Housing expert Jonathan Miller starts continuing education firm

By Candace Taylor | September 08, 2010 12:00AM

September 08, 2010 11:00AM

Jonathan Miller, Esther Muller and Steven Wagner

Housing guru Jonathan Miller is adding yet another business venture to his rapidly expanding roster of professional activities.

Miller, an appraiser known for his widely read local quarterly market reports, has announced the launch of MillerQA, a new company offering seminars and continuing education courses for real estate professionals.

Miller said the seminars — intended for brokers, attorneys, developers, appraisers and others — will help demystify the constant barrage of housing data confronted by real estate professionals, clarifying, for example, how national data relates to the New York City market. 

“We’re answering the question of, how’s the market doing?” Miller told The Real Deal. The seminars, which will focus on Miller’s market reports and other housing data, will “help people pick through the myriad of information that’s being thrown at them every day, and develop a logic of understanding what’s happening in the market.”

The first seminar is scheduled for Oct. 7. It will feature commentary by Miller about national and New York City-area third-quarter housing data, followed by a question-and-answer session (hence the name). Miller and real estate attorney Steven Wagner will then discuss legal issues related to buying and selling condos in today’s market. The cost is $195 per person, though bulk rates are available, he said. 

Miller is the president and CEO of Miller Samuel Real Estate Appraisers, founded in 1986. Yet in recent years he’s become widely known for the quarterly market reports he compiles for Prudential Douglas Elliman, using a vast database of New York City-area real estate data he’s collected over the years. His reports are published on his website in addition to being distributed by Elliman, and are now used as a resource by the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and others, and Miller is a familiar face as a real estate commentator on news outlets like CNBC and CNN.

One would think that would be enough to keep him busy. But Miller has continually explored new ventures, launching a housing blog and series of podcasts with industry experts. He’s also the co-founder of Miller Cicero, a commercial real estate advisory service covering the New York City metropolitan area.

“I’m the eternal optimist in terms of the use of my time,” he laughed.

In December of last year, Miller announced that he’d be teaming up with boutique investment bank Westwood Capital and real estate investor Gerald Guterman in Condominium Recovery LLC, a new venture to convert distressed condo projects to rental apartments.

MillerQA, whose website is www.millerqa.com, is also a separate company from Miller Samuel, Miller explained, though several of the personnel — including his wife Cheryl and his sister Dina — are the same. John Cicero, co-founder of Miller Cicero, will serve as chief information officer at MillerQA, and Karen van de Vrande — formerly Elliman’s chief marketing officer — will be the new company’s chief operations and marketing officer.

Miller and Cicero had long discussed the idea of doing some kind of continuing education series, Miller said, but it had always been on the back burner.

“We had the content but we needed help in putting together the presentation,” Miller said. Then, last spring, he reached out to Van de Vrande, who had started her own consulting business. She agreed to come on board, and the process was set in motion.

Each seminar will feature commentary from Miller and an outside real estate expert like Wagner, and eventually the company will expand beyond the New York market, he said. There will also be online seminars, he said, and the company is in the process of applying for accreditation for the program.

Miller said the goal is to help real estate professionals become more knowledgeable about market data so they can better assist their clients.

“It’s not just the information, but what to do with it,” he said.

In June, former Citi Habitats director of sales Greg Young also launched a new a real estate training and consulting company, Broker Heaven NY.

The rise in new broker training programs is a reflection of changes in the market, said real estate consultant and coach Esther Muller, founder of Esther Muller’s Academy for Continuing Education. “It’s a new era,” Muller said. Thanks to technology, “the consumer knows a lot more, so it’s imperative that the agents know a lot more.”

Muller said she’s happy to have Miller join the ranks. So happy, in fact, that the Academy for Continuing Education will be naming him an “honorary professor” at its 15th anniversary celebration in November.

“He really is standout in the community as someone that elevates the profession,” she said. And when it comes to the new venture, she said she welcomes any additional opportunities for broker training. “I’m excited for [Miller],” she said. “It’s an additional way for agents to become more empowered and educated.”

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esther muller

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