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Posts Tagged ‘CNBC’

Lereah: Pickin’ On The Underdog By Using His Mom

March 6, 2007 | 10:49 am |

Recently, Fortune Magazine interviewed David Lereah, one of the more polarizing figures associated with the housing market. He is responsible for the slew of market stats that hit the media every month and but what he is most criticized for is his interpretation of those stats. In fact, I met him personally in the green room of CNBC before a television spot and while he seems like a nice enough guy, I observed that he seems to say the same things in person that he does for reporters.

In many ways, his interpretations spurred the real estate blogosphere on for the shallowness of analysis and self-serving delivery of information. On one hand he represents a trade group and the consumer should understand this. On the other hand, he missed a golden opportunity to build goodwill between the consumer and the NAR.

In his recent interview, he attacks David Jackson of David Lereah Watch and Bubble Meter, one of the leading housing bubble blogs. The David Lereah Watch blog is a home spun effort (note typo in the title) by someone who got tired of the misinformation. I like both of these blogs.

Lereah even used his own mother for special effect:

The worst was that my mother read one of those things, and she almost started crying. And I had to say, Mom, you have to have thick skin. I’m going to be in the public and make statements about real estate, and if someone doesn’t like what I’m saying, they have every right to say something opposing me.

Lereah claims the David Lereah Watch blog refers to Lereah as Satan. Lereah calls Jackson a 26-year old that could not afford a townhouse. However, Jackson was proud of the fact that he doesn’t get personal and denies calling Lereah Satan.

However, Lereah doesn’t seem to use great ethical judgement in his market interpretation commentary so I am not sure what Jackson expected to begin with. His blog had to be noted by Lereah sooner or later.

The fact that Lereah even brought up Jackson’s blog up in the interview to try to get sympathy for the beating he has taken by the blogosphere, tells a powerful message about the ability of the consumer to tell their side of the housing story through blogs.


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Condo Data Used To Forecast The Entire Housing Market Analyze Condos

January 26, 2007 | 1:34 pm |

Yesterday I found myself on CNBC Morning Call debating with Adam Koval, former stock analyst and founder of the San Francisco real estate site Socketsite whether analyzing the condo market as representative of the overall housing market was a better indicator. There was no real time to make our points because Natural Gas Inventories numbers were being released.

Adam is a sharp guy who came up with this theory that got coverage in CNN/Money and was picked up by CNBC.

His stock market background probably explains his reason for taking the investor/condo approach to analyzing the real estate market. He believes that it is all about the investors because they are not emotional and condos are more homogeneous so they can be more readily compared.

So investors and condos lead the way because its easier to measure appreciation?

I think there is a great need by investors, consumers, real estate professionals, the media and others to strip away all information on real estate markets until you get to the:

Magic Real Estate Market Indicator

You know, that one indicator that makes us feel warm and fuzzy inside knowing that we have the inside answer. Well, guess what? It doesn’t exist.

Investor Angle

The argument goes that investors research and interpret at the market clinically, without the emotional reactions that consumers and are simply looking for the return on investment (that makes so such sense or we would have never experienced market corrections in stock markets). Now imagine using the stock market indexes to estimate the value of your specific stock. i.e. the Dow Jones Industrial Average to price your Microsoft shares. It would make no sense.

Since I analyze a real estate market based in an international financial market hub (NYC) there is a great deal of efficiency because that is the orientation of many.

Here’s a few reasons why the stock market/investor activity doesn’t correlate to the real estate market:

  • Stocks operate in highly efficient markets, trading in thousands of shares per day
  • Transaction costs are low
  • Investors can move in and out of a position in seconds
  • Investors in the housing boom were carpenters and nurses rather than institutions.

Condo Angle

That being said, lets now look at investors and condos.

Individual real estate investors are more likely to purchase condos rather than single family houses. They are usually looking at cash flow after rental or appreciation. This is how publications like The Economist do it. They look at the relationship of rents to housing prices, assuming that investors are a major force in the market. But what if they are not?

Here are some basic problems with condos as an indicator:

  • Condos are not only purchased by investors. They are purchased as a primary residences as well so they have the same irrational influences the single family housing market.
  • Investor buying patterns and motivations are different than someone purchasing for owner occupancy.
  • Investors represent a minority of home purchases (In the investor peak year of 2005, NAR reports 28% of purchases were by investors). How can 28% speak for 72%?
  • Condos are a different price point than houses in most markets and they are usually less. That is a different demographic with different motivations for purchases.
  • Condo developments generally have different locations than single family houses. They are often in urban settings or other higher density areas where individual houses would not be viable. They enable to maximize the value of sites that are in locations less marketable to single family houses such as adjacent to commuter train stations.
  • Data for condos shouldn’t be any more difficult to get than houses are if they are both considered real property.
  • Condos are not necessarily homogenous and easy to compare. I think argument also sees condos as mainly newly developed but they have been around for a long time. True, the value differences between units in the same line are less likely to vary much in value within a few years after development. But what about older condos? Do we exclude them as well? If we exclude them we have more narrowly defined the market and therefore, less usable for other markets.
  • Condo markets in the major metro areas that reported highly unusual investor activity such as Washington DC, Miami, Las Vegas and San Diego are not representative of the overall markets in their areas. For example, an investor that can’t make their payments because they can’t rent out their unit for as much as the mortgage payment are going to work harder to protect their primary residence.

