Matrix Blog

Humor or Whimsy

[Seasonal (Seasonings)] Google Real Estate Index (and Weight Watchers)

October 8, 2009 | 10:21 am |

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Apparently Google search patterns for real estate terms is highly seasonal (hat tip Big Picture) – while it doesn’t track exactly with sales activity or prices, it clearly shows that the race is on at the beginning of the year no matter how week the market is and doesn’t dissipate until right after July 4th. The level of search activity changes but the seasonal patterns are consistent.

Of course, web traffic for is also seasonal. After a barrage of holiday eating, there is nothing like a New Year’s resolution to lose weight. Like housing, the race to lose weight begins in January of each year.

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What’s curious though, is that WeightWatcher traffic has been rising year over year (I only have two years of info) while the housing market has been falling year over year.

Conclusion? Stress over housing market/economy leads to the need for more dieting.


[The Stamford Review] Ten Commandments for 21st Century Real Estate Finance

September 17, 2009 | 5:38 pm |

This was taken from the just released issue of The Stamford Review: Housing & The Credit Crisis, a terrific 2x annual publication by Lawrence Sicular. I wrote two articles for the publication three years ago.

One of the pages had a fun list of the Ten Commandments for 21st Century Real Estate Finance sourced to the Counselors of Real Estate Ethics Committee Panelists in October 2008.

Ten Commandments for 21st Century Real Estate Finance

I. Write upon thy heart the law that ‘reward’ and ‘risk’ shalt always appear in the same sentence.

II. Make neither markets nor regulators into idols, and follow not false prophets of simplistic bias.

III. Be sober and watchful, lest the enemy of massive loss approach like a thief in the night.

IV. Honor thy father and thy mother’s ancient counsel; keep it simple, stupid!

V. If thou wilt not do thy own credit analysis, then vow to invest not at all.

VI. Thou shalt not adulterate thy portfolio with excessive leverage.

VII. Thou shalt not bear the false witness of hidden assumptions in thy investment underwriting.

VIII. Thou shalt not covet for the short term, yea, but shalt lay up thy treasures for length of days.

IX. In all things, yield not to the tempter’s snare of panic.

X. Remember that, after thy exile in the wilderness, if thou heedest these commandments, thou shalt once again return to the land of milk and honey.

Appraiser Reduced to Moonlighting as a Stock Photography Subject

August 21, 2009 | 4:19 pm | Public |

One of our appraisers at our commercial appraisal firm Miller Cicero was taking an on-line McKissock appraisal course (which is excellent) and came across a page under the section One-person firms and noticed a familiar person in the photo.

Here’s the screenshot (click image to expand):

Even though there is an “I” in “appraiser”, unlike “team”, our appraisal firms of Miller Samuel and Miller Cicero is growing – and our staff does a lot more work than I ever could.

One could say I’m a “model” appraiser? Ok, probably not.


[Daily Show] Geithner’s Home Pricing Strategy, Shiller Provides Decorating Ideas

July 31, 2009 | 12:58 pm | |
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Home Crisis Investigation
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorJoke of the Day

Hat tip to Trulia Blog. This is LOL.

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[Over Coffee] Morning Quote From The Home Front

July 23, 2009 | 10:39 am |

From a borrower to a mortgage broker, who didn’t realize the appraisal firm was cc’d in their email regarding a complex residential assignment.

$800 is not going to happen, find another appraiser , [there] are hundreds dying to make $400

Apparently the environment for appraiser pressure is alive and well.

[86’d] Up A Notch In Power Poll

June 3, 2009 | 11:45 am | Public |

The New York Observer, and it’s heavy coverage of New York City/Hamptons real estate released its annual (and obviously highly scientific research of an empirical topic):

The 100 Most Powerful People in New York Real Estate

After a year of hard work burning the midnight oil seven days a week, I was able to move up one position to 86. Goal met. Life is good.

It’s not clear how a real estate appraiser became one of the most visible real estate icons this side of Dolly Lenz, but when the media-savvy, Web-connected Mr. Miller speaks, New York listens. His market reports are like a quarterly Super Bowl.

Hey, I’m the only appraiser on the list.

Ok, back to work.


1-Across Is No Puzzle

May 19, 2009 | 4:06 pm | | Favorites |


The Real Deal Magazine, one of the best resources for real estate information on the New York housing market, also delves into the world of crossword puzzles in each monthly issue.

You know you’ve arrived when you make it to 1-Across.


Ok, back to work.


[Teardowns] A Novel Way To Reduce Costs

May 14, 2009 | 1:52 pm |

Ok, we all agree that inventory is high because of the lack of activity. Here’s another way to work off excess housing – I call it thinking outside the foundation.

