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Posts Tagged ‘Wall Street Bonus’

Bankers As Parasite Hypothesis, Inaccurate Recession Forecasting

February 10, 2009 | 1:34 am |

I stumbled across a blog that I really enjoy: Stern on Finance that I added to my blogroll. The categories are broad but the blog covers the things that interest me most – would love to see more real estate, naturally.

A week ago I wrote about the bonus phenomenon in New York and its relative importance to housing. The 2008 bonus was 44% below the 2007 yet still the 6th highest in history. I brought this topic up again because of the post Are Bankers Over-Paid? by Thomas Philippon.

The paper is a fascinating analysis that shows that pre-depression, the financial industry was classified as high skill and high wage. This crumbled from the depression through the early 1980s, when human capital began to return through today’s market.

Human capital (I love this term!) left post-depression and returned in the early 1980s.

Hey! Wasn’t the early 1980s about the time mortgage backed securities became popular a la Liar’s Poker?

A dramatic shift occurred during the 1930s: the financial sector rapidly lost its high human capital and its wage premium relative to the rest of the private sector. The decline continued at a more moderate pace from 1950 to 1980. By that time, wages in the financial sector were similar, on average, to wages in the rest of the economy. From 1980 onward, another dramatic shift occurred. The financial sector became once again a high skill/high wage industry. Strikingly, by the end of the sample, relative wages and relative education levels went back almost exactly to their pre-1930s levels.

In other words, the paper concludes that wall street bankers are overpaid – this has serious ramifications for the New York luxury residential housing market going forward as the economy de-leverages and all the investment banks shift to the world of regulatory overlay that commercial banks have long been entangled in. This suggests that the sweet spot for the NYC housing market won’t be the high end in the near future.

One other comforting thought after it was deduced that bankers are overpaid: forecasting is less accurate during a recession.

St. Louis Fed:

Forecasts of GDP growth and the unemployment rate both generally tend to be overly optimistic: Forecasts of GDP growth tend to be too high, whereas those for the unemployment rate tend to be too low.


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The 6th Highest Wall Street Bonus Payout In History, Girlfriend

February 1, 2009 | 12:07 am | |

Last week the New York State Comptroller announced that Wall Street bonuses fell 44% to $18.4B and the securities industry losses may exceed $35B

Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), which infused billions of dollars into the financial system, helped prevent more institutions from failing. TARP placed restrictions on bonuses for top executives and many have voluntarily forgone bonuses, but it did not impose limitations for lower-level employees.

State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli seems to be inferring that high level executives held back and the more pedestrian lower paid employees took the money? I don’t think so. Sure, CEOs at Citi and others witheld bonus compensation, but that wasn’t in the majority. In fact 79% of all Wall Street employees got paid a bonus this year.

In fact, although the bonus pool was down 44%, it was the sixth highest payout in history.

Here’s what I wrote about bonuses last year at this time. Much has changed, other than the concepts applied to compensation (hint: they’re not correlated with performance.)

That certainly important for the New York real estate economy, but given the credit crunch, it may not prove to be much help. Each January, the bonus compensation starts the real estate market engine.

Maureen Dowd in her Op-ed piece Disgorge, Wall Street Fat Cats suggests:

The president needs to think like Andrew Cuomo. “ ‘Performance bonus’ for many of the C.E.O.’s is an oxymoron,” he said. “I would tell them, a) you don’t deserve a bonus, b) where are you going to go? and c) if you want to go, go.”

Firstly, I think we all need a refresher course on what a bonus is:

bo⋅nus   [boh-nuhs] noun, plural -nus⋅es
1. something given or paid over and above what is due.
2. a sum of money granted or given to an employee, a returned soldier, etc., in addition to regular pay, usually in appreciation for work done, length of service, accumulated favors, etc.
3. something free, as an extra dividend, given by a corporation to a purchaser of its securities.
4. a premium paid for a loan, contract, etc.
5. something extra or additional given freely: Every purchaser of a pound of coffee received a box of cookies as a bonus.

