Matrix Blog

Weather & Natural Disasters

Manhattan’s 1% Prefer Proximity to Central Park Over Waterfront

November 20, 2012 | 5:40 pm | Charts |

With the post-Hurricane Sandy heightened awareness of waterfront living and flooding risk, I thought I’d provide a visualization of where the top 1% most expensive properties in Manhattan are located. Manhattan’s top 1% of the housing market starts at $10M. I presented all the co-op, condo and 1-3 family townhouses that closed at or above January 1, 2003 in Manhattan. I used the same data set (but updated) when I presented the Tallest Chart in the History of Manhattan Real Estate a while back.

Fairly consistent pattern – clustered around Central Park and lofts downtown with only a handful along the waterfront.

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Sandy Aftermath – 60 Minutes Story on Belle Harbor, Queens, New York

November 12, 2012 | 6:56 pm | TV, Videos |

A few thousand people in Belle Harbor have endured so much – inspirational – community. This is one of many areas devastated by Hurricane Sandy in NYC region. And it’s why I feel so petty when asked about what happened to us in the storm – that I lost power for 5 days. They faced losses from 9/11, a jet crashing in their neighborhood in 2001 and now Sandy.

Good grief.

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Hamptons High End Market in 4Q: Hedging Against Possible Rise in Capital Gains?

November 6, 2012 | 8:00 am | | Charts |


[click to expand]

This chart is an enlarged version of a chart that appeared within our just released Elliman Report: Hamptons/North Fork Sales. I’ve expanded it because I was struck by the randomness of activity in the $5M and up sector of the market (blue columns). Clearly the pattern follows the market stall after Lehman’s ’08 bankruptcy for a few quarters but otherwise, the sales don’t seem to follow a pattern, seasonal or otherwise.

The two quarters with a spike of 38 sales, 4Q 2010 and 2Q 2012 could be explained perhaps but the reasons aren’t that compelling in comparison to how much they stand out.

4Q 2010 The looming Bush tax cut expiration at the end of 2010 caused many sellers to bring high end properties and they were quickly absorbed.

2Q 2012 The prior quarter seemed to be an elevated spring surge.

4Q 2012 Will the 4th quarter see the same phenomenon as 4Q 2010? The capital gains implications are the same – will the Bush tax cuts be extended? – I’m not sure but our appraisal practice is inundated with valuation assignments of high end properties hedging against the potential end of year rise in capital gains tax.

The aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and the imminent Snor’eastercane may change the 4Q 2012 results.

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[Sandy] SNL’s Comic Relief in Sign

November 4, 2012 | 8:00 pm |

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[Sandy] The SoPo New York Magazine Cover

November 4, 2012 | 6:47 pm | |

Since my company is located in neighborhood formerly known as “SoPo” (South of Power) I thought I’d post the amazing New York Magazine cover.

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Sandy Update, Social Media Helped Us Understand, But Patience Wearing Thin

November 4, 2012 | 12:33 pm |


[click to read post (h/t gizmodo, laughingsquid)]

People who don’t see the coolness of Foursquare are clearly missing out (see above). My twitter feed @jonathanmiller was my primary source of information all through the storm. Amazingly helpful.

Yesterday afternoon, the superintendent in our office building called to let us know the power was back on. “SoPo” was no more and Miller Samuel could function again.

However, there was still no power at home so my wife and I camped out in our town library on Saturday afternoon. Work crews had been seen on our street so it felt like we were close to getting power back. We left the library (incidentally I took then my future wife to the library on our first date – hey, I had a paper to write. Coming up on our 29th anniversary so…) and lights were on when we pulled into the driveway as it was getting dark. YES!!!! Thoughts of a long hot shower and a house warmer than 51 degrees immediately passed through my mind and so did the nagging guilt of people in the region that had it much worse than us. Still, joy prevailed.

This morning I was really surprised at the poll results by our hyperlocal news service of town residents about how they felt the utility company performed during the storm and aftermath. Perhaps because I now have power I am biased? Given the scope of the storm and power outage caused by flooding and falling tree damage, I would have thought town residents would given the utility (CL&P) high marks. Crews from as far away as Ontario, CN were working on our downed lines. Only 14% agreed with my assessment that they performed well (at time of this post). Be sure to click link “View Results”.

