Gravity for the Housing Market is Overrated
I can see the benefits of letting this loop for hours:
Me when I go for a jog during the pandemic https://t.co/kf6khnGaXv — Don Moynihan (@donmoyn) April 14, 2020 
But I digress…
From My Matrix Blog: Contract Data Is Pending Data Is Lagging Data
In our post-Coronavirus world, it is clear that market conditions and our understanding of the future are subject to change every day. In my prior post Establishing the COVID-19 Demarcation Line: From ‘Hanks To Banks’ , data that falls after the line represents a different market.
So how do we determine what data falls in after the demarcation line? It’s not as straightforward as it sounds.
Throughout my career, I have seen brokerage firms publish pending/contract reports, touting pending trends as more reliable than reports based on closings. I don’t look at them as better or worse, just a different way to look at the market. The simplistic, uninformed argument for pending sales is that contract dates occur before closing dates, so they are more current. Incidentally, contract prices are not readily shared. I get all of this. Yet I have seen the failure rate of contracts be as high as 40% – in other words, many contracts might not close whereas closing reports are solely based on successful transactions. Still, pending sale trends are useful as long as the reader understands their shortcomings. I plan to develop one someday.
Closing data and contract/pending data lags the “meeting of the minds. “
Meeting of the minds (also referred to as mutual agreement, mutual assent, or consensus ad idem) is a phrase in contract law used to describe the intentions of the parties forming the contract. In particular, it refers to the situation where there is a common understanding in the formation of the contract.
While we know that closing dates lag the “meeting of the minds,” we also need to understand that signed contract dates are lagging indicators, often by 2-4 weeks. During this crisis, I’m speculating the failure rate will be high initially, and the time lag will be on the longer end rather than, the shorter end of this 2-4 week range.
Here’s why contract dates are a lagging indicator and not necessarily more insightful than closing data:
1) The “meeting of the minds” occurs when buyers and sellers negotiate price and terms, usually facilitated by a real estate agent or broker.
2) The price and terms are handed off to transaction attorneys who work together to craft language agreeable to both parties.
3) The contract is signed by both parties and often indicated as such in an MLS-type system.
4) In some markets or marketing periods, especially when a market is cooling, many contracts never close, so their initial inclusion makes pending trends reports suspect.
If there is a four week signed contract lag from the meeting of the minds, and considering the March 15 demarcation line for post-Coronavirus, that means that with us being six weeks into the crisis, we are only able to see two weeks worth of post-Coronavirus data. And even with that reality and current shelter in place rules, many current contracts might have been older deals that were facilitated by the buyer who had already inspected the home in January/February – we are seeing some of that now.
In other words, relevant data on the new market remains extremely limited.
Barron’s Live Interview: The Covid-19 Crisis Doesn’t Really Compare To 9/11
I’ll place my interview by Beckie and Lucy here as soon as I get a copy. DONE.
The recording of the interview was just placed on the Barron’s web site. You have to register if you haven’t already done so in order to listen to it (click the image):
To thwart random outdoor noises, I attempted to get points for style when speaking for this event (I did hear a few kids in the background but I swear they weren’t mine):
The Land Angle In The Era of Social Distancing
This Mansion Global article For Investors Seeking Stability, Land Maintains its Classic Appeal  makes the pitch for land as a favored investment, and not just for the asset value but for practical nature of inspection during this historic moment of social distancing.
While the angle is interesting, I’m much more interested in the concept of appreciation as it relates to land. In other words:
- land appreciates
- improvements depreciate
…if you want to be a purist about the concept.
I wrote about this when I was a Bloomberg Opinion Columnist from 20014-2015 called Housing Bust Wasn’t About the House .
What does “Back to Normal” Look Like?
"Return to normal" pic.twitter.com/dGygCWL19T — Sven Henrich (@NorthmanTrader) April 29, 2020 
Data Report with Jonathan Miller: So Cal, So Good
Douglas Elliman  has a new podcast channel and this was a recent town hall meeting that I “Zoomed” to SoCal agents.