I always saw bonus as a mislabeled compensation method – most see it as base pay plus commission. After all, the average compensation on Wall Street has averaged 40% to 50% of total compensation and bonus payouts have been at or near record levels over the past 6 years – based on nothing really. It morphed into a way to offload compensation risk to the employees. We’ll pay you half of your salary at the end of the year if we can, which morphed into no matter what.

Felix Salmon at Portfolio opines further on this point – that there is a minimum bonus payment level that must be made (seemingly contrary to Andrew Cuomo’s statement above).

Now there are good reasons for having a bonus system: it incentivizes profitable work, and it makes it easy for banks to pay less money in lean years. But as Bookstaber writes, there’s definitely an implicit minimum bonus at investment banks — a sticky level below which it’s hard to cut bonuses any further.

There are reasons to have a minimum bonus, rather than baking that money into base pay: it’s not included in pay-rise calculations, for starters. But when banks start getting multi-billion-dollar government bailouts, it looks really bad if they then just turn around and spend a similar amount of money on bonuses.

But resentment is growing and the campaign weary “Main Street vs. Wall Street” has found new life. Wall Street has lost billions, been bailed out for billions and been paid billions in bonuses. The mortgage securitization juggernaut will end up costing taxpayers trillions and the industry is whining about compensation.

Washington is angry, and perhaps embarrassed for not building this into the TARP.

But seriously, did Congress really expect Wall Street to stop paying out bonuses voluntarily? Its part of the culture, always has been. It’s like asking Congress voluntarily not to run attack ads and not be overly partisan – it’s simply built into their DNA.

No moral judgement being made here – people outside this world don’t seem to understand what makes Wall Street tick. If its not mandated, then status quo will prevail.

Even worse, the lower compensation is having an adverse effect on the social lives of Wall Street bankers, ’cause its the economy, Girlfriend.

UPDATE: Signs Wall Street may already be re-inventing itself.


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Editorializing The Real Estate Hype

January 13, 2009 | 2:10 am | |

In the current issue of Crain’s New York Business, there was an editorial on the hyping of real estate. I thought it was pretty good, especially ’cause I was named as the voice of reason.

If the top 10% of transactions (those for more than $3 million) were excluded, Manhattan apartment prices were flat for the past two years, notes Jonathan Miller, the appraiser who is the savviest observer of the local residential market. In fact, Mr. Miller has been pointing out for most of the past year that the activity in the most expensive segment was distorting the average price and that the decline in the number of transactions spelled trouble. He always insisted that Wall Street bonuses drove the market, not international buyers.

The concept for sharp-minded people:

Live by the sword,
die by the sword

My observations of real estate professionals in housing markets as they begin to weaken seems to go like this:

  • Over hype the positive
  • Spin, misdirection
  • Denial
  • Disbelief
  • Passive acceptance
  • Jump on the bandwagon
  • Over hype the negative

Many agents are doing a better job in relating to the current environment, but there are still stragglers.

I had an agent come up to me last week after I spoke at the Inman conference on Friday and asked

why do you paint the market so “negatively”? How can you possibly know what the numbers really are?

Good grief.

I’d like to consider myself a “neutral observer.” I got beat up in 3Q 05 and again in 1Q 08 when we had significant evidence of weaker conditions. The punishment often came from top agents, who perhaps had more to lose? In each case our results were status quo after acceptance of the new market was realized – usually 1-2 quarters later.

Change can be hard to deal with.


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[Bonus Thinking] All Children Are Above Average

November 10, 2008 | 12:43 pm | | Radio |

A survey found that despite all the gloomy economic news, 1/3 of Wall Street think their compensation will exceed last year’s levels.

If people think that, it’s a combination of human nature and the Lake Wobegon effect,’ he said — a reference to the mythical town in Garrison Keillor’s “Prairie Home Companion,” where “all children are above average.”

Don’t forget that “all the women are strong and all the men are good looking.” (I am long time podcast devotee of Lake Wobegon.)

