September 21, 2018

Even Rats Are Safety Orientated In Condo Housing

In high school, the big stupid prank was pulling the fire alarm. At one point, the school administration covered the alarms with a chemical that would turn the prankster’s fingers pink. Upon inspection by teachers and administrators, the perpetrator was outed. Of course, this was the seventies and gloves weren’t invented yet.

In NYC we had the Pizza Rat and now…

but I digress…

The Financial Crisis In Retrospect

We’ve had a decade to reflect on what happened. I’m finding out that there is a limited consensus on the specific cause or the moment of truth. Marketplace put out a piece with a video of Dodd and Frank that is way too long. Frankly, I ran the video as background noise when I was working. Frank famously missed the development of the crisis years earlier and Dodd was outed for being a “Friend of Angelo” so it is weird to see them placed as the elder statesman of the fixing of the crisis. Dodd-Frank was overreaching and tried to prevent the past crisis from happening again. Yet each future crisis will be based on something emerging from the distortion of the past. This is a national platform yet it got fewer views (765) than my friend Phil Crawford gets on his Voice of Appraisal podcasts.


However, there was an epic New York Times Business section infographic that I implore you to look at. Click on the graphic to explore.


Here’s a Bloomberg News series of interviews a la “Where were you?”


Must-reads reflections on the financial crisis

Barry Ritholtz on Misunderstanding the Financial Crisis [Bloomberg Opinion]

The Day the Economy (Almost) Died [New Yorker]

What caused the financial crisis? The Big Lie goes viral [WaPo]

10 Things People Still Get Wrong About the Financial Crisis [Bloomberg]

“Unprecedented amount of fraud”: Decade after Great Recession, Denver attorney still cleaning up Lehman mortgage mess. [Denver Post]

The Shaky Ground Edition [Slate Money Podcast]

The Causes and Costs of the Worst Crisis Since the Great Depression [The Balance]


Visit the Appraiserville section below – “Reflecting On The Financial Crisis a Decade Later” – a snippet of my own take on the front lines as an appraiser.

Good Enough For Government Work

NYC OMB report on Current Economic Conditons

This NYC OMB economic report is more numbers-centric than the Fed’s Beige Book, but just as digestible. It chronicles the same slow down in sales that I reported on earlier this year. Also, Brooklyn saw the most permits while Manhattan had the second-lowest of the 5 boroughs.

Here’s page 8 that covers the residential market:

NYS Office of Comptroller Report On The Securities Industry

Wall Street (The Securities Industry) has been a core economic engine for decades. The Office of the New York State Comptroller just released their report on the state of the securities industry.

Since the financial crisis, their NYC tax revenue share has remained stable…

as has its ratio of salaries to the private sector…

and employment growth has been anemic…

and although bonuses remain high, the bonus as a percentage of total compensation is not what it was before the financial crisis (>50%)…


Bonuses made up 40 percent of securities industry wages in 2017, a much larger share than in any other industry.

And with deferred comp growing, gone are the days when the bonus announcements would cause an Oklahoma Sooners-style rush to buy real estate. Still, the performance of the securities industry is critical to the housing market and the NYC regional economy, so there’s that. Hopefully news outlets will completely stop doing stories on Wall Streeters rushing to buy the latest edition Maybachs during bonus season.

Upcoming Speaking Events

September 26, 2018 – Asian American Real Estate Association of America (AREAA) – East Meets West Real Estate Connect Conference. “This year’s four keynote speakers, highly regarded professionals in their respective fields, are John Catsimatidis, Chairman and CEO of Red Apple Group; Streeteasy’s General Manager Susan Daimler; Adam Spies, Chairman and CEO of Cushman and Wakefield, and Jonathan Miller, President and CEO of Miller Samuel.”

You can register here.

Appraiserville

(For earlier appraisal industry commentary, visit my old clunky REIC site.)

Reflecting On The Financial Crisis a Decade Later

Over the past several weeks, there has been a slew of thought-provoking pieces on the financial crisis of ten years ago. There are so many varying views on what happened and what caused it. It was such a systemic event that ten years later, there are strong opinions on the cause and the lessons learned and not learned. I’ve always looked at it from a valuation/mortgage/credit standpoint since that has been my business orientation. I saw the events roll out from my perspective, but I only saw a sliver of what the crisis represented.

Mortgage brokers I knew that thrived back then, are either gone or generic loan reps at large institutions, never to be heard from again. Appraisers I knew who succeeded on the massive volume thrown to them by star mortgage brokers collapsed and lost their licenses or their businesses. Those appraisers never lost their self-respect because they didn’t have any, to begin with.

I was a confusing and stressful time as I wondered what math class I missed in high school and what ethics class I missed in college as our business suffered and my competitors made deals with mortgage brokers from the back of limos. In 2005, I was sure I would be out of business by 2008. Fortunately, it worked out in the long run but the period from 2005 to 2008 felt like an eternity.

Late in the crisis, I provided numerous consultations to the office of NYC Attorney (then Andrew Cuomo) to understand the problems appraisers faced from enormous economic pressure by mortgage brokers to hit the “number” but being disappointed when Cuomo opened the AMC pandora’s box with HVCC. A deputy told me they pushed the envelope as far as their authority reached, but it enabled AMCs, the institutional middleman that has mostly served to destroy quality valuation practices in the U.S. Cuomo’s office wanted names of the perpetrators and I basically said it was systemic and there were no names to give because it would be almost all the names in the mortgage broker industry. After all, why did a mortgage broker get to pick the appraiser they used when the mortgage broker only got paid if the deal closed. At one point I was literally on the phone with Cuomo’s office and at the same time got an email from a mortgage broker in Florida who was looking for an appraisal to be completed in New York that needed to be at least $1,200,000 so the borrower could draw down money to buy a boat. At that moment I could have forwarded that email to the AG, but because nearly all mortgage brokers spoke like that, it confirmed to me that it was systemic and not a few rotten eggs. If only that mortgage broker knew how close she came to losing her license.

Although the Lehman moment didn’t cause the financial crisis, it was a symbol of the beginning of true consumer awareness of the problem. Sales contracts collapsed 75% in my market from September to December. However, I saw the rumblings begin in the prior summer when the two Bear Stearns mortgage hedge funds and American Home Mortgage collapsed. I experienced this first hand when the head of those funds join a company that was going to acquire our company. I disconnected from the relationship shortly after that.

My wife and sister, who are my business partners, sat down and reinvented our business, jettisoning appraisal management companies and most retail mortgage work, inverting our practice away from mortgage rate dependent work. In many ways, the experience was a gift, because our firm became more profitable and we focused on good clients. We avoided clients represented by a 19-year-old chewing gum demanding to know where our report was ordered 24 hours ago.

RAC Member Ernie Durbin Goes Mano a Mano With Phil Crawford

My good friends Ernie and Phil show us a Cincy-style discussion on appraiser issues of the day at the 2018 RAC conference last week in Plano Texas.

Calling Zestimates into Question and Identifying Their User Addicts

The New York Times did a great piece on Zestimates and the addicts that check them daily. I chime in about your horoscope – BTW I’m a Libra so I’m clearly “well balanced.” Then Ryan Lundquist shows how much the Zestimate weights the current average sales price with an actual example. It’s amazing.

John Brenan of The Appraisal Foundation Pens A Thoughtful Piece on “Why Appraisers Matter”

Read the piece in Realtor Magazine.

the number one caveat for consumers is that these estimates are not a substitute for formal appraisals
Appraisal Institute is Working Hard to Fog The Rural Appraisal Narrative

The following CSBS article essentially written by the Appraisal Institute which is being distributed by lenders – continues to misrepresent the idea that the number of appraisers is falling and no new appraisers are coming into the profession.

Notice how CSBS tracks the number of appraisers from the peak of the housing bubble? If this organization’s or the Appraisal Institute’s intentions were honest, they would show the trend before the housing bubble as well. In this piece, they show that credentialed appraisers have fallen 21% in 10 years which is far less than Appraisal Institute membership. There are actually more appraisers now per mortgage origination than back then. Why? Because despite record low rates, mortgage origination volume has fallen since 2008.

That my friends is the missing context here. In other words, the CSBS/AI research piece is at best propaganda and at worst, a lie.

Here is the Appraisal Institute’s (I mean CSBS’s) summary of observations (with my comments appended):

  • Some rural and underserved areas do not have enough appraisers. That’s been the case for one hundred years and only became problematic when AMCs became dominant and typically pay less than half the market rate.
  • The National Registry of Real Estate Appraisers does not accurately reflect local shortages of appraisers. And it doesn’t show surpluses, nor does it reflect non-free market business practices of the AMC industry that AI National so dearly loves.
  • The Title XI waiver process is unclear, lengthy, and underutilized. This is a bizarrely desperate and a made up reason that sounds impressive but says nothing.
  • Congress acknowledged with the passage of the “Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act” that obtaining appraisals for certain rural transactions are an issue and that an avenue for relief is needed.This a wildly misleading statement of what this act actually is. According to ABA: to qualify lenders must show that three appraisers were not available within 5 days beyond a reasonable time frame (determined by the bank) for an appraisal. Appraiser licensing and credentialing processes create barriers to entry.Name one! We’d have a lot more doctors if we didn’t require an education and experience.

Can these reasons be any more self-serving and dumb?

Appraisers Taking Exams Jumps 14% YTD 2017 to 2018

This is fresh from the Appraisal Foundation:

Over the same period last year, there has been an increase of 9% people taking the Licensed Residential exam; an increase of 41% taking the Certified Residential exam; and a decrease of 10% people taking the Certified General exam. The overall total equals a 14% increase in the number of people taking an exam in 2018 vs. 2017.

Here is a chart that tracks the age range of test takers from 2013 to 2017. The 26-35 subset (purple) is the highest for each year showing that youth is indeed entering the profession.


More Examples of FIRREA-Breaking Laws That Require an MAI-Designation

A few weeks ago I posted several legacy laws in California that were pre-FIRREA and are still on the books. I share these because these laws and others like it allow AI National to be run like a dictatorship without accountability to its membership. If a member criticizes the organization, then that member can be suspended or kicked out, having a severe impact on their livelihood. Therefore I am on a mission to share these laws. Here are three more to investigate:

  1. City of Santa Fe, New Mexico

Purchase of City-Owned Property

Requests to purchase parcels or portions of City-owned property are first reviewed by all relevant City departments to determine whether the property is planned for future uses by the City. If the City verifies that the property can be sold, the request is forwarded to the City Council for conceptual approval of the sale. If the sale is approved in concept, the applicant must provide a current survey of the property along with an appraisal prepared by an MAI-certified appraiser. Upon receipt of these items, the purchase request is forwarded to the City Council for final approval. Purchases are often subject to reservations for existing utilities or easements.

  1. City of Salt Lake City, Utah

Offsets to Impact Fees (18.98.070)

E. The value of land dedicated or donated shall be based on the appraised land value of the parent parcel on the date of transfer of ownership to the city, as determined by an MAI certified appraiser who was selected from a list of city approved appraisers provided by the director and paid for by the applicant, who used generally accepted appraisal techniques.

  1. City of Indianapolis, Indiana (h) (Note: Updated May 9, 2016, but contains very outdated references for designations!)

Consolidated Zoning/Subdivision Ordinance

Market Value: For purposes of flood control regulation, the market value of the structure itself, not including the associated land, landscaping or detached accessory structures. The market value must be determined by a method approved by FEMA and the Bureau of License and Permit Services. If an appraisal is used, the appraiser must have at least one of the following designations: 1. Member of the American Institute of Real Estate Appraisers (MAI); 2. Residential member of the American Institute of Real Estate Appraisers (RM); 3. Senior real estate analyst of the Society of Real Estate Appraisers (SREA); 4. Senior residential appraiser of the Society of Real Estate Appraisers (SREA); 5. Senior real property appraiser of the Society of Real Estate Appraisers (SRPA); 6. Senior member of the American Society of Appraisers (ASA); 7. Accredited rural appraiser of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers (ARA); or 8. Accredited appraiser of the Manufactured Housing Appraiser Society.

More to come.

OFT (One Final Thought)

OK.


Brilliant Idea #1

If you need something rock solid in your life (particularly on Friday afternoons) and someone forwarded this to you, or you think you already subscribed, sign up here for these weekly Housing Notes. And be sure to share with a friend or colleague if you enjoy them because:

  • They’ll be more reflective;
  • You’ll learn how to debate cincy-style;
  • And I’ll say OK.

Brilliant Idea #2

You’re obviously full of insights and ideas as a reader of Housing Notes. I appreciate every email I receive and it helps me craft the next week’s Housing Note.

See you next week.

Jonathan J. Miller, CRP, CRE, Member of RAC
President/CEO
Miller Samuel Inc.
Real Estate Appraisers & Consultants
Matrix Blog @jonathanmiller

Reads, Listens and Visuals I Enjoyed

My New Content, Research and Mentions

Recently Published Elliman Market Reports

Appraisal Related Reads

Extra Curricular Reads


September 14, 2018

The Pie v. Cake Debate As The Ultimate Housing Market Analogy

I’m attending a RAC appraisal conference in Dallas at the moment so these are admittedly brief Housing Notes. These are the final days of my two-year term as RAC president and it has been one of my prouder accomplishments listed on my resume (my CV for expert witness testimony is 18 pages so I’m not just saying this).

