Transcript: Jonathan Miller

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BARRY RITHOLTZ, HOST, MASTERS IN BUSINESS: This week on the podcast, I have an extra special guest, Jonathan Miller. I’ve been reading his research and writing about real estate, and appraisals, and home price trends, and anything related to residential real estate for, I don’t know, it’s got to be close to 20 years. He is the co-founder of Miller Samuel. His data analytics and research powers are the back end of some of the biggest real estate agencies in the country.

He always has a tremendous amount of insight as to the current state of the market and the best way to contextualize what’s going on in real estate. And we really talked about everything from aspirational pricing to our markets at a peak, and when markets do peak and rollover in real estate, why it takes so long for prices to adjust. Newsflash, sellers are anchored via the endowment effect to their own value of their home prices which lag the actual market for a long time. We talked about the death of cities being greatly overstated and why it’s so challenging to convert all that excess office space into residential properties.

If you are at all interested in real estate, buying a house, selling a house, renting an apartment, owning a condo or co-op, or just want to know what the heck is going on with real estate today, you will find this conversation to be absolutely fascinating.

So with no further ado, my conversation with Jonathan Miller.

ANNOUNCER: You’re listening to Masters in Business with Barry Ritholtz on Bloomberg Radio.

RITHOLTZ: I’m Barry Ritholtz. You’re listening to Masters in Business on Bloomberg Radio. My extra special guest this week is Jonathan Miller. He is the CEO and co-founder of Miller Samuel, a real estate appraisal and consulting firm he first founded in 1986. His data and analytics powers, many of the largest brokerage firms reporting and information about the state of the housing market. He is our returning champion. I think you and Scott Galloway are tied for the most Masters in Business appearances. Jonathan Miller, welcome back to Bloomberg.

JONATHAN MILLER, PRESIDENT, CEO, CO-FOUNDER, MILLER SAMUEL INC.: Great to be here. Barry. Thanks.

RITHOLTZ: So — so let’s just talk a little bit about your background. You co-found Miller Samuel in 1986. What led you to the appraisal real estate and consulting business way back then?

MILLER: Well, initially, I worked for a management company that was bought by Marriott back in the mid-80s. And I said, well, what am I going to do with myself? And I got my real estate license, and I became a real estate agent in Chicago, and was more on the analytic side, sort of the bean counter type. And then I moved to New York and eventually became a sales director on a new condominium building and saw these appraisers coming in without really data. There was no multiple listing system in Manhattan.

And I eventually got together with my family, and we started our firm Miller Samuel in ‘86. It covers the New York City metro area. And then starting in 1994, I started authoring market studies for the real estate company, Douglas Elliman and basically follow their footprint. So I’m covering about 40 different housing markets in the U.S. right now. And that’s really fun. And then I teach market analysis at Columbia for their grad students. And so, you know, it’s just been this sort of progression of but everything related to housing and real estate trends.

RITHOLTZ: Well, I love that you are one of the number crunchers who dive into the data and come up with analytics to really teach us about what’s going on in the marketplace. And so I have to start with that question, what are you seeing these days in the real estate market you cover? Are prices and volume still going up? As of this recording, mortgage rates have just about doubled to 6% from, you know, the low 3s or even high 2s. What’s going on in real estate?

MILLER: Well, I think of it as, you know, with affordability dropping literally by half since the end of December, the market is going through a pause, where there is a tremendous pullback in demand. And this is a significant jump in rates. So you have this pullback. And what that’s done initially is, you know, new signed contract volume is down across all the markets we cover. And actually, that’s been occurring for the last couple of months.

This is — you know, the slowdown now has accelerated, but really, we started to see contract activity slowed down at the end of March, beginning of April. Initially, it was because inventory had collapsed, and was keeping sales from occurring because there was no product. But it’s really completely morphed into an affordability issue, because nationally, depending on the metrics you follow, we’re looking at a 20% increase in housing prices plus rates doubling. What else could happen to slow down? I think you told me this, or you got this from the Internet somewhere, where you said one of the best things for high housing prices are high housing prices.

RITHOLTZ: Well, that’s the —

MILLER: And this is what we’re —

RITHOLTZ: That’s the old commodity traders’ joke, the cure for high prices are high prices. At a certain point, either the demand cools or the supply rushes to meet it.

MILLER: Yeah. And I think what people generally have wrong with the market cooldown is, you know, initially, when you have an external event like rates spiking, you have sales activity slow immediately, and you have inventory rise immediately, albeit from an unusually low place, and I’ll expand on that.

But the part, the third step that I think most people get wrong is they expect crisis to immediately fall. And there’s really a one or two-year period that it takes sellers to capitulate to market conditions, although I do think that they’ll capitulate faster in this condition than in the past. But, you know, buyers are in already, you know, that’s their hesitation. And then you throw in a war, you know, record high inflation, you have all these uncertainties, and everybody just — I mean, it’s one of the biggest enemies of the housing market is uncertainty and we certainly have a basket full of that right now.

RITHOLTZ: You know, I have a very vivid recollection at like cocktail parties and barbecues in 2010, 2009 even, people saying, “Why can’t I get X for my house? The same house down the street sold for X and it’s not as nice as mine, and that was sold in 2006.” And my answer was always, “Well, you could get that money. First, you need a time machine, go back to 2006 and you could get it. That’s what the market was.”

And I watch — what’s amazing especially about all the online services today, I watch these home sellers chase the price down. They were always lagging behind the market. Is that really a two-year process before people, you know, find religion and say, “Here’s where the market is. If I want to sell this, I have to get that.”

MILLER: So, yeah. So in my own, you know, 38 years of experience, it’s sort of anecdotal experience that is telling me that it takes an average nationally about 15, 16 months, but call it, you know, a year to year and a half, two years, sort of. It’s not a couple of months. And to clarify what I’m really saying is that it takes a long time for the seller to capitulate to the market so that they feel like closing, like they didn’t leave money on the table, right? So — so it’s where they didn’t like walk away from a sure thing, and that takes a lot of time. I think what’s a little different in this cycle is there’s been so much equity built up because of the rapid run up in prices —

RITHOLTZ: Right.

MILLER: — that maybe it’s less painful because it’s money on paper in the sense of people, you know, worried about walking away from something that they had in their hands.

RITHOLTZ: So if you’re a contrarian, you become a buyer in the summer of 2023?

MILLER: Yes. Yeah, I think so. And what I find interesting is that, you know, when people look at pivoting conditions, pivoting markets, you upend the word forever, like prices are falling forever, prices are rising forever. It’s like this linear view. And if you look at some serious downturn periods in the housing market, like the housing bubble, you know, 15 or so years ago, 13, 15 years ago, really, prices really didn’t recover. It took about six years. But activity actually returned pretty quickly by late 2009, early 2010. So this isn’t like a decade or, you know, a generational thing. You know, it’s a shorter window than that.

