It's Still February And Rents Are Rising And The Sky Isn't Falling

It’s Still February And Rents Are Rising And The Sky Isn’t Falling

Ha. This is a good uplifting take on the month of February…

But I digress…

Manhattan Rents Continue To Press Higher

I’ve been the author of an expanding series of housing market reports since 1994 for real estate firm Douglas Elliman This week the firm released our rental market research in New York City and the results continued to reflect robust activity as the market snapped back.

Elliman Report: January 2022 Manhattan, Brooklyn & Queens Rentals

Bloomberg created a nice chart (two versions) for their piece: Manhattan Apartment Rents Creep Closer to the Highest on Record


“A low vacancy rate combined with a rapid drop in listing inventory led to record prices.”

– Net effective median rent increased annually at its highest rate record to the second-highest January ever recorded
– Listing inventory fell year over year at a record rate for the sixth straight month
– The vacancy rate fell below pre-pandemic levels for the second consecutive month
– Doorman median rent surged year over year for the sixth straight month at a record rate

– Non-doorman rent jumped annually at a record rate but remained below pre-pandemic levels
– Luxury average rent rose to the highest level in more than eleven years
– Luxury listing inventory fell to the lowest in six and a half years of tracking
– Luxury landlord market share of concessions had fallen by half from just before the pandemic era began


“Heavy leasing volume against the backdrop of a sharp decline in listing inventory led to rapid rental price gains.”

– Listing inventory fell year over year by the highest rate on record
– New lease signings rose to the second-highest January since tracking began in 2008
– Net effective median rent rose year over year at the third-highest rate for the month of December


[Northwest Region] “Record January leasing volume along with a rapid decline in listing inventory resulted in a surge in rental price gains.”

– Net effective median rent rose at its second-fastest annual rate on record
– Listing inventory fell year over year by the largest rate on record
– The number of new leases reached its highest level for January on record

This Monster NYT Cover Story Shows How Median Price Growth Since Pre-Pandemic Is Universal Across The 5 Boroughs

During the pandemic, I’ve contended that year-over-year trend comparisons should be made against the same period two years ago. Well, the NYT listened and the comparison across the five boroughs is amazingly consistent.

Here is how the individual boroughs trended out.

The Case Against Single Family Zoning

In recent years there is a growing chorus that makes the case against single-family zoning for fostering lack of diversity, more damage to the climate, and rising housing prices. A few years ago, Minneapolis banned single-family zoning and more cities and states are have abolished it to are considering it.

Here is a fun watch video on the topic. I’m convinced the world needs more sarcasm.

The Regional Plan Association presented this documentary on NYC metro housing in 1973. Narrated by Eli Wallach whose credits include The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, its obviously dated but was a compelling presentation.

CHOICES for '76 – Housing: A Place to Live from Regional Plan Association on Vimeo.

How To Keep Your Historic Home From Eroding

The Onion Exposes Misleading Listings

I love The Onion’s hard-hitting news.

THREAD Ritholtz Gives Us The Breakdown On Transitory Inflation

Getting Graphic

My favorite charts of the week made by others

Len Kiefer‘s Chart Handiwork


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

NFHA Had To Remind TAF’s Dave Bunton How He Publically Misrepresented Facts About Their Report

It’s hard to believe that, in this day and age of pervasive video and audio recording, some people continue to try to re-write history for their own benefit. Apparently, Dave Bunton is one of those individuals but this time he picked the wrong group to mess with. This letter is an unbelievably detailed and clear takedown of Dave by NFHA over Dave’s glaring misrepresentation of TAF’s input into the study. This letter can be found on the website.

The National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) independently authored the Appraisal Standards and Appraiser Criteria Report along with Dane Law LLC, and the Christensen Law Firm for ASC and it was clearly in TAF’s interest to obscure the results.

Dave Bunton spoke at TAFAC (The Appraisal Foundation Advisory Council) on January 28, 2022, and shared comments with HousingWire. I have been a member of TAFAC in the past, attending meetings a few years ago. I also subscribe to HousingWire and have been quoted numerous times by different reporters on various topics. In other words, I am quite familiar with both organizations.

Dave Bunton is the 3+ decade president of The Appraisal Foundation whose mission ( I thought) was to uphold the public trust (from TAF’s website).