But I digress…

I know what you’re thinking, “pie versus cake” as a housing analogy doesn’t make sense. And the fact that the cake v. pie choice won the poll even though it didn’t have the most votes shows the power of pie over cake. It’s just the way it is.

But I digress…again…

Elliman Report: August 2018 Manhattan, Brooklyn & Queens Rentals released.

This week Douglas Elliman Real Estate published my research on the August 2018 Manhattan, Brooklyn and Northwest Queens rental market. I’ve been the author of this expanding Elliman Report series since 1994.

Elliman Report: 8-2018 Manhattan, Brooklyn & Queens Rentals

MANHATTAN Overview
– The number of new leases increased year over year in three of the past four months
– The gain in year over year median face rent was only observed in the studio market
– Market share of concessions expanded year over year for the 39th consecutive month
– Existing median rent declined year over year for eight of the past nine months
– Non-doorman median rent, which covers half the market, has not seen an increase in twelve months
– The largest decline in rent was seen in the luxury segment or top ten percent of the market

BROOKLYN Overview
– Net effective median rent slipped annually for the eighth time in nine months
– Market share of concessions expanded year over year for the 31st consecutive month
– New development market share rose year over year for seventh consecutive month skewing prices higher

QUEENS Overview
[Northwest Region]
– After sixteen consecutive months of annual rising concessions, market share fell for the second month
– Average square foot of a rental rose annually for the fifth time in six months
– A large surge in 1-bedroom new leases as all price trend indicators posted large gains

Here are a collection of charts from our gallery.

Manhattan

Brooklyn

Queens (NW)

Appraiserville

(For earlier appraisal industry commentary, visit my old clunky REIC site.)

I’m hiatus this week

Lots of things to discuss next week when I return back to work.

Brilliant Idea #1

If you need something rock solid in your life (particularly on Friday afternoons) and someone forwarded this to you, or you think you already subscribed, sign up here for these weekly Housing Notes. And be sure to share with a friend or colleague if you enjoy them because:

  • They’ll be more rental-like;
  • You’ll be more committed to pie;
  • And I’ll chart my course.

Brilliant Idea #2

You’re obviously full of insights and ideas as a reader of Housing Notes. I appreciate every email I receive and it helps me craft the next week’s Housing Note.

See you next week.

Jonathan J. Miller, CRP, CRE, Member of RAC
President/CEO
Miller Samuel Inc.
Real Estate Appraisers & Consultants
Matrix Blog @jonathanmiller

My curated reads/links will be back next week.


September 7, 2018

Can Housing Lightening Strike Twice?


But I digress…

Fall 2018 Elliman Magazine – Market Update

The Fall 2018 Issue of Elliman Magazine was just released and as usual, I provided a two-page spread showing interesting (my definition, lol) of what is going on in some of the markets under their national footprint. The magazine is well done and a fun aspirational read.


[click to expand]

Here’s the full online version of the magazine:


Ritholtz: Anatomy of a Crash

Since it has now been a decade since the financial crisis and the Lehman collapse, there has been a lot of retrospectives of that era – to which I contend we are still in the “hangover” phase, with unusually low-interest rates and distorted credit conditions. I call it the “Lehman Moment” not because Lehman caused the financial crisis, but because it marked the moment where the full scope of the crisis finally became very visceral to the consumer.

How so, you might ask? From that moment through the end of 2008, Manhattan sales contracts fell about 75%, that’s how.

When I saw my friend Barry’s insanely direct quip about this period in history…

$LEH was merely the first trailer in the trailer park to be destroyed by the tornado


…so I thought I’d share one of my favorite graphics from his must-read “The Big Picture Blog” in 2009: 7 Factors That Led to Crisis

Leaning Tower of San Francisco and that New (Cracked) Addition

It has been a while since I wrote about this unfortunate situation in San Francisco (h/t @sacappraiser) @SacAppraiser).

New crack found at San Francisco’s sinking Millennium Tower

This 58-story building built in 2009 has settled 16 inches over the past two years and continues to tilt! And residents heard a loud creaking and popping noises on Tuesday as a crack appeared on the 36th floor. Unsettling and it sounds like it is going to be in litigation for years.


[San Francisco Magazine]

Here is the problem with price estimators like Redfin, Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com, is they are blind to things like whether a building has sunk 16 inches in the past year.

For example, Redfin says that unit 502 at 301 Mission Street (Millennium Tower) closed May 14, 2012, for $1,875,000. It came on the market in 2016 and then was removed after a few price changes.

But it is worth $907,000 more today than in 2012 (or whenever the contract was signed since 2009) even though the building has sunk 16 inches?

Something to consider if you misuse, and these companies misrepresent their accuracy of these valuation tools. At best case, they are macro looks but the consumer has no idea whether they are accurate or not.


Millennials Less Positive About Homeownership Than Gen Z But Both Have No Money

Baby Boomers>Gen X>Millenials>Gen Z…

Data research firm PropertyShark performed a survey which I thought provided some insightful results considering my wife and I raised 3 millennials and 1 Gen Z. They covered the biggest obstacles…


to the deciding factors beyond price…


Enjoy It While You Can: Chickenwire Embedded Glass Means You Can Lose Your View At Any Time

The New York Times had a great piece on lot line windows and the photo couldnt have been better:

In the city, it is the norm to have buildings constructed directly on the lot line, unlike a typical suburban single family home. If the adjacent lot is vacant on consists of a lowrise building, underutilizing the zoning envelope, lot line windows are often installed. These windows can be seen in walkups, lowrise, and highrise buildings.

As the saying goes, “in New York City, no views are guaranteed.” If a condo unit has lot line windows and view is enabled over a vacant lot and zoning allows the same height as your unit, then I’d say you’re “window” of enjoyment is very limited. If you look over a landmarked historic structure, then you may reap the benefits during your time of occupancy. But be careful, there is no guarantee.

Lot-Line Window? Keep Your Fingers Crossed [NY Times]

Dying To Get Into The Market, Grave (versus) Housing Price Trends

I’ve always been fascinated by the economics of cemeteries.

This quirky Bloomberg story: Think Chinese Home Prices Are High? Try Buying a Grave provides the spurious correlation.

“Supply is very limited,” said Hao Hong, a chief strategist at Bocom International Holdings Co. “We’ve heard about some people who bought flats in Shanghai to store cremains instead of expensive graves.”

So many puns…


Cash Dominates The Detroit Housing Market

In lower priced housing markets such as Detroit, cash often dominates as a mechanism for purchase. The Motor City saw 87% of its purchases come in the form of cash with a median sales price of $32,428 per ATTOM (U.S. median is $234,000).

In booming markets with a distressed real estate history, cash still rules. Our research for the Elliman Report in Miami Beach and the mainland showed a 42.6% cash share, down from 53.6% three years ago. Investors prefer cash and lenders are still burnt from the housing bubble era a decade ago, despite the market’s transformation to luxury.

In high priced markets like Manhattan, our research shows a 54% cash share in 2Q18 and about a 90% cash share for purchases above $5 million (top 8% of the market).


Appraiserville

As the industry changes, it is more important than ever for appraisers to have a longer term plan…from my friend Nathan Pyle.


(For earlier appraisal industry commentary, visit my old clunky REIC site.)

Prophet, Not Profit

Ryan Lundquist at the must-read Sacramento Appraisal Blog served up this ditty. Be sure to read the post comments.

To conclude, there are no actual prophets. Only shills that claim to be.

A New MAI Acronym Making the Rounds For Good Reason

When I was taking an appraisal class in NYC by the Appraisal Institute back in the day, the 2 MAIs teaching the class sort of bragged that the “MAI” designation stood for:

“More Annual Income” but someone in the audience quipped: “Made as Instructed”

Those two definitions still remain in the appraiser-verse.

With the pre-determined anointment of 2x president Jim Amorin after 12 months of a bogus replacement search by the senior executive team to get their guy in to fill the vacated CEO position of the MAI (gasp), a new definition has appeared:

“More Amorin Influence”

Sadly, this move probably symbolizes the point of no return for the Appraisal Institute and there is at least anecdotal evidence that many members are looking to renew one more year and then think about leaving the organization.

Confusion about acronyms

As quoted by an MAI in Florida

MAI is not an acronym (i.e. it is not Member of Appraisal Institute). The MAI designation represents the designee is affiliated with the Appraisal Institute. The Appraisal Institute is a global organization for real estate appraisers.

I suspect most of the membership is unaware of this differentiation.

During my career, I have been told on several occasions that after the merger between American Institute of Real Estate Appraisers (AIREA) and the Society of Real Estate Appraisers (Society) in 1991, the newly formed Appraisal Institute somehow lost the ability to define “MAI” as “Member, Appraisal Institute.” I haven’t been able to cite this but I do find it strange that most older members seem to think that’s what it stands for when the Appraisal Institute web site makes no mention of it.

UPDATE Friday 9/7/18

This AI National position was just shared with me from a regular reader of Appraiserville:

The acronyms no longer worked after the merger between the American Institute and the Society back in 1991. Previously MAI meant “Member Appraisal Institute” and the SRA meant “Senior Residential Appraiser.” The board at that time decided that in the new organization those words were no longer relevant. However, they did not want to change the letters as the letters are widely recognized around the world.


The designations therefore are collective service marks, similar to IBM. (IBM faced a similar problem when the words behind the letters lost relevancy but the company did not want to give up the widely recognized IBM name.)

It doesn’t correlate with what I’ve been told, but at least AI National seems to have an official position. They might want to weave this into their website somewhere so their own membership knows this.

Here Is Why The MAI Designation Keeps Members From Criticizing The Executive Leadership

In a direct violation of FIRREA, there are local laws that require the MAI designation. With the advent of appraiser licensing, private organizations do not outweigh a licensed appraiser if all qualifications are equal. Membership has been reluctant to criticize the Appraisal Institute’s behavior because they can suspend or cancel your designation. If that economic leverage over membership did not exist, the organization would collapse. And that is a shame when it could be a leader in these uncertain valuation-related times.

Here are two examples in California:

  • The City and County of San Francisco [https://www.sfbos.org/ftp/uploadedfiles/bdsupvrs/ordinances16/o0103-16.pdf]

“Qualified Appraiser” shall mean a person who is expected to perform valuation services competently and in a manner that is independent, impartial, and objective, holds a certified general license issued by the California Bureau of Real Estate Appraisers and the designation of MAI from the Appraisal Institute, and has five or more years of recent experience appraising real estate of the same type and in the same city, county, or wider area, as applicable, as the subject Real Property.

  • Port of Los Angeles (RFP for Appraisals dated 12/29/16) [https://www.portoflosangeles.org/proposals/RFP_Real_Estate_Appraisal_Services.pdf]

Proposed Appraiser must have a current MAI or SRPA designation from the Appraisal Institute or ASA designation from the American Society of Appraisers.

Biting The Hand That Fed You

I think many appraisers aspire to sell their firm to a larger company if they don’t have a family succession plan. But beware. The appraiser will find themselves forced to adjust the new rules and culture and some may do things they shouldn’t. The following litigation reveals the inside of a deal what looks to have some mind-blowing numbers in the valuation industry and some questionable behavior.

A well-known commercial appraiser in NYC metro, Joel Leitner, that ran a “high volume” shop, was acquired by BBG, a national firm in 2014.

This is the 2018 lawsuit.

The high dollars and actions are compelling. I can only assume that this firm needed NYC coverage very badly to legitimize their growth strategy, and based on the lawsuit result, it didn’t seem like enough for the appraiser after the fact.

If you want the short story, the judge found in favor of BBG so Leitner has to pay them $187,577.50 in claims and honor the 2 year non-compete from his April 2018 termination date. Wow.

Supreme Court of the State of New York, New York County
JOEL LEITNER -V- BBG, INC. and BBG HOLDCO, LLC.

Brilliant Idea #1

If you need something rock solid in your life (particularly on Friday afternoons) and someone forwarded this to you, or you think you already subscribed, sign up here for these weekly Housing Notes. And be sure to share with a friend or colleague if you enjoy them because:

  • They’ll be in a magazine;
  • You’ll lean and tilt more;
  • And I’ll try not to take a grave position.

Brilliant Idea #2

You’re obviously full of insights and ideas as a reader of Housing Notes. I appreciate every email I receive and it helps me craft the next week’s Housing Note.

See you next week.

Jonathan J. Miller, CRP, CRE, Member of RAC
President/CEO
Miller Samuel Inc.
Real Estate Appraisers & Consultants
Matrix Blog @jonathanmiller

Reads, Listens and Visuals I Enjoyed

My New Content, Research and Mentions

Appraisal Related Reads

Extra Curricular Reads


August 31, 2018

Reflecting On Housing History a.k.a. What’s in the Fridge?