And honestly, I felt, you know, rates should have been raised, specifically through housing market optics about a year ago.

RITHOLTZ: Right.

MILLER: It feels like the Fed is late to the party, because you could just see the obliteration nationwide of inventory. Like, one of the ways I think about housing supply, I think we have a tremendous amount of overreliance on — when you look at the state of the housing market, looking at new construction and new development, which in most local and national, we’re really talking, you know, 10%, 15%, you know, ebbs and flows of total inventory.

RITHOLTZ: Right.

MILLER: Well, what about the other 85% or 90% of supply? That is the — you think of that supply as sort of the lifecycle of occupants of the real estate. You know, they’re trading up to a larger home because they have an expanding family. They’re trading down, they’re downsizing. You know, there’s all these sort of life changes. And when you come at them with a 2.6 — that market with a 2.6 30-year fixed, you create this insatiable demand and you obliterate supply. And so this became a housing market of bidding wars.

Most of the 40-plus markets I cover for Douglas Elliman are seeing bidding. Like in Southern California, two-thirds to three quarters, depending on the segment, closings in the early part of this year were above the asking price. That would be our proxy for bidding wars. In Fairfield County, Westchester, Long Island, you know, in New York City, we were looking at 45% to 55%. How is that sustainable? How is that a good thing? So I’m quite relieved, at least thinking long term, that we’re moving out of this untenable frenzy.

RITHOLTZ: And you know, you and I have spoken about another aspect of not the demand side but the supply side, you know, there’s normally that chain of purchases that takes place. Someone moves into a starter home, there’s a move up. There’s a move to a larger home, to a nicer neighborhood eventually, to waterfront. And that last person is downsizing. During the pandemic, especially when people were locked down in apartments, there were a lot of purchases with no correlating sale. People just went out and bought a second or third house. That had to have a massive impact on the supply out there.

MILLER: Yeah. There’s two things that happen. One was — so specifically with a Manhattan example, after the lockdown, the pandemic lockdown, rental prices fell a lot. They fell, you know, 20% to 30%. But there was no vaccine. You know, the city was the global hotspot. And so the rental demand weakened because would-be tenants, with the collapse and mortgage rates, fled to the — you know, that sort of in air quotes, the narrative was fleeing the city, or another air quotes sort of a headline was Exodus. And so it was all outbound migration and no inbound.

And you had these renters buying, and then you had — people weren’t selling during the pandemic. They’re in the city, they were buying a second home, something that I dubbed co-primary, which would be, you know, they’re looking at a second primary residence that they can sort of toggle back and forth between the city and the suburbs. And there was no seasonality. You had — you had maybe five years of, you know, the typical, you know, young couple moves to the suburbs to have kids. You know, that compressed into like three months. And they had this whole distortion of sort of migration patterns.

And then on top of it all, you have remote, which became — you know, Zoom became ubiquitous in 24 hours. And all of a sudden, you have a rethinking of what remote meant, and it became a powerful force. So what I was saying during the lockdown was the tether between work and home became infinitely longer because you have a lot more flexibility.

And on top of it, you have this skew towards higher end, meaning that, you know, because of the economic damage from the lockdown was heavily weighted towards lower wage earners, the upper half of the market woke up or saw this boom first. And part of it is because, you know, just as sort of a generalized statement is that the higher the wage, the higher the mobility, or, you know, the ability to work remote, and it just dovetailed together really well.

RITHOLTZ: Quite — quite interesting. So a couple of — we’re recording this in the middle of this week on June 21st. Some really interesting data points came out this week. Existing home sale prices hit a record of $407,600 in May. And at the same time, home sales declined 3.4% in the face of rising interest rates. Is it sort of contradictory that prices are going up even as sales decline? Or is that more about the mix of higher-end homes and lower-end homes?

MILLER: So I think it’s more about the lag in closing information versus actual on-the-ground contract activity. It is — you know, if you can think of home price transit, the caboose on the end of the train, I always use this analogy even though there’s no cabooses on ends of trains anymore. But really the initial impact, you should really — for trends, you should be looking at sales like petty home sales, contract activity in general, and then new inventory entering the market. That’s much more fluid and in front of the prices occur after the dust settles.

So for example, we publish monthly research in four different regions of the country. And new signed contracts were already beginning to cool back in March. And you know, eventually that leads to an uptick in listing activity, which then eventually, you know, levels off or it cool sales. So I don’t think the pricing — the prices rising is a result of a shift in the mix towards higher property. I think it’s really just a lag in the actual data itself.

RITHOLTZ: So — so where are we in this housing cycle? I noticed that more supply is coming online. There was a great chart the other day at Calculated Risk, showing the most single family home completion since I think, ’07, it’s like well over a decade.

MILLER: Yeah.

RITHOLTZ: Are we seeing that many more new homes and existing homes come on the market as supply, or is it really just been down so long, it looks like up to me?

MILLER: I think the latter — so the way to think of it, and this is my analogy just using my hometown in Connecticut. My town saw 200 listings pre-pandemic for the prior four or five years, plus or minus 20 listings. But it was, you know, straddling the 200 threshold. A year after the pandemic, there were 50.

RITHOLTZ: Wow.

MILLER: And so you look at and go, wow, that’s a real drop. And then the beginning of the year, before the rate increases, there were 12.

RITHOLTZ: Wow.

MILLER: And so that’s where I would call the collapse. So now, inventory has quadrupled. There’s 50. It’s still 75% below pre-pandemic levels.

RITHOLTZ: Right.

MILLER: So when I look at — I look at that and say, yeah, inventory is rising and that’s a good thing. But I don’t know if people have realized how insanely low inventory became or began. And you know, one of the things, you know, that I think is going to be apparent in the coming year or two is that we have probably built too much multifamily rental product.

Right now, you know, it’s all sort of responding to this surge in rental prices. But part of that surge in rental prices is because the surge or the rising rates, or just the fact that lenders are not fast and loose, that they are — you know, we’re not going to have a banking crisis on the other side of this, because lenders are tighter than they were in the decades prior to the housing bubble. And so people that don’t qualify up, they tip into the rental market, right?

RITHOLTZ: Right.

MILLER: I mean, they’re not — you know, we don’t have — we don’t have financial engineering like we did, you know, in the mortgage world circa 2005.

RITHOLTZ: What a funny coincidence that mortgage lenders were much looser before the housing crisis. I mean, you know, sometimes these coincidences are just amazing.

MILLER: It’s amazing.

