Why aren’t real estate brokers like travel agents?

Brad Stone

You would think the Internet would have doomed the real estate industry by now.  Or, as it has done with the travel industry, at least wounded its denizens.

A long piece on the Bloomberg Businessweek site explores the phenomenon, which has defied most expectations.

Headlined “Why Redfin, Zillow and Trulia Haven’t Killed Off Real Estate Brokers,” the article by Brad Stone notes that the kind of electronic marketplace that has decimated classified ads and taken the swagger out of car dealers “hasn’t dented the fortunes of real estate brokers.”  He continues: Continue reading

Weekly Roundup: Inventory, trusts, mice, more

Despite upward trend citywide, REBNY says Q1 median prices fall behind one year earlier

But March prices in new developments are up as inventory slides

To rid your home of potentially harmful household products, head on Sunday to Union Square, other boroughs later

Residential rental buildings enjoy 34 percent increase in sales volume over a year ago

Location agents help identify homes that can smile for the camera

Combos are getting b-i-g-g-e-r in two ways

Popular new site helps Continue reading

Consensus erupts over trend toward renting

(Flickr photo by abrin523)

Beware the stampede of opinions about potential homebuyers.  Those views are trampling conventional wisdom by asserting that the American Dream is dead or dying.

Last week, momentum swelled around the idea that many folks are choosing to rent a home rather than buy one.  Such consumers fall into two groups: Those for whom it is their only option because of finances and those who lack enough confidence in real estate to risk a decline in the value of their property.

I don’t know that the herd of economists and analysts wiser than me is wrong, but the volume and consistency of reports about the decline of American Dream was remarkable.

(Most of the links below have appeared or will do so in my Weekly Roundup on Fridays, on the Service You Can Trust Facebook page, on Twitter or some combination.)

Just look at the drumbeat of evidence over the last couple of weeks — for example, what James Bullard, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis observed on Friday: Continue reading

As Manhattan sales drop, prices don’t move much

Hymnal Leaf, Vienna 1742. From Psalterio Antiphonale Romanum De Tempore & Sanctis (flickr photo by WikiMechanics)

When the quarterly results of Manhattan’s housing market are released, you can count on a chorus of brokerage executives to sing from the same hymnal.

Yesterday’s Q4 reports were no exception, and I suppose you can’t really blame presumed experts for painting the statistics in the most vivid colors.

So consistently upbeat is their analysis that I take their comments as more prayerful than perceptive. That’s why I referred to “hymnal” in the first paragraph.

Unlike highly educated — though frequently inaccurate — economists, they seem to base their appraisals of the past and predictions of the future merely on Continue reading

Weekly Roundup: Sales volume, borrowing sag

Here’s your chance to catch up with news included to inform, enlighten and perhaps even entertain you. To read about The Big Apple, check out the other of today’s posts and look for Out and About early next week.

Actor is lookin’ at selling his townhouse in Greenwich Village

His Honor adds to collection, picking up a notable Southampton estate for a rumored $20 million

Magically, three young actors invest £24.5 collectively on luxury properties

It’s loss actually for actor-singer

All-cash buyers propel resales, but volume remains slack

Number declines of homes listed for sale in June

Growth recorded in Continue reading

The Big Apple: Rent market hot, otherwise warm

Manhattan condo prices have yet to recover fully

From its peak in December 2008 to its trough in May 2009, the RPX Manhattan Condominium price declined 24 percent, according to Radar Logic.

Since then, it has regained only about half of the value it lost during the crash.

As of March 31, the RPX Manhattan condominium price was $1,017.10 per square foot, which is 16 percent above its cyclical trough of $923.24, but still 12 percent below its all-time peak of $1,212.83.

Sales activity also remains well below pre-crisis levels.  Activity during March 2011 was 18 percent lower than it was during March 2008, before the national housing crisis took hold of the Manhattan market.

Although the rate of sales increased robustly during 2009, its recovery has faltered since, with the transaction count declining 3 percent over the last year.  There has been a clear shift in the concentration of sales from smaller to larger units over the last year.

Buyers are still out there and having offers accepted

Buyers continue to step up and sign deals for Manhattan property at a very strong pace, according to a new post by Noah Rosenblatt of UrbanDigs.

Finding in his excellent data Continue reading

The Big Apple: City’s estate auction is a dud

Undercounted immigrants may explain smaller population than believed

New York City’s population reached a record high for a 10-year census of 8,175,133, according to the 2010 count released on Thursday, but it fell far short of the official forecast.

Mayor Bloomberg immediately challenged the Census Bureau’s finding, saying it shortchanged the city by as many as 225,000 people.

He said it was “inconceivable” that Queens grew by only 1,343 people since 2000 and suggested that the profusion of apartments listed as vacant in places such as Flushing and in a swath of southwest Brooklyn meant the census missed many hard-to-count immigrants.

There’s something about Inez Dickens and her taxes

City Councilwoman Inez Dickens co-owns four Harlem apartment buildings that have for months owed the city more than $100,000 in property taxes.

Dickens’ properties also Continue reading

The Big Apple: Luxury sales surge along with wages

COLUMNIST RAILS AGAINST HOUSING DISCRIMINATION BY RACE

Mayor Bloomberg’s Commission on Human Rights is a “nearly invisible joke,” contends Errol Louis in the New York Daily News. Says he:

The agency’s 2009 annual report included a single paragraph on housing discrimination with no information on Continue reading

With thinking come murmurs of my mind

Housing recovery will depend on bitter medicine. (Flickr photo by aussiegall)

Experts cannot agree on how long housing’s crisis will continue or how to fix the problem.

You may have noticed  my characterization of the situation as a “crisis,” and certainly everything that has happened in housing in the last three years has been tragically dislocating to millions of families and profoundly harmful to the economy. No one knows when it all will end or even how bad things will be when it’s finally over.

The effects of the bursting bubble have thrown lives into chaos and helped make a shamble of the economy, and that’s where the word “crisis” comes in. Whether ameliorating the crisis means that the nation will–or should–return to 68-69 percent home ownership is another matter on which I have written and will consider again below

Meantime, allow me to quote some of the sources in the Bloomberg piece that I mentioned in my post yesterday. For example:

Morgan Stanley housing strategist Oliver Chang:

Whether it’s the sidelined, shadow or current inventory, the issue is  Continue reading

I’ve been thinking. . .

(Flickr photo by SouthernAnts)

Although the Great Recession officially ended in June 2009, there is a loose consensus that housing is about to recover or, indeed, is already recovering.

It’s hard to know where we are. None of the statistical information from a variety of sources is particularly helpful. Anecdotal information is even worse.

When it comes to Manhattan’s housing situation, nothing could be easier than to find rosy predictions–most recently in the New York Times, where various executives were quoted as celebrating a boost in business.

Yet, when I speak to brokers at their open houses,  Continue reading