Index shows upward price trend continuing, fading

Data through October 2009 released today in the S&P/Case-Shiller1 Home Price Indices, which omit apartment sales, record improvement in the annual rate of decline of the 10-City and 20-City Composites compared with September’s reading. It was approximately the ninth month of better readings in the statistics, beginning in early 2009.

As of October 2009, average home prices across the U.S. were similar to the autumn of 2003. From the peak in Q2 of 2006 through the trough in April 2009, the 10-City Composite is down 33.5% and the 20-City Composite is down 32.6%. With the relative improvement of the past few months, the peak-to-date figures through October 2009 are -29.8% and -29.0%, respectively.

The 10-City and 20-City Composite Home Price Indices declined Continue reading

NBC never pays sources for the news. Right.

Having been a traditional print journalist years ago (and now obviously a blogger and a newsletter writer), I noted with particular interest the Today Show’s coverage of David Goldman’s recovery of his son from Brazil.

The reason for my interest is that NBC chartered the jet on which Goldman and his son Sean were flown back to the United States. I don’t know whether NBC also paid for Goldman’s accommodations in Brazil or anything else, but I’m betting that the company did so.

Certainly, helping the Tinton Falls, N.J. real estate agent and charter-fishing boat captain with his exorbitant expenses must be characterized as a humanitarian gesture.  However, it was not altruistic.

No upstanding journalist will argue that it is ethical to pay a source for access, and it’s hypocritical for NBC to maintain that it doesn’t give money or other benefits to newsmakers. Continue reading

Manhattan needs a true MLS, not an impostor

One of the city’s bigger brokerages announced last week that it has established a Virtual Office Web site (VOW), which many see as a step toward a Multiple Listings Service (MLS) providing buyers with access to essentially all exclusive listings in the city.

Although the announcement by Halstead Property sounds like a voluntary initiative, the action results from a federal law that goes into effect this year.  In fact, the toothless Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) has instructed its member firms (of which mine is one) to comply with the law, according to a commenter on the Real Deal Web site, where I first saw the announcement.

The Corcoran Group has been silent on any of its VOW plans, but Prudential Douglas Elliman says it is in the game.  Continue reading

Representing buyers can be a losing propostion

Trump Place on Riverside is nothing if not expensive.

My dear friend Cora recently called to tell me that someone she had just met was looking for a large co-op or condo near Riverside Boulevard.  Cora was understandably excited.

Representing a buyer such as her acquaintance would be good for me, but I’ve learned to ask questions before getting my hopes up.

The key question is this: Is the woman working with anyone else?

You guessed it.  She is working with another broker.  In fact, she is working with five other brokers.  Continue reading

If you think mortage rates won’t rise, think again

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 5.05 percent this week, up from last week’s 4.94 percent. Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM was 5.14 percent, according to Freddie Mac.

After reaching historic lows months ago and matching them a couple of weeks ago, rates have been inching up. Continue reading

This list exemplifies why I’m skeptical about lists

Merced, Calif., is a quiet, residential city an easy drive from Yosemite National and Pacific Coast beaches.  It’s also a perfect case study for the aftermath of the housing crisis.

Beautiful downtown Merced, California.

Such is the leisurely beginning of a piece in Forbes purporting to list cities where homes are losing the most value. Continue reading

Apartment vacancies rise, rents fall over a year

Asking rents for units in doorman buildings in Manhattan this month are down 5.79% compared with December 2008, according to the Real Estate Group of New York. But rents in non-doorman units are off just 1.74%.

From November to December, rents for doorman units slipped 1.19%, yet non-doorman units rose 0.87%.
Continue reading