Below-the-Surface Struggles in Manhattan Housing Bust Seep to the Surface

“The market doesn’t care what you think.”

By Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET.

That the Manhattan market for condos and co-ops has been heading lower is no secret. The price and sales data I’m going to briefly lay out here is just to provide a backdrop for what comes next – the struggles below the surface that rarely make it to the surface. But this time they did.

The average sales price of condos and co-ops in the third quarter dropped 14.1% from a year ago to $1.66 million, according to the Elliman Report. The median sales price (half of the condos and co-ops sell for more, and half sell for less) fell 8.2% from a year ago to $1.03 million. That was down 13% from two years ago.

The number of closed sales fell 14.2% from a year ago to 2,592 units. The only price category that saw a year-over-year sales increase (+4.8%) was the below-$500,000 category. In all other price categories, sales fell. In the above-$5-million category, sales collapsed by 42.9%.

Months’ supply of listed inventory – not including unsold units that have been pulled, as we’ll see in a moment – rose 22.9% year-over-year to 8.6 months. And this has occurred despite a steep decline in mortgage rates over the 12-month period.

Back in the second quarter, there had been a rush to buy before the Mansion Tax took effect on July 1, and sales surged at the time, “prompting some market observers to interpret the formation of a recovery,” the Elliman Report said. But as the Q2 Elliman Report had predicted, that surge would unwind in Q3, and it did, plus some.

This is the backdrop to what comes next. Jonathan Miller, author of the Elliman Report and principal at New York City real estate appraisal firm Miller Samuel, exposed today a fascinating aspect of the dynamics beneath the surface in the Manhattan housing market.

But first a distinction. In Manhattan, there are two common types of legal structures for apartment ownership, a condo and a co-op. In a co-op, according to the New York City Bar:

You own shares in the corporation which owns the building, but you are also a tenant who rents an apartment from the corporation. You will be considered a tenant/shareholder. The lease between you and the building is called a “proprietary lease.”

So when you want to sell your apartment, it gets complicated because legally you don’t own the apartment; you own shares in the corporation that owns the whole building. And the co-op board not only gets to say yay or nay over the buyer but also over other things, such as the sales price. And in a down-market, folks appear to be clinging to prices as they used to be.

Jonathan Miller wrote in his Housing Notes today: “I’ll be writing about this phenomenon a lot in 2020, but I’ve been told that a growing number of boards are killing sales they deem too “low” even though the sale was vetted by the market – properly exposed, fully qualified buyer, etc.”

He cites a letter that Donna Olshan, president of Olshan Realty – whom “I’ve known for most of my career,” he says – sent to the board of a co-op that had rejected a sale that finally took place after months of price cuts, because the price was too low. “The letter conveyed the reality of selling co-op apartments in today’s market,” he said and added:

Here’s my message to all co-op boards who do this: The market doesn’t care what you think. By killing sales you think are too low, you are violating your fiduciary responsibility to the shareholders by acting this way. Co-ops that do this are damaging shareholder equity as brokers steer would-be buyers away from boards that are violating their fiduciary responsibilities.

This is the letter by Donna Olshan. He redacted “everything that would reveal the parties.” Note how the apartment gets pulled off the market and is then relisted at a lower price. As this happens with more apartments, it makes the “days on market,” an important metric, look a lot rosier than it actually is:

Dear Board of Directors,

I am writing to provide context for the sales price of $[redacted] million of apartment #[redacted] located at [redacted].

Before being listed for sale, the apartment was professionally staged and refreshed at great expense to [redacted]. Additionally, a professional photographer was hired to insure the portfolio of listing photos were just right. (Please See attached photos):
https:[redacted]

On May 22, 2018, the unit was listed in the multiple listing service run by the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY-RLS) and disseminated electronically to its approximately 12,000+ residential members. The original listing price was [redacted]. The apartment was shown numerous times however the owners received no offers and by the end of December 2018, the unit was withdrawn from the market so the listing did not appear as stale.

On March 13, 2019, it was relisted at a reduced price of [redacted] million in the hopes that listing earlier in the Spring at a lower level would draw buyers. It did not.

On May 6, 2019, the price was lowered to [redacted].

By August 2019, a contract was signed at [redacted] million.
This was the ONLY offer that the seller received during the entire marketing period.

The current market has been on a consistent downward swing since Congress changed the tax law at the end of December 2017 when the deduction for state and local taxes (including real estate) was capped at $10,000. The mortgage interest deduction was also reduced to a maximum of $750,000. Since 2018, the pool of buyers has shrunk and there has been an increase in inventory. Unit [redacted] was caught in a downward cycle and by any metric available, the market continues to head south. Below is a 3rd quarter report written by the appraiser Jonathan Miller for Douglas Elliman. Jonathan is considered the dean of appraising in the industry and is frequently cited in mass media and is consulted by various institutions:

https://www.elliman.com/pdf/cd301cd94c6c2fee6e9317e7fc8e5ca0b2d9c658

I have been a professional in the real estate business since 1980 and my career spans many markets, properties and clients. I am very experienced in the market and conditions and can confidently state that the price achieved is fair market value and the unit has been thoroughly market-tested.

Very truly yours,
Donna Olshan
President

The letter conveys the nightmare a seller faces – after the expenses of preparing and marketing the apartment followed by serial price cuts – when the co-op board nixes the only offer, thereby killing the sale. This creates the prospect of being stuck with the apartment because the board won’t allow it to be sold at the price the market is willing to pay; and the market doesn’t care what the board thinks and won’t pay its fantasy price.

But more importantly, it shows in granular detail just how tough the Manhattan market has gotten, and the hoops sellers have to jump through to even find an interested and able buyer.

Wow, that was fast: In default is a $650 million portion of a $2 billion loan package, signed in 2018. Read… Brick & Mortar Meltdown Manhattan Style: Lenders Foreclose on Times Square Tower whose Six Retail Floors are 90% Vacant

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  138 comments for “Below-the-Surface Struggles in Manhattan Housing Bust Seep to the Surface

  1. qt says:

    It’s a good thing real estate only goes up!

  2. Old-school says:

    My son just started renting at one of the new high rise units in Manhattan. They converted a 2 bdr to a 3 br and did a pay for 12 get 14 months. I believe the rent is $5700. Split it 3 ways and 2 months free was the only way they could make it work.

    • PasPourMoi says:

      Yeah this is nuts… I could never do this for more than a couple of months as temp. As long as there are people willing to shack up like this, they will continue to enable these frothy markets.

      I use to live in boston a couple months like this before I had enough and just moved to jakarta almost 5 years ago… I pay $775 per month for a 2br in a gated apt with all the amenities (24/7 security at the entrance gates/towers, pool, tennis/basketball court, gym, and familymart).

      Never going back that…

      • Old-school says:

        Sounds like you made a wonderful choice.