My wife and I just returned from vacation (reverse-vacation-commuting so to speak) and were well-rested, happy and rejuvenated until this…nothing good was to be found in the fridge. It made me want to…


But I digress…

How The Luxury Market “Feels” Across NYC Metro

This weekend’s New York Times Calculator column in the real estate section uses our absorption (months to sell) data across the region to illustrate the pace of the luxury market in each of the areas (their respective top 10% of sales). It brings to mind that tired old phrase, “every market is different.” Notice the wide range of starting luxury thresholds for each of the markets covered.

As Markets Change, Real Estate Language Changes

I’ve always marveled at the art of re-orientating perspective to sell the same asset. Used cars are “pre-owned.” In China “pre-owned” houses are actually called “used.” In the U.S. pre-owned homes are called “existing” or “re-sales.”

In the marketing of Manhattan properties, the sales language is changing as the market cools.

I divide the language of selling into three categories: re-orientation, yelling, free stuff

Re-orientation

In the realm of changing orientation, my favorite phrase is “price improvement” as a replacement for “price reduction.” The switch in phrases coincides with the switch from seller’s market to a buyer’s market. The change in terminology reflects who has the upper hand in the market. A buyer gets a price improvement and a seller gets a price reduction so in a buyer’s market (I do hate that description but stay with me on this), the new price is more favorable to the buyer since it has been lowered so that is what is featured.

That’s my theory anyway.

Yelling

Yelling suggests urgency and there is a lot more of that. ALL CAPS and exclamation points are on the rise as supply increases. The need to stand out becomes more critical.

“PRICED TO SELL RIGHT NOW! $200,000 MASSIVE PRICE CUT! OWNER SAYS TODAY!”

Free Stuff

Free stuff, like cupcakes or even free cars, raises traffic but in reality, I am skeptical if they raise the quality of their leads. However, they bring attention to the listing and more traffic which helps the agent convey to the seller that they are doing something to enable a future sale in the slow market. More supply = more cupcakes. And then I wonder – in a cupcake surplus, will that tighten the housing market? I wonder.

Sometimes even discounts need extra sweetening. Magnolia Bakery cupcakes were part of the deal for the first 12 visitors to an open house for a West Village townhome that in May got a cut to just below $10 million.

Think of the logic for a second. The person willing to spend $10 million on a home will be drawn to the opportunity to eat one of twelve cupcakes that cost $56. It seems ludicrous, but showing “action” to sellers in the current market is the agent currency of the day.

Scratching & Denting The Housing Bubble

Curbed has a great long-form read with epic illustrations and my only criticism is the SEO-centric title: 10 years after the financial crisis, is the housing market still at risk?

The topic of the story is actually the subtitle: “Why the housing bubble caused a crisis—and what’s different now

I learned a new phrase in this piece – “Scratch & Dent RMBS” that wasn’t explained in the article so I looked it up at a Fitch Ratings from a 2009 press release:

The Scratch and Dent transactions reviewed were comprised at the time of issuance of some combination of performing, re-performing, sub-performing, or non-performing collateral. Many of these transactions contain collateral that was seasoned and/or seriously delinquent at the time of the transaction’s issuance. The reviewed transactions were issued in 1997 to 2007.

Because the GSEs only buy qualified mortgages, the remaining crap is issued by private institutions. It only accounts for 5% of mortgage bonds today and the other 95% is issued by the GSEs. During the bubble, non-GSE issuance was far higher.

The low bond share since 2008 represents why mortgage underwriting standards remain so tight, as institutions hold a lot of mortgages in their own portfolios.


And there is an epic infographic in the Curbed piece. Click for massive image.


New Tax Law Coverage Illustrates A Lack of Understanding of Housing Behavior

I came across a New York Times piece that looked at price trends as indicative that there has been no real impact from the new federal tax law on the housing market. The Trump Tax Cuts Were Supposed to Depress Housing Prices. They Haven’t.

It was a rehash of a Ken Harney piece in the Washington Post on June 13th: The new tax law was supposed to cause a slump in housing values. It hasn’t materialized — yet.

Relying on price trends is the same flawed logic used during the housing bubble. Pick any market back then. Housing sales fell sharply eventually leading to a sharp drop in prices. Peak prices nationwide were seen in 2006 while peak sales were achieved a year earlier. I continue to be amazed at how this continues to be missed in economic circles.

Think of a seller anchored to a ridiculously high list price. It takes them 1-2 years to de-anchor and not feel like they haven’t left money on the table. What happens when a housing market is exposed to a federal new tax law overnight? The sellers continue to demand their price and a rising number of buyers opt not to pay it. In other words, sales decline first. This is exactly what is happening in high tax, high-cost states right now.

And it is true, the new federal tax law likely won’t have any real impact in 80% of U.S. markets because of their much lower housing prices, mortgage amounts. property taxes and SALT. The doubling of standard deductions made it irrelevant. But let’s not proclaim the same goes for the entire U.S. when without too much effort you can see the slowdown in real-time in high-cost markets. This article treated the national housing market as, well, a single market. The new federal tax law, as far as housing goes, was designed to have the most impact on high-cost housing markets such as those found on the west coast and the northeast and the reform aspect centered on reducing the amount of itemization.


We are seeing slowing sales in the northeast and west coast right now, 9 months after the law became effective. Price trends are not a reliable basis for the premise being suggested in this piece. Here’s how it goes:

  • external impact (tax law)

  • sales decline (yes)

  • inventory rises (happening now in the U.S. including NE and West)

  • prices slip (next)

In other words, 9 months is way too early to be calling for no impact. We can see it happening in NYC right now.

A Traditional Broker Branded As Tech Continues To Confuse

Compass continues to confuse.

  • They recently rescinded their plan to license their technology to competitors after hailing it as the next step of expansion. Days later that plan was met with their own agent’s outrage and was immediately rescinded. It makes me wonder if they really have a strategy. On one hand having all that VC money is a compelling growth story, but on the other hand they have to develop a sustainable model to be able to IPO or otherwise cash out. No sign of that yet.

  • Compass just announced they are starting up a commercial brokerage firm. All along I thought their high tech valuation was predicated on them being a “tech” firm. Have they somehow created a commercial equivalent of their residential software?

  • California-based Pacific Union is one of the real estate brokerage firms I’ve long admired. They just launched a new marketing campaign and their CEO has always come across as fiercely independent. Then without warning, came the announcement Pacific Union was being acquired by Compass and the company agents were instantly in shock.

One of the theories making the rounds is that this was a “hostile takeover” which if true would be the first in the industry. The theory goes that the majority partner of Pacific Union is an investor at Compass and forced the sale. This theory does seem to explain the bizarre-out-of-the-blue announcement.

Shortly after, The Real Deal scooped that:

At a meeting on Thursday in San Francisco, Compass CEO Robert Reffkin told a group of agents that McLaughlin, Pacific Union’s CEO, “will only oversee Pacific Union agents.” Compass agent Lisa Sockolov, a former Pacific Union broker who attended the meeting, provided The Real Deal with that account.

That is really bizarre as well. I suspect one of the early warning signs that this deal would be a problem may have been that many agents were considering fleeing the company almost immediately if Mark wasn’t at the helm somehow.

One one hand, who cares?

On the other hand, this behavior damages the industry because it is not a real disruption of innovation, but rather a disruption simply powered by a large amount of money without a sustainable business model. I’m not saying that Compass can’t be great, but that doesn’t seem to be the holy grail. Their loyal agents praise their marketing prowess. But throwing high fee splits at an agent for one year doesn’t ensure retention nor does it ensure agent adoption of their technology.

Appraiserville

(For earlier appraisal industry commentary, visit my old clunky REIC site.)

I’m giving appraisers a break this week so you can use the time saved reading and sign up for the RAC conference coming up on September 13-14th in Plano, TX (Dallas). It has always been a productive and fun conference for appraisers and best of all it’s not expensive nor do you need to be a member of RAC (but we’d love you to join our growing ranks!)

C’mon! Click on the graphic for more info about the conference.

Brilliant Idea #1

If you need something rock solid in your life (particularly on Friday afternoons) and someone forwarded this to you, or you think you already subscribed, sign up here for these weekly Housing Notes. And be sure to share with a friend or colleague if you enjoy them because:

  • They’ll get a better compass;
  • You’ll be more sales orientated;
  • And I’ll fill up the fridge.

Brilliant Idea #2

You’re obviously full of insights and ideas as a reader of Housing Notes. I appreciate every email I receive and it helps me craft the next week’s Housing Note.

See you next week.

Jonathan Miller, CRP, CRE
President/CEO
Miller Samuel Inc.
Real Estate Appraisers & Consultants
Matrix Blog @jonathanmiller

Reads, Listens and Visuals I Enjoyed

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August 24, 2018

Who Wants To Own A House?

One of my sons told me about this “Who Wants To Be A Millionare?” winner.

I hardly watched this game show series because:

A) I’m not down with rhetorical game show titles. It reminds me of an old Mike Ferry technique I heard in Chicago – agents would say something like this when they walked into a home with their buyers: “Having a fireplace is important to you…isn’t it?
B) I wouldn’t like being asked general questions in public as seen as “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?”
C) I hardly watch TV.

And thankfully I have never stumbled across rhetorically-title game shows while channel-surfing: How’s Your Mother-in-Law? – Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire? – Who Wants to Marry My Dad? – Who Wants to Be a Superhero? – Who Wants to Be Governor of California? – How Do You Like Your Eggs? – Do You Trust Your Wife?

I know all the answers already. Still, I’d like to get a call like this from one of my sons:


But I digress…

PBS NBR CNBC Videos – State of U.S. and Manhattan Luxury Market

CNBC’s Diana Olick reports on luxury home sales dropping in NYC due to tax laws and fewer international buyers.

CNBC clip

NYC luxury apartment sales drop from CNBC.

PBS Nightly Business Report clip


[Story with 2 clips begins at 18:20]

It is past the middle of August so it was odd to see that the Wall Street Journal ran a story that covered a new “half-year” report by a brokerage firm on the Manhattan luxury market from January 2018 to June 2018. But it was a good story nevertheless.

Almost two months had passed since that reporting period so CNBC reached out to me in response to talk about our already released first and second quarter Elliman Reports, as a segway to the luxury homebuilder Toll Brothers record earnings release.

More importantly, I didn’t wear a tie at the 30Rock studio interview. Hey, it’s summer.

Let’s Talk About Cutting Interest Rates, But First, Let’s Raise Them

What a time we’re living in. The Fed is talking about raising rates in September and possibly December, and even through next summer. But since they are anxious about the trade war we find ourselves in, rates could fall next year into 2020.

For the past year, the rate hikes always felt like there were designed to give enough room to cut if the economy runs out of gas by 2020 as many economists seem to be suggesting. There are signs that some sectors of the housing are weakening. This is clearly being seen in the housing market where existing home sales are at a 2 1/2 year low.

Affordability Gap In Long Island, NY Continues to Expand

Long Island is one of the few regions in the NYC metro area where both price and sales trends continue to rise. But the rate of growth is easing. Newsday wrote a good piece called Home prices are outrunning wage growth on Long Island.

My favorite points made in the piece were this:

Nassau residents earning the county’s average annual wage of $60,775 would need to spend 69 percent of their income to buy a home at the median price of $500,000 in the April-to-June quarter…

In Suffolk, residents would spend 56 percent of the county’s average yearly wage of $58,721 to buy a median-priced home for $372,500…

and

Nassau residents earn a median household income of $102,044, according to Census estimates for 2012 through 2016. That’s up nearly 42 percent from 2000. In Suffolk, household income grew by 25 percent, to $90,128.

In the same period, home values soared by 86 percent in Nassau and more than doubled — rising 103 percent — in Suffolk, census figures show.

They used the data from the Elliman Report series I author.


“X” Marks The Spot: U.S. House Size Versus U.S. Household Size

No rocket science here but I thought it was interesting to see how much these trends are moving in opposite directions.


[Random! But Not Really!]

“Cheery” Home of Mass Murderer for Sale

There was an article in Realtor.com about a home in Reno once owned by the Las Vegas mass shooter. I was surprised it was for sale since we often read about these homes being torn down when they are linked with horrific crimes. But it is a noble attempt to raise funds to benefit the famlies of the victims.

The home of the shooter in Newtown Connecticut was torn down as was the elementary school because the tragedy could not be erased. We run into this sort of thing on occasion but not nearly on the scale of these tragedies and as time passes, the discount declines until it is no longer apparent – At the other end of the spectrum, I once appraised a townhouse in Manhattan for a divorce where the husband blew himself and the house up. It became a land sale and there was no apparent discount.

A well-known real estate valuation specialist for these types of tragedies that was interviewed for the article also said:

What the article does not mention is that I think that those who buy these properties and get them back to quasi-normal use, help the community move forward and heal.

