The National Association of Real Estate Editors (NAREE) announced the winners of its 72nd Annual Journalism Awards.
The competition recognizes excellence in reporting, writing, and editing stories about residential and commercial real estate. The awards were announced at NAREE’s annual conference, held in Atlanta at the Westin Buckhead hotel. A panel of expert judges from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University selected all winners. Medill Assistant Professor Ceci Rodgers chaired the panel.
The jurors decided to honor a team of journalists from The Miami Herald with a Platinum Award for Best Investigative Report for their work on the Surfside tragedy. This is the first time a Platinum Award has been given to honor team work in NAREE’s contest.
Here are NAREE’s 2022 winners with judges’ comments.
Platinum Award – Best Overall Individual Real Estate Winner: Troy McMullen, Freelance Writer, The Washington Post, “For Black homeowners, a common conundrum with appraisals”
Judges’ comment: In a time of racial reckoning, McMullen’s story stood out for its powerful and devastating vignettes of homeowners who experienced racial discrimination during home appraisals. Who could forget the story of the couple whose house appraised for $145,000 higher when the husband, who is Black, was not present, or the owner whose house appraised for more than $60,000 when a white neighbor took his place? McMullen wove these personal, painful stories with a sweeping look at appraisals across the nation, balancing statistics about disparities in homeownership and historic discriminatory practices with where the industry stands today.
President’s Award – Best Freelance Collection – Real Estate: Michelle Hofmann, Forbes, Collection includes: “Jay Leno Opens Up About Buying a $13.5 Million Newport Mansion and Returning to Prime Time,” “Mattel Family’s Barbie Penthouse Lists for $10 Million in Los Angeles,” “A Columbus Teen Becomes One of Ohio’s Youngest Homeowners With an Assist From a Harlem Globetrotter”
Judges’ comment: Michelle Hofmann knows what makes an intriguing story – a 19-year-old who bought a house and the $10 million listing of the Mattel family’s “Barbie” penthouse. Her genuine curiosity leads to fascinating revelations. Automobile buff Jay Leno, for example, explains that he uses only rental cars at his $13.5 million Newport mansion because the salt air is so corrosive. With her pieces, expect to be surprised and entertained.
Ruth Ryon Award – Best Young Journalist – Real Estate: Joe Lovinger, The Real Deal, “First We Take Manhattan: Inside Reuben Brothers’ NYC Shopping Spree”
Judges’ comment: Lovinger reports and writes with an authority and flair beyond his years. He tackles difficult stories, such as a profile of the secretive real estate duo Simon and David Reuben, who came out of nowhere and bought up $4 billion in New York City trophy properties. He also contributes to The Daily Dirt newsletter, always adding his signature style. A recent example: “Sales of new condominiums in July evoked the Tom Petty classic ‘Free Falling’ – and it’s developers who are home with broken hearts.” It’s tricky to surprise and delight veterans of any industry, and certainly this one. Lovinger is one to watch.
SECTION I: INDIVIDUAL AWARDS, ALL MEDIA, SINGLE BYLINE
Category 1: Kenneth R. Harney Award for Best Real Estate Consumer Education Reporting
Winner: Eric Peterson, The Utah Investigative Journalism Project, Collection includes: “Is Utah misusing federal funding intended to help renters by paying landlord legal fees?,” “Report: Utah disbursed 39% of federal rental assistance by fall deadline,” “Salt Lake apartment complex hikes rent after receiving the most federal aid in Utah”
Judges’ comment: Peterson’s series explored how Utah mishandled distributing federal emergency rental assistance funds and how tenants facing deplorable living conditions at a Salt Lake City apartment complex had their rents hiked even though the complex received the largest chunk of federal rental aid in the state. Peterson wove the stories of affected renters and their families with what he found through dogged data reporting that uncovered how federal rental assistance wasn’t being distributed in a timely manner and in some cases was being used to pay landlord legal fees during eviction proceedings.
Category 2: Best Collection of Work by an Individual Covering Residential Real Estate
Gold Winner: Heidi Groover, The Seattle Times, Collection includes: “Racist restrictions in old home deeds across Washington State will get expanded scrutiny,” “Afghan refugees face a dire need for affordable rental housing in high-priced Seattle,” “So you can’t afford a house in Seattle. Are investors to blame?”
Judges’ comment: Groover’s coverage of the Seattle residential real estate was multi-faceted, covering the beat from many angles yet always grounding stories in the experiences of current residents. Groover dove into racist property covenants that historically restricted property ownership to white people and remain on older property records, explored the plight of Afghan refugees navigating the high cost of housing as they build new lives in the area, and took a harder look at Seattle’s sky-high rents and the role investors play in driving up prices.
