Jonathan D. Miller

Executive Bio

A marketing communication strategist who turned to real estate analysis, Jonathan D. Miller is a foremost interpreter of 21st citistate futures – cities and suburbs alike – seen through the lens of lifestyles and market realities.

For more than 20 years (1992-2013), Miller authored Emerging Trends in Real Estate, the leading commercial real estate industry outlook report, published annually by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Urban Land Institute (ULI).  He has lectures frequently on trends in real estate, including the future of America's major 24-hour urban centers and sprawling suburbs. He also has been author of ULI’s annual forecasts on infrastructure and its What’s Next? series of forecasts. On a weekly basis, he writes the Trendczar blog for GlobeStreet.com, the real estate news website.

Outside his published forecasting work, Miller is a prominent communications/institutional investor-marketing strategist and partner in Miller Ryan LLC, helping corporate clients develop and execute branding and communications programs. He led the re-branding of GMAC Commercial Mortgage to Capmark Financial Group Inc. and he was part of the management team that helped build Equitable Real Estate Investment Management, Inc. (subsequently Lend Lease Real Estate Investments, Inc.) into the leading real estate advisor to pension funds and other real institutional investors. He joined the Equitable Life Assurance Society of the U.S. in 1981, moving to Equitable Real Estate in 1984 as head of Corporate/Marketing Communications. In the 1980's he managed relations for several of the country's most prominent real estate developments including New York's Trump Tower and the Equitable Center. 

Earlier in his career, Miller was a reporter for Gannett Newspapers. He is a member of the Citistates Group and a board member of NYC Outward Bound Schools and the Center for Employment Opportunities.

  • Follow the Yankees

    Despite a solid, early-season winning record, the New York Yankees were selling grandstand and bleacher seats for $5 this week, according to a dispatch on Yahoo. It’s not just because Jeter and A-Rod are on the disabled list and who-knows-who is in the line-up to replace them and some of the other big name stars. Attendance is down, because the average fan just cannot afford the price tags the Yankees envisioned for seating when they formulated plans for their new billion dollar stadium—those $2,500 box seats around home plate, tailored to the Wall Street expense account crowd—have always gone wanting since the new stadium opened in 2009 and now Yankees tickets are always available for online resale at a fraction of face value. The Yankees, meanwhile, are trying to get out from under the salary cap after paying egregiously outlandish salaries to A-Rod and others before the Era of Less took hold. If Average Joe cannot keep up, eventually the guys at the top of the compensation pyramid will make less too.

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  • More of the Same

    Consider these items: •Gold gets hammered—investors who bought in and created a bit of a bubble worrying about inflation now back off in a general commodity decline as China stumbles and Europe remains mired in recession. The U.S. just keeps printing money and now Japan joins in on quantitative easing after two decades of keeping interest rates at near zero without much impact on the pricing of goods. •The housing market strengthens in part off pent up demand—a growing population needs more places to live. But much of the home buying in woebegone markets has been by big institutional investors, not Average Joes, who still cannot get mortgages notwithstanding bargain prices either because of bad credit or not enough cash to put down or both. The institutions will rent to the Average Joes in the meantime, but eventually hope to make a killing when Average Joe can afford to buy at a higher price. •McDonalds reports its global sales are off and value meals are back to increase market share. •Austerity has not worked in Europe---the latest numbers show even Germany begins to stumble, and now the sequester cuts start to bite into the U.S. economy—the jobs numbers have not been inspiring and our friends, the economists, suggest there won’t be a pick up until year end.

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  • Flight to Quality

    At a dinner party the other night with a Manhattan real estate agent and a couple from New Jersey the conversation shifted suddenly from spouses dying of aneurysms to the local residential property markets. In the city, top-end brokers find themselves in a back-to-the-future circa 2006 frenzy—it’s a seller’s market and bidding wars ramp up prices with all or mostly cash buyers having a major edge. Developers of skyscraper condos nearing completion have timed the market extremely well, attracting nervous offshore money looking for a safe haven.

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  • The Problem with Water

    Floods and droughts—they’re part of biblical lore. In our history, there have been various hurricanes, the Johnstown flood, and the Depression era Dust Bowl. The Mississippi from time to time overflows its banks and Atlanta’s reservoir system almost ran dry in 2007.

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  • Mixed Messages

    The stock market and number of food stamp recipients (nearly 48 million Americans) hit new records at the same time—both new highs, just as unemployment ticks down to 7.7% and private hiring kicks up—notably in construction. The payroll tax gnaws at weekly pay checks and it’s too early to understand the impacts of federal government spending cuts (sequester)—at least scattered layoffs and furloughs particularly but not exclusively in the public sector. The Fed keeps interest rates low, because the bankers do not see enough evidence of economic improvement, and the big commercial banks pass their stress tests—what a surprise. Instead of hiring, companies feel compelled to return excess cash to shareholders in record dividends or undertake stock buybacks—they can stay more profitable if they keep lean and do their hiring in cheaper overseas markets. The nation’s household wealth has been restored thanks to the recent stock market boom and improvement in the housing market—some folks are at least feeling more affluent. Consumers seem to be borrowing again to buy things after paying down debt. But wages are not going up appreciably and the benefit burden keeps shifting to workers. At least health care costs are not increasing as much as they had been.

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  • Yahoo and Office Demand

    Office building owners, struggling with relatively anemic demand, may find some measure of comfort in Yahoo’s decision to rein in its work-from-home employees and mandate their return to the cube-world. Is this the start of a trend reversal that could increase occupancies and buoy rents among office tenants? Probably not, although the Yahoo move may give some CEOs in other companies pause about letting home-officing get out of hand.

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  • Lawyering—Not What It Used To Be

    Have you followed the recent commentary about law schools in crisis? The three-year curriculum is too long, the cost-benefit isn’t there except for tenured law professors, graduates emerge with enormous student debt, there are too few jobs, and far fewer that pay well. Law schools are talking about changing curriculums, possibly cutting a year out. The dirty little secret is—many intelligent college grads could pass the bar exam after taking one of those intense prep courses, certainly without all the law school course padding.

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  • Is Slow Growth Sustainable?

    The unemployment rate inches back up close to 8%, GDP sinks into negative territory for the fourth quarter 2012, and the stock market heads for new highs as its price-earnings ratio stands at a rather lofty 22. Huh? Are we fooling ourselves again?

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  • Top of the Market?

    That looks like a top of the market price for the Sony Building in the heart of Manhattan’s Midtown. Sure it’s a trophy building near the most prime locations in one of world’s best (and certainly America’s top) real estate market(s). But paying $1.1 billion at a time when rents appear to have crested is a swallow hard proposition.

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  • Safe Harbor for Now

    My trip to Israel this week (for a speech to Israeli investors in U.S. real estate) reinforced the view that offshore investors see the U.S. as their only sure shot safe haven. Israelis generally have proved extremely savvy investors and the group of over 120 I met with had little interest in Europe—still viewed as a basket case economy—and apparently even less in China and other parts of Asia—not transparent enough.

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