      • Frederick says:

        Jakarta looks OK but in my opinion you can live just as well or better in Eastern European cities such as Budapest, Bratislava, Krakow Or Warsaw on the same money I couldn’t stand the humidity and heat of Indonesia personally

        • PasPourMoi says:

          I’m tempted, but ill wait for the EU dissolution before I test the waters :P

          Much easier for me to “blend” in here than there, I’d stand out like a sore thumb (more than I already did in the tech/academic world in NYC/BOS), and wont be of much use there as I am here with the whole “Pivot to Asia” ramping up, esp with conflict on the horizon hahaha

        • Rob says:

          Check out Montenegro and Kotor bay specifically.

    • Just Some Random Guy says:

      And this is evidence of some kind of real estate crash in Manhattan?

      • Wolf Richter says:

        Just Some Random Guy,

        NO ONE other than YOU here said anything about a “real estate crash” in Manhattan. But the median price of condos and co-ops is down 14% from two years ago, and sales at the high end are down 43%. Manhattan real estate is in a downturn, not a “crash.” So it would be helpful for you to read the article and take in the data before slinging around this kind of nonsense.

        • Raymond Rogers says:

          Wolf, it looks like he really lit your fuse.

          Just a friendly suggestion. Use a little humor. Best way to counter troll attempts.

          Use something like
          Keyword search “real estate crash”
          No results found.

        • Pat McKim says:

          Wolf, great job. Market slides start with anecdotal incidents just like this. It is very illustrative. The phrase, the market doesn’t care what you think was written by someone who understands markets. New York like San Francisco is a city full of arrogant people (I’m an SF native). Given the high prices, the lack of an underlying strong economy, this slide could easily become a crash. The attitude of this commenter is the typical “greater fool” or bagholder that says, “they ain’t makin’ any more real estate,” but with high rises one can always go up, so that ain’t so true. The tax change was the pin prick to likely change the market. In the end markets are about two things: ability to pay and sentiment. I think both are changing, particularly when the stock market melt up over extends and exhausts itself as they ALWAYS do. Thanks Wolf.

      • sc7 says:

        AHHHT! Housing 🤣.

        Sounds like a real estate permabull is nervous.

    • RoundAbout says:

      Sounds like a loan backing up those high rise units needs to be defaulted.

  3. Seneca's cliff says:

    Condo’s and Coops are good ownership models on the way up ( in a market of increasing real estate value) but are prone to collapse in a down market. They are even worse in a long term deflationary real estate market like Japan has had for 25 years and we may soon experience. For a down market the old rental model works the best. If the value and rents of building drop in half over a given period of time, the landlord will go broke then the property can be purchased by a new landlord at a greatly reduced value allowing them to make money at the new lower rents. With a coop or condo, down markets force buildings to have vacant or zombie units which jacks up the cost of maintenance and repairs among a smaller group of owners in a declining death spiral for the building and the remaining owners.

    • Michael Fiorillo says:

      Coops can be a real nightmare: you have all of the responsibilities of ownership, but none of the autonomy. The courts have given coop Boards dictatorial powers, which in NYC (and Manhattan in particular) are often expressed in outlandish and sometimes corrupt ways.

      Do you really want your monthly maintenance charges to go up, just because some moron in the Board thinks the lobby doesn’t project the right look? Etc…

      Think about it: potential capital gains aside, why would you take on a mortgage, yet continue to “rent?”

      • Bernard Meisler says:

        Ex New Yorker here. People buy co-ops because they’re usually 20% cheaper than a corresponding condo (which you actually own) – and they used to vastly outnumber condos. I lived in a co-op and the board could be a pain – especially if you had a personal problem with a board member. Unfortunately, in my experience, many of the people who want to serve on a board do it because they enjoy having power over people. Same as an HOA. For the past 10-20 years, virtually all new buildings are condos.

      • Greg Hamilton says:

        Co-op sounds like HOAs on steriods. Been there done that. No thanks. On the other hand Co-ops sound like another method to keep the price of real estate artificially high. If the owner/shareholder doesn’t get approved of the sale and doesn’t have the means to keep paying the mortgage, what are the options? Default on the loan? Then does the board or the bank repossess? What happens next? Does the bank need approval from the board to sell?

      • raxadian says:

        Is basically worse than renting, at least with renting you can just leave quite easily.

  4. timbers says:

    I don’t have any plug into real estate market in any particular way here in the south of Boston and south shore area, and the market could be going sideways or a bit up or down either way recently, but can’t say I see indication of faltering market. Driving to and from work I see For Sale signs go up, quickly followed by Sold or Under Agreement added to them in relatively short time. Boston area still benefits from QE4 with financial services, exploding healthcare spending and education, and THAT WHICH NEVER CAUSES DEFICITS, our ever growing war and aggression spending.

    • sc7 says:

      The outer suburbs seem to still be “warm”, but closer and in the city, particularly the most expensive areas, are absolutely, positively falling. The data shows it, just as I predicted one year ago.
      http://realestate.boston.com/buying/2019/11/26/report-home-prices-peaked-greater-boston/

      • timbers says:

        You might want to re read that link. Or better yet re read what I said and learn.

        • sc7 says:

          I know you hope your split level is going to the moon Alice, but what about this looks good?

          “ The single-family home market saw its lowest October sales total in more than 20 years, according to the report, and the condo market was met with a 31 percent decline.”

          “Prices have moderated in both markets. The median sales price for a single-family home in Greater Boston was $590,000, a 2.2 percent decrease year over year, according to the report.”

          “ “The days of steady appreciation in home values are nearly over. At both ends of the market, and in most communities, selling prices have either peaked or plateaued,” Major said. “For those homeowners who are thinking about listing their home for sale, now would be a good time to do so, before rising mortgage rates and inventory levels potentially cut into equity gains.”

          Bubbles seldom plateau, corrections rarely are a “period of stagnation”. This is a start of the slow turning cruise ship.

          Remember, this is how Boston behaved in 2005/2006. This doesn’t have the same triggers but it will be a correction of a different kind. I own in the GBA, I don’t have a horse in this race personally, but I know this has been unsustainable for a while. I refuse to be a DebtDonkey and tap into equity.

          QE4 won’t be enough. Record low unemployment and rock bottom mortgage rates and this is all we can pull out of the market, it is way overheated. When the bottom falls out economically, housing in all coastal metros will suffer, we will be like the Bay Area seeing double digit declines YoY. Enjoy your house for shelter, stop worrying about your magical paper equity. Boston will never match Bay Area prices, the weather, traffic and housing stock all suck too much.

    • CloverPickingHarp says:

      Yeah it’s interesting, I’m entering a time in my life when buying a home is coming, ideally in mid to late 2020. I currently rent on the North Shore of Boston and travel into Boston as well as through Plhmouth County for work. The prices in the cities and towns pushing out from Boston are insane. I’ve been looking up 95 into NH for more house and more land for my dollar.

