Posted by Jonathan J. Miller -Monday, February 6, 2012, 9:36 AM Comments Off
So Clint Eastwood is one of my all-time favorite actors, most recently in Gran Torino (curiously a Ford), my wife’s family hails from Detroit and I’ve always wanted a car with a Hemi engine, but besides all that, this was my favorite commercial of the Superbowl.
I like the symbolism that the country needs to regroup and the game isn’t over yet (yes I realize that Fiat has a 58.5% ownership stake in Chrysler but please let me bask in the glow). A lot of negativity to churn through in the coming years because many people are hurting financially.
Posted by Jonathan J. Miller -Tuesday, January 10, 2012, 1:37 PM 12 Comments
Actually our birthday was last October 1st and I had grand plans to post this back then when this site was supposed to be relaunched. Well, like our 25 years, time passed quickly and I am posting 3 months later.
Miller Samuel was founded by my family including moi, my wife Cheryl, my sister Dina and my parents Donald and Ethel (who retired in 2002) it’s been fun, challenging, frustrating and rewarding but I think I speak for all of us – we wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.
My back-of-the-envelope estimate of the total market value of all properties appraised, adjusted for inflation (not for changing market conditions) is over $80 Billion, but who’s counting?
But I digress…
We were originally going to name our firm Appraisal Specialists (what were we thinking?) in 1986 and found out someone in New York State already had that name when we went to incorporate. We quickly appended the word “Group” to form Appraisal Specialists Group (another horrible name) but within the year we renamed our firm Miller Samuel with the latter name being a former partner early on. We originally worked out of our apartments and got a real office within the year. Went with Macs back in 1986, developed our own software to fill out the appraisal reports, incorporated bar code and scantron forms into our process and to top it off. I have to laugh when I think that we were the first appraisal firm to have a 2-line fax machine ’cause we were so “hi-tech” and our banking clients used to fax everything.
The Miller Samuel name stuck and we expanded, outgrowing 3 offices, launching a commercial affiliate Miller Cicero, shifting our client mix away from primary emphasis on banks and expanded our real estate market report coverage throughout the New York City region and Miami for brokerage Prudential Douglas Elliman and dabbled in report coverage in other housing markets such as Washington, DC and Baltimore. We’ve done a lot of blogging and podcasting, social media, magazine articles, research studies, data aggregation, seminars and other things to provide more transparency to the housing markets we cover.
We’ve got a really great appraisal staff, averaging 14 years of experience and it’s really a lot like an extended family.
After 25 years we have seen radical changes for the worse in our dysfunctional leaderless appraisal industry – appraisal quality for bank lending is at an historic low thanks to appraisal management companies, but yet we are well positioned for the future.
We live and die by our reputation of taking no quarter when it comes to:
providing a neutral valuation benchmark for our clients to enable them to make informed decisions.
Well, it’s been an all-time world record since I last posted, just over a month, and I missed it and won’t do that again. To spare you the details, we consolidated and revamped our old corporate web site (running faithfully since prehistoric times), this blog and my podcast site. It’s now all in one location and hopefully more functional. I am spending the next few weeks cleaning up tags, categories and the blog roll.
The reason for the change – besides that it was long overdue and we just felt like it – is to better handle a flurry of new content being added this year all in the name of providing greater market transparency. And while we are on the topic of transparency, we’ll be adding a subscription service with as much as 20x the depth of information currently offered (yes, I’ve been holding out on you.)
I learned of Bob’s death last week from one of our senior managers at Miller Cicero, Michael Falsetta, who was one of Bob’s good friends. Michael sent me the obituary from the NY Daily News and a wonderful blog post.
I never met Bob but I’d periodically check in on Bob’s photojournalism-type blog on the East Village “Neither More Nor Less“.
Michael’s description of Bob was particularly moving:
He was a solid, Midwestern fix-it-yourelf guy – but he had the soul of an artist.
the day is the only holiday to come into being as a result of a sports injury. He has stated that during a racquetball game between Summers and Baur, one of them reacted to the pain with an outburst of “Aaarrr!”, and the idea was born. That game took place on June 6, 1995, but out of respect for the observance of D-Day, they chose Summers’ ex-wife’s birthday, as it would be easy for him to remember.
At first an inside joke between two friends, the holiday gained exposure when John Baur and Mark Summers sent a letter about their invented holiday to the American syndicated humor columnist Dave Barry in 2002. Barry liked the idea and promoted the day. Growing media coverage of the holiday after Barry’s column has ensured that this event is now celebrated internationally, and Baur and Summers now sell books and T-shirts on their website related to the theme. Part of the success for the international spread of the holiday has been attributed to non-restriction of the idea or trademarking, in effect opening the holiday for creativity and “viral” growth.
Forget the history you’ve been taught in school or reading in the paper, matrix celebrates the history that matters to its readers:
Posted by Jonathan J. Miller -Friday, September 9, 2011, 6:30 AM Comments Off
Here’s a few before and after photos we took while inspecting properties for appraisals in downtown Manhattan. I got the idea to share these from Curbed’s post on this (and was taken aback by the unusually nasty reader comments) and from this interesting piece on City Journal called The Vanished Skyline.
