Housing Migration As An Unaffordable Sport

Sometimes we run out of runway:

But I digress…

New Signed Contracts Are Up…A Lot YOY Because That’s When The Lockdowns Started

Its been a year since we launched our newest monthly addition to the expanding Elliman Report series for Douglas Elliman. I’ve been the author since 1994 and never did such a rapid change in market conditions bring the need for an additional way to look at the market.

What was most surprising about the April results was the continued surge in activity across the board.

– Elliman Report: New York April 2021 New Signed Contracts

– Elliman Report: Florida April 2021 New Signed Contracts

– Elliman Report: Colorado April 2021 New Signed Contracts

– Elliman Report: California April 2021 New Signed Contracts

The New York Suburban Versus Urban Housing Market Relationship Is Not A Zero-Sum Game

Here is my third monthly contribution to the New York Times Calculator column in their real estate section: Did the Suburbs Kill the City Real Estate Market? Maybe Not.

The “fleeing the city” narrative was established as the pandemic lockdown began last March. It gave rise to the expectation that the return of sales activity to the city would come at the suburb’s expense. That didn’t happen when looking at home sales activity. Using the results of the Elliman Report: Westchester Sales Q1 2021 and Elliman Report: Manhattan Sales Q1 2021 it is clear they are both up but the timing is different.

And the same pattern is shown by comparing additional suburbs.

The Real Deal Shows My Market Reports Are Median In A Myriad

The Real Deal Magazine, the stalwart of the real estate industry coverage, does a comparison of all the market reports out there that cover the Manhattan housing market.

Barbara Corcoran launched the industry genre first in Manhattan in the 1980s, an arguably primitive real estate market compared to most suburban markets I can think of because coops, representing about 85% of the market back then, weren’t in public record. I began writing an expanding series of reports for Douglas Elliman in 1994 with one rule: no interference or editorial input. To their credit, Elliman has never gone back on their promise despite four shifts in leadership since then. My independence and neutrality fit in well with their entrepreneurial culture. I’m the bad guy when things are bad. When our report series took off in popularity, there were lots of new entries in the space produced by marketing departments and then stored away after the report was released.

This point was brought up in the Real Deal analysis and I want to understand why:

and each quarter there are unexplained gaps in those figures, painting a sometimes murky picture of the housing market.

Why is it important that the report results have to be the same across all companies? This always comes up with the topic of market reports. To have uniformity, it would require that each effort does the exact same thing. The problem with this thinking is:

– each firm has different strengths and weaknesses
– a robot can regurgitate public record
– public record is very dirty
– public record is very inconsistent in timing
– Manhattan doesn’t have a traditional MLS
– each firm defines things differently (i.e. luxury)

So it comes down to sameness, and there is room for all efforts. The consumer, like in most everything, decides.

One big issue for me to keep my neutrality on market outlook when I speak to market conditions: I don’t read the other reports very often. This is not meant to be a slight to anyone in any way. Knowing how the other brokerages think about the market is not part of my report preparation process – that’s part of the effort to remain neutral.

Here is how our Elliman Report matches up with others per The Real Deal.

The Journal Podcast: Why Housing Is On Fire (Location means less than it used to)

This was a fascinating, and a bit depressing, story on how location means less than it used to – how Boise home buyers are being rattled by the influx of Californians.

Rising Seas Are No Deterrent To Lending

This was a fascinating article because there will be a noticeable impact by climate change within the term of typical thirty-year mortgages.

Podcast: Going To Church For The Real Estate

With church membership sliding lower for decades, defunct churches provide a real estate opportunity and presumably new tax revenue for municipalities as their tax-exempt status changes.

Here’s an interesting Marketplace podcast on the topic: When the spirit moves: Church real estate is heating up:

Migration Patterns Are Making Housing Prices Higher

I’m starting to get a little confused about the surge of migration narratives for two reasons:

– The story remains in process because vaccinations are still being distributed. For example, NYC has a narrative but corporations haven’t called back their employees and 80% of office buildings are empty. So how do we proclaim a conclusion now?

– There are a massive number of really interesting stories on the topic but it’s getting a bit overwhelming. One consistent point is being made – consumers are searching for affordability and it’s making it more expensive in many locations.

• How Covid Has Reshaped Real Estate From New York to Singapore [Bloomberg]

We get a shout-out!

• MapLab: How to Track American Migration [Bloomberg]

• The Dynamics Behind the Ugly Amount of Empty Office Space [Wolf Street]

• The home sales boom means you might end up renting [Vox]

The Pandemic Changed Where Americans Live [WSJ]

There are more stories in the links at the bottom.

Byron Allen Gets Mega Financing To Build A Mega Home And Its No Joke

This Real Deal piece interviewed me about this huge spec development by the comedian…

Allen took out an 18-year, $37.8 million mortgage from Bank of America and landed a $45 million line of credit for the project, set to mature in 2024, according to records. Allen signed the loan documents.

…but I stayed for his punchline. That joke got to me, LOL.

His joke about the value of money on national television…

“I love old people but never ask them for money,’’ he said on the Tonight Show when he was 18. “They start reminiscing. ‘Grandaddy, could I get a quarter for a popsicle?’ And he’s like, ‘A quarter? For a popsicle? I once bought a 20-room house with a quarter.’”

Getting Graphic

My favorite charts of the week of our own making

This Is The East Village/Lower East Side I Remember In The 1980s

This video was shared with me – I looked all over to buy it but all the former links to purchase it are broken.

When I moved to Manhattan in the mid-1980s, this video captures how I remember the Lower East Side and East Village at that time. It was scary to an outsider who was raised in the suburbs. It was an intoxicating eclectic mix of people and culture representing a world I never knew existed. I was drawn to it but crossed my fingers every time I was asked to appraise something there. I ran into someone I went to high school within the D.C. metro area who told me that he and his friends ended up as squatters in one of the abandoned buildings (think IN REM foreclosure crisis of the 70s/80s when NYC landlords abandoned thousands of buildings because rent restrictions kept rents rising less than inflation) and when the gentrification movement swept in, they sold it and now he never needs to work again. The area has completely gentrified. I kind of miss that old burned-out school bus on blocks in the middle of the street somewhere off of Avenue B. What a crazy world.

Since 1979 Clayton Patterson has dedicated his life to documenting the
final era of raw creativity and lawlessness in New York City's Lower
East Side, a neighborhood famed for art, music and revolutionary
minds. Traversing the outside edge he's recorded a dark and colorful
society, from drag to hardcore, heroin, homelessness, political chaos
and ultimately gentrification. His odyssey from voyeur to provocateur
reveals that it can take losing everything you love to find your own

Directed by Daniel B. Levin and Ben Solomon


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

Sadly, I’ve got nothing to share this week but more insights are coming soon. Think “diversity.”

OFT (One Final Thought)

Seeing parenting through the lens of sports:

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 faster;
– You’ll be saying nothing to the media;
– And I’ll be on the bench.

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