      • Frederick says:

        My sister did the same thing years ago Has a great 18th century inn located off 93 just south of Manchester in Hampstead Nice quiet area commuting distance to Boston

      • sc7 says:

        Buying in NH to commuting to Boston is signing a 30 year torture sentence. It’s only doable if you never have to do it during rush hour.

        That commute will only get worse. Either settle for something smaller near Boston, or have a plan to stop working in the city. I think values near the city will come back down, but not by all that much.

        Or, honestly, move away from the area altogether.

    • Iamafan says:

      My old man went to Harvard and MIT, both. When I used to drive him there to visit the Alumni dept., I see new buildings and construction all the time. Great cities don’t die. I am sure most haven’t even heard of Boston’s big data initiative or the Cambridge Business Park. People read published data too much or take Case-Schiller too seriously. But in real life, things happen differently. I have a friend who lives in LA and his two daughters studied at Stanford. Where did they work? Of course here in NYC for investment banks. What will you do with your money? Of course spend it. NYC and Boston offers a lot of ways to get that done.

      • nhz says:

        Spend your money, really? Central banksters and e-con-omists are telling me every day how our only economic problem is that people aren’t spending (enough). Seems to me that those who have too much money are only “spending” it on speculation, like extra/excessive housing. Plus the elites have a wrong idea about how much ordinary folk have left to spend once government and business have taken their “fair share” of their income/savings.

        • Old-school says:

          I didn’t realize how much financial repression there was in the Netherlands.

          I think I could handle maybe a percent or 2 as my life expectancy is around 25 years and I would just reduce my consumption. Any more than that I would have to get creative. I think we are heading toward asset deflation so currently I keep all my assets in treasuries with about 2 year duration which means about 1/2% repression. I keep about 10 – 12% in stocks in case I am wrong and the bubble stays alive longer than I can imagine.

        • nhz says:

          @Old-school:
          The financial repression is strictly for the middle class and especially the self-employed. Real rates of 4-5% negative only hurt those with significant (> 100K EUR) money in a savings account and that is just a few % of the population. Those with money in companies, stocks, bonds and RE have profited hugely but they pay exactly the same wealth taxes. And when you have over 20 million or so (probably that is what counts as real elite over here?) the wealth tax is 0.1% instead of 1.2-1.7%.

          I had a talk with my bank recently about financial strategy and they don’t seem to have good options either for people like me. I can only hope that the financial terror regime of ECB and our neo-liberal government ends soon (Dutch government is liberal regarding most social issues, but when it comes to finance they are socialists for the really rich).

        • char says:

          Is that not the definition of neo-liberalism. Being socialist to the really rich?

      • sc7 says:

        “ Great cities don’t die.”

        Tell that to Detroit, or Chicago, or the Bay Area over the past year. The denial is strong with this one.

        “ People read published data too much or take Case-Schiller too seriously. But in real life, things happen differently.”

        Low information GOP voter? “Data doesn’t matter, my anecdotes in “muh real life” matter”

        Your old man would be ashamed that his son disregards data so much.

        • PasPourMoi says:

          lol yeah history is littered with formerly “Great Cities”… what a joke

        • ultra says:

          sc7, PasPourMoi:

          Great cities have their ups and downs, but they tend to outlast nation-states and empires. Example: Rome outlasted the Roman Empire, and it’s been around for over 2,500 years.

          As for the US cities you have mentioned, the Detroit metropolitan area has about 4.3 million people and its population has grown by 0.7% during the last decade, the Chicago metropolitan area has about 9.5 million people and its population has grown by 0.4% during the last decade, and the Bay area (San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley) has a population of about 4.7 million people and its population has grown by a robust 9.1% during the last decade. So those great cities are doing just fine.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_metropolitan_statistical_areas

        • sc7 says:

          @Ultra

          Are you serious? Population is your only metric? What about crime statistics? Economic productivity? Property values (the point of this thread)? Detroit used to be a thriving, nice place to live. Now it’s a disaster where property values are next to nothing.

          The number of people crammed into a city is not what makes it “great”. Same thing with Chicago, there are still nice and thriving parts, but property values are down in aggregate.

        • Happy1 says:

          Agreed. Great cities come and go, albeit usually not on the time scale of a single human lifespan, but Detroit obviously is a shadow of what it was in 1960, and Chicago will be very different in 20 years outside of the core wealthy neighborhoods.

        • CZ says:

          Detroit was a one-trick pony, totally dependent on auto industry which got crushed by Japanese imports + NAFTA.

  5. Petunia says:

    The coop market in NYC is not about price, never has been, and
    any good real estate professional in NYC knows it. The most desirable buildings are coops and only the “right” kind of person is allowed to buy into a building. Only the “right” real estate broker is allowed to bring clients. New prospects are screened to make sure they fit in before they are allowed to see an apartment. The price of the unit is irrelevant, whether it is low or high, what matters is the fit, wealth is assumed.

    This is why condos are now so popular in the city. It is the only way new money can buy into the city. I once saw a list of the buildings considered to be the “good buildings” in the city, it was not a long list, maybe 100, all coops.

    • Iamafan says:

      I think you really mean the right places in Manhattan. The rest of the NYC boroughs don’t count.

      • Unit472 says:

        I’m not sure that busting up these enclaves of wealth is a bad idea. John Derbyshire has written that they are basically a mating ritual. The residents can ignore reality and virtue signal that he or she can afford a zip code where the underclass does not exist and espouse political idiocy.Pacific Heights, Malibu,Manhattan towers concentrate wealth and jobs in a socially destructive way. Didn’t use to be like that when America was young and growing fast. Tire tycoons lived in Akron, Steel Magnates in Pittsburgh, Oil millionaires in Texas.it seemed to work as those with wealth had a interest in improving their communities instead of congregating and socializing amongst themselves ( and running self financed campaigns for the presidency)

        • Petunia says:

          Oddly enough, the self financed president had to build his own building to get a nice apt in NYC, probably much too controversial to be accepted by a coop board.

        • Frederick says:

          Petunia I remember an episode of Taxi where they rejected Penny Marshall and approved Louie DiPalma
          She was nearly suicidal after that

    • Iamafan says:

      Whining is a hobby around here. Yeah so we got the $10k and 750 mortgage cap and the mansion tax (really a transfer tax) in the area. Well if you want to live well, have a great job, have kids, and live the American dream around here, what’s your choice? You can move to Florida but your high paying job is here. This game is simple, make money or move. Same true in the bay area.

      • Just Some Random Guy says:

        Iamafan,

        I live in flyover country but earn a coastal income. That’s the real game. Granted, not everyone can do it, but it’s also a lot more doable than people think.

        • tom says:

          Shhh… not possible.

          Only us low information people out here.
          Living in our single wide & driving to work, if we work,
          in our 85K truck.

        • Just Some Random Guy says:

          Tom,

          Absolutely correct, don’t know what I was saying. Must have been in some opioid dream. It’s horrible out here, everyone stay in LA and NY.