RITHOLTZ: And since the financial crisis, it’s become much harder to get a mortgage. And I’m not talking about, you know, all day or subprime. I mean, prime borrowers really had to jump through some hoops in the years after, ’08, ’09. Is it still that tight, or has things, you know, normalized a little bit?

MILLER: So the way to look at it is underwriting standards, mortgage underwriting standards, you know, during the housing bubble, you just had to have a pulse or fog a mirror. In the year subsequent, it has — the restrictions have deteriorated. But we’re still not on par with sort of pre-housing bubble era lending standards, that lending is generally more conservative, and there’s less sort of — maybe on the margin, but there’s really less sort of alternative workarounds for financing. I think it’s much more sophisticated.

I think some of the restraints with Dodd-Frank, you know, have helped to a certain degree, which makes us in a much less vulnerable position. But that has helped create much more tightness in the rental market in general. And I think we have this, you know, large response in multifamily rental development being created, and I suspect and over the next year or two, that that’s going to be — it’s going to be apparent, because people, when they look at the rental development being created, there’s assumption of, well, more units, lower rent.

But just like new home construction, new rental construction skews to the upper half of the market. It doesn’t address the entire market. So you’re creating a lot more rental units, but you’re creating not necessarily the right distribution of rental units. And I think that’s the challenge for the rental market going forward. I was just going to say just in New York, you know, we report every month the rental market. And in Manhattan, the median rent was $4,000, cracking the $4,000 threshold.

RITHOLTZ: Right.

MILLER: For the first time in history, average rents are just shy of $5,000 a month, at $4,975. At $4,975, it’s still an all-time record. And we’re not even to peak leasing season which is in August. The rental market sort of peaks at the end of the summer. And so there’s still a lot of pressure in the rental market going forward over the — you know, whether or not we — you know, we have rising inflation. It’s very tenuous, and this is not unique to much of the U.S.

RITHOLTZ: So — so let’s — let’s address that because during the pandemic, I read, at least in the New York Post, New York City is dead. It’s never coming back. No one is ever going to move here. It’s all over for cities, and not just New York, but San Francisco, and Chicago, and Austin, and Philadelphia, and Boston and go down the list. What is the state of real estate in the big cities? And where are you seeing more of the explosive growth? Is that more of the Sunbelt, or is that the Coast? What’s the state of —

MILLER: Well, so in terms of urban markets, just starting with New York first and some base there, here we have — and this sort of speaks for what we’re seeing across the U.S. You’re looking at a city like New York, and the office towers are two-thirds empty right now. Yet, in 2022, we’ve had some of the highest sales volumes in history. We’ve had record pricing. In the rental market, we’ve had some of the highest new leasing activity in history, and we’re having record rents.

So people being in the city, again, to this sort of tether between work and home, you know, you have empty office because of remote, but people are still in the city or want to be in the city. So it is — this is — there is a white paper and the source escapes me from NBER, talking about 50% of price growth is related — during the pandemic era is related to remote work and the churn that it is created.

And there’s a big misnomer, you know, there has to be another reason why people are in these urban — coming back to these urban markets. And I think part of it is just what the cities have to offer and what — you know, the cultural activity. I’m not working for the trade or the tourism bureau, but, you know, there’s other reasons people are in the city, you know, lifestyle, or whatever broker term you want to call it. And this is being borne out in the fact that office towers are two-thirds empty still.

RITHOLTZ: That almost sounds like a problem that solves itself. And my frame of reference was after September 11th, 2001, many of the office towers in lower Manhattan either were converted to residential or partially converted to hotels and residential. How realistic is it? And you know, I’m glad I wasn’t an investor in Hudson Yards that came online just as demand for office space went through the floor. But how realistic is it to convert offices to residential real estate?

And let me point out, when I was in grad school and for about a decade afterwards, I lived at 90 Lexington Avenue, that originally was a Blue Cross Blue Shield building that was converted to residential like a few decades before I got there. And a decade after I left, it went condo. So I know it’s doable. How realistic is it?

MILLER: It’s not very realistic at all in terms of scale. And the reason — there’s a couple of reasons for it. One, like the financial district’s conversion frenzy, that was mostly class B office, older, almost loft-like, a lot of the developments that I’m familiar with.

RITHOLTZ: And these new ones are all class A?

MILLER: Yeah. So the way I look at it is when you — so there’s a couple of things. One is time. So a lot of the conversion — listen, there will be some conversion. I’m not saying there won’t, but I think nowhere near on the scale of what could be. You know, sort of the opening question in this discussion is, what are we going to do with all these empty offices? Well, part of what you’re going to do is you’re going to drop the rents.

RITHOLTZ: Right. Radically.

MILLER: Somewhat, you know, in theory, except for that you’ve got them financed and this is the collateral, right? And all of a sudden, you know, the cash flow is much as half or, you know, a third of what it was pre-pandemic.

RITHOLTZ: Oops.

MILLER: You also have — you know, converting these buildings to have residential certificate of occupancies is tremendously expensive. And the third is community approvals, zoning approvals, which is a long process. I’m not saying it can’t be done, but who knows what the conditions are going to be like five years from now.

One of the things we’re seeing is we’re seeing a tremendous amount of, you know, well, obviously vacancy, but also concessions because landlords, some are feeling the pain because, you know, say, 80% of the leases in the building have, you know, five or more years remaining on them. So, you know, if there’s — if there’s still an occupancy, the business hasn’t gone under, they’re still paying their rent and they’re paying sort of pre-pandemic levels.

What we’re seeing a tremendous amount of in the commercial world is that leasing on a per square foot basis, everybody talks about sort of the asking rent. And when you look at all the reports on the state of the office market in cities, they never talked about like the net effect of, you know, less the free rent and the buildouts, and all those expenses, you know, which in reality, many landlords are seeing 30% to 50% hits, at least in my — through my optics, which is not inconsequential amount.

And so I think the asset that keeps holding the bag on the post pandemic world is really the commercial sector, to a lesser degree, the retail sector, which, you know, gets its oxygen especially in central business districts from commercial office buildings. So, you know, we’re in — we still are in, you know, three to five years of sort of figuring this out. This is — this is a slow motion train wreck.

RITHOLTZ: But, you know, I mentioned the Sunbelt earlier, wherever I look, where the weather is warmer and the taxes are lower, and that could be places like Austin, or Nashville, or Southern Florida, it seems they’ve been a magnet for people leaving either cold weather or higher tax state, or just sort of, you know, retiring. What’s going on in the Sunbelt? And what does that look like going forward?

MILLER: Well, I cover almost two dozen housing markets in Florida, for example. And what’s interesting about a lot of these markets is just like you say, they’re coming there for lower tax exposure. But also, these areas are aggressively going after the C-suite of companies to relocate in these places for the tax credits, and the weather and all that sort of thing, and have been relatively successful.

