MiB: Analyzing Real Estate without Data

How can we determine how bad the housing market is when we lack data? That is the challenge facing those in the real estate industry today. The contract data we do have is a reflection of transactions agreed upon a month or so ago — before most of the “shelter-in-place” orders were in.

So says our latest “Masters in Business” guest, Jonathan Miller. The co-founder of Miller Samuel is a master appraiser and consultant to the industry, and blogs at the Matrix Blog.

Miller’s expertise on real-estate appraisals and transactions comes from the data the assembles and analyzes. He has created a variety of real-estate data analytics for regional and national markets. He is sought after as the go-to appraiser for the most expensive penthouses in Manhattan. (Our 2014  conversation can be found here; our 2016 MiB is here)

He explains how the industry responding to the lockdown: The industry move to online listing services, like Street Easy and Zillow, is all but complete. But some online real estate sites are removing crucial data from their listings, including “Days since listed” that reveal how long a home has been up for sale. We also discuss the challenges appraisers are having inspecting interiors: First in New York City apartments, then spreading to the rest of the country. Appraisals that are “Desktop” (via computers) or “curbside” exterior only drive-bys are becoming more commonly used.

Part of the problem the residential market is facing is that the Spring selling season most likely lost; how soon the market returns to normal will not be known until the pandemic passes. While virtual tours and Facetime videos are an option for some buyers, the human element requires being physically present to see, walk through and even smell a home — what is usually a person’s largest purchase.

His favorite books are here; A transcript of our conversation is available here.

You can stream and download our full conversation, including the podcast extras, on Apple iTunesSpotifyOvercastGoogleBloomberg, and Stitcher. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here.

Next week, we speak with John R. Mousseau, president, chief executive officer and director of fixed income at Cumberland Advisors. Mousseau is also co-author of the book “Adventures in Muniland: A Guide to Municipal Bond Investing in the Post-Crisis Era.”



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