< - BEFORE | AFTER ->
[click on any photo to expand]
I took the “before” photo from outside the World Financial Center in Battery Park City. I looked up and was blown away with the scale of the towers and the light. I made it a page on my fledgling web site and embedded the graphic in it. The pink “millersamuel.com” logo on the “after” photo was embedded on all our digital photos back in the day. It was really disorienting to take that photo.
We took this photo from the terrace of a downtown apartment a few weeks before and after.
Taken during an appraisal near the UN looking south on 9/10/01 and then a month later I believe.
Posted by Jonathan J. Miller -Thursday, September 8, 2011, 11:06 AM Comments Off
So this post is really for my own therapeutic release covering the mechanics of that day and what I took from it.
I’ve been thinking about the upcoming September 11 anniversary quite a bit over the past year with a lot of trepidation. I can’t imagine how it feels to be one of those people who lost a close friend, colleague or loved one but I know people who lost close friends, colleagues or loved ones that day and it’s hard to wrap my mind around what that truly feels like – no, its impossible – and its painful to think about.
On September 11, 2001 I was in our old offices in Midtown on West 45th Street. After an email alert, I saw the CNN footage of the gaping holes in the towers on the TV sets in the appliance store on our block along with throngs of other people. I walked to the end of my street and could see the towers on fire as I looked down Fifth Avenue and Avenue of the Americas. My wife called me sobbing when the first tower fell telling me “now there is only one World Trade Center”. We were trying to call our appraisers out in the field but the cell service was overloaded. We had people in Tribeca but thankfully no one in close proximity. After the next tower fell all the traffic seemed to leave the street and thousands of people were making their way north out of Manhattan. No public transportation was running and all bridges and tunnels were closed to traffic. I rode with my friends Mom who had a car north to Westchester and borrowed his car to get home.
I remember standing in my front yard disheveled talking with a neighbor after we got home who was actually on the phone with someone on a high floor in the towers as the first plane hit and the line went silent. I remember getting so many emails from my friends and colleagues around the US trying to confirm if I was still alive – surreal to be asked it you were still alive. I met someone who was arguably the last person out of the Towers. My son’s classmate lost his Dad in the attack and there were others lost who lived in our town. Over the next year my firm would be engaged to perform appraisals for estate purposes of the victims and we could see first hand how people coped and the damage to their personal lives. Especially tough when you realized they had kids.
Each year as the anniversary approaches, I get hyper-vigilant about the numbers 9/11 but keep it to myself. The bridge I go under on my way home has a sign for it’s 9′11″ clearance and I always seem to look at a clock when it strikes 9:11 and a slew of other examples. This eventually passes until the next anniversary rolls around.
Painful. Yet at the same time I feel we have get to the business of living. I’m proud of how NYC handled it. It’s resolve to move on cemented my love for it and to appreciate what I have.
Sometime around 1:50pm EST, I had finished my lunch and started to feel lightheaded as I was writing on my laptop. Was thinking that my orange spicy chicken takeout was disagreeing with me.
I went to stand up and was wobbling so I sat down. Seemed like a good 30 seconds where it felt like the entire building was swaying quite a bit. Felt like we were on top of blades of tall grass. I stood up again and saw others in my office get up from their desk asking, “did you feel that?” followed by “It’s an earthquake!”
We started to leave the office and heard my sister admonishing our staff to stop appraising and walk down the 16 flights of stairs to the street (hard working loyal appraisers to the end). Could feel other shocks in our decent down the stairwell.
No cell service.
We began asking if it was just our building or if the others on the sidewalk were from other buildings. They were from other buildings. Got word that this had happened all around us and felt better.
Texted my wife and parents to see if they felt it and to let them know we were fine. No tremors at our home in Connecticut, but got notes from friends in the area including Long Island and as far away as Massachusetts and Michigan who had felt the tremors.
One of our appraisers came rushing back from his inspection when he got this message from his wife who also works for us, although she didn’t send it. Hopefully that person is ok.
Waited a little longer and then went back to work. Well, actually, to write this post.
Posted by Jonathan J. Miller -Monday, October 25, 2010, 12:36 PM 3 Comments
This video has got to be the most accurate interpretation of the way we all walk around these days – who would have thought a 1960’s Donovan song could be so applicable? I doubt I would buy one of these phones (think Zune) but I did buy Donovan’s greatest hits.
Posted by Jonathan J. Miller -Tuesday, September 14, 2010, 12:01 AM Comments Off
Halo Reach was released at midnight – it’s the prequel to the best selling software game series my kids have been playing since 2001. Their GPAs would probably be 0.75 points higher if the game wasn’t developed but we do what we can to support the economy.
$2 billion: What the “Halo” franchise has generated in sales since 2001.
34 million: “Halo” games sold prior to “Halo: Reach.”
200: Employees at “Halo” creator Bungie in Bellevue.
93 out of 100: Average reviewer rating of “Reach,” compiled by Metacritic.com.
25: Countries where “Halo: Reach” is launching.
2.7 million: Number of players who participated in a May test of the game.
Obviously, the search to understand the housing market takes a day off – as carpel tunnel syndrome is expected to rear its ugly head.
Had a fun interview with Tom and Sara this morning on the always MUST watch/listen Bloomberg Surveillance. We talked housing, rentals, vacancy and inventory. An added bonus was the addition of Adam Davidson – co-founder and co-host of Planet Money... Read More