      • Happy1 says:

        This hasn’t been true for a long time. Lots of great high paying work in Texas and Nashville and Salt Lake City and Charlotte and Denver, with much higher quality of life and lower costs and lower taxes. Even in finance this is the case. NYC is for suckers. Fun place to visit though.

    • Bernard Meisler says:

      Petunia is right – not all co-ops are that strict – but the old-money buildings on Fifth or Park Ave sure are. I remember a big to-do maybe 30 years ago when Madonna was rejected by a very pricey 5th Ave co-op – and it wasn’t because of her financial statements. I believe she ended up on the upper west side, where the nouveau riche were more accepted.

    • Greg Hamilton says:

      I grew up in NYC and obviously I was not the “right” kind of person because I never heard of such things. I did see hot shot Wall Street types come and go in my building as they came and burnt out later. I did know many people who had penthouse apartments overlooking 5th Ave or Central Park West, but I didn’t know which buildings where considered right. Maybe I was just sheltered. I do know there are a lot of snobs in every city in every country, and many of these snobs are considered the “right” kind of person who would live in the “right” kind of building–in their mind.

  6. Keeper Hill says:

    You sound ridiculous. Beyond snobbish. Hoping you own in one of these buildings that are spiraling lower in price bc of coop boards with your views.

    • michael says:

      Petunia is not a snob. I have heard these allegations from other involved sources. Coops are collectively owned and managed by residents who own shares in a nonprofit corporation.

      Its one of the few types of housing where you can choose your neighbors.

    • timbers says:

      Having read Petunia’s comments over time I see no indication of snobbish and appreciate her/his insights.

    • Petunia says:

      I didn’t realize your comment was directed at me personally. The comment I made was based on living in Manhattan for over 30 years and knowing people in the real estate business. It has nothing to do with what I think or feel, it is the truth. There are about 100 buildings mostly on the east side of Manhattan, on Fifth Ave, Park Ave, and a few on the East River which make up the most desirable addresses in NYC. I didn’t decide this, the buyers and owners make it so.

      • Lou Mannheim says:

        I used to walk home up Park from my office Midtown. Some real nice, classic pre-war buildings there. Not a lot of smiles.

      • panatomic-x says:

        petunia description is accurate. it mostly applies to old money on theupper east side. the new money is downtown in tribeca and battery park. the trend is away from coops and towards condos because of these horror stories. coops have tax advantages so they aren’t going to disappear. one crazy thing is that some coops lease the underlying property. coop owners in battery park have screaming bloody murder because as the ground leases have increased causing maintenance fees have gone through the roof.

      • Greg Hamilton says:

        Petunia,
        Now that you mention specific areas I do know what you mean. They just weren’t in my crowd. They were not very fun people in my mind. Too caught up in their own self importance.

  7. Iamafan says:

    From someone who is from the area, these numbers are quite low for coops on the upper east side (for example). When my fine neighbor’s kids were old enough to go on their own, the couple moved to Manhattan so he didn’t need to take the train each morning. He was a regular CNBC guest. He told me he paid about 3 mil for a small unit, and that was a steal at that time many years ago. $1.03 m does not buy anything in a good area. Just being honest, ok.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Iamafan,

      A “small” unit for Manhattanites is something in the 500 square foot range. We had what was described as a “large” 2-bedroom 2-bath (new), which had about 900 square feet. For someone with a house in the burbs, that’s still insufferably small. “Small” is very subjective. So his “small” might have been 2,000 square feet, which is still small if you’re used to 5,000 square feet. And sure, if you’re looking at Tribeca or Battery Park or Billionaire’s Row or along Central Park or whatever, even a small-ish apartment is going to cost multiple millions, especially if it has a view.

      • Iamafan says:

        That’s why I stayed near the border of NY and Conn. The commute took half of my life away. But I have a wooded lot in more than an acreage plus good schools for my kids. Not sure what I would do if I was younger now. One thing I can say is NYC is fast and crazy. It ain’t for everybody.

      • Frederick says:

        “Large” 2 BR 2 bath 900 sq feet? My place in Warsaw is over 900 sf and 1 BR 1 bath but the rooms are nice size, functional and not shoeboxes

      • RD Blakeslee says:

        Wolf, when I built my own house (2,200 sq’) in 1977, I had trouble getting my costs above 35K, (including a turnkey 30 X 40 steel garage) to avoid having to pay a capital gains tax on my prior house’s sale. No Homeowner’s Association or other oppressor here, either.

        My mindset is wonderment that anyone would live so fettered a life as often recounted here, just to be in the thick of the financial rat-race!

        • Wolf Richter says:

          RD Blakeslee,

          Everyone their thing, thank god. I love staying out in rural areas for a couple of days during vacations. I love hiking in the wilderness even more. But the rest of the time, I’m a big-city guy.

          I cannot imagine having to spend my life in a rural area, no matter how big and how cheap the house is.

          And you cannot imagine having to live in an expensive possible small and crappy apartment with lots of neighbors, among 8 million or 50 million other people, all bustling about doing their thing.

          And that’s a good thing.

          What you do is exotic to me. And I enjoy reading about it. But it’s really a good thing that we don’t all like the same thing, or soon your quiet enclave would be run over by millions of others who like what you like, and soon your quiet enclave would look like Manhattan. So I’m grateful every day that we (we = humanity) are made to have differing preferences.

        • panatomic-x says:

          +1 to wolf’s comments. to each his/her own. i will say this to you rural people who hate city life. visiting a large city is completely different from living in one. i feel very sorry when i see what some tourists go through and i do make an effort to help them when i see them wondering lost around the neighborhood. city life can actually be very connected and i spend time each day chatting with my neighbors some of whom i’ve known for decades. i think that’s the key to making anyplace, city or country, your home.

        • Just Some Random Guy says:

          “rural people” are too dumb to figure out how to navigate the mean streets of a city? How do you an eye roll emoji again? Come on dude.

          I grew up in a big bad city, went to college in one, and lived for a decade afterwards in one. I was as big city as you get. The idea of living in the sticks was a foreign concept. Better chance I would live on the moon than out in the country. Then I met my wife who grew up in in a town of 3K people.

          Every time I visited her family, the idea of moving there (or somewhere like that) got more and more appealing. Finally we decided to move to a small city (or big small town, not sure where the dividing line is) So it’s not completely rural. But within a 10 minute drive from my house I’m surrounded by farms. We have a Starbucks and cows equidistant, so best of both world? :)

          Having lived in both, I can’t imagine going back to the insanity of the urban jungle. It has its appeal, especially when you’re young and single. But with a family now and not much need for a bar and club scene, I’m very happy where I am.

          With communication and transportation options we have now there’s really no reason to be in SF or NYC or LA. If you absolutely love it, then sure. But if you’re staying there for a job, much much better options out there. Remote work is a viable option for a lot of professions and companies are more than willing to offer that. Anything like IT, sales, marketing, writing type jobs can be done from anywhere, you don’t need to sit in a cube at HQ to do the job.