Appraiserville

Appraisal Institute Spent One Year Searching For 2X President Jim Amorin To Name Him CEO

As I predicted in these Housing Notes a while back, Jim Amorin is the new AI National CEO. It was inevitable that Jim Amorin would be named the replacement for former CEO Grubbe. Ironically Grubbe’s resignation was accepted by Amorin exactly one year ago today. Grubbe served a decade and I’m told created a toxic institutional culture. There was great hope by the membership that fresh faces in AI National leadership could right the ship from its declining membership, unending dishonest efforts to fight for issues that hurt the profession and their general irrelevance to consumers of appraisal services and regulators. The network of state coalitions are now in the regulatory conversation in D.C. and AI National is becoming a “stone in their shoe.”

It looks like the all of the membership’s money spent on a third-party firm to filter the applicants may have been a sham. The CEO position pays a whopping $400,000 salary so a 25% executive recruiter fee could be $100,000 cost. There were many applicants for the position and one of them had to be a hell of a lot more qualified than a status quo choice of the handful of senior execs that are the problem.

I got a lot of feedback from distraught MAIs when the news broke, who are resigning in the near future. Here some of my favorite quotes.

Fewer institutions are requiring the MAI of their staff, and more of them hewing to the FIRREA law on state certification as the qualification. It’s a natural progression that dues-soaked Appraisal Institute members, including prominent MAIs in the major markets, would look at the cost of the designation versus the return on that investment, and decide to leave it behind. This is especially true in light of the fact that members are realizing that their dues are going to support National and only National (2016’s chapter-money-grab), and that National’s interests are not those of the rank and file. How many MAIs and SRAs enjoy seeing their dues going to pay for very fat salaries of non-compete positions, and for the luxurious international jet-set lifestyle of the management and executive committees? The MAI has less and less value…unless you are in that 0.00001% at the top, getting a pre-departure glass of champers in the forward cabin.
It’s nothing short of breathtaking to watch a once-proud organization devolve into a parody of itself. I wonder how much money and time they spent on what obviously was a foregone conclusion months ago.
Looks like the “fix” was in…..and there is the only thing to say about this: Bad f##king decision! I just can’t believe this.
Just as you predicted. Self-interests have taken over all aspects of the Appraisal Institute.
Warm up the bugle. Taps will be needed soon at the AI funeral!
I will pay dues again in 2019, but I very likely will not for 2020…It pains me that my dues dollars will support these self-interested buffoons that have hijacked the organization. Never thought I could see the day where I would think like that – but it is here!

Here are some thoughts…

After the Nashville AI conference, it was incredibly obvious that the decision had already been made and they were trying to slide it in without incident. A story shared to me by two colleagues on different occasions who were told by someone who attended the Nashville Convention: When it was announced that Jim Amorin was to receive a special award for acting as the CEO for the past year, an appraiser stood up in the audience and implored leadership not to install Amorin as the new CEO because it would be the “death knell” of the organization. The audience applauded in agreement.

When the AI National sent the notice of the new CEO in their email blast, the story was buried in the second to last article.


Membership is being managed by a few elites at the top. Their echo-chamber is too loud for them to hear us any more.

Brian Coester, the controversial founder of a national AMC, has been served with criminal charges

Because Coester is a controversial figure in the appraisal management company industry and has been a frustrating topic of conversation by the residential appraisers for a while, it is worth pointing out what is in public record right now.

The District Court for Montgomery County served a summons to Brian Coester yesterday for “Interception of Communication.” This essentially means “email hacking” in statute CJ.10.402 under Maryland law. Translated: “Hacking the personal email account of appraiser Mark Skapinetz.”


“Spirited” Banks Treat Appraisers Like Cattle Where Clerical Staff Determines Their Livelihood

Warning: lots of “spirited” inside jokes abound.

No offense to the cows I’ve met in my lifetime (none are on a first name basis with me). When an institution has “spirit” it is all about the lowest bid and fastest turn time…period. Clerical staff usually makes the choice when institutions (with spirit) treat their appraisers whose spirit has been crushed, like this.

In looking at this particular request, here’s what I find — we uploaded the request around 11:30 yesterday. The “huddle” on Appraisal Shield pushes each request out to an appraiser about once an hour — I did a couple of extra pushes on this request because I had been delayed in getting out. As of this morning, this request had been pushed out to 14 appraisers — you were #12 in the rotation. We typically like to receive 3 – 5 bids before making a choice. When the assistant accepted a bid this morning at 9:19 a.m., we had received 9 bids and she chose the one that had the cost bid and delivery time that worked for this project.

My understanding is that the huddle is based on random rotation and I can see on other projects where you were notified much sooner in the process.
California Coalition Sends Critique of Sham Effort By AI National to Congressman

Why on earth would AI National do this? We will never know. This is why it is a bad idea for coalitions to co-sign ANY letters with AI National going forward. Please stop. After being kicked out of TAFAC and resigning from The Appraisal Foundation, AI National is doubling down on building relationships with the state coalitions who are now making real progress at the state and federal level. Why should coalitions align with AI National after they continue to insert duplication and misrepresent the state of our industry to regulators and politicians?

Remember this – Bill Garber’s common refrain continues to be “we are the most over-regulated profession” in every one of his presentations. Be advised that this is absolutely false and self-serving to AI National.

As a result of Bill Garber’s efforts, the California Coalition sent a note to the congressman who at AI National’s request, created the “Discussion Draft titled ‘To Establish a National Appraiser Licensing System and Registry for licensing and registration of real estate appraisers and appraisal management companies, and for other purposes.” [download]

Please read CCAP’s Letter to Congressman Stivers Discussion Draft. They point out how redundant this draft actually is and how it lumps Appraisers and AMC’s’ together, a clear reflection of AI National’s strong alliance with REVAA (the AMC trade group).

(OKPAC) disassociates from the comment letter submitted by the Appraisal Institute

While AI National got a bunch of cosigners for a letter critical of the North Dakota appraisal waiver request, they also falsely claimed that the ASC posted private information from North Dakota on their website which is patently untrue. AI National still hasn’t apologized or corrected the letter for this criticism likely designed to malign ASC as part of the longstanding strategy to malign The Appraisal Foundation in order to take their place in some capacity.

Here is how the OK Coalition responded to the misleading AI National claims about the North Dakota data:

Mr. Garber et al,

Within email below Mr. Jim Park clearly and unequivocally explains action in response (which entails federal rule of law) regarding North Dakota request for waiver. Therefore, based on the information provided, the Oklahoma Professional Appraisers Coalition (OKPAC) disassociates from the comment letter submitted by the Appraisal Institute with emphasis on the following paragraph:

“We are also concerned the North Dakota request published on the ASC website includes personally identifiable information such as names, email addresses, fees, and turnaround times. Such information was deemed to be privileged by the ASC during the consideration of the TriStar Bank temporary waiver request earlier this year. In fact, full and complete information on the TriStar Bank temporary waiver request was only obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request at the state level, as a copy of the request letter received by the ASC was sent to the state appraiser regulatory agency, per ASC regulations. This inconsistent and disparate treatment of appraiser personal information is alarming and should be immediately addressed in a consistent manner by the ASC and within the ASC regulations.”

In further clarification of disassociation here is the following action taken by ASC:

“The Submitter made the request, including all addenda, public by providing the request to appraisers in North Dakota and others themselves. As an added precaution, prior to posting the submission on the ASC website, ASC staff reached out to the submitter and asked if any of the information in the submission was confidential and should be redacted prior to being made public. Their answer was no.� In comparing this submission to TriStar submission and eventual waiver request, they did ask for certain information to be redacted prior to publication on the ASC website, which we did.”

OKPAC continues to support the denial for a temporary waiver of appraiser requirements in North Dakota.

Respectfully,

Thomas E Allen, SCRP, RAA
OKPAC

Other coalitions are going to be responding to this in the near future including ours. Just when you think AI National is changing their attitude, they pull this.

Brilliant Idea #1

If you need something rock solid in your life (particularly on Friday afternoons) and someone forwarded this to you, or you think you already subscribed, sign up here for these weekly Housing Notes. And be sure to share with a friend or colleague if you enjoy them because:

  • They’ll buy a house;
  • You’ll raise rates;
  • And I’ll mark the spot with an “X”.

Brilliant Idea #2

You’re obviously full of insights and ideas as a reader of Housing Notes. I appreciate every email I receive and it helps me craft the next week’s Housing Note.

See you next week.

Jonathan Miller, CRP, CRE
President/CEO
Miller Samuel Inc.
Real Estate Appraisers & Consultants
Matrix Blog @jonathanmiller

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August 17, 2018

Housing Tarmac-Talk: When You Love Your Job

In a cooling housing market, as the long-standing narrative slowly changes, some people become miserable and others thrive.

Some just throw cones (I can relate to cone-throwing whole-heartedly).


But I digress.

“Destroy the housing market in the richest nation on the planet”

To bring you back to yesteryear, I thought I’d share some choice email quotes from RBS bankers during the housing bubble. These came out after the $4.9 billion settlement with DOJ.

Apparently, most of the following people loved their jobs…

(RBS) bankers joked about destroying the US housing market and senior staff described the loans they were trading as “total f***** garbage,”

loans they were selling were “all disguised to, you know, look okay kind of … in a data file.”

products being sold were “total f****** garbage” loans with “fraud [that] was so rampant … [and] all random.”

head trader at RBS got a call from a friend who said: “[I’m] sure your parents never imagine[d] they’d raise a son who [would] destroy the housing market in the richest nation on the planet.”

“I take exception to the word ‘destroy.’ I am more comfortable with ‘severely damage,'” he replied.

chief credit officer at RBS wrote to colleagues saying that loans were being pushed by “every possible … style of scumbag,” and it was “like quasi-organised crime.”

Makes you wonder if something like this will happen again?

Is The Foreign Housing Buyer Going To Be Extinct?

A few years we saw tremendous pushback from the city of Vancouver who levied a tax on foreign buyers and their vacant condos to curb their price distortion of the market. Sales fell soon after that.

New Zealand is now banning most foreign buyer home sales. You might not be aware that New Zealand and neighboring Australia saw a massive influx of Chinese buyers before the U.S. did.

Previously the housing market was open to investors worldwide, but the government on Wednesday passed legislation that allows only New Zealand residents to buy homes.

When Drones Become Ubiquitous, What Happens When They Fall From The Sky?

There was a fascinating New York Times article on drones and their use in the construction industry. I get it. I think the possibilities for their use are endless but it kind of feels like the wild west. Perhaps because we are deep into the hype cycle, I never see concerns expressed, for example, about them falling from the sky and potentially killing pedestrians. Sidewalk scaffolding seems inadequate in size.

Am I alone on this line of thinking?


[NY Times – click for massive image]

Confirmation Bias Part 2: Ignoring Their Own Trend And Doubling Down On Using National Statistics To Sugar Coat

Last week a suburban real estate brokerage firm took issue with the market results of our Q2 research in Westchester and took the liberty of sending a press release to present themselves as the provider of the most accurate narrative about existing market conditions. I responded to their rebuttal in last week’s Housing Notes under the heading: Confirmation Bias: How Real Estate Prognosticators Can Stumble Over Their Own Messaging.

They did not provide any additional market facts and incorrectly proclaimed that a series of national economic statistics specifically applied to Westchester County and skipped over the explanation why those statistics did or did not apply to the other 3,006 U.S. counties (I thought NAR’s slogan “Every market is different” applied to Westchester but apparently not). They criticised me as irresponsible for discussing the new federal tax law as it relates to high cost, high tax markets without giving an actual reason.

Well, it looks like my response prompted them to rush to publish a rebuttal to my rebuttal to their rebuttal to my report sticking with the national statistics thing as primary market evidence, essentially doubling down on an embarrassing gatekeeper-like old school logic. Using their data, they concluded that their data that showed 3 out of 4 quarters with declining sales was not a trend. This is what they actually said [bold for emphasis].

The fourth quarter of 2017 actually shows a small increase of 0.3%, and the third quarter of 2017 a slight decrease of 0.7%. Therefore, it is not true that there have been four consecutive quarters of declines, and where declines did occur, they were not nearly as steep as reported. The data does not seem to illustrate a year-long trend of falling sales.

This firm’s PR effort has been focused on downplaying the declining sales trend or any market weakness. They seem to have lost track of the market. Using their methodology, the following chart shows the two-year general trend in declining sales.

Their 2Q-2018 year over year sales decline of 5.3% was the largest decline of this two-year window, and as the most recent data point, it is reasonable to discuss the potential impact of the new federal tax law, enacted on January 1, 2018, right now. I think it is a potential cause for the greater rate of sales decline in 2018 shown by their data. Any potential reasons for the Westchester slowdown should be openly discussed rather hiding it from their customers or hiding from reality.

After all, sellers, buyers, and agents in the market are feeling the slowdown (seasonality accounted for) at this very moment and have questions. Using the CEO’s logic, a brokerage firm that sugar coats actual trends is acting irresponsibly, right?

UPDATE 10 am Saturday, August 18, 2018

Someone sent a photo of a full-page ad by William Pitt that ran this weekend in the NY Times real estate section. I also saw it.

