With A Post-lockdown Eruption, Housing Rocks On

We lost a music legend, Eddie Van Halen (note that the NYT article subheader was ‘An Appraisal’), this week. An actual “his obituary made the front page of the New York Times” legend. I remember when I was a freshman in college at Michigan State and my roommate and best friend dropped the first Van Halen album on the turntable and played ‘Runnin with the Devil’ and ‘Eruption’ almost blowing out the cheap speakers held together with bright green, yellow, and white daisy-illustrated wallpaper inside…and my mind. Growing up in the DC metro area, we lived on southern rock- Little Feat and Lynyrd Skynyrd dominated my listening time and incredibly, I had never heard of Van Halen. I’ve have continued to love their sound ever since.

This 2017 interview was the first time I’ve ever heard Eddie speak. I had been inundated with lead singer David Lee Roth talking on MTV 24/7 seemingly forever, but not Eddie. And Eddie seems like he’s a regular guy. The entire interview from 3 years ago is really, really fun, but I embedded it below where he starts playing for the audience. Wow. This is why every teenager I knew growing up wanted to be in a rock band.

But I digress…

The Westchester Housing Market Sees Largest Jump in Median Sales Price in Nearly Three Decades

I’ve been the author of the Elliman market report series over the past 25 years and this week they released our quarterly report research for NYC suburban counties of Westchester, Putnam, and Dutchess, plus Brooklyn, Queens, and Riverdale (Bronx) in the city. In addition, Douglas Elliman released the monthly Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens rental report. All these reports are available here.

Let’s start with the suburbs:


Elliman Report: Q3 2020 Westchester Sales

“The county saw a quick return to pre-COVID sales levels and a large bump in price trend indicators.”

– Monthly of supply coming out of the spring lockdown fueled the fastest market pace in twenty-nine years
– Median sales price increased year over year at the highest rate in more than twenty-eight years
– The number of sales nearly clawed back their year over year losses after the spring lockdown ended
– Listing inventory declined annually for the fifth straight quarter
– Single family average sales size rose to its largest average size in thirty years
– Single family sales accounted for the highest market share by property share in seventeen years
– Luxury single family median sales price saw its largest year over year increase in more than six years
– Luxury listing inventory fell year over year for the sixth straight quarter

Bloomberg presented an amazing chart within its report coverage.

And Wall Street ate it up (the article) with 350K Bloomberg Terminal subscribers making it the third most emailed article of the day.

And some more charts…


Elliman Report: Q3 2020 Putnam/Dutchess Sales

“The county saw a quick return to pre-COVID sales levels and a large bump in price trend indicators.”

– Highest year over year increase in median sales price in ten quarters
– Listing inventory saw the largest annual decline in nearly four years
– The number of sales rebounded immediately after the spring lockdown ended


Elliman Report: Q3 2020 Putnam/Dutchess Sales

“The county saw a quick return to pre-COVID sales levels and a large bump in price trend indicators.”

– Monthly of supply fell to the fastest market pace in six years of tracking
– Highest year over year increase in median sales price in two years
– Listing inventory saw its second-largest annual decline in four years

Flood Damage in South France Has Played Havoc With Their Homes

From the BBC: Storm Alex: Floods and landslides hit France and Italy. And this picture – wow – a beautiful home seemingly unharmed but not habitable anymore.

TOPSHOT – This aerial view taken on October 3, 2020 shows the damage in Saint-Martin-Vesubie, southeastern France, after heavy rains and floodings hit the Alpes-Maritimes department. – Heavy rains and brutal floods have left villages cut off from the world in the Alpes Maritimes, where hundreds of fire-fighters have been mobilised on October 3, to find nine missing persons. (Photo by Valery HACHE / AFP) (Photo by VALERY HACHE/AFP via Getty Images)

The Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens Rental Markets Continue To Weaken

The affordability of NYC apartments has been rapidly surging since COVID crisis began.


Elliman Report: Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens September 2020

“New leases reached their prior-year level as vacancy rates and listing inventory set new records.”

– Listing inventory set a fourteen-year record, more than tripling the year-ago total, but the monthly rate of growth slowed significantly
– The market share of landlord concessions reached a new record for the decade it has been tracked
– The amount of free rent tied a decade high this month
– The vacancy rate exceeded five percent for the second month time and was the fifth consecutive month with a new record
– The year over year net effective median rent for studios and 1-bedrooms saw the largest decline in the four years of tracking
– Landlord concession market share for luxury rentals was substantially less than the overall market

The Bloomberg piece that covered our report also presented a chart two-fer within its report coverage.

And like the above-mentioned Westchester report (the article), 350K Bloomberg Terminal subscribers made it the fourth most emailed article of the day (yesterday).


“New leases rose above year-ago levels as landlord concessions expanded.”

– Listing inventory increased to a record high for the third straight month
– The number of new leases rose annually at their highest rate in fourteen months
– Luxury median rental price showed a large increase while the market-wide median rent slipped from the same period last year


[Northwest Region] “All rental price trend indicators decreased year over year since May under the COVID lockdown.”

– Net effective median rent declined year over year for the fifth straight month, at the highest rate in more than two years
– Listing inventory expanded year over year at the highest rate in nearly five years
– Highest market share of 2-bedroom apartment rentals for almost four years

Realtor.com Goes Old English On Its Listings

I came across a listing yesterday on Realtor.com. It read “The property was sold thrice in the past twenty years” and I was instantly transported back in time to 1978 in the summer after high school graduation and the Commodores song “Three Times A Lady” playing on the radio every hour.

Imagine if the song went like this: “Once, Twice, Thrice Times a Lady.” It just wouldn’t work and those memories would have never happened. I can only assume some of Realtor.com’s programmers are from the UK and never listened to the Commodores.

