at the annual pace of sales activity. (The definition of absorption in my market report series reflects the quarterly pace – nearly the same)

I started this analysis in August 2009 so I am able to show side-by side year-over-year comparisons. The blue line showing the 10-year quarterly average travels up and down because of the change in scale caused by some of the significant volatility seen at the upper end of the market. The “blue” line for average changes very little year to year but the scale of the chart does frequently.

Side by side Manhattan regional comparison:

August 2011 v. August 2012

[click images to expand]

The market below $1M is now moving very quickly – low mortgage rates are causing entry-level apartments to be rapidly absorbed.

Note: This chart series does not include shadow inventory (properties ready for market but not yet listed for sale) so this analysis somewhat understates the pace of condo absorption. The Uptown (Northern Manhattan) data set is too thin for a reliable presentation.

 


Manhattan Market Absorption Charts 2012 [Miller Samuel] Manhattan Market Absorption Charts 2011 [Miller Samuel]

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[Rotate!] Manhattan Housing Market Absorption by Price (3/09 to 8/12)

September 6, 2012 | 6:30 am | Charts |

My first rotating gif!

Geekcitement aside, I placed 42 months worth of charts into one graphic to show the ebb and flow of the market. The chart is based on the ongoing absorption releases here on Matrix. The charts reflect the number of months to sell all active listing inventory at the annualized pace of sales (closed) activity.

I deliberately did not make the GIF a loop so you can tell when it starts (3/09).

Refresh your browser to see it again.

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[Manhattan Absorption] June 2012, Moving Faster, Strength Expanding

July 16, 2012 | 11:16 am | Charts |

Absorption defined for the purposes of this chart is: Number of months to sell all listing inventory at the annual pace of sales activity. (The definition of absorption in my market report series reflects the quarterly pace – nearly the same)

I started this analysis in August 2009 so I am able to show side-by side year-over-year comparisons. The blue line showing the 10-year quarterly average travels up and down because of the change in scale caused by some of the significant volatility seen at the upper end of the market. The “blue” line for average changes very little year to year but the scale of the chart does frequently.

Side by side Manhattan regional comparison:

June 2011 v. June 2012

[click images to expand]

Thoughts on the year-over-year comparisons

  • Manhattan All price segments below $3M experienced noticeable increases in pace of absorption – the lower the price segment that faster the pace.
  • East Side Co-ops and condos being absorbed at a much faster pace than last year at this time.
  • West Side Nearly all market segments continue to see faster absorption with sub-$500k and $2M to $10M seeing significant improvement.
  • Downtown Sub-$2M now seeing absorption rates as low as 5 months, well the 9.5 month 10-year average.

Note: This chart series does not include shadow inventory (properties ready for market but not yet listed for sale) so this analysis somewhat understates the pace of condo absorption. The Uptown (Northern Manhattan) data set is too thin for a reliable presentation.

 


Manhattan Market Absorption Charts 2012 [Miller Samuel]
Manhattan Market Absorption Charts 2011 [Miller Samuel]

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[Manhattan Absorption] May 2012, Faster Pace Than Last Year

June 18, 2012 | 1:43 pm | Charts |

Absorption defined for the purposes of this chart is: Number of months to sell all listing inventory at the annual pace of sales activity. (The definition of absorption in my market report series reflects the quarterly pace – nearly the same)

I started this analysis in August 2009 so I am able to show side-by side year-over-year comparisons. The blue line showing the 10-year quarterly average travels up and down because of the change in scale caused by some of the significant volatility seen at the upper end of the market. The “blue” line for average changes very little year to year but the scale of the chart does frequently.

Side by side Manhattan regional comparison:

May 2011 v. May 2012

[click images to expand]

Thoughts on the year-over-year comparisons

  • Manhattan All price segments below $3M experienced noticeable increases in pace of absorption – the lower the price segment that faster the pace.
  • East Side Condo market continues to see faster pace.
  • West Side Virtually all markets below $10M continue to accelerate pace.
  • Downtown Below $3M moving faster, $5-9.9M

Note: This chart series does not include shadow inventory (properties ready for market but not yet listed for sale) so this analysis somewhat understates the pace of condo absorption. The Uptown (Northern Manhattan) data set is too thin for a reliable presentation.

 


Manhattan Market Absorption Charts 2012 [Miller Samuel]
Manhattan Market Absorption Charts 2011 [Miller Samuel]

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