Len Kiefer ‘s Chart Handiwork
📊🏢 pic.twitter.com/ZxFKg34NVN — 📈 𝙻𝚎𝚗 𝙺𝚒𝚎𝚏𝚎𝚛 📊 (@lenkiefer) April 30, 2020 
Upcoming Speaking Events
Join us and guest speaker, Jonathan J. Miller , industry-leading commentator, appraiser, consultant, and author of real estate reports, for an in-depth discussion: Valuations then, now and the day after tomorrow… Where are the bargains? The banking industry. New Corona lending guidelines. Re-opening the real estate industry – what, when, and how?
- Prepare for the event:
- Register Here  to receive the Zoom link
- Email  us your questions in advance
Additional Q & A live opportunities during the session.
We look forward to “seeing you”.
(For earlier appraisal industry commentary, visit my old clunky REIC  site.)
John May Shows Us How We Can Convey The Crisis To Our Clients
John May of Louisville Appraisals  reads these Housing Notes regularly and sent a cool chart. I love it because it showcases his local market knowledge and can be a great visual to educate is clients.
Housing Wire Interviews Phil Crawford (VOA) on Appraising During COVID-19
Good stuff- a great listen:
In this episode, the host of the Voice of Appraisal Radio podcast also touches on whether or not the business is an essential service. Crawford also shares his perspective on why appraisers need a bigger voice in policymaking and touches on the potential impact of some recent announcements from federal banking regulators that allow appraisal postponements up to 120 days after a mortgage.
Dave Towne Opines On How We Can Become Unglued If We’re Not Careful
It’s a wonderful write-up:
This essay was tough to write, but it’s important. (Yes, that’s my opinion!)
The current state of affairs in this country, and globally, is the worst we humans have seen in generations. Most of us were not alive during the last major pandemic in the early 1900’s, or even during WWII, when living situations were very trying for many people.
In later years, pandemics have occurred, but governments’ reactions and actions to those were much more mild as compared to this one. You can read more about those here : https://www.livescience.com/worst-epidemics-and-pandemics-in-history.html
The pandemic we are in now is unprecedented in modern history. Due to governmental inactions, and actions, the devastation to humans and world-wide economies will last many more years.
This pandemic, and the way it is being managed, is affecting people and relationships in profound ways. Many very adversely.
I write this because for about the last decade or so, I’ve had a very nice, respectful, even joyful relationship with another appraiser. I learn from that appraiser and appreciate the dialogue and experiences we’ve shared.
Not long ago, I wrote an essay concerning appraiser conduct involving an aspect of our work. Over the course of several days, the appraiser acquaintance has ‘come unglued’ as the expression goes about my opinion and choice of words, and I’m very concerned. The desire to just not be able to move on appears obsessive to me.
In that essay I used one strong word, based on my opinion, which does not appear in any of the requirements or guidelines appraisers must follow. I used that word to make a point because too many appraisers want to make excuses why the written requirements and guidelines can’t or won’t be followed. That bothers me, from an ethical standpoint. My point was to encourage appraisers to pay attention to the assignment SoW, additional assignment conditions that go beyond USPAP, and other expectations clients want to see in our reports. My other point was to say that ‘new technology’ being promoted by several companies is not appropriate to use in all assignments.
I enjoy respectful discussions. Dialogue helps greatly. I learn from it. But sometimes responders and I will just have to ‘respectfully disagree.’ However, when verbiage turns to name calling due to frustration because of a single word disagreement, it causes me to really ponder the circumstance. I believe our current pandemic situation may be exacerbating the underlying causation of the glue-pot explosion the appraiser has exhibited.