Brooklyn, Queens, and Riverdale Post-Lockdown Markets Are Crawling Back

Most of NYC is outperforming Manhattan right now in the context of closed sales.


Elliman Report: Q3 2020 Brooklyn Sales

“This quarterly report largely reflects sales contracts that were signed during and after the COVID lockdown that ended in late June.”

– The number of sales fell at the largest year over year rate in more than eleven years
– The largest annual decline in listing inventory in three and a half years
– Median sales price hasn’t seen an annual decline in five months


Elliman Report: Q3 2020 Queens Sales

“Sales fell sharply year over year for the second straight quarter as many of the contracts were signed during and shortly after the COVID lockdown.”

– The number of sales fell at their second highest year over year rate in more than nine years
– Median sales price slipped nominally on a year over year basis for the first decline in eighteen months
– Listing inventory increased to its highest level in more than seven years

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

Elliman Report: Q3 2020 Riverdale Sales

“Sales fell sharply year over year for the second straight quarter as many of the contracts were signed during and shortly after the COVID lockdown.”

– Largest amount of listing inventory to accumulate in three years
– Largest year over year decline in median sales price in over three years
– Highest annual decline in the number of sales in more than nine years

The NYC Housing Trend Narrative is Changing From Hyperbole To Affordability

This Sunday’s NYT Real Estate cover is a barn burner: New York Real Estate Is On the Mend

And its author Stefanos Chen has a related tweet thread that is required reading…and I like his “peeling back the onion” metaphor in the story because its very “tortoise versus hare”-like…

Getting Graphic

Our favorite charts of the week

Here’s a chart I whipped up to give the proper visual context to the spiking vacancy rate in the Manhattan rental market. Click on the image to appreciate the intensity of it.

And here are some other cool charts I saw this week.

Len Kiefer‘s Chart Handiwork


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

RAC Member and Former RAC President Byron Miller Appointed to the AQB Board

My good friend and appraiser colleague Byron Miller, SRA, AI-RRS, RAA was just appointed to the Appraiser Qualifications Board (AQB) of the appraisal foundation. A former engineer, Byron is one of those people that doesn’t miss the details. Congrats!!!

TAF Adds a Lot of Green to Its Already Huge Reserves

This month, the Board of Trustees of the Appraisal Foundation sent another $1.2 million to their $6.5 million in reserves (the latter per Jeremy ‘Cosmic Cobra’ Bagott). Since that $6.5M figure is a bit old, it looks like TAF has around $8 million in reserves which is enough for two years of operations. I believe that 6-12 months is more the standard so why the stockpile?

At what point does a not for profit become a for-profit? With all this money, shouldn’t they be offering USPAP or classes for free or at a significant discount? So many questions.

Former AI President Scott Robinson Named To The ASB and TAF Gets a Trojan Horse

Recently I was critical of TAF’s Appraisal Standards Board (ASB) for being overrepresented by personal property appraisers who have no business being on ASB since setting standards largely applies to real property appraisers. Real property appraisers have a “bullseye on their back” being subject to state enforcement while personal property appraisers do not.

Thankfully I believe that there are now 5 real property appraisers on the board, plus a business appraiser and two personal property appraisers. It’s a start, although it doesn’t change the fact that personal property appraisers have no business being on a technical board like AQB and ASB. Membership on the BOT makes sense as long as its not the majority.

A new ASB member is real property appraiser Craig Morley, GAA, MNAA who is a member of two state coalitions – Coalition of Appraisers of Nevada (CAN), and Utah Association of Appraisers (UAA).

And then there is Scott Robinson. Scott, who led the way for AI National to take all their chapters’ money (this post went viral) and place it under AI National’s control, helped fuel my initial outrage against the Appraisal Institute’s corrupt behavior, expanding under CEO Jim Amorin’s leadership with their recent sham election process. And hey, I’m not even an AI member but I recognize the damage they have caused to the branding of our industry to outsiders which helps to threaten our future. When AI national operational leadership is cleaned up, I look forward to AI leadership working for their members and returning once again to a position of appraisal industry leadership. That day can’t come soon enough.

The thing is, Scott and the Appraisal Institute do not believe in TAF’s two-year renewal cycle and we’ve all witnessed AI’s decade or more efforts to undermine TAF. Dave Bunton has written about it and it is basically a Hatfield/McCoy type feud. I was at the TAFAC meeting a while back when AI was rejected because they would not agree to TAF’s mission statement yet wanted to return to the organization.

The fact that TAF has brought in a serious internal threat shows just how desperate TAF is now to have another organization to team up with so they aren’t left alone twisting in the wind. As has been discussed here in Appraiserville early and often, TAF has gone on the public offensive against the Appraisal Subcommittee (ASC) who is responsible for reviewing and monitoring TAF. As we learned from what I lovingly call the “bat-shit crazy” letter that TAF sent to ASC, TAF rejects the idea of anyone providing “oversight” (TAF contends Congress didn’t intend ASC provide oversight which means no oversight?), even if that mandate comes from Congress. So from that “letter,” the ASC in their monitor and review responsibility, is now not allowed to be unmuted or be shown by video during TAF Zoom calls. This is unbelievably adversarial and childish, showing pushback to the regulatory process using pettiness, disrespect, and arrogance which ultimately is directed at the appraisal community. Have fun and have at it, Scott.

OFT (One Final Thought)

I found this race in Medellin, Colombia very cathartic to watch – what percentage of the time is the rider actually touching the ground? High speed, high risk, downhill, and most people only see small portions of it. (!!!) A new housing metaphor is born.

Brilliant Idea #1

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Brilliant Idea #2

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See you next week.

Jonathan J. Miller, CRP, CRE, Member of RAC
Miller Samuel Inc.
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