One of the key reasons that the New York City metro area was one of the last residential housing markets to be impacted by the housing market slow down was the financial might – that is Wall Street bonus compensation. Last year bonuses accounted for just under 50% of total wages paid out in the financial services sector. It’s a long time annual economic ritual in New York.

It’s going to get painful for many in NYC over the next few years. I have many friends on the Street who work hard and make a decent living, but have or will lose their job as a result of a sector of Wall Street that went haywire. It’s simplistic reasoning to lump all segments of Wall Street all together. However, we do like to do that, especially when pointing fingers. Lower bonus compensation will impact the housing market in the New York region over the next few years with less income making it’s way toward mortgage payments.

Bonuses, which soared to record heights in recent years, could drop by 20 to 35 percent across the industry, according to a private study to be released on Thursday. Bonuses for top executives could plunge by 70 percent.

If 50% of your total compensation drops 50% or more, that’s a major decline in spending power. It’s very easy to be generic about all of this. The message given out is: Wall Street is BAD and all Main Street is GOOD. Yet, they are not mutually exclusive.

Is some of the logic for compensation crazy? You bet (no pun intended).

Should New York Attorney General Cuomo go after financial abuse and fraud? You bet. Of course it furthers the notion that bonus compensation is somehow criminal so he needs to walk the path very carefully. Judging by how Cuomo handled appraisers’ role in the mortgage crisis, I suspect he will do it right.

Somehow along the way, the word “bonus” has become another word for “greed”. Sure, there are upper bracket wage earners who make mind boggling compensation. But that is not the masses.

Main Street was pitted against Wall Street as an election theme (just like small town America was presented as the ‘Real America’).

Greg David, editor of Crains New York writes in his post “In defense of Wall Street Bonuses” He makes the case that:

The mayor gets 9% of his revenue from Wall Street, and the governor relies on it for 20%. Bonuses are key to spending on education, health care and police.

One of Greg’s students at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism gives a more ground level perspective:

So, every time I hear about Wall Street cutting jobs or cutting salaries, all I think of is Eddie. A 25-year-old guy who works his tail off about 50 hours a week–and even more since the financial crisis made its landfall.


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Only Bonus Babies Really Know The Fine Print

January 22, 2008 | 12:01 am |

One of the biggest questions of the New Year covers how big Wall Street Bonuses will be and what will be their impact on the New York City real estate market.

Last week the official bonus word came down from the Office of the New York State Comptroller’s Office. Here’s an attempt to parse out the relevant info:

  • Average Wall Street bonuses in 2007 declined 4.7% from record levels in the prior year to $180,420.
  • The securities industry wages to New York City employees totaled $33.2 billion, 2 percent less than the record $33.9 billion in 2006.
  • Wall Street added 9,600 jobs during the first 11 months of 2007, a 5.4 percent increase.

I see more restricted stock as part of total compensation on the bonus horizon.

  • Bonuses in 2007 will be dramatically lower for workers in mortgage-related businesses, but higher in areas such as mergers and acquisitions, equity underwriting and trading.
  • Employee compensation, which includes bonuses, consumed 61 percent of the firms’ revenues in 2007, up from 45 percent 2006, reflecting the firms’ efforts to retain high-performing employees.

Bonus compensation has been hovering in the low 40 percentile of total compensation for several years. The sharp increase in the percentage indicates weakness, not strength in the financial condition of the financial services sector (the denominator got smaller).

Will this compensation make its way into the real estate economy? I don’t see how it can’t.

Will real estate see the same level of activity as last year’s record with this near record compensation level? I don’t see how it can.


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[Inman Connect] Where Real Estate Meets Wall Street

December 24, 2007 | 3:59 pm | |

Connect NYC ’08

Inman News is presenting its Inman Real Estate Connect conference Wednesday, January 9 – Friday, January 11 at the Marritt Marquis in Manhattan. Through this twice yearly event (San Francisco and NYC), Brad Inman created the “go to” forum for the dissemination and sharing of real estate information and insight. As I have said many times, what distinguishes this conference from most others is that the attendees are decision makers.