        • sc7 says:

          @Just Some Guy

          If your job can be done in rural Kansas remotely, it can also be done in India or another low cost country for much cheaper.

      • I am deigned to respond. I live on more than half an acre, a 50’s ranch style house, maybe 2000 ft if you count the unheated rooms, weeds, a chain link fence, and a Winchester 97 (pump). My cities planning office, in a progressive state, is run by subnormal fascists, and fire chiefs whose toys are too large to drive down a standard easement. Fire insurance is a luxury to many. I am not a deplorable, but I am not sure why? This person in NY must find a buyer, exchange the money and the keys and let the bureaucrats figure it out. They cannot demand you live in this place (false imprisonment) and they cannot deem who can live in the apartment (discrimination), and they certainly cannot interfere with the free market.

  8. Cobalt Programmer says:

    When rich people listens to the poor people problems like “the wages are too low”, rich one quickly say “just find another job”, “go up, become a manager” like that. Same thing. When I hear about rich people problems, like ” the condo price came down to $1.4 million from 1.7 million”. I really don’t know what to say. How many are real low wage workers? They are in high positions, smart, educated and earning six figures salary, people like me can dream of. I will say one thing. Just hold on. After the downturn, boom cycle will come. The price will be inflated again. Sell by that time. Until then, Please stay in your villa.

    • Old-school says:

      Shelter is such an interesting thing. A few years back I was living in a 50 year old singlewide on a farm that was probably worth less than $5000, a housepayment in some places. First time I had ever lived in a trailer. (Lived in a couple of 100 year old houses too. In some ways they feel more liveable than new granite counter top stainless steel appliance homes.)

      I liked the trailer because it was nestled up against the trees with a great view of pasture land. As long as everything is freshly painted and clean it’s ok with me.

      I have lived in 3000 sq ft 4 bed 4 bath home in wealthy neighborhood, but that is not me anymore. When I had a family I would always buy as much home as I could in as good of a neighborhood as O could. I was always paying a healthy mortgage and never felt like it was mine. I did make a few bucks each time I sold. Hopefully my kids have some good memories.

      Safe neighborhood, casual living and about 500 sq ft is all I want from this point on.

      • Unamused says:

        Hopefully my kids have some good memories.

        You should ask them.

        All too late, and all too often, we realise that our friends and family are our only true treasure. There are some things which cannot be learned quickly, and time, which is all we have, must be paid heavily for their acquiring. They are the very simplest things.

      • nhz says:

        For perspective it helps to have lived in very different homes and neighborhoods. I have lived in about 15 different homes over the years, from tiny student apartments and a small (600 sqft?) forester home to one of the biggest (8000 sqft?) and most beautiful mansions in my part of the country, on a prime location.

        Nowadays I would prefer a smaller home like 1000 sqft (including some office/work area) with a garden or at least some other outside area, and yes in a safe area please. But such homes are very difficult to find now because they only build very big (and expensive) family homes in the suburbs or real crappy apartments in the inner city. There are small homes in the city but they are often very low quality with tiny rooms, high energy cost and despite this very expensive. I love monumental homes from 2-4 centuries ago because they often have very different rooms to match the seasons or ones mood, while modern homes are often “one size fits all”. But because prices of those went up by about 10x in the last 25 years these are now unaffordable for me, otherwise I would probably buy one and try to split it up in some clever way. Have to wait for a serious downturn before I can buy again at a sensible price …

        It’s interesting to see how available living space changes due to the economics of the housing market. When I was young the inner city where I live now had many big old homes in very bad condition that were rented out by slumlords to the lower classes. At some point the government decided to renovate the inner city and homes that formerly had 10-20 tenants then became the home of younger upper middle class families with children (like 4-6 persons total). Later on with rising prices these were very expensive homes with often just 1-2 elderly boomers from the local elite living in them. In the last five years the swing back has started, some of the homes are purchased by speculators, left empty to rot, used as vacation / Airbnb rentals or they are split up again in many crappy apartments so the owners can make loads of money from temporary workers and other desperate renters. If this continues within 10-15 years we will be back in the situation from 50 years ago, where the inner city is a slum again … maybe they should start planning for something like the Sherlock Holmes tourist tours in London ;(

        • Old-school says:

          Hi nhz,
          Just read an article that the Netherlands was rated as having best pension system in the world again. Wondered what you thought about that. US was middle of pack and Japan was close to bottom. That sounds tough as Japanese has old population and long life expectancy.

        • nhz says:

          @Old-school:
          yes, the Dutch system probably is one of the better pension systems although it is unsustainable just like all the others because they have overpromised. People have been paying 2-5% of income for maybe thirty years and expect almost full retirement income for the next thirty / fourty years, it simply is not possible. The retirement age is moving up, pension contributions (for the young) are increasing and pension cuts have been lurking for years. But the day of reckoning is shifted into the future again and again by politics like in the US, assuming 7-8% returns forever in a world of ZIRP/NIRP. Younger people are waking up and noticing that the current system is unfair to them, so why pay into the pension system at all?

          Another problem is that our system is unfair to low incomes: people with relatively low incomes get very little pension on top of old age allowance (which everyone gets, not enough to get by nowadays unless you have social housing etc. etc.). Most of their pension contributions go to the high income group, mostly government workers with gold plated pensions (also much like the US). And of course, these “socialized” high pensions go to people who often really don’t need them.

          What cannot go on will not go on and I think the Dutch pension system will get in serious trouble with the next stock market crash, or when inflation really starts to bite. There have been no official cuts yet, but many pensions have not been indexed since the GFC, although of course most government workers have been shielded from such damage.

          I don’t have a lush pension because I was self-employed. Most of these private pensions were pure theft, after paying for 20 years there was way less capital than what I paid in due to “management fees”. My pension will be about 1% of what they promised me, on paper … But unlike government or union workers there is no one to turn to and shift the cost to taxpayers. Despite this, unions are now trying to force self-employed workers to pay into a pension fund (again) if they don’t have sufficient pension of their own, which of course at older age means that they steal your money for their own pensions, to keep the Ponzi alive a bit longer ;(

    • Iamafan says:

      Don’t underestimate the power of inheritance or family especially here in the East. There’s a lot of old wealth in old cities. I couldn’t afford to live here when I moved back here but Mom and Dad helped 30 years ago.

      • RD Blakeslee says:

        Amen. I’m not old money (or much of any, really) but I am passing on to my children some wealth, to compensate them for their contributions to S.S., which they will not enjoy to the extent this generation does.

        • Iamafan says:

          I have already given a lot to my children. I learned this seeing my mom die. If you don’t plan, you’ll just make things harder for the survivors.

  9. Naresh says:

    Thank god the zoos near the co-ops can only hold out for so long eventually it will stop people from even looking there cuz it’s a monopoly that will just keep getting prices lower and lower be able to this is a monopoly that should be broken when is Vancouver going to face the reality prices are dropping you should see a 30 to 40% drop

  10. David Hall says:

    I saw Sydney, Australia real estate fall and fall, then it started to rise in value again. Housing does not go to zero.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Correct, it normally does not go to zero. But it doesn’t go to heck in a straight line either.