In Adam’s defense, I think he was trying isolate appreciation in order to see how the market is doing.

In other words, a new condo will like not be upgraded within a few years after purchase. So the change in value over this period would be attributable to appreciation, not some sort of improvement made to the property.

  • Passive appreciation – appreciation that comes from changes in market conditions
  • Active appreciation – appreciation that comes from improvements to the property

Also it is unlikely that the size of the unit would change (unless combined with an adjacent unit), unlike a new addition added to a house. This is a valid concept, but as an indicator, it can only apply to the market being measured, because any other similarities are merely coincidence.


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[In The Media] CNBC Morning Call Clip for 1-25-07

January 25, 2007 | 3:18 pm | Public |

Here is a clip of my appearance on today’s Morning Call show on CNBC.

The topic was brought about by Adam Koval, who runs Socketsite.com, a web log that covers the San Francisco housing market. Adam’s theory is that the condo market is a good indicator of the health of the overall housing market. This was covered in a CNN/Money article by Les Christie called Condo prices reveal housing trends: Comparing condo prices may be the best way to gauge the direction of housing prices. and I was quoted as not agreeing at all with the premise.

The CNN/Money article interested CNBC and they invited us both to appear in conjunction with NAR’s housing stat release for December. Adam and I have traded emails and we are on each other’s blog roll but I never knew what he looked like until we went “split screen.”

He and I were interviewed on CNBC Morning Call by Mark Haines who was great as usual.

As is the way on television, there was not enough time for the topic but it was fun to do. I was itching to respond to the last question but we ran out of time. Since I don’t agree at all with Adam’s premise I’ll present my argument as a post tomorrow.


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[In The Media] CNBC Morning Call Clip for 9-25-06

September 25, 2006 | 3:09 pm | Public |

Here is a clip of my appearance on today’s Morning Call show on CNBC.

I was guest along with Nicolas Retsinas, the Director of Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. We were interviewed by Mark Haines who was great.

As it always is the way on television, there was not enough time for the topic but it was fun to do.


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Carnival Of Real Estate Enters The Matrix

September 25, 2006 | 12:01 am | |

As I watched my turn get closer and closer to hosting the Carnival of Real Estate, I thought it was amazing how much great content is being pushed into the public domain every week through the carnival. In fact, carnival participants simply ooze creativity and new ideas. Simply look at last week’s carnival post at BlueRoof.com Blog to get an idea of what I mean.

I started getting post submissions early last week and by Sunday I had a lot of reading to do. Although the carnival hosts are expected to post only their favorites, I thought to myself, how can I do that? So I decided to provide a top ten list and then everyone else. I excluded a few get rich quick posts and those who seemed to be more interested in selling something or extra posts from those who submitted more than one.

I am finding that some of the most active and insightful posts this week have been provided by real estate brokers. Its interesting to me because its been my impression that real estate brokers were somewhat late to blogosphere party as a profession but now they really get it and are rising in numbers quickly.

So its no wonder there was a lot of discussion about Redfin this week. I think that a weaker housing market sort of forces the real estate brokerage community to rethink the status quo. Thats really refreshing and I found myself adding links to my blogroll.

The Matrix Top 10 List

  1. Everybody’s Going Local [Future of Real Estate Marketing]. Joel Burslem provides a very insightful look at the trend toward local web sites to deliver real estate related information.
  2. What Housing Bubble? [The Property Monger] looks closely at population trends.
  3. 16 Words or Less [Agent CEO] reminded me of the axiom less is more. I tend to fail miserably being concise but if someone leaves me a voicemail longer than 16 seconds, I tend to delete it.
  4. Crackdown on Relisting Homes [Altos Research]. Altos crunches the numbers. Relisting is simply wrong.
  5. Kicking the Tires on Housing Futures as a Predictive Tool [True Gotham]. Doug Heddings deals with one of my favorite topics, housing futures.
  6. Google and Zillow [Real Central VA]. Jim Duncan tells us that broker _marketing will become less and less a component of a Realtor’s core competency. Representation will._
  7. Cease and Desist [Real Estate 2.X] gives us a good chuckle and a whole new way to name our blogs.
  8. Dual Agency: Using the Seller’s Agent as Your Buyer’s Agent [Searchlight Crusade] addresses awkwardness and multiple loyalties which are commonplace.
  9. Would the Founding Fathers Have Founded an MLS? [Charlottesville Area Real Estate Blog] concludes that restrictions on listings are better than an open system.
  10. For real estate promotion, the business card form factor is a tiny little workhorse [Bloodhound]. Glenn says its all in the cards.

