Housing market beats stocks but not bonds, gold

The blue line shows how house values have compared with stocks over time.  (Source: Radar Logic)

A missive from the Radar Logic data firm the other day gave me some information that surprised me and may surprise you as well.

The firm, which tracks home prices in 25 major metropolitan areas, says its RPX Composite Price index grew by 56 percent from January 2000 to July 2011.  “This compares quite favorably to the major stock market indices,” Radar Logic declared.

Over the same period, it reports, the Dow Jones Industrial Average Continue reading

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Weekly Roundup: Market reports out, interest rates never lower, a music man moves and more!

Third quarter reports may imply continuing market stability

Former IRS agent says developers evade substantial taxes annually

Can’t we all just get along: How to be a good neighbor

Faced with white brick, buildings face mighty big expenses now

Six in Queens, including two brokers, accused of participating in $25 million mortgage fraud

Rat’s not the only island in the city, but the others — e.g. Manhattan — are not exactly for sale

Open House New York gives let’s you inside this weekend

Cool interactive map shows 3Q sales data by buildings’ price range

Foreclosure actions continue downward trend

City official, six developers charged with racketeering, bribery

Cow heads could be yours at Landmarks Preservation Commission auction

17 questions to ask before buying an apartment

He adds even more windows to his world

Music man Continue reading

Why is ‘boring’ housing market’s Q3 catchword?

(Courtesy of Prudential Douglas Elliman via Curbed)

Executives of the largest brokerages and those who craft reports on Manhattan’s housing market kept using “stable” to describe the second quarter.

For the third quarter, a word I’m seeing — as you doubtless are as well — is “boring.”

The term arises from some, though not all of the statistics. I’ve also noticed an attempt at “normal.”

I’m not so sure.  Variable?  Confusing? Troubling? Continue reading

Drumbeat intensifies against home subsidies

Finance Professor Viral V. Acharya of NYU's Stern School of Business

An op-ed piece in the New York Times this week drew a tweet from a broker friend of mine saying that the authors’ points were “inane.”

Even as a dedicated social and economic liberal, never mind real estate broker, I have to disagree with him.  In earlier posts, I have confessed to finding myself in the uncomfortable position of questioning why the American Dream has to consist of homeownership.

A roof over heads is a roof, whether owned or rented.  Shelter is shelter.

Since the contention that home ownership stabilizes neighborhoods has yet to be proved, what are the other justifications for homeownership?

Try to enumerate the advantages of homeownership, and I’ll bet Continue reading

Wall Street sneezed. Now what?

(Flickr photo by Mash Potato)

Few of you would disagree with the thought that the gyrations on Wall Street cannot be a good thing for the housing market in Manhattan.

After all, it is axiomatic that our market catches a cold when Wall Street sneezes.  And Wall Street suffered much worse than a fit of sneezing.  It briefly went into intensive care and, unfortunately, could be rushed there again.

I didn’t need the latest consumer confidence level, the latest statistics in the listing database or the following e-mail on Saturday from buyers with whom I have been working to know that the impact on Manhattan’s housing market has to be severe:

[We] have been discussing our outlook for NYC and we have come to the conclusion that we do not think that we want to spend approximately $500,000 for a 1/2 bath or 2nd bath.  We think that for a savings of $500,000, we can manage with 1 bathroom. . .  

This economy has made us more conservative. I thank you in advance for your understanding.

Indeed, how could I not understand, as I wrote in my response?

(Flicker photo by Diego da Silva)

I don’t see how the housing market can fail to freeze.

Consumer confidence plunged in early August, as the Wall Street Journal noted.  The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan index for early August recorded a startling drop to 54.9 from 63.7 at the end of July and 63.8 in early July.

That is not a good, though unsurprising, sign of things to come.

The preliminary August current conditions index fell to 69.3 from 75.8 in late July, the Journal reported. The expectations index plummeted to 45.7 from 56.0.

Because it is August and little is happening anyway, I view with a grain of salt the numbers in the OLR (OnLine Residential) database.  But they may be worth a gander.

Compared with the month ended July 17, the time since then has registered what I take to be an insignificant 1.74 percent decline in the median listed price, to $811,400.  At the same time, the (lagging) number of signed contracts fell 6.14 percent, to 76.

To me, the most revealing statistic for this admittedly crude analysis is the number of listings with price cuts.  They actually plummeted by 220 to 969, an 18.5 percent change over the month.

Not so alarming, you might conclude.  But. . . but. . . fully 170 of the 220 — that is, 77 percent — of the reductions over that period occurred in the last seven days!

If you have the stomach for more numbers, consider, too, August’s angst compared with the especially accurate statistics that Noah Rosenblatt of UrbanDigs compiled for July.  He notes that only 1,168 new listings came on the market in July, the 10th consecutive monthly decline in new supply from the previous year.

Moreover, he finds a mere 713 contracts signed that month, down from 988 in June and also down from 760 one year earlier.

At the same time, pending sales — those at some stage after having gone to contract and before closing — have continued a steep downward trend that began in June.  They are down 8.7 percent as of now, though seasonal decreases are normal.

Seasonal or not, I’m wondering whether this won’t be the fall and winter of our discontent.

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Malcolm Carter
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022

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Malcolm@ServiceYouCanTrust.com
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Four more reasons to worry about our market

Aside from my continuing concerns about the global economy, unemployment rate, Washington’s paralysis and other usual reasons for wondering when the Manhattan housing market will be safely in recovery, four new sets of data have fed my uncertainty.

What first graphically contributed to my doubts was a shopping expedition on Sunday, a sensationally gorgeous day when saner folks might have headed to the beach.

Despite the lure of the outdoors, Reason 1 for my current thinking centers on 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