It is our mission to advance the valuation profession by setting standards of excellence, promoting education and upholding the public trust.

Yet it looks like Dave Bunton was trying to sow doubt about the integrity of the NFHA’s Appraisal Standards and Appraiser Criteria Report. NFHA took issue with his and his organization’s misleading statements and wrote him a detailed letter to expose just how wrong his statements were. It wasn’t even close or a nuanced miss. Isn’t this called lying?

TAF has stated that it is “disappointed that none of our board members who develop these standards and qualifications were interviewed as part of NFHA’s assessment.” Separately, you stated at the TAFAC meeting on January 28, 2022, that “no one from the Board of Trustees was interviewed.”

That statement appears to be misleading as we left it up to TAF to determine whom to include in the discussions. Moreover, NFHA Consortium staff did conduct discussions with board members.

In other words, Dave/TAF are trying to infer that they had no or limited input into this damning paper, when in fact TAF had full input and access to the process. To be clear, Dave/TAF was invited to bring whomever they wanted into the interview process and they clearly did. This letter has a timeline with a list of all the TAF attendees who were selected by TAF themselves to attend. Two of the bullet points in the NFHA couldn’t have been more clear:

• 10/26/2021-NFHA Consortium staff e-mailed TAF staff to set up a time for the interview, stating: “Of course, please feel free to invite any of your colleagues.”

• 11/1/2021-NFHA Consortium staff conducted an interview with the following TAF staff and board members, who were selected by TAF senior management:
o David Bunton, TAF CEO, Board of Trustees President
o Kelly Davids, TAF SVP
o Lisa Desmarais, TAF VP of Appraisal Issues
o Jeff Dickstein, Board of Trustees
o Leigh Lester, Board of Trustees, Co-chair of the Special Committee on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
o Jalin Debeuneure, Liaison for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiative

It is apparent that NFHA has some serious legal firepower or can write a master class on takedown letters for people that misrepresent their actions. Afterall, TAF shows little respect for lawyers – remember that TAF’s 2-year changes to USPAP are NOT REVIEWED BY ATTORNEYS yet are embedded into state laws around the country!

Here’s the TAF takedown by NFHA as a pdf or presented in full below:

Wow. This is getting real. TAF is going to get PAVED.

People Of Color Should Submit Their Names To The Trustee Nominating Committee NOW

Rinse, Lather, Repeat. In the TAF monthly newsletter, Dave Bunton is reaching out for the next crop of Board of Trustee Members:

The Trustee Nominating Committee is now accepting applications to fill three at-large positions. These three-year terms will begin on January 1, 2023.

The Appraisal Foundation is committed to welcoming a diverse, new generation of appraisers to the profession that is reflective of the United States, and we are working to also reflect that diversity in our boards.

As the February newsletter says (bold my emphasis):

If you are interested, we hope you will consider applying or sharing this application with any potential candidates who you think would be a good fit to serve on our Board of Trustees. Applications are due on March 1, 2022.

Be sure to click on the link above to apply.

I highlighted the reference to “good fit” since for the past three decades, a Board of Trustees “good fit” has only meant about three people of color. It really meant that the applicant had to be a FOD (Friend of Dave). This monarchy arrangement has evolved into one of the most insulated organizations I’ve run into. How can they protect the public trust when they are an echo chamber of largely shallow like-minded views?

This insular operational style prevents TAF from understanding the optics that the industry and consumers look through. For example, as chair of the Appraisal Standards Board, Michelle Bradley, is responsible for modifying USPAP every two years (enabling TAF to continue to move towards financial independence by forcing appraisers to pay for USPAP when ASC is happy to pay for it but she is also married to Dan Bradley, the Appraisal Curriculum and Content Director for McKissock, the largest appraiser online training course out there). Wow. People I met when I was active in TAF who knew about this situation, shared their concerns about conflict of interest. I’ve met Michelle at conferences and is clearly a nice, smart person as I’m sure her husband is too and both are probably very good at their day jobs, but how is something like this permitted? Corporate boards don’t allow potential conflicts of interest like this. The optics on this tells us that there isn’t any real governance in TAF.

