Imagine, All The Housing

I remember the moment I learned that John Lennon was shot on December 8, 1980. My future wife and I heard the news together on the radio and it spread like wildfire throughout our college dorm. I didn’t know anything about Manhattan back then or appraising, or The Dakota. Throughout my career, I’ve been in the building’s tiny lobby many times when performing appraisals, seeing specifically where he passed.

Upper West Side, Manhattan, New York City

But I digress…

The NYC Rental Rebound Continues But Remains Highly Polarized

I’ve been the author of an expanding series of market reports on U.S. regional housing markets for real estate firm Douglas Elliman since 1994.

The Bloomberg coverage of our research was the 6th most emailed article by the 350K Bloomberg Terminal subscribers and…

…the 13th most read article by the 350K Bloomberg Terminal subscribers.

As a chart fan, I’m guessing the two-fer on charts was a key reason for the high readership. Wow.

I’ll be speaking on Bloomberg Television about the report this Monday at 8:45 am ET.

Elliman Report: November 2021 Manhattan, Brooklyn & Queens Rentals


“Net effective median rent surged by a record annual rate for the second straight month.”

– Net effective median rent surged annually at a record rate for the second straight month
– The market share of landlord concessions, listing inventory, and the vacancy rate fell annually at record rates for the fourth consecutive month
– Listing discount from the original asking price fell to its second tightest level on record
– Median rent for doorman buildings surged by the highest rate more than nine years as non-doorman median rent increased annually for the second time in nineteen months
– Existing median rent surged annually at a record rate, exceeding the new development rate for the first time in ten months
– The market share of rentals at or above $15,000 rose to its highest market share in more than a decade
– Luxury listing inventory fell year over year at the second-highest rate in more than five years of tracking
– Luxury landlord concessions have been lower than non-luxury landlord concessions for twenty-six straight months


“The most new lease signings for the month of November in more than a decade.”

– New lease signings rose annually for the fifteenth straight month
– The amount of concessions paid by landlords returned fell to a record low
– Net effective median rent rose year over year for the first time in seventeen months


[Northwest Region] “The most new lease signings for the month of November in more than a decade.”

– New lease signings rose to their highest level for the month of November in a decade
– Listing inventory fell sharply month over month since the beginning of the year
– The market share of two-year leases comprised a large majority of signings, a complete inversion from the beginning of the year

When I Speak About Rental Housing Market Consumers, I Obviously Speak For Everyone On The Planet

Ok, that’s a tad boastful, but this is NYC and that’s how we communicate here. There’s a good Real Deal piece on our NYC rental market research for Douglas Elliman: Brooklyn, Queens lease signings soar, as do Manhattan rents and I get a call out quote.

Like Home Prices, Home Maintenance Is Rising Too

For more than a month, we’ve been trying to get an electrician to our home to fix some wiring that was damaged during some bathroom renovation work we’ve been undertaken. Five weeks later and we have yet to find someone to come out because everyone is slammed with work. In Fairfield County, Connecticut, we are seeing an extensive amount of renovations being done and contractors are in short supply. So the upstairs of our house hasn’t had heat for a while, averaging about 59 degrees. There is hope though, perhaps in a few days, we might get it resolved.

This Bloomberg piece really hit home (pun intended): Home Maintenance Costs Seen Climbing 9.3% in U.S. This Year

Americans are choosing to invest more in their homes to outfit spaces for work and school. Almost a third of owners surveyed say they plan to spend more than $10,000 on projects in the next 12 months, which could add further upward pressure on housing prices.

The Sinking Tower In San Francisco Keeps On Sinking

I’ve chronicled the saga of San Francisco’s Millennium Tower for years and there has been a recent development (pun intended) as the solution to the catastrophe is being implemented:

Since work began to shore the sinking structure up on the north and west sides, the building has settled nearly 2 inches at the northwest corner and is now tilting more than two feet at that edge.

NAR-Enabled Optics In Certain Regions Are Going To Get Them Sued

The appraisal industry is experiencing the same phenomenon. Here’s the optics problem that gets created when the leaders of the industry lose control of the narrative as told in this excellent substack:

Popular Information: How Realtors® are making it more difficult for students to learn about housing discrimination

Our appraisal industry is being pummeled for lack of diversity and real estate brokers (NAR) have long been subject to this criticism given the legacy of the federal government pushing redlining in the 1930s. This article by Popular Info shows what happens when local trade groups are not politically neutral and support political candidates without reading their platform’s fine print. So far the controversy seems to be on the fringe and with more exposure, these types of endorsements may not go any further since it contradicts NAR’s official position. But it does expose NAR to potential DOJ litigation.

Lesson for trade groups: Read the fine print before someone is endorsed.