Here are the rest of the posts submitted in no particular order but are all a good read:

Market discussion (surprisingly quiet this week)

Raising the bar on the real estate brokerage profession:

Broker ethics and “get rich quick” schemes

Mortgages and Refi Strategies

New brokerage business models

Buyer and seller advice

Defies categorization

Thanks to all of those who submitted posts. Great stuff. Don’t forget to check out YoChicago, next week’s host for the Carnival of Real Estate.

Its now 10:30pm EST on Sunday. I’ve got to get some sleep – going to be on CNBC’s Morning Call live at about 10:15am on Monday for 5 minutes with another guest. Should be fun.


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[Media Chain-links] 2Q 2006 Manhattan Market Overview

July 6, 2006 | 6:07 am | | Public |

The 2Q 2006 Manhattan Market Overview that my appraisal firm, Miller Samuel, prepares for Prudential Douglas Elliman, was released today. Each quarter I place links throughout the day of publication to make it easy to compare how each media outlet (big and small media, blogs) presents the exact same set of data.

Even more interesting to me is how the other real estate brokerage companies who write alternative reports, frame their comments in the articles. While I have not had access to their specific results, I understand that some of the statistics such as average sales price, differed from the results in our report. Some of the reporters that cover the real estate market in New York have expressed frustration at trying to discern what actually happened this quarter.

To view the actual data and charts (going live by noon Friday 7-7-07). The actual report pdf will be available next week.

This list is in no particular order and were generally presented when I found them. I included some of the duplicate news feeds because I found it interesting who picked up the story. I will keep adding to the list through the remainder of the week.


Little Shift in Prices of Manhattan Apartments [NYT]
Manhattan Has Most Apartments for Sale Since 1994, Report Says [Bloomberg]
Mixed messages on Manhattan home prices [CNN/Money]
Manhattan apt. price hits record [NY Daily News]
Disparities in Manhattan apartment prices show a market that is neither booming nor busting [NY Newsday]
Condo Expectations May Be Rethought As Prices Plunge [NY Sun]
Manhattan apartment prices leap despite sales drop [Reuters]
Manhattan real estate inventory grows [Inman]
NYC Housing Prices Keep Climbing [TheStreet.com]
Manhattan condos again outsell co-ops [The Real Deal]
Sales drop, prices rise in Manhattan market [The Real Deal]
2nd Quarter 2006: “The Boom is Done” [The Real Estate]
Manhattan housing prices up [USAToday (Miller Samuel)]
Brokerages Submit Reports, Hope to Avoid Summer School [Curbed]
Manhattan Apartment Price Hits Record Highs [All Headline News]
Investing: Rising rates depress N.Y. apartment sales [IHT]

_Duplicate News Feeds_
Sales mellow in Manhattan [Houston Chronicle]
Manhattan apartment prices leap despite sales drop [Yahoo News]
Manhattan has most apartments for sale since 1994 [The Journal News (Westchester, NY)]
Manhattan apartment prices leap despite sales drop [Washington Post]
Sales of Manhattan apartments falling [Sun-Sentinel]
Apartments On The Market In Manhattan Hit 12-Year High [Tampa Tribune]
Manhattan apartment prices leap despite sales drop [MSN Money]
Manhattan apartment prices leap despite sales drop [7KPLC (Lake Charles, Louisiana)]
Manhattan apartment prices leap despite sales drop [Wave3 (Louisville, Kentucky)]

Here are a handful of radio and tv spots as well – more to come.


[Bloomberg TV]

[WPIX WB11]

Morning Call [Bloomberg TV]

Bloomberg Morning Markets [Bloomberg TV]

Squawk Box [CNBC]

News at Ten [WB11]

News at 5 [Fox 5]

WSJ Report [WCBS Radio]
NPR poor fidelity – better clip coming [WNYC]


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Housing Stats Can Be Misleading (Long Live The Fed)

May 26, 2006 | 7:55 am | |

Well, the bad news is that we have to work today (well, most people) but the good news is that we have a long weekend ahead of us (and a lot of kayaking to do). I prospose we use the time to ponder how the housing market is really doing.