    • nhz says:

      housing does not go to zero but the cost of ownership can go deeply negative for a long time (something most people nowadays cannot imagine).

  11. A says:

    NYC market topped in 2017. I agree that it’s in a correction.

    Only question is if the correction will be slow and grinding, or collapse as buyers panic.

    • Petunia says:

      I lived in Manhattan during the 1970’s when the real estate market sucked. Inflation was raging, unemployment was high, but the market was still very fluid. As rents became unaffordable the loft craze began, SOHO became cool, and the real pioneers moved to Harlem and Brooklyn. New Yorkers never panic, it’s a waste of time.

      • TownNorth says:

        I was there at the same time, through 1991. Yes, in 1974-75, the city was on the verge of bankruptcy and there was an exodus to the burbs. We had a friend that bought a fixer upper in a Park Avenue building for peanuts when prices cratered briefly. When they took off in the 80s, we moved from the Upper West Side (rental) and bought a loft in Hell’s Kitchen, when it was literally that. I agree with your coop comments above.

  12. Iamafan says:

    If you work in Finance, I wonder where you will live? Your job dictates your life. NY will continously need these workers. I know young teachers who live in nice high rise condos because they have rich folks. They aren’t going anywhere. Similarly, I also know plenty of workers who live in Queens who have no intention of moving out. NYC has a lot going for it. Not sure house prices matter too much here. For as long as you make money in your job, you tend to ignore a lot.

    • Paulo says:

      What a life…spend all day in front of a computer terminal, wear a suit and tie, go to endless meetings, and pay thousands per month rent. I guess I missed that gravy train somewhere along the way (Thank God).

      I guess I forgot the student loans part, too.

      I know, I know, we’re all different. But still…….

      • RD Blakeslee says:

        ” … different.”

        Paulo, I think the folks who think like us are underrepresented here.

        Most of them simply aren’t as wordy as we are.

        • DR DOOM says:

          If you love where you live don’t leave . If you don’t love where you live , escape for your souls sake to a place where you can at least grow to love. My standard for living is that you own your home and property and can take a leak outside and there is no-body around to notice. I like the mud on my boots from walking my property and the smell of seasoned hickory burning in my wood stove. It’s a hillbilly thing.

    • PasPourMoi says:

      What part of finance? Backtesting/trading code for a prop shop/bank? You can do that anywhere. Teaching? Yeah not so much (unless online, and at has its own host of problems culmunating in the “higher education” with fewer enrolled with more and more debt)… but I’ll tell you an extra couple G per month that can go anywhere else but rent is nice (esp when you and seeing a lot of people around you just accept things the way they are and the (cost of) living conditions that come with that). And with the exodus of people away from places like NYC and SF, maybe even for amounts less than a that is nice as well. But yeah, maybe for most people, having most of your income go to servicing rent/mortgage is nothing to think about…the bankers certainly prefer it that way lol

      These places are going to have to get competitive real soon, or they can join the many nice apartments in JKT (and the rest of the world) with +40% vacancies (until the owners have a fire sale and/or need their “asset” that’s been on the market for years and attracted very few/no one at inflated prices to produce income > 0 asap).

      • Frederick says:

        Very true Lots of beautiful new luxury apts are empty in Warsaw because nobody can afford them or wants to anyway My tenant is an international lawyer and pays on time I charge him a reasonable amount and he takes great care of my property and I don’t have to be stressed out chasing him for the rent every month Works for us

        • nhz says:

          Are these apts empty because their valuations rise anyway thanks to a flood of EU money? My impression is that easy money (for speculators, big government/business employees etc.) is a big factor for rising prices in the capital cities and financial centers in Europe (and the surrounding areas), because this is where all the easy money arrives first. Even more so in the countries to the East that were initially relatively poor…

        • SneakyPete says:

          Have been considering a move to Poland too. Wroclaw stood out to me. Any reason why Warsaw is superior for an American expatriate retiree? I speak no Polish or Russian, but aside from English, also speak passable German, French and Spanish. Will the language barrier be an issue? Thanks

        • Frederick says:

          nhz I suppose cheap EU money is fueling the explosion in high end development The costs per sq meter are already very high comparably speaking
          I spoke to a realtor about renting my place for more money and she told me those tower apts are all empty because nobody can afford them I’m not so sure they will appreciate in value so fast especially if there’s a big recession coming as many think Longer term who knows

        • nhz says:

          @Frederick:
          makes you wonder what the real value is if nobody lives there because they cannot afford the rent, similar to those Chinese ghost cities?

          It happens here too but there are no official statistics about empty homes, so difficult to keep track. There is a seaside city closeby with some seafront high-rise buildings with relatively expensive apartments, while the city itself is cheap (basically bankrupt, low income, many migrants etc.). Many of those apts were build just before the financial crisis and many people have noticed that in the evening most of these towers are at least 75% dark and the car parkings are almost empty: nobody lives there. Over the last year apts from some of the towers have been coming on the market and it’s obvious from the realtor listings that indeed nobody lived there for over ten years, it all looks live the construction workers left last week. Prices are low compared to my city but they aren’t selling well and when all these tower apts go for sale there might be a serious price crash, there is no way the local market could absorb such supply. Investment homes in the small villages close by are even worse, these are so far above the income and requirement levels of the locals that it cannot end well IMHO unless the elites decide to move here permanently (good luck with that …). Interesting times …

        • Frederick says:

          Response to Sneaky Pete Wroclaw is great as well In Warsaw most of the younger generation speak good English and the government offices have English speaking workers as well as information people to assist Can’t speak for Wroclaw I’m just partial to Warsaw as it’s where I know the most and it’s the capital and commercial center of Poland and East/Central Europe actually The transportation system is great as is the culture ie music, museums etc I know I’m going to get clobbered by the Krakow crowd but what the heck You won’t be disappointed in Poland Very pro American as well

      • Iamafan says:

        Adjust your time clock a few decades. JKT slaughtered a few Chinese. Some very rich ones made it in the USA, their kids went to Harvard or the ivy league and now are some of Asia’s richest.

        • PasPourMoi says:

          And if I adjust my clock back a couple hundred of years when my ancestors were brought over on slave ships to the western hemisphere culminated in eventually me (I dropped out cause it was a waste of time) and my parents attending ivy league schools and joining “the 1%” in America)… of course we must also gloss over the many that tried (and continue to do so) to follow the path and didn’t “make it” in the US (and the many chinese indonesian’s that send their kids to US that come back to indo and don’t amount to much here either)…

          Your point being that the global wealthy are increasingly converging on similar local circumstances where they try prop up their asset valuations by hook or by crook (or by implicit agreement by not pointing these issues out to their spawn and letting them play into it, perhaps because they also believe™ in it) until they no longer cant? Cause that’s my point.