Medical professionals who understand human psyche have been sounding alarms about personal actions relating to how this pandemic is being managed….or not managed well, depending on your point of view. People are becoming more and more frustrated, spouse/partner and child abuse is on the rise. Burglaries, robberies, thefts and other crimes are beginning to increase. Incomes have been destroyed. Businesses have been upended. Relationships have suffered. People have become more desperate as governments have turned normal society nearly into martial law, restricting normal freedoms. If things don’t change, and we don’t get back to ‘normal’ relatively quickly, attempts or actual suicides will also rise. Chaos amongst the population will manifest itself.
Appraisers, as a general statement, tend to be loners in our profession. Few appraisers take time to associate with peers in formal or informal settings. Which is a shame, because some of the nicest people you’ll meet are your peers. They are not your enemy. Make an effort NOW to meet and get to know appraisers in your area. You won’t regret it.
(On a related personal note, I have a “sista from anotha motha” because I made an effort to be helpful to another appraiser 1,300 miles away when we ‘met’ on a web forum. That turned into meeting in person to attend a live CE class together, and has evolved into a wonderful brother/sister relationship over the past dozen or so years.)
I was moved to write this because I really do care about the appraiser whose glue-pot is boiling. And I’m concerned about other appraisers who may not really understand how their moods, emotions and expressions may be manifesting adverse behavior within themselves, and with others around them…..due to the exterior pressures we are enduring.
One word of disagreement, or some other basically silly issue, should not be the catalyst to blow a hole in an otherwise healthy and enjoyable relationship.
It’s important that all of us pay close attention to our activity and mental state on all levels. The ‘perceived normal’ at the moment actually may not be. Anxiety, irritability, obsessiveness and depression are devastating to humans.
Please be careful, talk to appropriate professionals if things are tilting, and stay well.
OFT (One Final Thought)
An old chestnut tweaked for the crisis. I forgot how much I loved this commercial.
Brilliant Idea #1
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Brilliant Idea #2
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See you next week.
Reads, Listens and Visuals I Enjoyed
- Extell Announces Covid-Inspired Price Cuts at One Manhattan Square [The Real Deal] 
- Governor Cuomo Extends Deadlines For Condo Offering Plans [The Real Deal] 
- Coronavirus: Wealthy New Yorkers flee Manhattan for suburbs and beyond [CNBC] 
- HFZ's the XI Considers Wholesale Condo Deals [The Real Deal] 
- The Mall Reimagined by Credit Rating – The Big Picture [Ritholtz] 
- The U.S Needs Way More Than a Bailout to Recover From Covid-19 [Bloomberg] 
- ‘A Bargain With the Devil’—Bill Comes Due for Overextended Airbnb Hosts [Wall Street Journal] 
- The Three Eras of Compass — Mike DelPrete – Real Estate Tech Strategist [mikedp.com] 
- Homebuilders suddenly see sales jump as renters flee small urban apartments [CNBC] 
- Estimating the Likely Economic Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Philadelphia – Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation [Drexel] 
- COVID-19: Economic impact on Philadelphia expected to be widespread [Philadelphia Business Journal] 
- How Much Assistance Would It Take to Help Renters Affected by COVID-19? – Blog [Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University] 