Brad is moderating a panel in the general session on Friday, January 11, 9:00 a.m. – 9:45 a.m. that I’ll be participating in called:

NYC: Where Real Estate Meets Wall Street

The New York City real estate market has a special relationship with Wall Street where big bonuses can mean big luxury apartments. But Wall Street is also moving forward with many new investment products that may change the course of property valuation and hedging forever. How is Wall Street doing with these products and will the New York market benefit?


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2Q 2007 Manhattan Market Overview Available For Download

July 8, 2007 | 7:30 pm | | Reports |

The PDF version of the 2Q 2007 Manhattan Market Overview [Miller Samuel] that I write for Prudential Douglas Elliman is available for download. I have been writing these market reports for them since 1994.

Here is some additional information from Prudential Douglas Elliman’s CEO/President Dottie Herman covering the 2Q 07 report release. Since she purchased PDE four years ago, she has been unwavering in her support of my requirement to remain independent in the preparation of these reports (and of course, it goes without saying that I am also able to remain dull and boring).

In addition, you can see the methodology that went into the report including the neighborhood boundaries and the type of content we have available.

You can also build your own custom data tables using the aggregate report data (from 1Q 89 through 2Q 2007) and view a series of quarterly market charts, most related to the current market report.

An excerpt

…The number of Manhattan apartment sales are at record levels. Listing inventory has fallen sharply from recent highs. Two of three price indicators tracked in this study set records. Days on market and listing discount indicators are contracting. In contrast, national housing statistics, while not reflective of individual markets, show just the opposite. The New York City economy continues to show improvement coming after two consecutive years of record Wall Street bonus payouts. Preliminary indicators from the financial services sector show more of the same strength bonus income in the coming year. Mortgage rates are low despite recent increases. The government is running a budget surplus, unemployment is low and the weak dollar has brought in significant foreign investment. The constant in the demand/supply equation has been new development activity, whose pace has not abated for the past three years. It contributed to the rise in inventory levels of 2005 and 2006, but the significant demand has more than offset new product added to the market in 2007. The relatively inelastic short term response to demand suggests that the high level of demand is something to focus on for the remainder of the year and through 2008.

Download report: 2Q 2007 Manhattan Market Overview [pdf]


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4Q 2006 Manhattan Market Overview Available For Download

January 29, 2007 | 12:01 am | | Public |

The PDF version of the 4Q 2006 Manhattan Market Overview [Miller Samuel] that I write for Prudential Douglas Elliman [PDE] is available for download. I have been writing these market reports for them since 1994. I neglected to post this on Matrix sooner.

In addition, you can see the [methodology]) that went into the report including the neighborhood boundaries and the type of content we have available.

You can also build your own custom data tables using the aggregate report data (from 1Q 89 through 4Q 2006) and view a series of quarterly market charts, many related to the current market report.

_An excerpt_

…Buyers begin to stir as sellers price prop-erties closer to market levels For the past year and a half, the Manhattan market had been characterized by a surplus of listing inventory, with a large portion of it comprised of overpriced resale properties. An abundance of new development inventory has been the focal point of the excess inventory problem. A rift between buyers and sellers emerged as buyers became more demanding about price discounts, resulting in a lower level of sales activity and expanded days on market. Many would-be purchasers moved into the rental market, not because they could not afford to purchase but because there was concern over the near term outlook of the real estate market. However, listing inventory stabilized in the third quarter and dropped sharply in the current quarter as the expiration of over priced resale listings overtook the rise in new development inventory. Record Wall Street bonuses have provided more disposable income and helped keep unemployment levels low. This has helped fuel demand for housing, the effect compounded by four consecutive years of gains because bonus recipients may or may not purchase in the same year their bonus was awarded. Election changes in the federal government last November, more realistic pricing by sellers, a drop in inventory levels as overpriced listings expired, low local unemployment, solid fiscal condition of city government, weakening US dollar, stabilizing mortgage rates and lack of a price correction in six quarters in the post housing boom era have all helped influence buyers to reconsider their position and begin to enter the purchase market again…..

