Housing Fell On Its Head But The Market Moved On Like Nothing Happened

This week’s edition is highly NYC Metro Area centric so to my Non-NYC Housing Notes loyal readers, please hang in there or read it.

Since I just became a first-time grandfather, this clip resonated with me (…wait for it):

But I digress…

Westchester County Sellers Got Real And Then Their Houses Sold

I’ve been writing the expanding series of Elliman Reports for Douglas Elliman Real Estate independently since 1994.

The Bloomberg article on Westchester real estate trends that used the Elliman Report: Q4-2020 Westchester Sales was yesterday’s number 3 most emailed article on the Bloomberg Terminals with 350K± subscribers. However, more people were interested in the 100K jobs offered by Taco Bell.

And a chart!

Here are the regional reports released yesterday:

Elliman Report: Q4-2020 Westchester Sales

Elliman Report: Q4-2020 Putnam & Dutchess Sales

Here are some key points for the two reports:


“Single-family median sales price pressed higher as the luxury single-family market remained stable.”

– The number of sales increased annually in two of the last three quarters
– All three price trend indicators rose year over year for the second straight quarter
– Single-family listing inventory declined annually for the second straight quarter
– Single-family median sales price hasn’t seen an annual decline in three consecutive quarters
– The hot spot for the most improved year over year sales activity was from $800K to $899K
– Luxury median sales price was unchanged from the year-ago level
– Luxury listing inventory fell year over year for the third straight quarter


“Median sales price reset from the record set in the prior quarter.”

– Median sales price declined year over year for the first time in eleven quarters
– Listing inventory increased year over year for the fourth straight quarter but remains low
– The number of sales slipped annually after two straight increases

Brooklyn And Queens Sales Market Reversed The Trend With More Sales, Less Supply

Sales increased YOY and inventory declined YOY, reversing the two-year trend. Oh, prices continued to set or flirt with record levels.

Here are the regional reports released yesterday:

Elliman Report: Q4-2020 Brooklyn Sales

Elliman Report: Q4-2020 Queens Sales

Elliman Report: Q4-2020 NW Queens Sales

Elliman Report: Q4-2020 Riverdale Sales


“Sales moved higher after nearly two years of declines.”

– Median sales price slipped year over year for the second time in three quarters
– The market hot spot that showed the largest year over year increase in sales was the $2M to $3M price range
– Approximately 1 in 5 sales sold above last asking price
– Overall listing inventory declined after seven straight quarters of year over year growth
– Luxury listing inventory jumped as the price trend indicators declined
– New development listing inventory rose sharply for the fifth straight quarter


“While setting new price records isn’t new, sales rose annually for the first time in more than two years.”

– Sales rose year over year for the first time in nine quarters
– Median sales price and average sales price continued to set records
– Approximately 1 in 6 sales sold above last asking price
– Listing inventory has expanded year over year for nearly three years
– Condo, co-op and 1-3 family median sales price and average sales price set records
– Condo and 1-3 family sales rose year over year for the first time in seven quarters
– All condo new development price trend indicators set new records

[includes Fieldston, Hudson Hill, North Riverdale and Spuyten Duyvil]

“All price trend indicators rose above year-ago levels as sales continued to slide.”

– Median sales price increased year over year for the sixth time in seven quarters
– Listing inventory fell year over year for the second consecutive quarter
– Number of sales decreased year over year for the fifth straight quarter

Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens Rents Continued To Rise, Especially At The Top

The rental market continued to benefit from the weakness at the top of the sales markets in their respective locations.

Elliman Report: 12-2019 Manhattan, Brooklyn & Queens Rental Market


“All price trend indicators rose as the market share of landlord concessions declined but remained elevated.”

– The twelfth year over year quarterly increase in net effective rent
– The vacancy rate has edged higher year over year since July
– The ninth straight quarter with an annual decline in concession market share
– Median net effective rate increased across all bedroom types but large gains with larger sized apartments
– Concession market share remained high and consistent among apartment size categories
– Year over year median rent growth was higher in non-doorman than doorman buildings
– Super luxury rent representing the top 5% of the market, continued to show the highest median rent gain


“Significant annual increases across all price trend indicators.”