    • Happy1 says:

      Finance isn’t just Manhattan anymore and hasn’t been for some time. Private equity and investment banking jobs are everywhere now. Sure, the top of the top is still NYC but a person can do very well without ever living there. It’s not 1960 anymore. Tech is becoming very much the same way, a person does not need to be in Silicon Valley to benefit.

  13. Ron says:

    Interesting discussion !

    • IslandTeal says:

      Agree….Good comments. Glad to live far away from the land that gave us Mike as a presidential hopeful.

      • Frederick says:

        I was born near NY and lived in the area for 55 years but I’m glad to be outta Dodge Lots of nice smaller more affordable cities in the world I have a friend who works for Morgan Stanley and pays 3000 a month for a studio on the upper west side and it’s not a nice apartment frankly

    • Unamused says:

      Agreed.

  14. Rcohn says:

    Financial services and assets have been in a long term bull market.
    Remember trees don’t grow to the sky , even though they can grow very high.
    When the equity market starts down , it is going to be very bloody. Japan topped out at over 37,000 in the 1980s and has never come close to that number .And the decline in real estate will be even more dramatic , due to its leverage and illiquidity.

    • Frederick says:

      Totally agree This bubble bursting will be epic Better to get out a year early than a day late as the exit doorways will be blocked for the little guy I’m sure Gold is looking better and better

      • Iamafan says:

        In the meantime money will still be concentrated around Manhattan and Newport Beach. Money talks within rich enclaves are quite different.

        • Frederick says:

          Money isn’t everything I was surrounded by big money people when I lived in Sag Harbor NY and I can honestly say all but a few were real assholes and NOT good neighbors Christy Brinkley was nice though especially when I almost ran into her waiting for Billy to park the car at a famous seafood place in Montauk in 1980 She was an uptown girl alright

      • Old-school says:

        Hussman had some good graphs to demonstrate it’s very forgiving to get out of the stock market early, even 3 or 4 years as the bubble never lasts forever.

        It makes me a little mad to think that the smartest with the fastest computers may get out the door and make money on the way down, but what can I do about it?

        • nhz says:

          If the smartest with the fastest computers have a lot of money in stocks and bonds I really doubt they will get out unharmed; they probably get stuck in the revolving door on the way out just like most others (unless they have some special privilege or foreknowledge with FED/ECB …).

          Only very smart people with relatively small positions stand a chance of getting out unharmed in this bubble; I’m not interested in constantly watching the market with an eye on the fire exit, so I’m not playing the game.

          I like what Hussman is writing, he makes sense; but that doesn’t help in a market that has stopped making sense. I guess Hussman has vastly underperformed the market and most competitors over the last ten years, it remains to be seen what the score is if the economy ever gets back to normal. Same story for RE prices and RE speculators, I don’t think anyone can predict how the current madness will end; there is only so muchsavers and taxpayers can pony up in the next bailout.

  15. Chris Coles says:

    And then go find a book, The Downwave by Robert Beckman, published in the 1980’s which, if he is correct, predicts all such assets will return to pre 1939 levels. Food for thought?

    • MC01 says:

      Back when I was a young boy in Italy in the 80’s there was a lot of talk from politicians and economists about a lira forte (strong lira), which basically consisted in replacing the then highly debased lira with the new currency on a 1,000 to 1 exchange basis.
      If this sounds oddly familiar is because Venezuela did exactly this in 2008, and we all know how well the new bolívar fuerte has worked.

      If we strike three zeros from everything by decree the price of everything will go back to well below 1939 levels, even for New York real estate, and it wouldn’t cost us a dime. ;-)

      • RD Blakeslee says:

        Len Penzo (among others) believes this revaluation will occur and he also believes the revaluation will be anchored on gold, as a condtraint on politically motivated inflation. LenPenzo dot com.

        • Frederick says:

          I agree it’s coming and Precious Metals will shine once again I’m buying this Monday with all the fiat I can muster

        • MC01 says:

          My post was of the cautionary/sarcastic nature: merely striking zeros without changing mentality does absolutely nothing for a currency but save ink when printing price tags and banknotes. For a little while. ;-)

          And here’s another one: before getting to any re-evaluation, hard asset currency backing, gold standard or whatever, let’s get rid of NIRP, ZIRP, QE and the rest of the alphabet soup of monetary mayhem. For good. It’s quite the task already.

      • Greg Hamilton says:

        I believe Israel did the same thing with the shekel in the eighties, but he shekel was only devalued 23%. Could it happen in the U.S.? That’s above my pay grade.

        • Frederick says:

          Sure it could Happened once before in 1933 when they revalued Gold People who turned in their gold lost 60 percent of their wealth overnight Smart people lost their gold in boating accidents

  16. nhz says:

    I wonder how much of the decrease in average and median price is due to the shift to lower priced properties (or relatively strong decline in expensive properties). Are there any numbers like the Case-Shiller repeat sales index for NYC? Maybe homes are not getting less expensive but people are buying less home out of necessity or due to changing priorities?

    In Netherlands there has been a huge change in the type of properties that are sold while the housing bubble kept growing, causing all kinds of distortions in the average/median price which often gave the impression that the price rise was much smaller less than it really was (= repeat sales, which IMHO is the only reliable indicator). Initially you buy great homes for next to nothing, when the boom matures all kind of crap like very old rental homes comes onto the market at ridiculous prices because “everything gets sold”, plus bigger homes get split up in small apartments to make maximum money for the speculators.

    • Iamafan says:

      Where Prof. Schiller teaches is a great example. He his here in Connecticut teaching at Yale in New Haven. P.T. Barnum was from here too. New Haven is a great example of a once up-there city that fell down to be a crack joint.

      • Old-school says:

        Unless he has changed in the last few years Professor Schuller is a renter. I read his take on housing about 5 years ago. Main thing I remember is that he said people underestimate how much money you have to keep putting into a home if you want to keep it marketable because the styles change over time.

        • Frederick says:

          Go traditional and you won’t have to worry There’s always a market for classic beauty in women as well as architecture

        • Iamafan says:

          If I had to work in New Haven I would rent too. My son went to school in New Haven and way back I lived near New Haven. Most well off folks there moved to East Haven, Branford or Guilford. If you can afford it, you could live near the beach. But its frozen here now.

          Anyway, take numbers for what they are. But reality works wonders. Universities, hospitals, government buildings don’t just move.

        • nhz says:

          @Frederick:
          there’s always a market but I don’t think traditional will always shield you from the woes of the housing market. The huge mansion that I bought in the early nineties had been on the market for two years then, nobody wanted to buy it because the cost was “excessive” – not just because of 10-12% mortgage rates but also high energy cost, maintenance etc. People thought you were nuts paying so much for a home even if you had the money (which probably was a good contra-indicator …). For what I paid then I could now just about afford the most tiny and shitty apartment in the whole city (admittedly, those have lower energy/maintenance costs …).