Their CEO continues to refute the trend of falling sales yet showed falling sales (look at the upper right chart that they mislabeled “Quarter over Quarter” (it shows year over year declines). He ran this in local community papers last week and I’m told he even pontificated in a softball interview on local station News12. Another person tipped me off about the CEO’s video series “Supply and Demand” on their company website. The one video of a faux interview setup I watched has 8 views (so I there is no need to link to it) and it demonstrates how heavily William Pitt relies on national housing market statistics to advise their agents and customers on how their local housing market is doing. The CEO does a good job of explaining macro stats in the video but it is just that, macro, and has nothing to do with the specifics of the market they cover any more than it does Peoria Illinois or Compton California. I alluded to the classic misdirection of this effort earlier. This is why most economists missed the housing bubble in the last cycle. Fed Chairs Greenspan and Bernanke missed it too. The problem with espousing econ 101 is that it sounds smart but doesn’t consider new inputs to old macroeconomic rules. Evaporation of credit standards then, and new federal tax law now.

I’m sure the CEO is under tremendous pressure to make his agents feel empowered because they are worried about the current slowdown as shown in their company charts. I’m going out on a limb and suggest their agents appreciate him talking tough as I mentioned last week, but they don’t agree with his macroeconomic emphasis:

One of their top agents covering Larchmont and New Rochelle respectfully disagreed with her CEO’s emphasis on macro stats to describe a housing market:

I rather think this article by our President and Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Paul Breunich says it all, but it is important to note that the real estate market is always local, and also determined by price point!

Here is some great feedback on the recent ad…

The Streisand effect is insane here. People would have forgotten about the article in a week and he takes out a full page ad? It’s like someone emailing all of their friends: “Reasons why I didn’t cheat on my wife no matter what Susie the waitress may have said on Facebook” when they had no idea there was an allegation or who in the world Susie is.

and

Vicious cycle. Imagine what happens if (when) economy takes a turn, Tax plan takes effect, AND there is a ton of inventory. Anecdotally, everyone in BK is worried as well. Can’t imagine up there.

While I appreciate their CEO’s passion for macroeconomic insights, he misses the forest for the trees by skipping local housing trends to placate his agents’ concerns. I’m looking forward to chronicling how this firm talks about the next 3 quarters.

Appraiserville

AI National Pitches Their Own National Registry Without Telling Anyone

I’ve been told by many parties that this is the work of AI National. It makes sense since it requests something that no one is interested in because it is wildly redundant and is more about making them relevant again. To hard-working AI membership: This is how your annual dues are being used.

This is the discussion draft that has been making the rounds: ESTABLISHMENT OF NATIONAL APPRAISER LICENSING SYSTEM AND REGISTRY.

About 95% of drafts like this are never enacted into law but seriously, why push redundancy when no stakeholders in the appraisal process are clamoring for this? Why push so hard? I believe it is part of the master plan to allow AI National to take the place of either the ASC or TAF to regain relevancy, have access to the registration fees and perhaps some sort of financial reason that explains this bizarre behavior.

The Appraisal Foundation Provides Opinion to ASC on North Dakota request for an appraisal waiver

As I mentioned before, there are many more credentialed appraisers. The letter lays out the logic very clearly.

ASC North Dakota Waiver Response from TAF 8-15-2018

AMCs Slow The Mortgage Process, Not The Appraisers Themselves

Appraisers who work for AMCs understand how significantly AMCs slow the appraisal portion of the mortgage process down. AMCs may spend days trying to find someone who will work for a below market rate. Addendum requests can come 3-5 days after the report is delivered. It all adds up to a much slower turn time yet the appraiser is held to a tight standard of a few days for their entire process. That outside looking blaming the appraisers but that’s not the issue.

VACAP is asking appraisers nationwide to share their empirical timelines on AMC work on this time-sensitive project. Please help them right now to make this project a success. Thanks!

AI President lays out their 2018 Goals From Their Bubble

From Valuation Review‘s recap, Murrett spoke from his insulated cocoon. Here are his 2 main points, translated:

ONE Push residential appraisers to do $25 evaluations for reasons AI isn’t willing to share and then fog the situation by proclaiming it is necessary to follow regulatory rules and regulations:

“The use of evaluations isn’t the end of the world as long as appraisers are doing the evaluations,” Murrett said. “This, of course, falls in line with the regulatory rules and other regulations. We’d like to see appraisers do evaluations and not be in fear of violating USPAP requirements.”

TWO Continue to promote the false narrative that the appraisal population is falling when exam takers rose 20% last year and that the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the appraiser population to grow 14% over the next decade:

“Another area of concern is the shrinking number of appraisers, whether it is the actual certification count by the Appraisal Subcommittee or the actual number of bodies which is what AI counts,” Murrett added. “The trend of incoming appraisers is still going down. We’re still an aging profession, and in the next 10 years as appraisers retire or pass away, the number of new appraisers entering the profession won’t be any larger.”

Brilliant Idea #1

If you need something rock solid in your life (particularly on Friday afternoons) and someone forwarded this to you, or you think you already subscribed, sign up here for these weekly Housing Notes. And be sure to share with a friend or colleague if you enjoy them because:

  • They’ll be more accurate flipping cones;
  • You’ll use more swear words;
  • And I’ll evaluate.

Brilliant Idea #2

You’re obviously full of insights and ideas as a reader of Housing Notes. I appreciate every email I receive and it helps me craft the next week’s Housing Note.

See you next week.

Jonathan Miller, CRP, CRE
President/CEO
Miller Samuel Inc.
Real Estate Appraisers & Consultants
Matrix Blog @jonathanmiller

Reads, Listens and Visuals I Enjoyed

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August 10, 2018

Incomplete Housing Logic Through Song and Happiness

As we settle into the dog days of summer, I needed something to make it to Labor Day. This short clip leverages the majesty of the most underrated rock album and song from my youth and, well, you simply need to watch all 14 seconds.


And think about how you could be happier..not this way.

The Happiest Guy in the World from The New York Times on Vimeo.


But I digress…

Market Report – July 2018 Manhattan, Brooklyn & Queens Rental Report

Douglas Elliman published our research on the rental market in 3 of the 5 NYC boroughs this week. This is part of their expanding market report series that I have authored since 1994. As those who are regular readers of these Housing Notes, you’ll know I love charts. There was a lot of great coverage of the research that focused on the continuing narrative of weakening rental conditions.

Bloomberg’s story was the number 3 most read story as of the opening bell on their 350K± terminal subscribers worldwide.


I’d like to claim it was because of great rental data and analysis but it may have been because the headlines invoked oldies music:

Manhattan Apartment Owners Find No Cure for the Summertime Blues [Bloomberg]
Summertime Blues” Eddie Cochran

or

It’s Shaping Up to Be a Cruel Summer for Manhattan Landlords [Bloomberg]
Cruel Summer” Bananarama

Either way, here’s a chart:


And here are some of our charts.


JCHS: Young Adults Are Less Likely To Move Than In The Past

The thirtieth issue of the State of the Nation’s Housing Market by the Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies was published and they provided a lot of tidbits in a summary blog post.

Lots of good information.


Confirmation Bias: How Real Estate Prognosticators Can Stumble Over Their Own Messaging

Here’s something less upbeat about the real estate brokerage industry.

Many firms have a limited ability to convey to their customers and their own agents the actual conditions of their housing market. It isn’t easy to do because many suffer from “confirmation bias” which damages their credibility as a reliable source for future market condition pronouncements.

A friend of mine who has years of experience in the executive space of the brokerage industry sent me this press release and told me this:

I’m sure you know this but when the market is down and mediocre agents don’t know what to do or say, the heads of brokerages have to write letters like this to look tough. So many times I’ve been in the room for that discussion and I’m so glad I’m not playing in that sandbox anymore.

A brokerage firm in a housing market I cover felt compelled to criticise one metric of my report and then used that to call into questions everything else I observed or suggested in The Sky Is Not Falling: A Rebuttal to the Recent Westchester County Real Estate News Stories. I reported a larger decline in sales than the MLS did and this brokerage took the liberty to explain what they thought I did but added a lot of embellishment to their rationale and forgot or weren’t aware of the growing number of stories like this:

Housing market has hit a ‘significant slowdown’ in recent weeks, Redfin CEO says [Marketwatch]

It was a fascinating sleight of hand because I reported that the number of sales fell more than the MLS reported. Well, as basic market analysis tells us, one metric doesn’t make a market but this letter shows they used it as a segway into a lot of glowing market commentary but neglected to source the linkage – it was more about how they felt, even calling my analysis irresponsible. They said:

The stories contend that the market slowdown is resulting from the recent tax law changes. Yet as we have demonstrated, this conclusion is being derived from inaccurate data. The slowdown is far more minimal than we are being told. From our perspective, it would be irresponsible to draw a firm conclusion on how the tax reform might shape the market for the simple reason that at this early stage, it is still impossible to know.

Based on this quote, I can only speculate that their author intentionally left out that this was the fourth consecutive time that year over year sales declined for the county and for single-family sales or they were not aware of what was happening in their own market. If I replaced my number with their number, it shows the same trend and that was my point. We are seeing a decline in sales across nearly all markets in the entire NYC metro area.

As they teach journalists in journalism school, there must be 3 data points to show a trend yet they apparently only have 1 and we have 4. Using their logic, it is irresponsible for them to draw the conclusion that there is no potential impact from the tax law until we all know more, especially when agents are getting this feedback from buyers in their everyday interactions.

Here are the macro conclusions this brokerage falls back on to “defend” the local market and ignore four consecutive quarters of YOY sales declines – they are using macro U.S. data so this means that EVERY market in the United States is performing the same way as Westchester (paraphrasing from their letter):

  • Throughout the first half of 2018, interest rates have inched up but remain at historic lows
  • Unemployment has held close to its lowest rate since 2000
  • The stock market, while certainly fluctuating at times, still stands at incredible heights.
  • The GDP increased by 4.1% in the second quarter, its fastest growth rate in four years.

The next reason is my favorite – it is what I call “fogging”:

“The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index’s reading in July yielded a strong index of 127.4, nearly an 18-year high, after holding at consistently elevated levels during the first six months of the year. The average Index was 127.8 from January to June 2018, with a peak of 130.8 in February. When consumer confidence is this healthy, we typically see demand in the real estate buyer pool follow suit.”

And this is the old “invert the 5% decline to make 95%” technique:

“There are still plenty of consumers purchasing and investing in Westchester—about 95% of the number of people who bought here last year, in fact, as of the end of the second quarter.”

I assume this brokerage felt better after writing this press release – for the next one, they might explore using local data to make their point instead of relying only on references to national data. How about updating this press release to talk about four consecutive quarters of sales declines to help their agents engage with their customers in a thoughtful, credible way? Or would that be irresponsible?

Appraiserville

Ran out of time but will focus on the Florida appraisal board meeting this week: look for the new battle cry” “Sh#t Can The Straw Man.”

plus

The epic story of how a good appraiser got blacklisted.

plus

LREAB c. FTC is getting more interest by other states:

BRIEF FOR THE STATES OF MISSISSIPPI, IDAHO, IOWA,RHODE ISLAND, AND UTAH AS AMICI CURIAE IN SUPPORTOF THE PETITIONER AND IN SUPPORT OF A REVERSAL

Next week!!!!

California SB-70 Hearing Shows AI California Working Hard To The Destroy The Appraisal Profession

Last week I wrote about the sham of the SB-70 2 year strategy by the leadership of the 6 AI California chapters to allow the entire industry to provide reports without verification of anything for 365 days (January 1, 2019 to December 31, 2019) just to be able to claim a win.

When you listen to this testimony, you can see lies and silliness used to support SB-70. The need for this 365-day only bill (thankfully 2019 is not a leap year) is pure make-believe. Plus the claim that a restricted report can only be for one party is false since multiple clients can be placed on it.

Not surprisingly, the AI California membership is largely unaware this is happening.

Here are the links to two recent policy hearings concerning SB-70:

Senate Business and Professions Committee hearing (from 3:40 and concludes at 50:00):


Assembly Business and Professions Committee hearing on SB-70 (24:30 and concludes at 28:00):

Watch the video.

Two Week Notice: It Will Be A Year Since AI National CEO Grubbe Left In Middle Of The Night

In two weeks it will be a full year since the AI National CEO position became vacant. The fact that the organization has its pants on fire with falling membership while vacating any apparent concerns about their residential members’ livelihoods. I was told that former 2x president Jim Amorin was given an award in the recent AI National conference in Nashville for filling in for the vacant CEO position. If he wasn’t paid for this additional responsibility, at least membership saved $400,000 in CEO salary. I’m going to go out on a limb and speculate that he will be the next CEO but the senior executive strategy is to wait a while until the vacancy is largely forgotten. In order to keep the band together going forward for all those trips abroad, I would think that this position will be filled by him or the small group of leaders that remain protected from scrutiny.

Next on the list: Whatever happened to that AI Residential Focus Group formed a year ago?

This is not the way to run a trade group.

Brilliant Idea #1

If you need something rock solid in your life (particularly on Friday afternoons) and someone forwarded this to you, or you think you already subscribed, sign up here for these weekly Housing Notes. And be sure to share with a friend or colleague if you enjoy them because:

  • They’ll be more mobile;
  • You’ll be more aspirational;
  • And I’ll name my favorite Christmas song (White Christmas – Bing Crosby version).

