Michael Kolomatsky of the Calculator column in the New York Times real estate section crafted a cool infographic for this weekend using data from the Douglas Elliman‘s Hamptons Sales report that I author. The gist of it is that sellers are slowly pricing closer to market causing days on market and the listing discount to compress somewhat. This faster moving pattern is in sharp contrast to sliding price trends, declining sales, and rising inventory. The narrative in this market clearly reflects a slowdown, but with a vibrant regional economy, the buyers are here, but unwilling to pay at price levels of a few years ago.
This week’s Bloomberg Trifecta…
After the publication of our Q1-2019 Manhattan Sales Report for Douglas Elliman, there was a coverage by Bloomberg (and others): Bloomberg reporter Sydney Maki, anchor Vonnie Quinn on Bloomberg TV and a subsequent drive-time Bloomberg Radio interview with Denise Pellegrini.
(For a more detailed analysis with charts, commentary and reports, subscribe to my weekly Housing Notes, published on Fridays.)
I had another a fun interview on Adam Shapiro and Julie Hyman on fledgling Yahoo Finance TV. Verizon is going gonzo to get it going with even more original programming. One observation – each time I’ve been invited to talk about the housing market, the stock market plummets at least 600 points. Correlation or Causation?
PBS Nightly Business Report clip
[Story with 2 clips begins at 18:20]
CNBC’s Diana Olick reports on luxury home sales dropping in NYC due to tax laws and fewer international buyers.
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.
Speaking about the state of the real estate market tomorrow morning. Looking forward to it! The cool graphic below is enough of a reason to attend. 😉
The original invite graphic was also pretty cool.
I was reading the newspaper 2 weeks ago and saw that a well regarded area real estate brokerage firm had provided a listing photo magazine insert. I noticed what appeared to be a marketing inconsistency that referred to the Greenwich, CT housing market broker panic of a few months ago.
Below is the “We’re #1 in this market” type headline which is common in these photo magazines.
But it gets more interesting…
For the uninitiated, the Greenwich housing market received the ire of master of the universe Barry Sternlicht, CEO of Starwood which is based in Greenwich. According to area brokers, he was unable to sell his Greenwich home. Apparently it was frustrating so he spoke about it at a large business conference. Bloomberg news captured the slight in “Greenwich Is the Worst U.S. Housing Market, Sternlicht Says“
“You can’t give away a house in Greenwich,” Sternlicht said Tuesday at the CNBC Institutional Investor Delivering Alpha Conference in New York.
The brokerage community in Greenwich was appalled and many took the insult personally, at the risk of propping up sellers to unrealistic expectations they have maintained since 2007. Some agents wanted to write responses in the local papers and have celebrities speak out on how amazing Greenwich was as a residential community. Sadly that type of response completely missed the point. Greenwich is awesome. I have relatives who live there. It is beautiful, close to the commuter trains into the city and has a terrific school system. But that isn’t what Sternlicht was criticizing.
A real estate agent’s job is to help their clients navigate a housing market, not lead their clients to believe agents can prop it up artificially (aside from the “glass is half full” orientation) because agents are not bigger than the market. The effectiveness of spinning market conditions to hide actual conditions is a myth. I believe this way of broker thinking actually damages the market by keeping the gap between buyers and sellers artificially wide.
Greenwich, which relies on Wall Street for the high end home buyer market, did not see the boom of the past five years that NYC saw. Bonuses being paid out to Wall Street are forecast to be lower this year for the third year in a row. I wrote about this agent-market disconnect in my Housing Note when the Sternlicht article came out. In addition, areas furthest away from the town center have been the hardest hit as more and more new buyers are reflecting the new urbanism call for walkability.
It appears this brokerage firm was attempting to counter Sternlicht’s insult and placate their own agents, by inserting the following awkward headline: GREENWICH REAL ESTATE IS VIBRANT AND ACTIVE in this listing photo magazine insert below.
I understand that the results of their market report were almost identical to ours – sales slipped year over year – but less than the size of the prior quarter slip. Incidentally they no longer prominently post their market reports on their web site. I assume they have been removed for a similar reason. Current market conditions are weaker than a few years ago in the areas they service so there is no need to illustrate it. Anyway, that’s only my assumption.
The following photo ad even says (you can see the top of the “5%” on the lower right of the photo that says their sales are up 5%. But that factoid does not speak to the market, rather it really speaks about the sales volume of their company. This is misdirection since it contradicts overall market direction.
I have long admired this firm and still do so I sent my thoughts about this to a senior executive I know but received no response. I can only assume that this was thought to be a good recruiting tool to attract those agents appalled by the attack on the Greenwich market by Sternlicht. Unfortunately this doesn’t do any market participant any good since real estate brokers are supposed to be trusted advisors.
There has been voluminous discussion in recent years about following and marketing to the high end of the demographic scale, especial the real estate market. It’s been the focus of much of the new housing development action of the past five years, especially in big U.S. coastal cities. The high end development market has been widely chronicled here and within my weekly Housing Notes newsletter.
For buyers in the super luxury housing market, owning multiple homes is less about a primary residence with a second home and more about owning “stops on the big circuit.”
And as the rich own a greater share of real estate, major cities like New York, Los Angeles and London are going through a kind of “resortification,” familiar to posh beach towns or ski resorts, as their populations become more seasonal.
For Manhattan, these birds are rare in February and squawking on all treetops (bad pun for super tall condo penthouses) at full capacity in June.
And no, I never liked that band.
Here’s a brief summary but I’ll provide a more thorough explanation of the results in tomorrow’s Housing Notes (don’t just stare blankly at the screen, please sign up for my free weekly newsletter here.)