– Most year over rise in median face rent in nearly six years
– Year over year gains in median face rental price across all apartment sizes
– Twelfth straight year over year decline in landlord concessions
– Third straight annual decline in new leases as landlords were more successful retaining tenants at renewal


[Northwest Region] “In a reversal from last month, median rent gains were more significant in the entry-markets.”

– Net effective median rent slipped year over year for the first time in four months
– First-year over year increase in landlord concession market share in five months
– The fifth straight decline in new leases as landlords were more successful retaining tenants at renewal

How They Build Skyscrapers

Here’s a basic infographic on skyscraper construction. Over the past decade, materials and engineering have advanced to create towers twice as tall on much smaller footprints.

Broker Listing Language Has Come A Long Way From “Triple Mint”

There was a fun New York Times Real Estate graphic on listing language but what was even more interesting was how it was parsed by price range:

Real Estate Stories You Need To Read Right Now

These stories really grabbed my attention this morning but were a tad late to get the attention in these Housing Notes they fully deserve so I’ll discuss more next week:

She Was a Star of New York Real Estate, but Her Life Story Was a Lie [NY Times]

I interacted with Faith for years – while this New York Times story was quite shocking, it rang true from my own personal experiences. The author, Julie Satow, author of The Plaza, wrote a compelling piece. One word: WOW.

The Decade Dominated by the Ultraluxury Condo [New York Times]

This is a must-read piece that explains the changing skyline and what it meant. I am going to expand and explore this topic next week. This is how I addressed the last decade of super-luxury development in the piece:

We think of this decade as this boom of new product never seen before, but that’s a distant memory,” said Jonathan J. Miller, the president of Miller Samuel Real Estate Appraisers & Consultants. “The second half was a reckoning with reality.

[New York Times]


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

Endeavoring To Share Appraisal Insights To Consumers and Appraisers Is Easier Said Than Done

It’s no secret that I love reading and sharing posts from appraiser bloggers. Tom Horn of Birmingham Appraisal Blog who just hit the ten year mark, Ryan Lundquist of the Sacramento Appraisal Blog who has been blogging since 2009, and most recently Jamie Owens of Cleveland Appraisal Blog who has been pushing out video and podcasts, to name a few. I’ve met all of them in person and consider them my friends as well as go to authorities on the craft of appraisal. And I can’t forget industry legend Ann O’Rourke and her blog Appraisal Today (I’ve never her but have read her stuff for at least 25 years). There are other mediums like Podcasting where my friend Phil Crawford of Voice of Appraisal nearly owns the space.

Are there other great reads out there written by appraisers? I’ve found that many of us who ambition to write and share knowledge through blogging aren’t able to keep it going week in and week out (for years!) Only a few have kept at it. I’ve been writing about appraising since 2005 and merged my original Soapbox Blog into my Matrix Blog and these Housing Notes. As the above-mentioned appraisers will tell you. It is hard work but very gratifying (and great for branding and marketing).

Articles Were Written About Our Industry This Week And I’d Appreciate Some Feedback

I’m going to try something new this week – Reply to your Housing Note email with your thoughts on any or all three of these articles and tell me whether to keep anonymous or not. I’ll share them next week.

– Fewer appraisals mandated, but they’re still a good idea [Palm Beach Daily News] – The Hidden Reason Why House Prices Are Too High (And Income Growth Is Too Low) — Appraisal Creep [Forbes] – CA Appraisers 50% Decline & Fees Up 76% [Anne O’Rourke/Appraisersblogs]

OFT (One Final Thought)

Talking Heads was my default band beginning in college. I’ve appraised a certain member of the band’s home and continue to include the band’s music in my playlist. I’m going to see David Byrne on Broadway soon and simply can’t wait. I also subscribe to his newsletter, “reasons to be cheerful.” Here’s a clip from the CBS interview:

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 be more like Talking Heads;
– You’ll make more charts;
– And I’ll scrape the sky.

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

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