Brilliant Idea #2

You’re obviously full of insights and ideas as a reader of Housing Notes. I appreciate every email I receive and it helps me craft the next week’s Housing Note.

See you next week.

Jonathan Miller, CRP, CRE
President/CEO
Miller Samuel Inc.
Real Estate Appraisers & Consultants
Matrix Blog @jonathanmiller

Reads, Listens and Visuals I Enjoyed

My New Content, Research and Mentions

Recently Published Elliman Market Reports

Appraisal Related Reads

Extra Curricular Reads


August 3, 2018

Housing Some Ambitions? Use Down Time To Improve

(Did you see what I did there?)

So-called “experts” can take a while to catch on to changing conditions. Jim Cramer (we used to go to the same dentist) had a meltdown in 2007, a full year after the housing bubble began to burst.


Then I saw this on my Twitter feed (h/t @ritholtz) and thought a lot about item 7 and wondered how quickly those in real estate markets that are seeing conditions shift actually adapt to it quickly? Sellers certainly don’t and that places them at a significant disadvantage if they need to sell. Are you able to shed your confirmation bias on your changing housing market?


Here’s a shout out to my Columbia grad students who learned via my admiration for Edward Tufte that any chart without a credible source is a lie. It has been an engaging and fun semester thanks to all of you – good luck with the rest of your program and your graduation to a successful career.

Housing Ain’t Noise Pollution

When we moved from Manhattan to the suburbs a long time ago, I had trouble sleeping in our quiet suburban home during the first week. Missing was the steady rattle and hum (U2 reference) over everything I did, including reading a book before I went to sleep. There was something comforting about the constant noise – that the city was alive and vibrant and never sleeping. Here’s an interesting look at noise levels in the city in The Calculator column in the real estate section of the New York Times via Localize.nyc


Note: the chart should be 10,000, not 1,000.

It’s About The Dirt

There is a visualization piece in Bloomberg that I can’t stop scrolling through. Here is one of many visualizations in Here’s How America Uses Its Land.

Perhaps we can take the corn syrup land allocation and use it to douse all the wildfires? About the same size and it would be a win-win.


[Bloomberg]

The Moxiworks Takedown of Compass Claims

Readers of these Housing Notes are aware that I’ve broken tradition and have been very critical of Compass leadership after their former president’s misrepresentations of the data they have versus static reports that I produce. As it turns out I am not alone and the Emperor wears no clothes portrayal. Moxiworks has a landing page devoted to the Compass spin and the Moxiworks CEO posted a letter that went viral providing facts.


Incredibly, the company announced a licensing deal for their technology called “Powered by Compass” on July 18th and then canceled the program after 9 days when their agents complained.

The pressure to monetize their business must be rapidly growing in intensity. Isn’t it odd to monetize a technology when the company hasn’t been able to make inroads in market share using said technology – per the chart above – commensurate with the $450 million in capital they have?

Today’s announcement to launch a commercial firm makes a more sense since they can poach successful brokers that just became available after the collapse of Eastern Consolidated.

Migrating South to…Florida

With the implementation of the new federal tax law and the punishment it provides to homeownership in high-cost housing markets, we expect to see more migration to lower-cost housing states. Somewhat dated census information provides some patterns and one can expect to see an increase in the coming few years after the uncertainty dissipates into tangible consumer behavior. Note the ranking of New York migrations to Florida and the abundance of high tax states as the origin on migration patterns:


Appraiserville

There is a lot going on in Appraiserville this week and I’m going to squeeze in what I can and then continue the narrative into next week.

AI California Chapters Are Trying To Get A “Win” And Prove They Don’t Care About “The Public Trust”

I’ve long heard rumors about some clandestine legislative changes that AI National is pushing for in California (and other states like Florida, etc. through the efforts of Scott Dibiasio and others) and with a little digging, I stumbled on to something quite alarming.

There are six AI chapters in California: Central California, Northern California, Southern California, San Diego and Sacramento Sierra who typically send two representives to Sacramento as some form of a committee to push agenda for their membership.

Unfortunately, they have been fighting for SB-70 which guts the meaning of what appraisers actually do, all in the name of getting a “win.” The leadership of these 6 chapters are generally known for being loyal to AI National so it would be only a hop, skip and a jump that AI National and Scott Dibiasio would have been directly involved or at least aware of this action, although I can’t verify that.

What is even more alarming is that I have been told that chapter membership is likely not aware of these efforts by rogue leadership. It is not unreasonable to assume that membership in all or most of the 6 chapters would overwhelmingly vote down this effort if they were even aware of it occurring.

Here’s the background of SB-70 that is currently in play in the California legislature.

The bill was introduced by Senator Bates on January 9, 2017, and was designed to limit the application of USPAP to appraisers in the state. The bill was defeated last year but in California, a bill can roll over to the next session and with modifications could still be passed.

Right now the AI of California is working to get this bill passed no matter what it does to their membership’s livelihood. The SB-70 bill is brief but devastating. It looks like California leadership is very desperate to become royalty at AI National and fly first class with their wives around the world instead of watching out for their own membership’s interest. I hope this post becomes a discussion topic at each of these chapter’s next meetings because the news is alarming. Any feedback from membership in future meetings would be appreciated.

The following is the SB-70 bill up for modification. Here’s a more formal pdf version without the edits broken out.

The blue text denotes additions and the red text denotes deletions.


Here are some of my thoughts pertaining to specific issues:

Here’s the biggie:

(C) States that there may be assumptions that the appraiser has not verified that may significantly impact the appraised value of the subject of the report.

The whole purpose of USPAP is to provide credibility in reporting to protect the public trust. With the wording of this bill, any appraiser could take any point of view and not back it up with verifiable data. For example, an appraiser could take a seller’s word on potential uses of their property and the appraiser can simply restate them and not provide any support to verify the claims.

THEN WHAT THE %^&$@#% DOES THE PUBLIC NEED AN APPRAISAL FOR????

This bill allows the creation of a worthless document that demeans the value of an actual diligent appraisal.

This will open up fraud and overvaluation on a scale not yet seen before. It renders our profession equal to a fortune teller (no offense to fortune tellers). This bill shows a blatant disregard for the public trust from the real estate’s largest trade group.

But there is more:

This bill, if it becomes law on January 1, 2019, is only good until January 1, 2020!!! It is only valid for one year which clearly shows how desperately AI National needs to claim a win after years of losses in fighting for evaluations against their own membership’s wishes. They are throwing ethics aside! All bets are off now! Just get a win!

This bill destroys the validity of what an appraisal actually is because good appraisers can now perform like bad appraisers without concern. There is no accountability and no verification required if this bill is passed.

Plus, this bill changes the use of the report from the single client concept to a universal use as long as all the names are listed. How does this square up with their own code of ethics?

There is one glaring oversight by the AI lackeys in Sacramento that signed-off on this bill in secret that shows their own greediness to advance up the AI National hierarchy: There are about 10,000 credentialed appraisers in California. I don’t know how many AI designated members are in California, but I’m assuming it is substantially less than that. If this bill becomes law, can anyone imagine the explosion of fraud by people desperate to take shortcuts, ESPECIALLY AS THE MARKET STARTS TO COOL? Remember, AI leadership in California signed off on a bill that makes verification unnecessary. I’m sure a majority of AI membership in California are decent and competent appraisers. But now they have to compete with the bad eggs or those that will quickly become bad because they can say and do anything without verification. Not only AI members get to do these simple reports, but anyone with a license and a pulse does as well.

This is another example of how the Appraisal Institute’s senior leadership is working hard to undermine our profession without seemingly any comprehension that they are doing it – or that there is some other higher level plan that we are not privy to.

AI California membership – the time to speak up against your leadership is NOW.

The State of North Dakota Along With Their Banking Lobby, Applies For a Waiver

This just came in so I will expand on this post in the future, but here is what we know.

The governor has submitted a request to the Appraisal Subcommittee for an appraisal waiver but the letter seems more orientated towards raising the de minimus which just occurred. By the way, isn’t it apparent that the banking lobby is a little to cozy with the Governor’s office to actually cosign this letter? The letter also makes references to the lack of rural appraisers as a long-term problem.

It is also clear from this letter that the FDIC hates appraisers (I have seen this for most of my career) as they facilitated the eventual writing of this request.

The key problem with this request is that the number of credentialed appraisers in North Dakota is up sharply from 2007 to 2017. Here are the numbers:

  • Licensed residential is up 62%
  • Certified general is up 50%.
  • Certified residential is up 8200% (only because there was no such category in 2007).

Regarding the long-term narrative about a shortage of rural appraisers and removing their requirement to follow USPAP. Ask yourself these questions: would the same apply to medical licenses for doctors and dentists; passing the bar exam for lawyers; licensing and training for food service inspectors when availability is thin due to the economics of rural life? Why aren’t rural appraisers allowed to participate in supply and demand like doctors and dentists, lawyers and food service inspectors? How about the fracking companies that pay $150,000 for 6 months for an employee because labor is scarce? The problem here is this waiver will promote bad behavior no matter how well the state did in the aftermath of the housing bubble.

Interestingly the licensed category in 2007 was exempt from AQB requirements and that didn’t go well for North Dakota.

Be sure to read their letter.

Here is the North Dakota waiver letter.

Brilliant Idea #1

If you need something rock solid in your life (particularly on Friday afternoons) and someone forwarded this to you, or you think you already subscribed, sign up here for these weekly Housing Notes. And be sure to share with a friend or colleague if you enjoy them because:

  • They’ll be more willing to migrate;
  • You’ll put a filter on your compass;
  • And I’ll ship all that corn syrup to douse the wildfires in California.

Brilliant Idea #2

You’re obviously full of insights and ideas as a reader of Housing Notes. I appreciate every email I receive and it helps me craft the next week’s Housing Note.

See you next week.

Jonathan Miller, CRP, CRE
President/CEO
Miller Samuel Inc.
Real Estate Appraisers & Consultants
Matrix Blog @jonathanmiller

Reads, Listens and Visuals I Enjoyed

My New Content, Research and Mentions

Appraisal Related Reads

Extra Curricular Reads


July 27, 2018

Housing Is Out In Left Field

We really are tribal by nature. Whether it is politics, your favorite sports teams, alma maters, Mac versus PC, iPhone versus Android or most importantly, pie versus cake. We cheer for stuff we don’t fully understand or we have so much confirmation bias we can’t see for the forest for the trees. Like a home seller who is stuck on an asking price from a previous market or a market analyst who can’t see change occurring in a housing market.

After sitting in seats near the right field in Yankee stadium for 15-years, I’m more of a right field bleacher seat fan.

A post shared by Joe Rogan (@joerogan) on


Here’s a shout out to my Columbia grad students who used critical thinking to arrive at answer “C” in the quiz of life.

Market Report Gauntlet Q2-2018 Week 4: Hamptons, North Fork and Long Island

This was the final week of our Q2-2018 market report gauntlet for Douglas Elliman Real Estate. I’ve been authoring this expanding real estate report series since 1994. There is more in the works. Be sure to check out the newly published Elliman Reports in the link section at the bottom of these Housing Notes or at Elliman.com/marketreports.

Douglas Elliman published our Long Island and the East End research this week. As regular readers of these Housing Notes have learned over the years is that there is nothing better than a good chart or a good ranking. Bloomberg’s story on the Hamptons had both with the fifth most read ranking and a great chart on the 350k± Bloomberg Terminals world wide.



But that wasn’t all. Newsday published a great analysis of our three regional reports (Long Island, Hamptons and Long Island).

The federal tax overhaul is having an impact on the luxury market, she said. The measure imposes a $10,000 cap on deductions for state income and local property taxes, among other changes. For buyers, “it plays into the price they’ll pay for a home,” Conroy said.

Long Island metrics show tight conditions on closed sales but easing conditions with more current metrics: total pending sales (contracts) for Long Island, excluding Hamptons and North Fork, are down 14.1% year over year and new pending sales (signed in Q2) are down 12.7%. The Long Island market tends to behave a lot like the U.S. existing home sale market for closed sales but Long Island has been outperforming the U.S. aggregate existing trends as U.S. existing home sales have been falling for 5 consecutive months. Rising price trends for 5 years combined with higher mortgage rates and uncertainty with the new federal tax law has begun to slow activity in the housing market nationwide and more recently in Long Island.

Here are some charts on these three markets.









Market Report Gauntlet Q2-2018 Week 4: Aspen/Snowmass Village, Los Angeles and related submarkets

Los Angeles

The Los Angeles market saw some weakness in price and sales trends this quarter – the market went from “white hot” to “hot” or something along those lines. CNBC published a story about the slowdown in sales for the entire Southern California region so that seems consistent with our LA findings.



Aspen/Snowmass Village

At first glance, the Aspen market looked weaker than last quarter, but upon closer inspection, it really wasn’t. While sales fell sharply, they fell to the historical norm and from year-ago levels that enjoyed the released of pent-up demand from 2016. The average price per square foot is the most reliable price metric in a market where the average square footage for a condo sale surged 24% and the average square footage for a single family sales dropped 21.1%.