          The same can be seen on a longer time scale, I had the sales records of the building from the last 150 years and you could see how in bad times the value could go down by more than 90% (in a time when that our currency was relatively stable) because such homes become “unaffordable” or get out of style, temporarily. The same has been true for many other big monumental homes in my city. I agree that over a long time (many decades) traditional homes should keep their value and maybe even increase if they are special, but owning them in the long run can be very expensive …

        • Just Some Random Guy says:

          “people underestimate how much money you have to keep putting into a home if you want to keep it marketable because the styles change over time.”

          That’s true if you always chase the latest trends, which go out of style quickly. Design in a classic way and the cost will be significantly less.

          Like right now the hot new trend is drab gray everywhere. Gray walls, gray floors, gray kitchens. And in 5 years from now it will be like avocado green kitchens of the 70s. Instead keep kitchens a classic white, keep walls neutral colors, and keep floors classic wood, and 15 years from now it will still look good.

  17. Architect says:

    I’ve never encountered anyone in California who lived in a co-op. Anyone care to comment if they are just an anamoly of the historically tight Manhattan market?

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Architect,

      I cannot speak for California overall, but here is my take on San Francisco’s apartment ownership models. SF has three types of ownership models:

      1. The most common is the condo. Nearly all, or all, new buildings are condos.

      2. There are some co-ops, but not a large number. I know someone who bought into one (an older building) during the housing crash. He lives in Marin (North Bay) and uses the co-op apartment for weekends etc. It’s just a few blocks from our place. It’s not a high rise but something like a complex, with 3-story buildings and a small garden.

      3. Tenancy in Common (TIC). Ownership rights of the building are shared by independent owners, each controlling some percentage of the total property. Typically, there is one mortgage for the whole building. TICs are easy to buy and very difficult to sell (because it’s tough to find buyers willing to do this), and they usually sell for less than an equivalent condo.

  18. Just Some Random Guy says:

    A married couple in NY each earning $200K can easily afford a $1.5M condo. It’s really not THAT expensive relative to incomes. See also San Jose.

    • Frederick says:

      You sound so nonchalant about a couple each earning 200k When I started out in 1980 I was earning 18k a year and yet managed to purchase a three family in Ridgewood Queens with a friend of mine After getting married my new wife decided the city life wasn’t for her and we ended up in a single family in Nassau County LI 40 years and one divorce later I should have stayed with my friend

      • nhz says:

        Fortunately the housing market is not determined by the fortunes of the 1%, in the long run it still matters what ordinary people can afford; even in NYC I guess because NYC is not really an island ;)

        • Just Some Random Guy says:

          See this is the problem. You think $200K in NYC is the 1%. Not even close. $200K in NYC is middle management.

        • nhz says:

          I don’t think it is the 1% in NYC at all, $200K is the 1% in the developed world. NYC is not an island.

  19. panatomic-x says:

    i agree with the consensus that the manhattan market topped out in 2017, but here are a few points to add some perspective from a manhattan long term renter:

    the “good” buildings that petunia wrote about still exist but the coop model is less popular for new construction. the “good” buildings have the most opaque transactions imaginable. think how a snooty private school admission process works and you will begin to understand.

    i found this graph which compares queens and manhattan new listings.

    https://zh-prod-1cc738ca-7d3b-4a72-b792-20bd8d8fa069.storage.googleapis.com/s3fs-public/inline-images/NYC3_0.jpg

    the trend is up in manhattan and down in queens. this makes sense because there has been a crazy building boom in manhattan for the last ten years. those units cater to foreign buyers and the .1%ers. that market has definitely peaked and the developers are in a bit of a panic right now.

    the market in queens is tightening because that’s where real people live. the job market is good right now but it’s still a struggle for everyone to pay the rent and queens it probably the best deal in terms of commute vs. space. i was there the other day picking up my van from my mechanic. he still charges reasonable rates and stops me from fixing things that don’t need fixing. on the way to the bus, i bought a decent coffee for $1 in and could have had a beautiful lunch for $10. those thing don’t happen in manhattan any more.

  20. RedRaider says:

    With property taxes and mortgage interest capped it should be a relatively easy judgement to decide what sort of discount has to be applied to former pricing structure. Anyone slice and diced the numbers?

  21. Iamafan says:

    The subtitle is “The market doesn’t care what you think.” 100% correct. Hope you have both the money and the “blood line”. There’s plenty of both here. That’s just the way it is. You don’t have to believe me.

    • Unamused says:

      I don’t care what the market thinks.

      I keep my bloodline locked up in an old chest in one of the attics. Nobody needs to know.

  22. Unamused says:

    I’ve lived in so many difference places over the years I couldn’t even list them all. I know. I’ve tried. There are a lot of gaps in the timeline. Several places that I do remember no longer exist. Some of them have changed dramatically. A few don’t seem to have changed at all since they were built. One town was abandoned when it became clear that it was overly prone to earthquakes, but my old home is still there, in graceful decay.

    Now I live in what could be described as a co-op. My apartment is about 120 square meters, which makes it one of the smaller units. It has a small kitchen. We have common rooms like libraries, an astronomical observatory, and an art gallery, plus out buildings, some of which are residences but are mostly barns or workshops of one kind or another, like a foundry and a kiln. It’s taken years to run electrical and plumbing through the walls. I love my new toilet, now about forty years old, and my half-sunken bath, which we believe was once a baptismal font. Restorations are never expected to be completed.

    Every few years more space is available and we go to the waiting list and issue an invitation to a preselected candidate and they can buy in at a negotiated price, always friends or relatives. Some people have tired of the lifestyle or needed more space than what is available, for children or such, and we buy them out at a negotiated price, enough to set them up in a comparable lifestyle elsewhere. Donated and common materials and belongings are nontransferable. We have rules and a strict board and certain activities are prohibited even if they are not illegal. We keep inventories, logs, and ledgers. We like to think the Manhattan co-ops are modeled on our organisation, with crucial differences, even though nobody seems to have heard of us, which is good.

    We keep busy, because we have to, except me and a couple of others, because we’re old an venerated. Our labour preserves us from three great evils—boredom, vice, and want. Everybody’s content, mostly, but nobody’s all that happy. Happiness is fleeting. Contentment is more achievable, and more lasting.

    I’m getting new buckskin house slippers for Christmas. The old ones have mostly fallen apart. Also a new paper-making screen. We have lots of old linen and cotton and sets of US tax law.

    May your way be as pleasant.

  23. Willy2 says:

    – Now I am starting to understand why the amount of videos on Youtube that are advertisements for (luxery) condos/apartments in e.g. Manhattan have been increasing. in the last say 3 years.

  24. Richard Reynolds says:

    Wolf, if the U.S. is stuck in another decade of low interest rates, can we look to the performance of the last 20 years of the Japanese residential and commercial real estate market performance for indicators or what is to come in the U.S? (of the big three California markets of LA, SD, SF)

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