The housing stats and the anticipation of the Fed’s next move, seems to be largely reliant on misleading data. The Fed has ready indicated that they themselves are waiting to see what the data tells them before the next FOMC meeting. That in and of itself is reasonable, but the message seems to be that they are not in the driver’s seat. That is a big concern for the consumer.

I still contend that the weaker housing data has not yet impacted the overall economic stats in any significant way. When it does, the Fed may find itself needing to loosen monetary policy again after two years of belt tightening.

Housing Stats

  • Housing market hangs in Fed’s balancing act [USAToday]. Adjustable-mortgage products that made the housing market more resilient over the past five years have left it more fragile as interest rates rise, complicating life for the Federal Reserve…a slowing housing market increases rental rates. In the Labor Department’s formula for calculating the consumer price index, rents are a big chunk of what’s called “core inflation,” a measure that excludes food and energy. Higher core inflation, in turn, spooks bond and stock traders, who fear an outbreak of inflation, putting more pressure on the Fed.

  • Mortgage apps fell by most in three months USAToday.

  • New home sales rise [Matrix] but we know that the new home sale stats is so flawed that it should not be relied on.

  • Inventory fell [BW]. Inventory supply fell from 6 months to 5.8 months.

  • Sales of existing homes [BW] increased but at the slowest pace in 4.5 years and prices increased 4.2% to $223,000 which is the smallest annual price gain since 2001.

Fed Commentary


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[In The Media] CNBC Squawk Box Clip for 5-2-06

May 3, 2006 | 12:01 am | Public |

Here is the clip of my appearance on Tuesday’s morning edition of Squawk Box on CNBC.

I spoke of market conditions in the northeast (ok – I know Washington DC is mid-Atlantic, but they asked for it).

Fun stuff.


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[In The Media] Squawk Box 5-2-06

May 1, 2006 | 12:01 am | | Public |

I’ll be on Tuesday’s morning edition of Squawk Box on CNBC. I’m tentatively scheduled to be on at 7:40am (May 2, 2006).

I’ll be discussing the current state of the residential real estate market, east coast real estate trends, specifically New York. I believe they are doing a daily segment with representatives from different parts of the country. This morning Brad Inman will their guest.


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[In The Media] Squawk Box 5-2-06

April 24, 2006 | 9:31 am | Public |

I’ll be on Tuesday’s morning edition of Squawk Box on CNBC. I’m tentatively scheduled to be on at 7:40am (May 2, 2006).

I’ll be discussing the current state of the residential real estate market, east coast real estate trends, specifically New York. I believe they are doing a daily segment with representatives from different parts of the country. On Monday someone will discuss the west coast markets.

UPDATE: Thats Tuesday, May 2, 2006 not April 25, 2006 as originally posted.


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Washington DC Real Estate Speculators: 26 Square Miles Surrounded By Reality

April 24, 2006 | 12:01 am |

The title of this post was previously reserved for politicians but now it seems more appropriate to real estate investors. Apparently investor speculation in DC [WaPo] was more rampant than we gave fair credit for. [This was a front page WaPo story on Saturday]

Not just condominiums, but also townhouses and single-family houses, were snapped up by investors using no-money-down financing and non-traditional loans. They helped send prices soaring at unprecedented rates.

The investor element of the housing boom [cnbc] appears to be the segment that is suffering right now.

In Florida, the oversupply of rental to condo conversions are causing the landlords to have second thoughts [SoFl Bus]. Known as the “condo conversion reversion,” many condos are reverting back to rentals.

Is this unexpected? Not really. You can’t pile on thousands and thousand of units in a market and expect prices to rise indefinitely.

Ever made Hollandaise sauce? You can keep adding butter but risk having the emulsion break and being forced to start over. [sorry, will try to keep the cooking analogies to a minimum -ed]

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Judging A Book By Its Cover: David Lereah Changes Titles

February 23, 2006 | 12:06 am | Public |

According to Bubblemeter, David Lereah, the Chief Economist for the National Association of Realtors (NAR) is changing the title of his real estate book (as seen on Amazon) from:

Are You Missing the Real Estate Boom? to _Why the Real Estate Boom Will Not Bust._

Notice how the word BOOM is the same size and the graphics are identical? The Walk-through’s Old Fish In A New Wrapper says the content is the same – Damon Darlin’s post provided a pretty good chuckle.

I had the chance to meet David Lereah in the green room before the taping of CNBC’s Town Hall: Real Estate Boom last year. It was me, Suze Orman, Robert Shiller and David Lereah. Surreal to say the least. All very nice I might add. I only had a small appearance – these people were the main characters in this production.

Mr. Lereah has provided a tremendous amount of fodder for the blogosphere, myself included. Up until now, its been the use of language which would seem to be misleading. Now its book titles. This sort of stuff might have worked 5 years ago but not today. People have access to information almost immediately.


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