Manhattan’s Affirmatiomn Tower Turns Commercial Real Estate Upside Down

The Wall Street Journal did a piece on this “upside-down” commercial tower being envisioned for the far West Side. What I love about the development community is when faced with a problem, they work hard to resolve it because the upside is often significant. Here is a case where the zoning and FAR have very specific allowances. In this case, the footprint of the building was small but the tower can be the second-highest building in the western hemisphere – so just build it upside down.

The Wall Street Journal and the Robb Report tell the story.

Photo-Op: 1917 Planned Workers Community

I thought these photos were fascinating.

Big Boy Restaurants, A Staple Of The Midwestern Suburbs, Can Creep Us Out

Getting Graphic

My favorite charts of the week of our own making

My favorite charts of the week made by others


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

Lyle Radke, FannieMae Director of Collateral Policy speaks with George Dell on Changes in Appraisals

Join Lyle Radke, FannieMae Director of Collateral Policy, and George Dell as they discuss changes in appraisal. This is an interesting but brutally long interview. I’ve heard Lyle speak quite a bit over the years and he seems to convey that he thinks Fannie Mae can automate appraisers out of existence.

UPDATE The value of the URL is in freefall

I just got this email update from a topic I covered on November 26th. I keep getting solicited for an email domain and the price drops every week:

We’ve just reviewed the price of the website domain:

The domain is currently listed for a discounted price of $100.

The free market, baby. What’s the over/under on the URL price going to zero?


Here’s the backstory on this URL saga…

So I got this email, offering this domain for $499.

On Mon, Oct 25, 2021, 8:03 PM Tony Thomas wrote:

‌The web domain: is now available for sale on marketplace for a price of $499. has strong keywords that are relevant to your Appraisal Services in ‘New York’ and his surroundings.

‌Use the domain massive advantage over your competitors in ‘New York’ and re-direct it to your main site to capture more visitors from the domain and targeted customer.

‌Get the domain to the appropriate authority in your company as competitors may be considered.

‌Go to: for immediate acquisition.

This domain can also be purchased through GoDaddy or any registrar of your choice.

‌Do let me know if you have any questions or concerns.

‌Best Regards,
‌Tony Thomas,
‌Flex Domain.

And the price continued to drop in subsequent emails:

Oct 29, 2021: $399

Nov 4, 2021: $299

Nov 10, 2021: $250

Nov 16, 2021: $200

Nov 22, 2021: $150

Eventually, they may find a bidder, but I’m not very sophisticated with SEO and will continue to focus on my company’s branding at rather than this type of effort.

If you have thoughts or suggestions on this topic, please share.

NRA versus TAF: Benefits Paid By Appraisers At Gunpoint

The Cosmic Cobra Guy took a look at the pre-pandemic financials of TAF. Although financial disclosures revealed Jeremy’s sleuthing showed a stunning $8 million surplus in 2019, the number is likely 50% higher now. I wonder when TAF is going to file their 2020 990? It’s not like TAF was traveling all over the globe in 2021 and was too busy to finalize the documents for filing. If anything, there has been an unusual lack of activity during COVID to get stuff like this done earlier than normal. At least they haven’t written another bat-shit crazy letter.

Here is Jeremy Bagott’s press release for today:


Dear Colleague,

With new indications last month of self-dealing, conflicts of interest and excessive internal payouts at the National Rifle Association, a familiar 501(c)(3) nonprofit warrants revisiting. Several years ago, I began investigating the Appraisal Foundation, starting with its IRS Form 990 filings and a Freedom of Information Act request to its federal patron. The results were eye-opening. I’m hoping you will read the press release below and share it widely.

Contact: Jeremy Bagott, MAI, AI-GRS
Tel: 805-794-0555



VENTURA, Calif. (Dec. 10, 2021) – The saga at the National Rifle Association continued last month as the nonprofit acknowledged a new round of excessive benefits paid to its long-tenured chief executive, Wayne LaPierre. If they’ve been observant, America’s licensed appraisers will see parallels in a nonprofit they are forced to support, one in which a cadre of insiders indulges a similar taste for the high life.

Last month, the NRA disclosed $44,000 in previously unreported private jet flights taken by LaPierre, as reported by the Wall Street Journal. The nonprofit is also probing allegations that LaPierre’s wife received makeup and hair-styling services reimbursed by the organization. It is also probing reimbursements to the LaPierres for gifts they gave to vendors, donors, and others. In its 2019 IRS filings, it disclosed that current and former top executives had received at least $1.4 million in improper or excessive benefits. It was the first time the group had publicly admitted such transgressions.

“[The NRA] essentially operates as a kingdom,” Phillip Journey, a family court judge in Wichita, Kansas, and member of the NRA’s board, described the nonprofit. According to testimony earlier in the year, the organization has been used to bankroll a garden of earthly delights for its chief executive.

