Jonathan Miller knows the numbers behind the mysterious world of Manhattan real estate. As co-founder, president and CEO of New York appraisal firm Miller Samuel, and a certified general real estate appraiser since 1986, he’s helped his company provide property valuations totaling billions of dollars.
Since 1994, Miller has authored several widely read reports on the Manhattan real estate market for Prudential Douglas Elliman. The reports are widely used by local, regional and national media as well as national and local lending institutions, various government agencies, the Federal Reserve, New York City Office of Management and Budget, and the Internal Revenue Service.
Miller and his company recently formed a joint venture with data analytic company Radar Logic that will publish research products providing market commentary and analysis related to real estate values in cities and regions across the country. The venture, which aims to release products this summer, also plans to offer consulting services.
Miller maintains two popular real estate blogs: Matrix, and Soapbox: Appraisal Ethics, Ideas and Industry Issues.
Miller will speak at Real Estate Connect in San Francisco, July 31-Aug. 3.
Here are his answers to a set of questions posed by Inman News:
What was your first job?
I was a dishwasher in a restaurant. First day on the job: dirty dishes and pots were (what felt like) stacked to the ceiling and it was 90-plus degrees in the kitchen. And I remember thinking how cool it was to be working.
What sparked the idea to start Miller Samuel Inc.?
More than 20 years ago, my immediate family was considering starting a real estate brokerage firm and had investors lined up. Just before signing, we all had second thoughts since most of us were more analytic than pure sales orientated. We also knew that real estate appraisers and the public had limited access to information back then.
What’s been your biggest challenge in running the company?
Being able to filter out market information spin from fact and steer us clear of valuation pressures that appraisers are subjected to every single day.
If you had one thing to do over again, what would it be?
Pay more attention to cash flow. That’s not something most entrepreneurs pay close attention to until it’s too late.
What style of home do you live in and when did you buy it?
A New England Salt Box-style house built in 1825, complete with a basement tunnel (now sealed) that was used in the underground railroad during the civil war.
What worries keep you awake at night?
My father-in-law told me that you can’t do anything about your problems when your head hits the pillow. I am usually too tired at night to worry anyway.
Describe your dream home.
It would be my current house relocated to a waterfront location about a mile away with a deep water dock and a tennis court.
What lesson did you learn in the last year?
Honestly, I don’t know where to begin.
What’s the strangest thing you ever packed in a suitcase?
In my carry-on: a gift-wrapped set of six steak knives (a long story) without thinking, pre-9/11 and it wasn’t picked up by the metal detector.
What would your second career choice be?
Wall Street: to enable the trading of residential housing derivatives (stay tuned).
What kind of music do you listen to?
I am all over the map: primarily grunge/garage, delta blues, indie and alt country.
Who is your hero?
Besides my wife, who has been through a lot as of late, my business hero is Steve Jobs of Apple. Love my iPhone!
Hear Miller speak at Real Estate Connect in San Francisco, July 31-Aug. 3. The conference program and registration are available online via the Connect Web site.