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Sandy’s SoPo Nabe Is No More, But T-Shirts Live On

November 3, 2012 | 4:03 pm | |

Late last night the utility crews came through our street and made quick work of the series of large trees blocking the road. They left in the evening and this morning the crews returned to clean up the wiring. No power at home yet. This morning the indoor temperature was 51 degrees and outside it was 50 degrees, so technically our home still provides shelter.

One important development – “SoPo” became “NoPo” – and our office power came back sometime last night and we’ll be catching up all weekend.

Of course, there is a t-shirt for every occasion and SoPo lives on… (h/t Dan Alpert)

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Sandy Language Summary: Snor’eastercane, SoPo and a Sturdy Mailbox

November 2, 2012 | 5:36 pm | |

Remember this mailbox? It’s been through a lot. The photo is of my street in my CT home town, one of many downed trees and wires on my street. It’s been a long work week, especially since I haven’t been able to work much without power at home or work and it’s not nearly been a week since Sandy wreaked havoc on the Northeast US. My family and friends are safe and I feel very fortunate.

I’ve expanded or refreshed my vocabulary since Super-Storm Sandy – here’s my slow wifi, town library recap:

%$$%%!!! Your one word profanity-laden scream (insert word of your preference) when one of your favorite healthy 6-story shade trees falls down next to your house during the storm and you realize the storm is no longer an adventure (incidentally a tree falls really fast, not like in the movies).

OMG – The word you utter when your fireman son tells you about all the near misses with falling trees while they were out on the truck responding to emergency calls while your other adult child is taking pictures of the storm and submitting them to the local paper’s web site.

Boom of Doom – What my friend Michael Gross called the collapsed crane on West 57th Street, which forced the evacuation of his apartment nearby.

Zone A – A FEMA designation that few were familiar with (as appraisers we are) that now smoothly rolls off everyone’s tongue in everyday conversation.

Waterfront – That highly sought after real estate amenity that has everyone wondering if living away from the water would be better. Nah.

Flood – See “Waterfront”

“Coned” – The way a long-time Weather Channel anchor was pronouncing the NYC’s electric utility “Con-ed”

SoPo – (h/t to my friend Dan Alpert) was an overheard description for “South of Power” – Manhattan below 39th Street is without power. Of course, my office is located on 38th and remains dark.

NoPo – My alternative to “SoPo” and it is not location specific – it refers to anywhere that has power.

Electricity – It’s that crazy magical force that makes pretty much everything we rely on actually work and we only notice it when we don’t have it.

Primary (Service) Wire – The name my fireman son gave a large thick black wire – if you touch it while electricity is coursing through it – you catch on fire – incidentally one of these wires is still laying on my front lawn.

Snor’eastercane – The nickname given to the storm coming to our area next week bringing cold weather, snow and rain. Has it’s own twitter handle.

Sandy – A hurricane we won’t forget. Replaces “Back in ’38” with “Back in ’12”

Frankenstorm – See “Sandy”

Super-Storm – aka Mega-Storm. See “Sandy”

Puzzles – Those arcane cardboard pieces of art cut into odd shapes that you try to reconnect when you have no power and have to actually speak to your significant other and your kids.

YES!!!! – The near-expletive yelled with joy when we discovered our boat dock came within 6 inches of lifting over the piling and floating away with our boat. Always have a “YES!!!” “chambered” and ready to use it when your power turns back on.

UPDATE

Treemaggedon – What it felt like to see huge trees down all over our street and yard.

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[WSJ] The Crazy 8: Comparing Results of National Home Price Indices

June 9, 2012 | 1:18 pm | |

Matthew Strozier over at WSJ with Column Five (a large producer of infographics) presented an interesting side by side of 8 national housing indices.

All but one index shows a year over year decline in housing. Trulia’s new Price Monitor by Jed Kolko would be a great addition once the year-over-year history is established. It was also interesting that NAR’s Existing Home Sales was omitted (I’m not advocating).

