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Jonathan Miller Responds to Being Less Powerful Than 98 People

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Real estate appraiser, market reports mastermind and Curbed graph guru Jonathan Miller just made the Observer's Power 100 list...barely. In a Curbed NY exclusive, Miller agreed to share his thoughts on this emotional roller coaster.

I just learned of my third appearance on the NYO Power 100 in the past four years. It should be a day of great celebration, but there are no balloons at Miller HQ. At least, no more than usual. You see, I am a Man on the Bubble. I fell 13 positions to 99th place from 86th in 2009 (I was excluded in 2010 - absolutely devastating). I am actually trembling as I type this, full of raw emotion, trying to collect my thoughts, trying to grasp how Lockhart Steele edged me out for 98th place. I am powerful, clearly, but barely so.

Still, it's an honor to be included, which is a line I stole from Susan Lucci. My life's work began in 1986 (I skipped over the "I always wanted to be an appraiser when I was a kid" part) by inspecting thousands of properties with range: from celebrity homes to an apartment with human feces smeared on every wall. Before I went in, the agent told me the apartment needed a little work. Like my ranking.

In 2005 I began blogging about insane lending practices, all the while daring to exceed Fannie Mae guidelines (inside appraiser joke) as they hurtled towards a government bailout, and some Curbed commenters called me "a shill for the real estate industrial complex." In 2008 I got a public thrashing just before Lehman collapsed for "going negative," just like I had in 2005. But was it all worth it? You bet. Have you not been listening? I am powerful.

Also in 2008, I entered the inaugural list at #87, the only person in the history of real estate power players who spent their early career measuring property with a wheel on a stick. I eventually graduated to sonic and laser handheld devices, but, again, wheel on a stick. No one can ever take that away from me. I am #1 on the Power Wheel on a Stick list.

In 2009, when I edged up to 86, little did I know that my new ranking would foretell my future and I'd be "86’d" from the list in 2010. Apparently I wasn't working hard enough. But I didn’t give up hope. How to regain my power? The answer was simple: more market reports! But where? East Shore of Staten Island? The Gowanus Canal Sub-market? No. The magic combination was Westchester and Putnam County with a just a hint of Miami. Those were the tickets back to the Power 100.

Now I'm back, but I am grappling with #99, and being sandwiched between Lockhart and Steve Cuozzo. Ugh, media people! Is this how far I've fallen? Yes, but at least I'm hanging on by my fingertips.

Editor's Note: We asked Curbed founder and president Lockhart Steele to give us his reaction to being ranked the 98th most powerful person in New York real estate, one spot above Jonathan Miller. Here is his response.

Were there only two positions in the survey, say, numbers 98 and 99, here's how they would rank, in order. Graphed.


· Power 100 [NYO]