Q: Is California A Leading Indicator For Housing? A: Nah

Click on the tweet and explore the commentary. Plus, what does leading indicator refer too? i.e. canary, canary in a coal mine

  • Is California is a canary that lets us see downturns coming?
  • Is California a canary because it tells us all trends in housing?

We Have Officially Arrived At A Moment In Housing Nationwide

Two different markets show the same trend for somewhat different reasons:

  • High-cost markets seeing a slowdown in sales due to the uncertainty of the impact of the December 22, 2018, federal tax law as it relates to the housing market.

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  • The balance of the U.S. market has crossed an affordability threshold after years of rising housing prices, years of chronically short inventory levels, years of nominal wage growth and now…rising mortgage rates. There is buyer fatigue out there and more are starting to take a break from the merry-go-round until more certainty returns. Here’s the relevant news feed on this:

— Southern California home sales crash, a warning sign to the nation [CNBC]
— U.S. New-Home Sales Dropped in June [WSJ]
— Existing-Home Sales Slide, Thanks to Soaring Prices [Realtor.com]

Appraiserville

Terminator: AI National Is Still Vigorously Fighting For Evaluations Against Residential Appraiser Interests For Reasons That Can’t Be Explained

One of my favorite lines from the original Terminator movie from the Kyle Reese character that can apply to the unknown driver of AI National’s obsession to force evaluations on residential appraisers because they can count on the designation handcuffs that keep many from speaking out and continue to damage the public trust and continue to damage the livelihoods of its own members in slow motion without bothering to reach out and explain what is behind it (gasping for air sound). Remember that it took 10-years of screaming by AI membership to get AI National to disclose their dealings with FNC with an admission inserted into their email newsletter in the middle of other generic announcements.

Listen, and understand. That terminator is out there. It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.

The Florida Real Estate Appraiser Board is having a meeting on August 6, 2018, concerning the FREAB’s February action (by a 7-1 vote) to require appraisers to comply with USPAP when performing appraisal and evaluation assignments.

The Appraisal Foundation will be there as well as AI National’s well-traveled evaluation-advocate-in-chief Scott DiBiasio.

Be sure to read three attached documents, especially the written comments on pages 13-15 of the “Discussion Documents”. A shout out to my friend and appraiser colleague Frank Gregoire from Florida who is working hard behind the scenes for all residential appraisers on this issue – you can see his emails and his professional discourse (unlike me).

Documents from Public Record:

Remember that AI National, aside from doing battle with The Appraisal Foundation, is beginning to focus on befriending the state coalitions. I have a feeling that will be impossible and they will remain alone in the wilderness continuing to damage the public trust and our livelihoods.

The only way to stop AI National from further damaging our livelihoods AND THE PUBLIC TRUST is to demand the removal of the old guard that has been able to personally insulate themselves from removal – the arrogance of current leadership while flying first class to valuation conferences around the world is an abomination. Residential appraisers will have to do a lot of $25 evaluations to pay for 1-4 of their first class round trip tickets to China, Singapore, Portugal, Canada, Germany, Serbia, Brazil, etc.

Brilliant Idea #1

If you need something rock solid in your life (particularly on Friday afternoons) and someone forwarded this to you, or you think you already subscribed, sign up here for these weekly Housing Notes. And be sure to share with a friend or colleague if you enjoy them because:

  • They’ll be more tribal;
  • You’ll be out in right field;
  • And I’ll go to California and will not think it leads U.S. housing trends.

Brilliant Idea #2

You’re obviously full of insights and ideas as a reader of Housing Notes. I appreciate every email I receive and it helps me craft the next week’s Housing Note.

See you next week.

Jonathan Miller, CRP, CRE
President/CEO
Miller Samuel Inc.
Real Estate Appraisers & Consultants
Matrix Blog @jonathanmiller

Reads, Listens and Visuals I Enjoyed

My New Content, Research and Mentions

Recently Published Elliman Market Reports

Appraisal Related Reads

Extra Curricular Reads


July 20, 2018

Housing Momentum Rolls Until It Doesn’t

Sometimes life is all about lemons and the way we roll, especially if want to know what stops us from moving forward.

Kidding.

Shout out to my Columbia grad students. After an intensive “pie is better than cake” discussion in class, we’re on to explore whether limes are better than lemons. And no, this won’t be on a quiz.

But I digress…

Market Report Gauntlet Q2-2018 Week 3: Greenwich, CT

Our housing market research for 2 Connecticut markets were published this week by real estate firm Douglas Elliman, the 3rd largest real estate brokerage in the U.S. This is part of an expanding Elliman Report series I have authored since 1994.

Nearly two years ago, Barry Sternicht of Starwood pronounced Greenwich, CT the worst housing market in the U.S. (relating to incorrectly pricing his own house).

This prompted many in the real estate brokerage community to hire a public relations consultant to pitch how beautiful Greenwich parks were and how terrific their school system was. Here is some advice that might save you some money – housing prices rise and fall even if your parks are really green. The issue for Greenwich was more about high-end market conditions no seeing the boom that the city did. To the point where billionaire Wall Streeter Ken Griffin and buyer of super high-end real estate across the U.S. just used it as a cliche this week (see first headline below) even though, as our research shows, it is two-year-old news and a copied quote from Sternlicht in 2016 and I don’t believe he even owns a home in Greenwich, CT:

But I digress…

The Greenwich housing market showed fairly solid housing market metrics this quarter with rising sales and prices. In contrast to 2016, the luxury market saw declining inventory for the seventh consecutive quarter on a year over year basis. The market never saw the boom that New York City did and as a result, wealthy titans of industry became disconnected from local market conditions.

Apparently Wall Street loves reading about Greenwich, CT including when the news is good. The Bloomberg story referencing our research was the 6th most-read story of the day on the 350K± Bloomberg Terminals.

And a chart!

Here’s a thought. Start thinking about more cross-border competition between adjacent affluent Westchester County, NY and Fairfield County, CT. There is a big difference between property tax/SALT exposure. I realize that wealthy people don’t exclusively buy homes for their tax exposure but it will force sellers to be more cognizant of their home values before and after the new federal tax law.

The Elliman Report for Fairfield County Q2-2018 was also public this week (for out-of-towners, this is the county Greenwich sits within).

Here are a few charts from our chart gallery.

Market Report Gauntlet Q2-2018 Week 3: South Florida

Douglas Elliman published our South Florida research this week through eight reports covering even more markets. Interestingly, all markets generally experienced uplifting report results, much like Greenwich, CT did to the north. This is a low tax region of the U.S. that is beginning to anticipate benefits from the new federal tax law that may draw buyers from higher tax regions like New York state.

The links to the reports are presented at the bottom of this newsletter.

Here are a few of the regional charts in our chart gallery that stand out.

Measuring Impact of FINCEN Anti-Money Laundering Efforts

There was a bombshell Miami Herald story this week: How dirty is Miami real estate? Secret home deals dried up when feds started watching on the impact of the U.S. Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), an agency within the U.S. Treasury to stop money laundering efforts that use real estate as the vehicle.

The original temporary rule came out in January 2016 about a year after the luxury new development began to tank around the U.S. from a stronger U.S. dollar and significant overbuilding. My initial criticism towards their action was the difficulty it would be to relate effectiveness versus market deterioration.

Basically, the rule looks at “all cash” purchases via LLC’s. Users of this method are placed in a database somewhere within the federal government. Here is the most recent Geographic Targeting Order that shows the thresholds at which the rule applied: Real Estate GTO Order – 8.22.17 Final for execution – Generic

However their strategy has changed and the limits aren’t being published, making it harder to game the process. For example, the threshold for scrutiny in Miami-Dade County is $300,000 now but this is not published in the usual places.

The driver of the Miami Herald story was the publication of a research paper from the New York Fed and the University of Miami that attempted to measure the impact to the market.

Here is the chart on Miami-Dade:

Thoughts on the results:

The lower dotted line represents cash buyers through LLCs.

  • By the second policy announcement in July 2016 (2nd vertical line), sales collapse.
  • Before the second policy announcement, the purchase volume seems artificially flat when compared to the overall market above.
  • The flat line after the second vertical line is unusually flat.

Treasury seems to be using this change in the line as evidence that their rule against cash buyers with LLC’s seems to be working. There are some holes in their logic:

If I were a billionaire and buying a $5M home for my son, I would absolutely use an LLC to protect their privacy and reduce the risk of letting others know where he now lives. FinCEN logic suggests that only criminals buy homes for cash and now that practice has collapsed. And then using my example of privacy as a driver for this financial vehicle, the low flat line after the second vertical line is the remaining uses of this technique and represented very little of the pre-notice buyer pool.

No. A billionaire is surrounded by high-quality financial advisors and lawyers and would likely advise me not to buy with this popular method anymore and they would devise a workaround. In other words, the drop off of LLC cash buyers after the second notice is – I believe – significantly overstated. I’m not sure the Feds appreciate how hard the wealthy strive for privacy in real estate transactions.

One other thought now that the cash threshold for the county has been dropped to $300,000 in May, the Miami Beach market is seeing significant improvement. There are more condo sales, an apparent skew to larger sales and rising price trends market-wide.

‘Buy Land, They’re Not Making It Anymore’ Isn’t Quite True

This is a famous real estate saying sourced from Mark Twain and Will Rogers…

Buy land, they’re not making it anymore.

This formed the premise of a fun Wall Street Journal piece powered by NeighborhoodX (I’m an advisor) about the creation of new land for housing and how this process creates value. The article talks about how Battery Park City was created by sand dredged and moved from Staten Island (and it was also more famously taken from the excavation for the World Trade Center and other construction projects).

Incidentally, it is important to understand the basic concept that property appreciation runs with the land. The improvements (i.e. the house) depreciate.

Most Big U.S. City Street Grids Orient Toward True North

There is a fascinating exploration of the orientation of streets in large U.S. cities. The opening quote is hilarious:

We say the cows laid out Boston. Well, there are worse surveyors. –Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1860

 

The pattern is fairly consistent.

To take it a step further for Manhattan, the Commissioner’s plan of 1811 enabled a “grid plan” from 14th Street northward to Washington Heights. While criticized by some as “boring,” many say this was key to the exponential economic growth of the city.

And “grid plan” used by cities varied in design.


BONUS – Here’s a handy walker’s timing rule for the blocks of NYC I learned while appraising roughly 8,000 condos, co-ops, and townhouses during my (still ongoing) 32+ year career.

  • North/South: 1-minute per block (10-block walk takes 10 minutes).
  • East/West: 2.5 minutes per block

Going All Arts & Crafts On The Hamptons

Website 27east.com that chronicles the Hamptons housing market, went all “arts & crafts” on me and colorized some inventory data I gave them.

In Manhattan, Less Is More

There was a fun infographic in the NYT Real Estate Section showing that Manhattanites get 126 square feet for $200,000 (roughly the U.S. median home price) while Clevelandites (aka Clevelanders) get 3,769 square feet for the same price. First of all, Manhattanites are seldom in their apartments because there is so much to do and see. And secondly, you can buy strawberries on nearly every other block at 3 am. Who wouldn’t be willing to pay Manhattan prices for that?

Appraiserville

I took a hiatus this week from Appraiserville as I pumped out a heavy dose of market research, so I’ll leave you with this deep thought. Back on the saddle next week.

Brilliant Idea #1

If you need something rock solid in your life (particularly on Friday afternoons) and someone forwarded this to you, or you think you already subscribed, sign up here for these weekly Housing Notes. And be sure to share with a friend or colleague if you enjoy them because:

  • They’ll turn lemons into limes;
  • You’ll get your arts and crafts supplies;
  • And I’ll buy strawberries at 3 am just to say I did).

Brilliant Idea #2

You’re obviously full of insights and ideas as a reader of Housing Notes. I appreciate every email I receive and it helps me craft the next week’s Housing Note.

See you next week.

Jonathan Miller, CRP, CRE President/CEO Miller Samuel Inc. Real Estate Appraisers & Consultants Matrix Blog @jonathanmiller

Reads, Listens and Visuals I Enjoyed

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Recently Published Elliman Market Reports

Appraisal Related Reads

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July 13, 2018

Housing on Fire

It’s always disconcerting when an office building behind yours catches on fire.


Then you remember when the building next door recently collapsed and tragically a construction worker died.

Then you recall the building across the street burning down and collapsing at your prior office (I took this photo from my office window).


And you think aloud, I STILL LOVE NEW YORK!

Also, a shoutout to my Columbia MRED Students! Remember that pie is better than cake no matter how convenient the housing analogy is.

But I digress…

Market Report Gauntlet Q2-2018 Week 2: NYC Metro Area

Just a quick reminder that any of our market reports that are published during the week are linked at the bottom of these Housing Notes in a section called “Recently Published Elliman Market Reports” so you’ll get them shortly after they are published.