Beyond the obvious price decline, my takeaways were:

  1. US indices are general in sync on the year-over-year. Our confusion in the monthly barrage of housing metric releases is that most push the month-over month.
  2. With the proliferation of these indices, data subscriptions must be getting cheaper. There are a few more out there as well.
  3. Of the indices presented, their data collection and methodologies vary significantly (where disclosed) yet their results were consistent perhaps suggesting the 7 for 8 result is coincidence as opposed to an aggregated trend.
  4. Sales prices are not something we should be obsessed with as an indicator of market health (think Las Vegas, mid decade). I’d much prefer seeing more attention paid to sales trends since they are a pre-cursor to price trends if you are trying to reasonably answer the question: Has the US housing market hit bottom?

It is interesting and my rough understanding that most of these indices were created and run by economists, scientists or data wonks, many for Wall Street purposes with virtually no real estate types. That’s obviously fine until you consider what is said in barrage of monthly press releases for some, citing things that are not empirically measured in their respective reports, i.e. weather, inventory, etc. that create further confusion.

I’d love to see a side by side comparison of the lag time from the point of “meeting of the minds” between buyer and seller for each index. The significant lag time reflected in this index genre is a practical one due to the massive scale of information, but I think it would give consumers (who were generally not the intended users of any of these indices at the time they were created) a better sense of reliability for each.

National housing indices provide useful tools for setting government economic policy but the consumer’s obsession with the idea of a national housing market and it’s relevance to their local markets is, well, crazy.

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Visualizing US Distressed Sales – Katrina Edition

June 7, 2012 | 2:28 pm | |

The WSJ presented a series of charts on US distressed properties based on information from the St. Louis Fed (most proficient data generators of all Fed banks) and LPS.

Here are the first and last maps of the series. To see all of them, go to the post over at Real Time Economics Blog at WSJ.

A few thoughts:

  • The distress radiates out from New Orleans 7 months after Hurricane Katrina hit. There was relatively tame distressed sales activity in the US in 2006, the peak of the US housing boom.
  • The article makes the observation that distressed activity is seeing some improvement in 2010. However the “robo-signing” scandal hit (late summer 2010) and distressed activity entering the market fell for the next 18 months as servicers restrained foreclosure activity until the servicer settlement agreement was reached in early 2012. This is likely why the distressed heat maps show some improvement.
  • The music stopped when people couldn’t make their payments en mass circa 2006, the US national housing market peak. It’s quite astounding how quickly credit-fueled conditions collapsed across the US.

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[NAR] Existing Home Sales – 3 Month Decline, Supply Most in Nearly 2 Years

March 24, 2010 | 12:06 pm |


[click to open report]

NAR released their February Existing Home Sales report.

Its becoming apparent to even the most optimistic that job growth will be the yardstick that determines when housing will improve to a point where it is self-sustaining.

“It’s a fragile recovery” in housing, said Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James & Associates, in St. Petersburg, Florida. “We ultimately need to see job growth to get a sustainable rebound.”

Seasonally we expect inventory to rise in the spring, we also expect sales to rise.

Purchases dropped 0.6 percent to a 5.02 million annual rate, the lowest level in eight months, figures from the National Association of Realtors showed today in Washington. There were 3.59 million houses for sale, a 312,000 increase from January that marked the biggest gain since April 2008.

NAR’s chief economist is calling for a second surge or we are headed for problems.

Sales are up 7% compared with a year ago, the NAR’s data showed.

“We need to have a second surge,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the real estate lobbying group. However, the jury’s still out, he said.

“Has everything in the gas tank been used up?” Yun asked. “Or is this just a pause before the next step up?”

It’s hard to imagine a “pause” in February. I was surprised a complaint about the weather wasn’t used.


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[Power Mailbox] Live Power Lines, Still No Power

March 15, 2010 | 2:23 pm | |

The Northeastern US was hammered by a weather system that brought heavy rain and powerful winds – clocked at 70+ mph. 450,000 people in the Northeast lost power, 34 roads blocked by trees down in my town in CT with 60% losing their power, including my house. Its been three days without electricity and the sense of adventure has been lost.



Tree Down!

When the power went out, a light bulb at my desk flashed and flew out of the socket not breaking, melting the metal base – the lamp was plugged into a strip plug along with my laptop. It looked like the mailbox caught fire. Crazy!

The power lines caught on fire in front of my house – Curbed covers the fire.


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