- L.A. hunkered down. But it hasn't stopped building mansions, stadiums and apartments [LA Times] 
- Is the City Itself the Problem? [City Lab] 
- In New York City, Density Saves Lives, Too [City Lab] 
- Rent Guidelines Board recommends increases between 2.5% and 3.5% for rent-stabilized units [6sqft] 
- America’s Richest Enclave Approved For $2 Million Federal Coronavirus Loan [Forbes] 
- Fannie-Freddie cleared by FHFA to buy new loans in forbearance [Bloomberg Professional Services] 
- Sellers Must Stay Flexible in Marketing Their Homes During Covid-19 Crisis [Mansion Global] 
My New Content, Research and Mentions
- For Investors Seeking Stability, Land Maintains its Classic Appeal [Mansion Global] 
- Manhattan Homebuyers Rewriting the Rules on Deals in Virus Era [Bloomberg] 
- Στάσιμη η κτηματομεσιτική αγορά στο Λονγκ Αϊλαντ [ekirikas.com] 
- Self-isolation in a studio apartment [Straits Times] 
- 'Sex and the City': How Much Did Carrie Pay To Buy Her Apartment from Aidan? [Cheat Sheet] 
- America’s Richest Enclave Approved For $2 Million Federal Coronavirus Loan [Forbes] 
- Coronavirus cuts Southern California homebuying, escrows fall 48% [SGV Tribune] 
- Vanishing inventory props up SoCal home prices [The Real Deal] 
Recently Published Elliman Market Reports
- Elliman Report: Aspen + Snowmass Village Sales 1Q 2020 [Miller Samuel] 
- Elliman Report: North Fork Sales 1Q 2020 [Miller Samuel] 
- Elliman Report: Hamptons Sales 1Q 2020 [Miller Samuel] 
- Elliman Report: Long Island Sales 1Q 2020 [Miller Samuel] 
- Elliman Report: Venice + Mar Vista Sales 1Q 2020 [Miller Samuel] 
- Elliman Report: Malibu + Malibu Beach Sales 1Q 2020 [Miller Samuel] 
- Elliman Report: Los Angeles Sales 1Q 2020 [Miller Samuel] 
- Elliman Report: Miami Coastal Mainland Sales 1Q 2020 [Miller Samuel] 
- Elliman Report: Miami Beach + Barrier Islands Sales 1Q 2020 [Miller Samuel] 
- Elliman Report: South & Greater Downtown Tampa Sales 1Q 2020 [Miller Samuel] 
- Elliman Report: St. Petersburg Sales 1Q 2020 [Miller Samuel] 
- Elliman Report: Jupiter + Palm Beach Gardens Sales 1Q 2020 [Miller Samuel] 
- Elliman Report: Palm Beach Sales 1Q 2020 [Miller Samuel] 
- Elliman Report: Wellington Sales 1Q 2020 [Miller Samuel] 
- Elliman Report: Delray Beach Sales 1Q 2020 [Miller Samuel] 
- Elliman Report: Manalapan, Hypoluxo Island & Ocean Ridge Sales 1Q 2020 [Miller Samuel] 
- Elliman Report: West Palm Beach Sales 1Q 2020 [Miller Samuel] 
- Elliman Report: Coral Gables Sales 1Q 2020 [Miller Samuel] 
- Elliman Report: Fort Lauderdale Sales 1Q 2020 [Miller Samuel] 
- Elliman Report: Royal Palm/Boca Raton 1Q 2020 [Miller Samuel] 
- Elliman Report: Boca Raton 1Q 2020 [Miller Samuel] 
- Elliman Report: Greenwich Sales 1Q 2020 [Miller Samuel] 
- Elliman Report: Fairfield County Sales 1Q 2020 [Miller Samuel] 
- Elliman Report: Downtown Boston Sales 1Q 2020 [Miller Samuel] 
Appraisal Related Reads
- Appraiser Jerome Haims dead after suffering stroke [Real Estate Weekly] 
- Banks Show Little Appetite for Suicide [Appraisers Blogs] 
- Voice of Appraisal Radio's Phil Crawford on appraising during COVID-19 [Housingwire] 
- Think Big By Thinking Small! [Cleveland Appraisal Blog] 
- April Newsletter- From a Distance [DW Slater Co.] 
- Are Technology Companies Selling Modern Version of a Pet Rock? [Appraisers Blogs] 
- Are buyers & sellers getting used to the pandemic? [Ryan Lundquist/Sacramento Appraisal Blog] 
- Appraisal in the COVID-19 Pandemic: Renegotiation of Deals on Buyer-Friendly Terms Should Lead to an Increase in the Exercise of Appraisal Rights [Appraisal Rights Litigation Blog] 
- 5 Charts That Describe The Birmingham Housing Market Six Weeks Into The Pandemic [Tom Horn/Birmingham Appraisal Blog]