I think initially, after the lockdown, you know, where when you scream in like to your earlier point about New York City is dead forever, you felt like by the end of 2020, that there’s going to be 11 people left in New York City, you know, that everybody was leaving. But what we’re finding is that the people that have left have been fairly quickly replaced. But we’re still, you know, net-net, losing population.

Markets like Florida or Texas, those housing markets are being restructured essentially because of remote. And what we’re seeing for the first time really is we’re seeing — you know, the sort of the story was that the affluent, you know, the Wall Streeters that would, you know, buy a second home somewhere, they would buy in Florida. They’d buy Palm Beach and Miami.

And now, we’re seeing luxury or high-end real estate statewide all over the place, and that’s a sign of sort of structural, I don’t know if the word is dispersion, but it’s just spreading out because the regional economy, you know, has quickly adapted to — you know, to this inbound cohort of the population. This isn’t a boom-and-bust cycle for Florida. Sure, their market will slow down because of the spike in interest rates. But this isn’t — I don’t think this is a flash in the pan. I think this is real because of every — seemingly every part of Florida is expanding.

RITHOLTZ: So it’s a secular trend, not a temporary issue. Let me ask you about California. I always thought California was a wonderland. The last few times I’ve been there, I’ve been kind of surprised at, you know, you drive to La Jolla from San Diego, there used to be a lot of open space between the two. And now it seems like every ridge has a house on it, every hill, every mountain.

MILLER: Yeah, tremendous amount of development.

RITHOLTZ: You know, it really seems like — it really seems like they’ve wildly built, maybe even overbuilt parts of southern California. What are you seeing in that region?

MILLER: Well, Southern California, of all the regions that I cover, you know, the average market — and this is a little dated now. We’ll be coming out the second quarter in a couple of weeks. But the first quarter data was showing that, on average, about 65% of the transactions from Los Angeles down to San Diego were selling above the last asking price, like a tremendous demand.

RITHOLTZ: Above. Wow.

MILLER: Above asks. So our proxy for bidding wars is a purchase price that closed higher than the last asking price. And it’s about two-thirds of the transactions. And in some sub-markets, it’s 75%, 80%. We’re not seeing that intensity now. But still, there’s a significant imbalance between supply and demand, where demand is still overpowering. There has been tremendous outbound migration into low tax states like Texas. But, you know, at least in the housing market, there’s still — it’s still extremely tight.

The thing about California, they’re going through a lot of problems like drought and wildfires, partly from overbuilding and are encroaching on woodlands. So it seems more tenuous, but it’s still highly popular, tremendous amount of demand at least in Southern California that we’re seeing. But even in Southern California, just like Florida, you’re seeing — with the rise in rates, you’re seeing a pullback in the intensity of contract volume.

RITHOLTZ: Really quite an interesting.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

RITHOLTZ: You’re listening to Masters in Business on Bloomberg Radio. My extra special guest today is Jonathan Miller. He is the CEO and co-founder of Miller Samuel, a real estate appraisal and consulting firm. His analytics power, some of the most influential real estate agencies, back offices and backends. He is also a professor at the Graduate School of Columbia University, and additionally, sits on the mayor’s Economic Advisory Panel and the New York State Budget Division Economic Advisory Board.

So let’s talk a little bit about the appraisal business. It has dramatically changed since the great financial crisis and the mortgage boom and bust of the 2000s. Tell us what’s going on in the world of real estate appraisals.

MILLER: Sure. So you have this sort of butting heads between human beings and you know, we call them AVMs, automated valuation models, or press a button and you get a number of value for the house. Sort of the poster child for this and if you don’t mind me talking about the Zestimate real quick —

RITHOLTZ: Sure.

MILLER: — just to understand sort of the disparity between automation, automating numbers in housing and how dirty the data is, and human beings. So if you look at the Zestimate nationwide, the nationwide accuracy rate, but let me clarify, the median accuracy rate of a Zestimate is 2%. So that means that 50% of the time, the Zestimate is within 2% of the actual value; and 50% of the time, it’s not. Now, the consumer just sees, “Hey, 2%, it’s within 2%, that’s pretty accurate,” but it’s only 50% of the time, it’s more than 2%.

But it gets — if you dig a little bit deeper, it’s only within 2% of the property is currently listed for sale. If it’s not listed for sale, the Zestimate median accuracy rate is 7% in the U.S. So that means that 7% of the time, if it’s not listed, it’s within what it will sell for or within 7%; and 50% of the time, it’s not. So in other words, the Zestimate needs human beings to price the listing to shave off 5% in accuracy. Listen, I’m not saying that human beings, like appraisers, or brokers don’t have our flaws. But it is kind of interesting that it’s been brilliantly marketed, yet it’s wildly unreliable. And so every time —

RITHOLTZ: Half the time, it works every time.

MILLER: Exactly. Well, 98% of the time, half the time, it works every time. But I — but I look at that and you know, it’s sort of overpromising and underdelivering because public record, the quality of public record across the U.S. is incredibly varied by municipality, by county, you know, however you want to break it out. And they’re law largely relied on that.

And just a few years ago, they started significantly weighting the list price. So if you — you know, house is worth $1.5 million according to the assessment and you put in on for 2, the next day, the Zestimate is 2. And then it doesn’t sell and you take it off, the Zestimate goes down to a $1.5 million the next day. What is that? Like, that is — I don’t — and so, anytime I see a news story that relies on Zestimate-related information, to me, it’s problematic because it’s not what it is. It’s certainly fun to poke around and look at stuff, but it’s not necessarily — it doesn’t have the precision that has been brilliantly conveyed in their marketing.

RITHOLTZ: Well, obviously, Zillow didn’t do well trying to build a home-flipping business, relying on their own Zestimates that —

MILLER: Their own home. Yeah.

RITHOLTZ: They took a giant write-down on that.

MILLER: Yeah. The Zillow offers — you know, that broke. And I think the same goes for, you know, the iBuyer, the internet buyer subset, where, you know, there’s this automation promise. And there’s some validity to it, I’m not saying that, but you got the impression initially that that was going to just take over the entire market. And now, it’s something like 1% of transactions. It’s a very small number. And in a declining market, they haven’t really been tested. They’ve only existed in rising housing markets, flat to rising. So it’s going to be an interesting few years to see how they do.

RITHOLTZ: Really, really intriguing. I’m kind of surprised that they didn’t do better because you would have thought, “Hey, forget what we’re sharing publicly. We have our own internal metrics. Let’s see how we can use that.” And it turns out, they were just relying on everybody else — you know, everybody — the same data everybody else saw, and it didn’t really work out.