As we learned from watching Dean Dawson’s self-dealing real estate appraisal board operate in West Virginia (The “Dean” terms out in June because the Governor decided it was easier than removing him), boards dominated by appraisers overseeing the appraisal industry is bad for appraisers – it insulates leadership from new ideas, being aware of changing social mores, helps keep competition out and keeps fees higher for the few in power. In this case, this monarchy management style prevents the TAF boards from seeing a massive tsunami about to hit them. In other words…

TAF is going to get PAVED.

Phill Crawford Lets Loose On Desktop Appraisals, Relying On Batman For Help

Phil Crawford over at Voice of Appraisal Podcast is on a roll and this conversation continues the momentum.

The CFPB Does A Major Takedown Of TAF Over Its Stubborn Refusal Not To Comply With Federal Law

I’ve written about the insanity of TAF’s AO16 as HousingWire explains:

The Appraisal Foundation — a private group that is the de facto appraisal regulator — tells appraisers in its Advisory Opinion 16 not to rely on “unsupported conclusions relating to characteristics such as race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender, marital status, familial status, age, receipt of public assistance income, disability, or an unsupported conclusion that homogeneity of such characteristics is necessary to maximize value.”

But that guidance leaves room for “supported” conclusions that take those protected class characteristics into account, which the regulatory agencies said will not fly.

It’s that second paragraph that explains why TAF’s actions are so blatantly inappropriate and have been the focus of many including myself to get it removed. This is why TAF needs to have counsel review all recommendations by any of TAF’s boards (they don’t!) TAF is happy to define “misleading” in a ridiculous way but it seems unwilling to remove wording that violates federal law about discrimination.

This is such a disaster that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) wrote this note for public consumption on their position “Appraisal discrimination is illegal under federal law“. They also wrote TAF Standards Chair Michelle Bradly a terse letter.

This isn’t rocket science. TAF seems to try to make it as such. Appraisers and other agencies have been telling TAF for years that AO16 is improper, yet TAF does nothing. Combine this with the utter lack of industry diversity and lack of diversity in TAF, living in an insular environment is hurting all appraisers. What a train wreck.

TAF is going to get PAVED.

Fixing the flawed TAF Organization Is A Bipartisan Issue

Sometimes I get the feeling that TAF is paying only lip service to address the lack of industry diversity right now because they probably think the House of Representatives will flip in the fall and the new majority won’t care about the transgressions that have been regularly criticized here in Appraiserville. But I think TAF is wrong if they are thinking this way. The damage to appraisers and the public trust by the actions and lack of actions of TAF over decades reflects poorly on both sides of the aisle. Just because eliminating discrimination in housing appraisals is a key policy plank by the Biden White House, doesn’t mean the GOP doesn’t have other issues of concern with TAF even if they have the potential to control both houses of Congress this year.

DEMOCRATS – Minorities have been disenfranchised as evidenced by the 96.5% white composition of the industry per BLS and a nominal amount of leadership positions apparent within the industry and within TAF.

REPUBLICANS – Commerce is being adversely impacted by the aging out of appraisers and a private corporation created by Congress has no oversight and is stockpiling a massive amount of cash. I remember a letter that U.S. Senator Round and U.S. Senator Thune from South Dakota sent to TAF in 2015 expressing how pissed off they were but used skillfully professional language like a boss (and like the earlier NFHA letter). From the South Dakota U.S. Senator’s letter:

Surveys of former appraisers point to several reasons for this decline, including increasing regulatory burdens and volatile business climate that make it infeasible and unattractive to take on the added risk of trainees. As a result, young people do not see many job opportunities as appraisers today.

Phil Crawford’s podcast interview with the current South Dakota governor’s daughter a few weeks ago, provides clarity on why there is an appraisal shortage right now throughout the U.S.

Here’s the recipe for disaster to the public trust: Disenfranchisement of minorities + negative impact to commerce = problems enabled by TAF

TAF is going to get PAVED.

OFT (One Final Thought)

As my loyal readers can tell, I love music and share it in Housing Notes whenever I can. I thought I’d share some of the music I play while I’m writing these Housing Notes. If I have to be completely honest, I found a feature in Apple Music that enables me to share playlists on a web page.

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 get paved;
– You’ll love February;
– And I’ll look for more charts.

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
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