Download report: 4Q 2006 Manhattan Market Overview [pdf]

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The Onus of The Wall Street Bonus

December 15, 2006 | 9:56 am | |

Over the past few weeks, discussion of the impact of the Wall Street bonus has increased as rapidly as the housing prices did in 2004. Its a big economic event in the New York region and provides a significant impact on the local economy.

Bonuses been get a lot of coverage with more to come:

Huge Profit at Goldman Brings Big Bonuses [NYT]
Brokerages report record profits [AP]
Unbelieva-bull spending spree [NYDN]
Downtown realtors ready for bonus time [Metro]
Jaw-Dropping Bonuses on Wall Street [US News]

However, I don’t think that bonuses are the only reason why 2007 looks more promising today than it did 6 months ago. While bonus income seems to have more impact on pricing than the number of sales, the consensus is that a wider market strata will be affected this time.

Last year, the bonus income had more of an impact on the upper 2% of the market, for properties priced above $5 million dollars. This year however, as the saying goes, its different. But no real reason has been given as to why things are different this year other than bonuses, it just feels different. For example, its my impression that there have been more bidding wars in the last month and a half than in the early part of the year.

Here are some thoughts on why the outlook for 2007 could be better than last year in New York real estate:

  • Bonus income is higher than last year and its no surprise. Each quarter, news coverage of the pace of bonus money tracking has remained on target. The news gradually built expectations over the year.
  • Bonus income has seen 4 successive years of gains (assuming this year is), which provides a cumulative effect. Bonus payouts don’t necessarily go into the housing market in the first year of payout. Activity today may originate from payouts made a few years ago.
  • Mortgage rates have been generally in decline or flat for the past 6 months. Mortgage applications are rising including refi activity which adds to the churn. The Fed is largely expected to cut the federal funds rate in mid-2007 because of a cooling economy. However, the NYC economy is expected to be fairly solid so the market benefits from weaker conditions in other parts of the country through tapping into lower mortgage rates.
  • International buyers have been coming to the market in increasing numbers, (but less than I would have thought by this point). Favorable exchange rates due to the weakening dollar makes NYC properties increasingly affordable to foreign buyers.
  • Lending (underwriting) standards continue to erode making it easier to get deals done.
  • Some developers are starting to get the message that its all about accurate pricing and that marketing alone doesn’t move units. We are hearing that some stalled projects are being re-priced and then see units started to move. Placing ego aside is a huge step int he right direction.
  • Overpriced listings from non-serious sellers started to expire and not be renewed last spring, reducing the clutter and frustration for buyers. Inventory levels in the region have remained level for more than 6 months, after seeing substantial gains for the prior 18 months. There is some evidence of inventory bottoming out nationally after several months of gains but the jury is still out.
  • Rental rates spiked this year as a result of people moving into rentals for safety and lower cost. They became disillusioned after seeing bidding wars and 20 to 25% rent hikes in the luxury sector.
  • The local economy is on solid footing and the city is projecting a surplus.
  • The recent national election brought significant change to the Congress, implying some sort of changes in the future.

To expound on the last thought, the real estate market is often defined by negative milestones, ironic for such an upbeat industry. One of those milestones could be the recent national election.

With the president’s approval rating at record lows for his tenure and the situation in Iraq deteriorating, I thought that a change in control of the Congress could be one of those milestones. The looming election had turned the focus away from the housing market. While the change in power may or may not impact housing, it was a change and seemed to precipated a change in perception.

The latest wrinkle is the sudden illness of Democatic Senator Tim Johnson, who, if unable to continue in office, would be replaced by someone appointed by the Governor, a Republican by presumeably, a Republican. This would move the Senate to 50/50 representation by both parties just after the newly majority that the Democrats earned last month. However, I suspect that this is a non-event for housing. The momentum has already been initiated by the election.

Sure, the bonus money is an important, and perhaps primary component of the recent surge in activity in Manhattan, but it can’t claim all the credit.