MILLER: No, no, it didn’t. And I think it also says something about there’s just too many people in the space. And so, I think there’s going to be some compression in participation, just because the scale of investment is so enormous. The stakes are so high. Yeah, I wish them well. I just — I think it’s been a little bit overhyped.

But back to your question, sort of the state of the appraiser world, you know, we’re going through a period. It’s fascinating. You know, the appraiser, I was told by someone senior to me a long time ago, you know, doesn’t have the answer, and the transaction has the answer, the answer being the price. The brokers have the answer. The mortgage company has the answer. The buyer and the seller all have the answer. Because they all have skin in the game, right? They’re all sort of part, right? Everybody is smart. They all know what the value is, what the number is. And the external third party that doesn’t have — they get paid, whether it’s higher, you know, they’re above or below, or at the purchase price.

You know, and they don’t — we don’t have — as an industry, we don’t have much representation. In Washington, we’re just a fraction. There’s only about — you know, optimistically, there’s 75,000 appraisers in the U.S. versus a million and a half real estate agents. So you know, we’re vastly outnumbered in lobbying. You might have two lobbyists really of any, you know, (inaudible) in Washington compared to a much different world. So we tend to be sort of run over.

However, our industry also has some real problems where we have no diversity as an industry. The Bureau of Labor Statistics ranks 400 occupations by diversity, you know, inclusion of women. And guess who’s dead last in the BLS ratings? The appraisal industry. It’s 98% white.

RITHOLTZ: Wow. That’s amazing.

MILLER: And so I’m a middle-aged white guy, and I’m the profile of the industry. And yet, we go through periods like refi booms, or those chronic shortages. And a lot of the problems stemmed from, primarily, an organization called the Appraisal Foundation, which I have been a pain in the neck for them for a few years.

RITHOLTZ: You are anticipating a question of mine, and let me frame this for listeners.

MILLER: Okay.

RITHOLTZ: So — so you put out a weekly email that I’ve been getting for a hundred years. It comes out Friday afternoon. And it’s just a broad overview of the state of the market, with lots of charts and data. And at the end, there are a whole bunch of links, including a bunch of real estate links and your links, and some more interesting oddball links. But every now and then, it seems that you and me, I keep calling them the Appraisal Institute, the Appraisal Foundation, you seem to have a beef with the organization that supposedly represents your field. Is this the underlying basis of your ongoing harassment of them for everything from incompetency to, I don’t know if I could say criminality, but you’ve certainly come pretty close to accusing them of that.

MILLER: Yeah. I just think it’s — so what the Appraisal Foundation does is they essentially maintain, for lack of a better word, sort of the standards that I, as an appraiser, to be certified, have to adhere to, and that’s embedded in 55 states and territories — 55 states and territories. And every time there’s an update, you know, all the 55 states and territories have to update.

And they’ve wildly overstepped what I think their charter is. Like, diversity thing I told you, you know, they’re 98%. So they hired the head of their new diversity effort is a middle-aged white guy. I have a problem with it.

RITHOLTZ: That seems to me (inaudible).

MILLER: And also, they have created essentially, it’s called USPAP. That’s our license or the standards — Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice, that we have to follow and sign certifications in our reports. You know, the whole idea is to protect the public trust.

RITHOLTZ: Right.

MILLER: The problem is that it’s really a sort of an effort — the rules that are — our world doesn’t change very much. And yet, this is updated every two years. And they — what they do is they make changes and then they — and then they embed that into state law. And two years later, they remove those same changes, or four years later. And it just kind of goes back and forth. And the reason for that is that they can sell and charge for classes to maintain your license by providing new materials every two years that the appraisers have to buy when —

RITHOLTZ: So you can show me that this — you know, year 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006 — 2000 and ‘04 were the same ’02 and ’06? I mean, is it that metronomic? Are they that blatant?

MILLER: It’s more through incompetence. So I’ll give you a — I’ll give you an idea. So they changed a rule that said, “If you’re intentionally or unintentionally misleading, then you violated your license.” So in other words, if you made a typo, you basically, you know, can lose your license. And they don’t have counts — up until at least, you know, lately, they don’t have lawyers review this.

This is getting embedded into 55 states and — I keep saying municipality — territories across the U.S. And yet, there’s no review of this. It’s just a bunch of appraisers on a board that sort of say, “Hey, wouldn’t it be nice to” — I know this because I’ve been there, “Would it be nice to just define misleading?” when definitions like that should be done in a court of law, interpreted in a court of law, not just by a bunch of appraisers on a board. The other — and so that became a challenge because of my writings. And then there’s just an endless example of this.

The bottom line is that I’m against anything that damages the credibility of appraisers in the public eye. Because if you don’t have that public trust, which is what this organization is supposed to maintain, then you’re doing a disservice to everybody in the industry that has a license that, you know, puts their job on the line every day when they do sign off on an appraisal. It’s just sort of amateur hour. And myself and sort of a band of other people, I think, have really created pressure to invoke change, but it’s slow going.

RITHOLTZ: Quite — quite fascinating.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

RITHOLTZ: So — so let’s talk a little bit about one of my favorite topics, which is a phrase that you coined a couple of years ago called aspirational pricing. Tell us about that.

MILLER: Sure. It’s sort of a safety in numbers, really started seeing this in luxury vacation locations where — I’ll just throw out random numbers, say, a home, a luxury home is purchased for $5 million and they put a million into it or $2 million into it. And then they put it on the market for $30 million. And you’re like, okay, well, that’s silly, right? But, you know, they become a bold-faced name on Page Six of the Post, you know, because, hey, they’ve got a home on the market for $30 million.

And then what happens, the 10 houses in that vicinity put their homes on the market for $25 million, $35 million, and none of them ever sell because they’re not worth that. But it’s like the safety in numbers. And that was quite a phenomenon leading up to the sort of the pandemic era. And this is another sort of — this is a recent development that is starting to — we’re starting to see. And it’s like the — if we — you know, for your national lists, being the Park Avenue, Fifth Avenue, Manhattan type apartment, luxury, sort of old world type apartments. And you have — they have boards that approved the buyers.

And I’m making the numbers up, say, someone, you know, pays $10 million for an apartment. And you know, three years ago, something in the same line sold for 15 or 13, and it’s sold for less. And so, the board kills the sale because they’re not happy about the price because it went down. And then the seller puts it back on the market and they get another offer of $10 million. The apartment has been clearly embedded by the market.

RITHOLTZ: Right.