LaPierre himself has testified about the alleged receipt of gifts that regulators claim represents undisclosed conflicts of interest. He offered rationale for flying exclusively by private charter jet, and he defended his expensing of nearly $300,000 in Italian suits from a Beverly Hills shop. The long-tenured LaPierre reigns over a fiefdom in which a tiny cadre of senior executives and venders has reportedly pulled hundreds of millions of dollars from the nonprofit through gratuitous payments, sweetheart deals and dubious financial arrangements.

The nation’s captive appraisers will recognize a microcosm of the waste, abuse, conflicts of interest and self-dealing reported at the NRA in a tiny 501(c)(3) publisher known as the Appraisal Foundation. The Washington, D.C., nonprofit has learned to lever its position as official purveyor of a continually changing code of conduct it sells, along with related products, to about 80,000 state licensees at monopoly pricing. The publisher’s chief executive and a clique of favored trustees then travel the globe on junkets to places like Paris, London, Rome, Rio and Singapore.

The publisher is wet-nursed by an obscure federal agency known by the tortuous title Appraisal Subcommittee of the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council. A former employee of the publisher is the federal agency’s executive director. The agency receives its sole funding from state pass-throughs. This allows it to evade the annual oversight of congressional reappropriations. Meanwhile, the publisher harvests other government spoils. It even applied for and received PPP relief during the early days of the pandemic. (It was later shamed into returning the money.)

The publisher’s IRS filings show that during a recent eight-year period, the tiny nonprofit received $6.5 million in federal grants and parlayed that into $27.6 million in publishing revenue thanks to its unique franchise.

The publisher, in addition, partners with private corporations; representatives of lobbying groups sit on its board. It receives no-bid contracts from federal agencies, such as the U.S. Department of the Interior, and outsources resulting work – some with six-figure fees – to former members of its CEO’s executive compensation committee. It bankrolls all-expense-paid travel for state employees who unquestioningly enforce its fluid standards on licensees back home. In many states, these officials openly violate their respective state administrative statutes and state constitutions in the process.

This tiny organization pays its chief executive, a long-tenured figure named David Bunton, more than the salaries of the Federal Reserve Chairman and U.S. Treasury Secretary combined.

According to its 2019 IRS Form 990, the nonprofit has slowly amassed nearly $8 million in cash, savings and publicly traded securities, all while receiving guaranteed taxpayer grants.

During the early days of the pandemic, the publisher quietly purged annual reports from its website that raised questions about its arrangements with foreign governments.

Bunton reported in 2005 that the publisher had assisted Russia, China and the Ukraine in developing their own standards and qualifications. He reported that the travel associated with this work was paid for by the host nations, but was silent on whether any monies or things of value had changed hands for the work product itself. He was similarly silent on any foreign consulting fees, licensing fees or royalties for use of the nonprofit’s copyrighted standards, the costs for which are defrayed, as prescribed in a federal statute, by U.S. taxpayers. Author Jeremy Bagott has archived older versions of the foundation’s annual reports. They can be viewed here.

If employees of the nonprofit have caused foreign officials to believe they are dealing with representatives of the U.S. government, the former could be in violation of the Logan Act. If it is selling access to individuals in the U.S. banking system or acting on behalf of its foreign partners here in the U.S., it would be subject to the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

“What’s going on with this nonprofit is a four-alarm fire,” said Bagott. “A profession that helps safeguard trillions in federally backed mortgage loans is ultimately at the mercy of a handful of world citizens flush with U.S. government patronage and a license to mint money. Unchallenged power over decades has resulted in hubris and abuse.”

Last year, details surfaced that Bunton was “retired in place,” receiving internal retirement pay in 2017 on top of his regular CEO pay, effectively more than doubling his reportable compensation to $760,000 that year. It would be no one’s business if his 14-employee nonprofit were not receiving guaranteed federal money each year and not exercising a monopoly at the expense of a class of citizens.

# # #

Jeremy Bagott, a licensed appraiser and former newspaperman, sends up a warning flare in his 2019 book “Dispatches from the Cosmic Cobra Breeding Farm.” He takes the reader deep inside a tiny Washington, D.C., foundation that has managed to have its copyrighted code of conduct enshrined in federal and state law. All 50 states, even the U.S. territories of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, now enforce it. The nonprofit, known as the Appraisal Foundation, has parlayed the arrangement into a lucrative publishing cartel. In his journey, the author uncovers a troubling trend deep in the plumbing of government.

OFT (One Final Thought)

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 imagine;
– You’ll imagine;
– And I’ll sit solemnly in Strawberry Fields.

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
Miller Samuel Inc.
Real Estate Appraisers & Consultants
Matrix Blog

Reads, Listens and Visuals I Enjoyed

My New Content, Research and Mentions

Recently Published Elliman Market Reports

Appraisal Related Reads

Extra Curricular Reads