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3Q 2006 Manhattan Market Overview Available For Download

October 24, 2006 | 12:01 am | | Public |

The PDF version of the 3Q 2006 Manhattan Market Overview [Miller Samuel] that I write for Prudential Douglas Elliman [PDE] is available for download. I have been writing these market reports for them since 1994. The delay in getting this pretty version ready was my fault this quarter…sorry.

In addition, you can see the [methodology]) that went into the report including the neighborhood boundaries and the type of content we have available.

You can also build your own custom data tables using the aggregate report data (from 1Q 89 through 3Q 2006) and view a series of market charts, many related to the current market report.

_An excerpt_

…Prices are off in the current quarter from record levels set in the prior quarter but remain above levels seen in the prior year quarter. Overall inventory has stabilized for the first time since the end of 2004 but that appears to be due more to the offsetting decline in co-op re-sale inventory and increase in condo inventory where more than 60% of the growth is attributable to new development. Fixed and adjustable rate mortgage rates fell over the quarter but that did not stimulate additional demand. There seems to be plenty of buyers out there as lenders report rising numbers of pre-qualified buyers. Other factors such as stable local economic conditions, including an optimistic Wall Street bonus outlook, reasonable employment and payroll levels, fiscal austerity by local government and currency exchange rates encouraging foreign investment added to the stability of the market. Nevertheless, these conditions have not convinced would-be buyers to make a purchase decision as evidenced by weaker sales and increased rental activity….

Download report: 3Q 2006 Manhattan Market Overview [pdf]

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[Matrix Zeppelin Series] Coastal, Gentrifying, Negative Light, Overload, Raw Numbers, Get Ugly, Lereah Is MIA, Bonuses, Slowdown Coming, Going Into Foreclosure

September 15, 2006 | 6:46 am | |


This week, there was no hot air in the Zeppelin commentary. In fact it was so heavy, I don’t think it got off the ground. Here’s a sample:

  • It’s interesting reading everyone talk about the inpact of interest rates on the slowing real estate market. “Rates when up .24356, that’s why real estate is slowing” etc. That is nothing! I live in Florida. I paid $3500 for my home owners policy last year. I thought that was too high. I just got my renewal notice. My new premium is $12,500! That’s an increase of $700 per month! Florida and the coastal areas of the US are in a free fall in property values as it is. This new wave of insurance hikes will be a disaster for coastal property values!

  • Are you allowed to say “in a gentrifying area”?

  • I have come to belive all news is presented in the most negative light possible, especially news about the economy. I have also come to believe that most people who post comments to blogs or news stories want the sky to be falling (I don’t know why – but it appears to be the case). I expect that you will be bashed for trying to “keep it in perspective”. [as I suspected, Matrix readers didn’t do that – Jonathan]

  • We can strip away all the information overload and focus in to what real estate pricing is all about which is simply supply and demand.

  • You definitely pinpointed the limited usefulness of the RealtyTrac report in that the comparison should be to the national housing stock that has mortgages. That’s exactly what the Mortgage Bankers Association did in a survey out today, which puts the foreclosure rate for the second quarter at .99 percent — up 1 basis point from last quarter, but down 1 basis point from the same quarter last year. If you have a lot more people taking out loans, as they did in the boom years, the (raw) number of foreclosures is naturally going to go up, even if people are just continuing to default at the same old rate. The real question is what’s the number of homes in foreclosure as a percentage of all loans. The MBA survey did show a pretty good bump in the number of delinquencies on subprime and FHA loans, however (and even prime ARMs), but chief economist Doug Duncan said he doesn’t expect “order of magnitude” increase in delinquencies next year. Companies like RealtyTrac are in the business of selling info about foreclosed properties to investors, and maybe the raw numbers mean something to that crowd — like more opportunities to cash in on others’ misfortunes. Which doesn’t mean their numbers aren’t true. They just, as you say, lack perspective.

  • Here in Southern California, foreclosures (Notice of Defaults, actually) are sky-rocketing. In the first year of this housing market down cycle, the monthly number of NODs is already nearing the worst monthly levels of the 1990’s housing market down cycle. Yes, this is perspective. This is going to get very ugly before the sun starts to rise again.