MILLER: And the board kills that sale. And I’m aware of a handful of those recently, and that’s aspirational pricing in the context of the co-op, or because they think that they’re protecting — they’re performing their fiduciary duties of protecting the value. However, they can’t control the market. The market is the market, as you know, someone once said. And what you’re actually doing is damaging the value of — you know, they’re violating their fiduciary responsibility. And I think there’s going to be — we always see this in a market that’s cooling. We tend to see this activity and then we get involved in litigation, you know, as an expert, to sort of empirically demonstrate this.

RITHOLTZ: Just a reminder that there’s a special room in hell for anyone who’s ever served on a condo board, or co-op board. You know, there are endless — if you’re in New York for any length of time, and I’m sure other cities have comparable things. There are endless, endless, endless stories about the relentless stupidity of the behavior of boards. I don’t know what it is, you put six people together in a room involving real estate and their average IQ halves. It’s quite amazing. That’s kind of fascinating.

And related to, you know, you mentioned the old world New York City, Fifth Avenue and Park Avenue apartments. Am I stating this wrong, or have you pretty much been into just about every penthouse in Manhattan? How accurate is that statement?

MILLER: I’d say I’ve been in probably 90 — I mean, I’m wild guessing here, 90-plus percent. The one missing — the big one missing from my list is that Pierre Hotel and house. I’ve been in The Sherry-Netherland and in most of the penthouses on Central Park, South and West. That’s the one big one that slipped over. It came close, but didn’t quite make it. And it’s always very exciting, you know, to see very large space, spectacular views. And it’s really a mixture of some apartments are in amazing condition and some haven’t been renovated in, you know, multiple decades.

RITHOLTZ: Right.

MILLER: But just being and seeing the entirety of it quite never gets old.

RITHOLTZ: You know, I can imagine. And did those go for market prices, or are we still seeing aspirational pricing?

MILLER: Yeah. They go — they go for market like during sort of five or so years ago, sort of peak aspirational pricing, there was a penthouse — I want to say it was — you know, I can’t recall offhand where it was. But it was asking $125 million and you know, catch a falling knife. The price kept dropping, and I think it’s sold for in the 40s.

RITHOLTZ: All right. But you anchored people up at a 100, so maybe it would have gone for 20 otherwise. Is that the thought process behind this, let’s get people anchored higher?

MILLER: I think that’s the idea. But you know, after it’s on the market for three or four years, I can’t imagine that being sort of a positive thought for the owner, you know, especially if they’re barely living in it, and they’re paying 25,000 a month in homeowners’ association, at least, you know.

RITHOLTZ: Right.

MILLER: So — so maybe initially, that was the strategy. But I find that that almost never works. You know, empirically, the market is not that dumb, basically. That’s my quote of the day.

RITHOLTZ: So let’s talk — you and I have talked about one of my favorite Zillow tricks. Pick a town, especially a higher-end town. You could do Greenwich, Connecticut, or Santa Barbara, California, or by me, Sands Point, New York, and you’ll get a full listing of everything that’s for sale. And you could then use the Zillow app to sort. I always like to sort by newest, show me the most recent listings, and then I scroll all the way down to the bottom. And you’re shocked that this has been the hottest housing market certainly since ’08, ’09, if not ’06, ‘07, if not our lifetimes.

MILLER: Yeah.

RITHOLTZ: And it’s amazing, there are houses that have been listed for sale for 300 days, 500 days, 1,500 days. I mean, are those homes really for sale if they can’t find a buyer after five years? That just seems absurd?

MILLER: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, they are. And it’s all based on the notion that, hey, you know, somebody — you know, I get up — you know, it’s sort of like, “I’ll get lucky.” Didn’t Google have that search button at one time? I mean, it still does.

RITHOLTZ: Right. I feel lucky.

MILLER: You know, I feel luck lucky.

RITHOLTZ: Yeah.

MILLER: Yeah. It’s sort of analogous to that maybe, I don’t know. But it is — it is amazing. I also think part of that is just dirty Zillow data, you know, that it’s just not removed.

RITHOLTZ: Oh, no. A lot of this stuff is — I’m going to disagree with you on that because I sifted through a lot of these most recently —

MILLER: And they’re valuable things.

RITHOLTZ: So most recently, this kind of small waterfront supposed to be on an acre and you look at the map and it’s like there’s no way that’s an acre. And they were asking 9.5, which I felt was insane when right, you know, three houses down. So this is like a 3,000 square foot, one car garage, no basement, waterfront, lovely house built around a sort of center courtyard, but tiny, down — just like three or four houses down. It’s like a 25,000 square foot three-acre house is half the price.

So — so I called the agent and said, “I don’t understand. I’m not looking to bust your chops, but how do you figure 9.5 when for 4.5, I get four times out?” “Well, you know, the owner is a collector of fine arts and he thinks eventually he’ll get his price.” So now I have to go back through the Zillow history and it was originally up for sale for like 12 or 14 six years ago.

MILLER: Right.

RITHOLTZ: Off back on for 11, off back on for 10, off, and I’m like, “So this house really isn’t for sale. This is just someone goofing around. Call me when the — call me when the estate has to dispose of it and the market will find a real price.”

MILLER: Yeah. I mean, if you’re looking at a listing that — in this market that, you know, is 180 days or older, just as sort of, it’s not even serious, right?

RITHOLTZ: Right.

MILLER: I mean, this is not even — I had a situation, I remember this is four or five years ago when Greenwich was really a weak market. I may have told you the story in the past. And you know, some well-known financier, you know, had a house, I’m guessing, you know, was worth $6 million or $7 million, put it on for $15 million. No offers. You know, this is that aspirational pricing era. No activity. And then they cut the price to 11. You know, it’s worth 6 or 7 probably on a good day, cut it to 11, $4 million and sat on another year and no offers.

And then they go on stage and say, “You can’t give a house away in Greenwich, Connecticut.” And it’s like, well, you know, that’s really not fair to Greenwich, Connecticut, because your — you know, your view of the value of your property has nothing to do with what the market will support. And I find that — you know, we would see that all the time, you know, where it’s like they view the original price as like their equity. And then out of the goodness of their heart, they’re giving away, you know, a chunk of it, even though, you know, it’s all based on nothing.

One of the things that I do, as a hobby, is I collect listings, I’m sorry, closed sales around the U.S. that sold at or above the $50 million threshold.

RITHOLTZ: You’ve had a chart of this that you update on a regular basis.

MILLER: Yes. Yes, yes. And it’s sort of a hobby gone wild because in 2014, I remember I was approached by a homeowner that had a house in California. And I don’t even know what it was probably worth, but, you know, it was single digit, you know, but a lot of money. And they put it on the market for like 30-plus million. And that’s when we started to see this sort of aspirational pricing phenomenon occur, and it never sold. And I just started tracking them nationwide, and not listings, but just actual sales.