Via The Economists’ Free exchange

[Precision Party Trick] Seven Deadly Sins Nationwide with “Hot Spots”

May 5, 2009 | 12:22 am |

Ok, so one of the considerations in the housing economy is the quality of life that the surrounding areas provide. Kansas State came up with a new way to view a market area.

But a word of caution – this is a precision party trick — rigorous mapping of ridiculous data. But hey, it’s fun.

Seven Deadly Sins Nationwide with “Hot Spots”

By culling statistics from nationwide databanks of things like sexually transmitted disease infection rates (lust) or killings per capita (wrath), the researchers came up with a sin index.

The darker a county is on the map, the more evil it is.

Lust – sexually transmitted disease infection rates

Gluttony – counting the number of fast food restaurants per capita

Greed – comparing average incomes with the total number of inhabitants living beneath the poverty line

Sloth – comparing expenditures on arts, entertainment and recreation with the rate of employment

Wrath – killings per capita

Envy – using the total number of thefts — robbery, burglary, larceny and stolen cars

Pride – combined all data from the six other sins and averaged it into an overview of all evil (see top of post)

[Fence Sitting] Loose Lips, Not In Sync

April 1, 2009 | 12:32 am |

As I invested a lot of time watching the March Madness NCAA basketball tournament this weekend (in 2nd place going into the Final Four!), CBS showed the same 6 commercials over and over and over again. One of those was the “Fence Sitters” ad by NAR. The above commercial accomplished what it needed to – buyers are on the fence waiting to make a decision and NAR is there to help. Fine.

However, the strange thing about the commercial was the narrator’s lips. They were out of sync with the video. I swear. The quality of this version is poor, however, so it is hard to tell.

The commercial was shown so many times I became an expert on its contents. Apparently it is assumed that sports fans love repetition just like the athletes do when training so the same ads can be shown over and over during sports shows or programs and we lemmings just bob our heads

While tortured through a mind numbing do loop of these handful of commercials all afternoon I reached out through Twitter and Facebook and get feedback from others trapped in the same plight – a resounding agreement with my observation was returned.

By the way, do producers and clients of these things sit and watch the final cut?

I am not trying to bash NAR here – they are trying to help their membership with this ad series, which has clarity and is actually pretty good for a trade group.

Those lips though – they were out of sync – which pulls so much irony out of me from past NAR transgressions from their various chief “economists”, I fear I may have no more irony left. Still, as a trade group NAR seems to be on the right track as of late.

[Planting A Garden] DJIA Surge = Better Mood = More Home Sales

March 23, 2009 | 11:32 pm | |

Who says the Dow Jones Industrial Average has anything to do with the outlook for the housing market?

I am certainly skeptical, and get downright annoyed every time someone would refer to the DJIA result that day as a litmus test for some sort of national mood.

Yet people seem to be feeling a little better about things (the economy/housing) today than a few weeks ago. Here’s a chronology of cause and effect (DJIA rises and home sales rise) conveniently edited to make my point:

First of all, this has been one heck of a busy news cycle and the path from DJIA to rising home sales is obvious.

Secondly, I need to splash some cold water on my face and get back to work.

Aside: we don’t need bipartisanship.

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[Pi Day] 3.14159265358979323846264338327 95028841971693993751058209749445923078 1640628620899862803482534211…

March 14, 2009 | 10:36 am | |


Given the uptick in the financial markets this week, the positive sign that many seem to be taking from it, and the fact that it involves endless digits of circular numeric calculations, yesterday was Friday the 13th (there are 4 in 2009), so we should:

Do The Math After all, its 3.14…

National Pi Day: Congress took time from it’s busy bailout schedule designating today as National Pi Day.

Here is, quite appropriately, an attempt at a monetized version. Some even argue that Pi is better than sex, but I suspect that is difficult to calculate. Wikipedia has an amazing presentation on Pi for those who are curious. Here’s the million digit version.

Per Wikipedia
Ï€ is defined as the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter
Ï€ can be also defined as the ratio of a circle’s area to the area of a square whose side is equal to the radius

In real estate economics (Matrix-wise), a Pi-type formula might be expressed as:

property value = ((consumer confidence + (1-their employment outlook/their employment outlook)) + (personal drive for home ownership x irrational behavior) + ((total distance from schools+ total distance from employment)/(White Castle projected visits/Whole Foods projected visits))/(mortgage rates x cash on hand x affordability ratios x size of down payment)/(mood of bank underwriter – name on stadium factor + amount borrowed from US Treasury))

In other words, its complicated.

Perhaps we can turn to Albert Einstein because its his birthday today and simply use E = mc squared and apply it to housing values to figure this all out.

Ok, back to reality.