I’ve been the author of an expanding market report series for Douglas Elliman Real Estate since 1994. We are in the middle of the quarterly gauntlet of 4 weeks and 30+ reports that are being published. The theme in the NYC metro area seems to be falling sales, rising inventory and flat to modest gains in price trends.

Firstly (literally), the number one read story on the Bloomberg Terminals yesterday by early morning and remaining there all day (350k± subscribers) was housing market story featuring the 2Q18 Elliman Report on Westchester.

and a chart…


and a chart…

within their coverage of the Elliman Report for Manhattan, Brooklyn & Queens June 2018 rentals that was published yesterday.


Refer to the links at the bottom of the page to see the other reports that I independently authored for Douglas Elliman published yesterday.

Charts for This Week’s Market Reports

We update a large library of charts on the regions we report on. Here was some of my favorites for this week’s report releases:

Bloomberg Markets Interview: July 10, 2018, Manhattan Housing Market

I enjoyed my sit down with Vonnie Quinn and Shery Ahn on Bloomberg Markets this week. The discussion focused on the release of the Elliman Report: Q2-2018 Manhattan Sales that I have authored since 1994 and the Bloomberg story that covered it.


We Are So Down On The 1909 Toilet, Literally

The Modern Bathroom of 1909. Except for the shower, it looks like half of the bathrooms I’ve seen during my appraisal inspections. I’ve also seen a lot of bathrooms in pre-WWII Manhattan co-op apartments that were made minimalist modern and didn’t translate much value to potential buyers. The trick to maximizing the value it seems is to have modern amenities with a pre-war aesthetic when in a pre-war building. Otherwise, it’s like joining someone for lunch at a steak joint and they only order a salad – its disorientating.

Sharing More Visualizations Done By Len Kiefer Because I Can’t Help It

I just can’t help myself. Len tweets:

I use this chart often, but it still surprises me. From 1968 to 2007 there were only two years when the U.S. completed fewer #housing units than it did 2017.


And we wonder why there is an affordability crisis in the U.S. housing market. Production has not recovered since the financial crisis.


Revisiting Angelo Mozilo and His Doomed Mortgage Machine

“Spray on tan” was never an option.

During the housing bubble, I remember thinking about how BofA had avoided the systemic insanity of lending that overtook most mortgage lenders including banks like Washington Mutual…and then they bought Countrywide and all hell broke loose. From the appraisal perspective, I observed them incorporate the Countrywide’s Landsafe Appraisal Management Company into the mix and all of a sudden, they took half of the appraisal fee and applied military-like rules such as 48-hour turn times and 19-year-olds chewing gum who followed long checklists without regard for local market knowledge. Quality appraisers fled. And then banks I loved working with like US Trust were gobbled up and they were forced to use Landsafe too. In 2015 Corelogic bought Countrywide as part of their acquisition binge. Bank of America and US Trust continues to use Corelogic’s AMC and have been reaching out to us intermittently for years to get our firm to work for them. However, CoreLogic, as a big machine, and near monopoly, can’t stop being a stereotypical AMC. That’s bad news for consumers and taxpayers.

Here is a good CNN/Money take on Angelo Mozilo and the damage he caused in the nation’s rush to enable more homeownership. His legacy of his Landsafe AMC still lives today within CoreLogic.

Appraiserville


This week is full to the brim…

When Untrained Inspectors of Hybrid Appraisals Rule The World

I did a screenshot of a photo from a private appraisal group that blew my mind. Now imagine an unregulated, non-standardized, untrained inspector (home inspectors aren’t being used for hybrids) for a hybrid appraisal assignment (being paid $12 to rush through a home) actually catching this scam like a trained experienced appraiser did. LIA (Liability Insurance Administrators) has said that the appraiser is still responsible for house conditions even if they use a disclaimer. I heard this directly from LIA when they presented at TAF a few months ago. I wonder what other things would be missed by an unregulated, untrained inspector that is in a new industry that is non-standardized?

Calling On All Tennessee Appraisers To Take a Tristar Bank Selfie

My wife and I were visiting good friends in Nashville and I thought it would be a good idea to visit the bank that misrepresented to the public that there were not enough appraisers in the area so they applied for an exemption to the Appraisal Subcommittee (ASC) for a one-year waiver. After all, they are local residents and as bank employees, can apply values to collateral they lend on and there is no conflict of interest to be concerned about (especially since the taxpayer will pick up the tab when all goes wrong). Right?

It would be cool to have appraisers submit their selfies in front of Tristar ATMs, branches, and offices to me and I’ll publish it here. I just submitted a request to the Tennesse Coalition through a friend but haven’t heard back yet.

I’m not confident the Tristar Bank saga and potential new requests from banks are over. Afterall, their twitter account is still locked. Why would a bank hide behind a locked Twitter account?


My Thoughts on the Tristar Bank “Appraiser Shortage” Misrepresentation and How Appraisers Fought Back

I was involved in the groundswell of opposition to the Tristar’s claim of a shortage and shared conversations and emails with appraisers in that area. My state coalition was among the many that wrote ASC to dispute the claims by Tristar that are easily refuted with a quick Google search. This is what I understand happened through conversations with my peers during this situation in late 2017 through spring 2018.

  • Appraisers physically went to their headquarters and branches to apply.
  • Appraisers called them to apply.
  • Appraisers inundated their twitter account to call them out as misrepresenting a shortage and offered to apply (Tristar locked their Twitter account – when does a bank do that? – still locked)
  • I was told stories of appraisers walking into branches, but don’t know what happened.

Statistically, it is easily proven that there are plenty of appraisers – as has been part of the public discourse. The onus should be on them, not appraisers, to be in sync with the public market to engage appraisers whether it is fee driven or a flawed bank culture. Why aren’t other Tennessee banks making such a claim now that Tristar’s claim was rejected? In appraiser parlance, other banks making the same claim would be a “comp” but that hasn’t happened. Why? Because they are misrepresenting the situation.

Here is a list of some of the past Housing Notes/Appraiservilles that will get you up to speed on the disingenuous claims by Tristar Bank:

AppraiserFest 2018! November 1, 2 and 3! San Antonio!

Signup now!

Besides the appraiser-orientated content, the team is working hard to expand their list growing list of states that will provide CE credit for attendees.


2018 RAC Fall Conference, September 13, 14, Plano Texas

I am the outgoing president of RAC (Relocation Appraisers & Consultants), an organization of the best appraisers of complex residential properties in the country, bar none. Its been an especially satisfying two-year run. I’m especially excited about this year’s conference after last year’s success! CE credit and curated relevant content provided for today’s residential appraisers.

To signup or learn more about the conference, go here:

2018 RAC Conference: Time Keeps on Slipping into the Future

An Example of why CoreLogic’s Monopolistic Behavior is Concerning

Dave Towne shared this FTC link on CoreLogic’s acquisition of DataQuick and their efforts to stymie competitors like RealtyTrac from licensing data. Corelogic just settled with the FTC. CoreLogic has quietly become a near-monopoly in the data business. This includes providing software for many MLS systems as well as acquiring Countrywide, the poster child for all that is wrong with the AMC concept.

Polluting The Data Pool

Here is a wonky conversation by people much smarter than me. I cobbled it together and it is quite interesting – I gave no credit to the writers in the email I was cc’d in but I can if you wish:

Comment

Extensive mortgage lending regulations would have to change to enable trainees to do more than what is currently allowed, and for lenders to accept that involvement.

From what has been published so far, the forms change won’t happen until 2+ years from now.

The below is the primary reason why the ‘hybrid’, ‘bifurcated’, ‘alternative’ type reports cannot be (presently) used for FIRST MORTGAGES when the GSE is buying the loan.

They can be for secondary loan products………..which is why they came into existence and are being pushed to appraisers by multiple entities

The problem is the lenders don’t want to pay appraisers appropriately for their license, E&O coverage, and professional service. Smart appraisers have not taken the bait.


Response

The issue, which we discovered through the forum, is that these reports are being one as “Restricted Use” on [proprietary] software of the AMCs, that,

Coverts the appraisal to XML, which can then be directly uploaded to Fannie Mae, or dropped onto a 1004 for, because the per-printed form verbiage does not convert to XML from either a Fannie Form, or the AMC’s forms.

That’s the “high tech” we are supposed to be embracing.

So, the IAEG does not apply to not regulated bank lenders, such as Quicken Loans for example.

Do a bi-f appraisal for a non-regulated lender, on an AMC proprietary software, and surprise, Fannie can buy that loan from them if the appraisal shows up on a 1004 through the magic of technology.

If appraisers are going to do Restricted Use reports for lending, then they should be in PDF, because downloading and selling the data is not a “use” of a restricted report.



Revisiting Angelo Mozilo and His Doomed Mortgage Machine

If you came to Housing Notes only to read Appraiserville, consider scrolling up to read the story under this headline: “Revisiting Angelo Mozilo and His Doomed Mortgage Machine”

Brilliant Idea #1

If you need something rock solid in your life (particularly on Friday afternoons) and someone forwarded this to you, or you think you already subscribed, sign up here for these weekly Housing Notes. And be sure to share with a friend or colleague if you enjoy them because:

  • They’ll close their checking account at Tristar Bank;
  • You’ll think your toilet is more modern than it is;
  • And I’ll keep writing market reports.

Brilliant Idea #2

You’re obviously full of insights and ideas as a reader of Housing Notes. I appreciate every email I receive and it helps me craft the next week’s Housing Note.

See you next week.

Jonathan Miller, CRP, CRE
President/CEO
Miller Samuel Inc.
Real Estate Appraisers & Consultants
Matrix Blog @jonathanmiller

Reads, Listens and Visuals I Enjoyed

My New Content, Research and Mentions

Recently Published Elliman Market Reports

Appraisal Related Reads

Extra Curricular Reads


July 6, 2018

Housing With Fewer Sales But More Paddling

I’d like to think my suburb to city commute is reasonable. The commuter below looks like he has done this before – in other words, it wasn’t a dry run.

I am headed out of town early tomorrow for a little R&R so I wrote this after midnight on Thursday and had to cut my musings a little short (Here’s a shout out to my Columbia University masters students to whom I hard-sold these Housing Notes in our class today.)

Market Report Gauntlet Q2-2018 Week 1: Manhattan Sales

This week, the real estate firm Douglas Elliman published my research of the Manhattan Sales market for Q2-2018 and the report for the Northern Manhattan subset. I’ve been authoring this expanding report series since 1994.

The key issue for me was the continued year over year decline in sales, although total sales were only slightly below the 40 quarter (ten-year average). Sales volume in 2017 was unusually high, overstating the decline a bit. Some people believe that this decline was the increase in mortgage rates, yet the rate rise occurred after sales began to fall. Studios and 1-bedroom apartments (starter market) did see a surge in listing inventory, accounting for a larger portion of the overall rise and they are influenced by mortgage financing. Since cash purchasers accounted for 54% of the market and sales declined uniformly across all price strata, then it is clear that another force was in play. I lay more of the blame on the new federal tax law. Buyers and sellers are trying to recalibrate their understanding of value and there won’t be a lot of tangible impacts felt until checks are written in early 2019 (before April 15th).

Did I tell you that the market report coverage on Bloomberg Terminals (±350K subscribers) was the fourth most read story last Tuesday? Uh, no so here’s the rankings with a chart.



There was a lot of interesting coverage of the report results this week, especially the New York Times online version: A Spring Market With Few Bright Spots for Sellers

Now for some Manhattan charts…(click to expand)





For the rest of the Manhattan charts

Some of the Best Visualizations in Real Estate

@lenkiefer is a terrific follow on twitter. He is the Deputy Chief Economist at Freddie Mac and creates some of the best visualizations I’ve ever seen. Click on them to expand to their full glory.


[click to expand]

Here’s another!

Appraiserville

I’m taking a quick three-day vacay with my wife in Nashville starting today so excuse my content brevity. I wonder if I should check out Tristar bank? I hear they falsely claimed there weren’t enough appraisers, let alone pilots…

Appraisers as Big Ole Jet Airliner Pilots

Doesn’t this sound eerily familiar? An industry screams “shortage” and then it is outed for not paying a fair wage. Pilots are blamed yet the skill required doesn’t match the compensation paid. The rules of supply and demand should apply to all industries.

Brilliant Idea #1

If you need something rock solid in your life (particularly on Friday afternoons) and someone forwarded this to you, or you think you already subscribed, sign up here for these weekly Housing Notes. And be sure to share with a friend or colleague if you enjoy them because:

  • They’ll be more able to visualize;
  • You’ll be able to paddle to work;
  • And I’ll get my pilot’s license.

Brilliant Idea #2

You’re obviously full of insights and ideas as a reader of Housing Notes. I appreciate every email I receive and it helps me craft the next week’s Housing Note.

See you next week.

Jonathan Miller, CRP, CRE
President/CEO
Miller Samuel Inc.
Real Estate Appraisers & Consultants
Matrix Blog @jonathanmiller

Reads, Listens and Visuals I Enjoyed

My New Content, Research and Mentions

Recently Published Elliman Market Reports

Appraisal Related Reads

Extra Curricular Reads