RITHOLTZ: Right.

MILLER: And 2021 was the biggest year, by far, and there were well over 40 transactions in the U.S. residential, that whether single family condo or co-op that sold for $50 million or higher. And 2022, and this is sort of just before — you know, well, up through today, I think there’s been — if you — if you were to annualize, you know — so optimistically, if you annualize the sales today, it would be the second highest in history. And there was just a closing of $175 million transaction in Florida just this week. And so what — in 2014, it was something I would add to the list once a month or two months. It literally is now once a week. There’s transaction — so —

RITHOLTZ: I remember the — I remember the developer that had created that $500 million spec house in LA —

MILLER: Oh, yeah.

RITHOLTZ: — which seemed absurd. He filled it with, you know, high-end sports cars and art. And I believe, if I remember correctly, it was eventually auctioned off at bankruptcy for about a quarter of that price.

MILLER: Yeah, about — I think it was $125 million. Yeah, that was kind of —

RITHOLTZ: 125, yeah.

MILLER: Yeah. That was “The One.” It was called “The One,” and —

RITHOLTZ: Well, now you can call it the quarter.

MILLER: Yeah, the quarter. Exactly. But, you know, it’s funny because it’s sort of this circus sideshow for housing because, you know, just like in New York, there was a $239 million condo. There was $100 million condo. There’s these big numbers. And so, you know, you’d see people with modest houses, say, “Hey, if someone is willing to pay, you know, $125 million for a home, then my home has to be worth 10% more.” And you’re like, “No, it has nothing to do with you. It’s a circus sideshow.”

RITHOLTZ: You know, that’s aspirational pricing is great for your realistic neighbors. So the $6 million house that’s up for sale for $30 million, hey, if you’re two houses down and your house is 5, you could say, “Hey, I really am looking for 7. Look at that house down the street, it’s $30 million.”

MILLER: Right.

RITHOLTZ: Seven is a bargain —

MILLER: That’s the logic.

RITHOLTZ: — if you’re realistic logic. Yeah.

MILLER: Well, we were having people in Manhattan in a, you know, a 6th floor tenement walk-up, you know, looking at — you see, you have to walk up six flights of stairs to get to your apartment —

RITHOLTZ: Worth a million less.

MILLER: — you know, much more bonus pricing, making comments that, you know, when Michael Dell bought his for a little over 100 million at 157 that, “Hey, you know, mine has to be worth more.” And we’re like, “No, it’s a different market. It’s a different market. It has nothing to do with you.”

RITHOLTZ: Plus, he’s worth $23 billion and $100 million is a rounding error to him.

MILLER: Right, right. Exactly.

RITHOLTZ: People — people forget that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

RITHOLTZ: All right. I have one curveball question for you before we get to our favorite questions, and that is why does your Twitter bio mentioned that you’re a lobster fisherman?

MILLER: Well, let’s just say I’m kind of hanging on to the past. I live close to Long Island Sound, big body of water and when I — I’m an empty nest now, but I had four sons and we used to drop lobster pots and you know, fish for lobster. But I only caught — we only caught one legal lobster a year. Everything else we have to throw back. They had to be a certain weight.

RITHOLTZ: Right.

MILLER: And we had an instrument to measure them. And I always said it was the most expensive lobster caught on the Eastern Seaboard every year because when you add up the cost of the boat, the dock, the fuel, the winterization, the time, you know. And then half the time, when we caught a legal lobster, I just throw it back in, catch and release.

RITHOLTZ: Right.

MILLER: But it was — it was really — it was really fun. I think they pretty — I think they banned — I sold my boat two years ago, so we don’t lobster fish anymore. But I’m very proud that I was once a lobster fisherman even though if you delve in deeper, I wasn’t that good at it.

RITHOLTZ: All right. Let’s jump to our favorite questions that we ask all of our guests starting with, tell us what you’re streaming these days, what was keeping you entertained during lockdown and beyond?

MILLER: So I’m going to — I was anticipating this question as I listened to your other interviews, and I’m very sad to say that I hardly watch any television and I don’t stream anything, my wife does.

RITHOLTZ: Wow.

MILLER: I could answer for her. But I literally am — I think — I don’t know where this came from, but my grandfather was a motion picture projectionist at the town theater, and my dad was a latchkey kid and watched, you know, the same movie a hundred times only in sections and did his homework with his dad.

RITHOLTZ: Right.

MILLER: And so as a kid, we never went to movies. And so I’m like — it’s funny, I’ve just — I don’t know what it is. I guess maybe that makes me old fashioned or something. I don’t know what it is. I just don’t care. So —

RITHOLTZ: I became a full-blown television idiot during the lockdown, just – we couldn’t go anywhere. We couldn’t do anything, and it’s just stream, stream, stream. And now, I’m trying — it’s become habitual. And now, I’m trying to break that habit and get out of the house more as the world rise up again. But it’s a rabbit hole that you can easily —

MILLER: Yeah, I just — I just like — screen time for me is I just — I try to fight it. I’m on my laptop so much —

RITHOLTZ: Right.

MILLER: — you know, working and all that, but I try not to — try not to do it. It probably makes me dull and boring, but —

RITHOLTZ: Not at all. So I’m going to give you one streaming recommendation which is a very broad one.

MILLER: Okay.

RITHOLTZ: I signed up for YouTube Premium so there’s no ads, no commercials.

MILLER: Right.

RITHOLTZ: YouTube is an endless world of just — whatever your favorite topic is, there’s an infinite amount of it and more every day. It’s genuinely astonishing.

MILLER: Right.

RITHOLTZ: I mean, if you think HBO or Netflix has a lot of stuff, YouTube leaves them in the dust.

MILLER: Amazing. Yeah. I have Hulu, but I really just use that to watch the occasional sports or whatever. We cut the cable connection during the pandemic.

RITHOLTZ: Interesting. Tell us about some of your early mentors who helped to shape your career.

MILLER: So one of them was — it was a gentleman named John Nelson, who was my first job out of college. I worked as a department head in a hospital. And he taught me — first of all, you know, very organized guy, but he spoke very softly. And one of the things I learned when you’re speaking in public is that if the — I just found that the audience leans in a little bit more when you’re not shouting, you’re soft spoken. I just found it very — it’s been very effective for me. And sort of, that’s just how I present.

And I just — before that, I always, you know, thought public speaking was sort of shouting and really being — if you’re slower in delivery and a little bit less — I don’t want to say less animated, I just find, at least in the subject material that I speak with, I’m a better presenter than I would be otherwise. And so, I’ve always appreciate it. It was like a subtle thing and I’ve always appreciated that.