  • Now that you mention it, Lereah has been MIA for the NAR — hadn’t noticed that. Stevens tenure is about to end, so we soon won’t have him to kick around any more. But let’s give it one more shot. The Washington Post carried a piece last Saturday about (essentially) NAR President Stevens getting caught in the market … um … correction. “his old house in Great Falls has now been on the market for a year at the price of $1.45 million.”What I should have done,” confessed the senior vice president of NRT Inc., parent of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, “was listened to my agent and cut the price by $50,000 to $100,000 early on, and the property would have sold last October.” Or, even better, he said, “I should have listed it a month earlier,” when the market was only just beginning to lose air.” And on, and on he goes. I don’t know what average days on the market is in the DC area, but I bet it is less than 365. And Stevens hasn’t sold yet…

  • I was under the impression that prior to the impending bonuses of 2006, 2005 was also a record year. However, it didn’t seem to do all that much for housing – maybe in the luxury/ultra luxury area, but not overall. We still had a lousy spring. So I can’t see why that would change this year, with inventory so much higher. Besides, don’t all those rich guys own by now?

  • New York’s economy is strong, and people are pouring in. In the short run, therefore, any price decrease would be the result of prices being too high relative to income to being with, and nothing else. I think that may happen. Next year, however, it may also be that weakness in the housing market elsewhere causes weakness in the economy elsewhere and weakness in the stock market, working its way back to NYC. Bonuses will be at record levels this year, but Crains reported on Monday Wall Street’s three-year bull-run is losing steam. “After a terrific first half, earnings are expected to fall 40% in the second half…The slowdown is hitting virtually every trade plied on Wall Street. Stock and bond underwriting volume plunged nearly 50% in the summer quarter compared with a year earlier. The hugely lucrative businesses of advising on corporate mergers and taking companies public are also slumping.” Perhaps, with a slowdown coming, those high flying finanical geniuses won’t blow their bonuses this time around. Naaaah.

  • But you DON’T have perspective until you can answer the question, “What is the impact of NODs (or foreclosures) on the market?” Are they affecting inventory? By how much? What other pressures are there on inventory? The RealtyTrac survey reports 12,506 California homes entered into foreclosure in August — up 25 percent from July and 160 percent from the year before. That sounds pretty serious, right? Well, maybe not if foreclosures were at historic lows. Maybe not if some 500,000 homes change hands in the state every year. Which is not to say that the market’s not soft, especially in particular areas. Inventory in the state is up — CAR puts it at 7.5 months in July, versus 2.9 months same time last year. But what is causing inventory to rise? Is it because more homes are going into foreclosure, or because houses are just sitting on the market because they are overpriced? The bottom line is that the raw number of foreclosures, by itself, doesn’t tell you that much about supply and demand.


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Wall Street Bonuses: Housing Market Is Not Rocket Science

September 14, 2006 | 7:09 am | |

The housing market often takes its lead from the the major businesses in the local market. If employment and compensation is good, housing is helped.

Take Detroit for example. Michigan is one of the most vulnerable housing markets right now as the auto industry has been hemorraging. The decline in housing prices may become excruciatingly painful. [Detroit News].

Less job certainty, few jobs and little or no increases in annual compensation translate into weaker housing markets. No rocket science here. (for that see Los Alamos).

The New York region happens to be one of the bright spots in the national economy over the coming year. Wall Street, one of the major “industries” of the region, had a record year for compensation [BW]. Last year firms payed out $21.5 billion in bonus money and this year, based on year to date figures, is expected to be even better. This is measured in bonus money paid out, which exceeds 50% of total compensation. They are not hiring more than any other sector but compensation per person is rising.

This money finds its way into the housing economy within a few months after the bonuses are announced in December. This may temper some of the weakness being caused by the build-up in inventory but its not the answer to all our housing market issues by a long stretch. For example, condo units available for sale are up 143% and co-ops are up 50% since December 2004 [Curbed].


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