RITHOLTZ: Let’s talk about books. Tell us some of your favorite books and what are you reading right now.

MILLER: So I’m on an auto industry kick, and so partly because my father-in-law in Detroit. My father-in-law worked for Ford for 39 years, and like most of my wife’s family had some connection to the auto industry. So I’ve always been intrigued by it. And I just read an amazing book called “Fins” and it’s all about Harley Earl who was —

RITHOLTZ: Sure.

MILLER: — essentially the GM, you know —

RITHOLTZ: Designer.

MILLER: Yeah, just led — led the industry, brought fins into the mix. And one thing I learned in the book was — it didn’t dawn — it didn’t dawn on me, that, you know, the president of GM, his last name was Sloan, and the second in command was Kettering. And my — one of my (daughters) works at Sloan Kettering because they were sort of behind that hospital in terms of getting it started, is my understanding. And who would have thought I’m reading a book about Detroit auto industry, and they have this cancer hospital in Manhattan, which is sort of, you know, this world class thing. So I thought that was really interesting.

And then the other thing I’ve read — like, I just reread “The Reckoning” by David Halberstam and —

RITHOLTZ: Oh, sure.

MILLER: And I just never realized how backwards Henry Ford was, you know, beginning in — from the depression on, he just built one car, you know, the famous car.

RITHOLTZ: Right.

MILLER: You can — you can have any color you want as long as it’s black, all that, and how the industry really changed. And Harley Earl really sort of, you know, brought it into accessorizing and making cars decorative and sort of a statement of yourself. And that’s been my focus. I’ve read several auto industry books just in the last couple of months, just because I think I was — subconsciously because I was preparing to go to Detroit and I wanted something to talk about with my in laws.

RITHOLTZ: You know, the funny thing is I just read the book “Summer of ’27.” I’m trying to remember who wrote it, but I love everything he writes. And he talks about — that was kind of a myth that it was — you can get a Model T in any color you want as long as it’s black. Bill Bryson. It turns out that if you got the coupe, you can get it in this color and the convertible in that color, or they were like —

MILLER: They started adding —

RITHOLTZ: Yeah.

MILLER: They started to add — there like three or four colors they started adding. But only after intense pressure and shutting the factory down for a year to retool for the next model —

RITHOLTZ: Right. That’s right.

MILLER: It’s, you know, really interesting.

RITHOLTZ: Yeah. Ford was in — Ford was in a lot of trouble and GM had really given them a run for the money in the ‘20s by introducing design and new innovations.

MILLER: Right. And a lot of people because of the car itself made fun of Edsel, like what Edsel stood for. But Edsel is really the one that kept Ford going as, you know, the father — you know, was sort of anchored to the past. And Edsel is a nice guy.

RITHOLTZ: To say the least.

MILLER: But — yeah, yeah, for sure.

RITHOLTZ: Let’s talk about advice to a recent college grad who is interested in a career in either real estate or appraisal, what sort of advice would you give them?

MILLER: Well, I think, you know, in — when I think of real estate or valuation, I think there’s a lot more upside in terms of future potential going into the commercial side rather than the residential side of the — of the business. I think there’s more opportunity. It’s — on the residential side, and this is going back to my earlier criticism, the Appraisal Foundation, to get into residential, you essentially have to work for two years for nothing, or barely anything. You have to hire somebody. You have to be hired by somebody who’s willing to mentor you. And the reason why they generally don’t is because after they teach you everything you know for two years, many, many times the new person goes out on their own, right?

So there is a — it’s an industry that’s aging out. And that’s part of the reason why I’m so emphatically, you know, trying to sort of hit — swing a baseball bat against what the Appraisal Foundation has done. They’ve essentially — you know, part of the problem is, just to your mentoring system, which accountants and lawyers, like, no one has this after you take your license — licensing test.

RITHOLTZ: Right.

MILLER: You can function and make a living. You don’t make as much as somebody with more experience. But you let the market sorted out —

RITHOLTZ: Right.

MILLER: — in terms of, you know, fee for service. In our industry, you can’t do that. So I think there’s more —

RITHOLTZ: I wonder if there’s a correlation between that mentoring process and the lack of diversity. If you’re hiring a friend or family member, hey, maybe that person is less likely to be different than you are.

MILLER: Oh, absolutely. That’s a big part of it, and that’s part of the problem. You know, it just — it just, you know, sort of continues the — sort of the competition of the industry, which industry desperately needs, you know, new voices. So that’s why I’ve been very outspoken about it.

So I have four boys. They’re all adult men now and they all are gainfully employed. So I feel like we did our job as parents. They’re all, you know, doing well, and all that. But I — with my wife and I wouldn’t let them take over from us because I fear for the future for our —

RITHOLTZ: Of the industry?

MILLER: — of the residential industry. And you know, also to — I think kids taking over the family business, I feel like they need to be out in the world for five or seven years.

RITHOLTZ: Right.

MILLER: And then come back if they really want to come back. But I think that ship has sailed.

RITHOLTZ: Really interesting. And our final question, what do you know about the world of real estate appraisals, market pricing today that you wish you knew way back in the 1980s when you were first launching Miller Samuel?

MILLER: So this is really a — I thought a lot about this. People with experience in real estate don’t know as much about market pricing as you think they do. Just because someone, you know, has been around a long time, doesn’t mean they’re any better than someone that has experience that is a fraction of that. And the reason why I say that is there’s a lot of lethargy where individuals, “Hey, I’ve been doing it this way for 25 years.” And as it turns out, real estate in the last decade, or maybe a little bit longer, in the last 15, 20 years, has become a lot more volatile.

So all the rules of thumb, so to speak, that someone, you know, my sort of level of experience in terms of, you know, time isn’t relevant. And so I think — I think you don’t want to have that sort of age bias towards, you know, that youth is also a good source of feedback on market conditions.

RITHOLTZ: Really, really quite interesting. Thank you, Jonathan, for being so generous with your time. That was Jonathan Miller. He is the CEO and co-founder of Miller Samuel. If you enjoyed this conversation, well check out any of the previous 400 discussions we’ve had over the past, oh, I think it’s just about seven years. You can find those at iTunes, Spotify, wherever you get your favorite podcasts.

We love your comments, feedback and suggestions. Write to us at mibpodcast@bloomberg.net. Sign up for my daily reading list at ritholtz.com. Follow me on Twitter @ritholtz. I would be remiss if I did not thank the team that helps put these conversations together each week. Sebastian Escobar is my audio engineer. Sean Russo is my head of Research. Atika Valbrun is my project manager. Paris Wald is my producer.

I’m Barry Ritholtz, you’ve been listening to Masters in Business on Bloomberg Radio.

 

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