Silver Winner: Jason Hidalgo, Reno Gazette-Journal, Collection includes: “RGJ investigates: COVID-19 hits Reno’s lower-income and minority communities the hardest,” “How one man’s shipping container housing pitch turned into a nightmare for Reno nonprofits,” “Nevada evictions expected to spike as uncertainty surrounds federal eviction moratorium”
Judges’ comment: Through strong reporting and writing, Hidalgo gave a voice to Reno’s most vulnerable residents as they were being squeezed on two fronts: the area’s housing crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic. He depicted with delicacy and compassion the difficulties of those whose living conditions made them more susceptible to COVID-19, those who faced skyrocketing rents amid uncertainty surrounding the end of the eviction moratorium, and how a concept to turn shipping containers into affordable housing fell woefully short of its promises, leaving Reno nonprofits in the lurch.
Bronze Winner: Jeff Collins The Orange County Register/Southern California News Group, Collection includes: “Developers take different global warming directions,” “Rental assistance impasse angers tenants, landlords,” “Mid-income renters eyed by program”
Honorable Mention: Katherine Kallergis, The Real Deal, Collection includes: “Miami condo craze returns as developers look to seize the moment,” “South Florida real estate on climate change: ‘Que Sera, Sera’,” “Surfside condo collapse prompts industry changes”
Category 3: Best Collection of Work by an Individual Covering Commercial Real Estate
Gold Winner: Daniel Geiger, Insider, Collection includes: “Skyscraper queen Darcy Stacom is the country’s top real-estate broker. But staffers say she threw things at them, berated underlings, and made employees’ lives miserable,” “Amazon’s warehouses now span the size of an entire city. A single brokerage is responsible for just about all of it,” “Brandon Turner makes millions selling real-estate investing dreams. Even he says you’ll lose money right now”
Judges’ comment: Geiger’s collection reflects journalism at its best: meticulously reported stories that are delightful to read, with detail and insight that place the reader “in the room.” In “Skyscraper Queen,” he investigated the troublesome behavior of a top real estate broker and emerged with a fair but devastating story about workplace abuse. Another story profiles a colorful Instagram real estate guru for the millennial crowd but also questions his high fees. Geiger dives beneath the surface and writes in an easy style that’s pleasing to readers.
Silver Winner: John Gittelsohn, Bloomberg News, Collection includes: “Billionaire N.Y. ‘Bottom Feeder’ Buys Malls as Others Run Away,” “Mall Values Plunge 60% After Reappraisals Triggered by Bad Debt,” “Sternlicht’s Starwood Gives Up on Malls After Plunge in Values”
Judges’ comment: Gittelsohn’s collection included two big stories that other news organizations were forced to follow. In one, he crunched the data to report that shopping mall values had dropped 60% at the end of 2020. He was also ahead of the pack with his story that Starwood had sold much of its mall portfolio at a loss. The most entertaining of the three was a story about a “bottom feeder” who was buying malls at depressed prices. Superior reporting and solid writing underpin Gittelsohn’s work.
Bronze Winner: Eli Segall, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Collection includes: “Burst of development could be coming to tiny Nevada town,” “A year after he died, Tony Hsieh’s estate still in flux,” “Resorts World set to make a splash, spur tourism on Strip”
Honorable Mention: Kyle Campbell, PERE, Collection includes: “A Market That Brings Bad Press,” “Core (RE) defined,” “Mark Gabbay’s great realignment”
Category 4: Best Regular or Syndicated Real Estate Column
Gold Winner: Ronda Kaysen, The New York Times, Right at Home, “Buy My House, But I’m Taking the Toilet”
Judges’ comment: Who can resist reading about a seller who wants to take a toilet with her (the lid automatically opens when someone enters the bathroom)? Or one who wants to hold onto the sink where her daughter learned to brush her teeth 50 years ago? Kaysen effectively uses these seemingly crazy examples to illustrate, in a delightful way, how sellers were sitting in the catbird seat in 2021. She knows the importance of giving readers memorable, “show, don’t tell” details.
Silver Winner: Jacob Passy, MarketWatch, The Big Move, “My Wife and I Have Nearly $600,000 in Our Investment Portfolio. Should We Buy a Home Outright or Get a Mortgage?”
Judges’ comment: Passy devotes an entire column to answering one compelling, timely question from a reader: Should a couple pay cash for a house? He weighs the pros and cons, not revealing his cards too quickly. It keeps the reader hooked. Then he explains that financial advisers suggest a best-of-both-worlds option: Buy the home outright to appeal to sellers and streamline the closing – and then apply for a cash-out refinance. Passy fills his column with useful, straightforward advice.
Bronze Winner: Jon Gorey, Freelance Writer, The Boston Globe Magazine, Perspective, “Houses Made More Money Last Year than Many Full-Time Workers. Something Is Broken”
Honorable Mention: Robyn A. Friedman, Freelance Writer, The Wall Street Journal, Jumbo Jungle, “Want to Lower Your Homeowners Insurance Premium? There Are Discounts for the Taking”
Category 5: Best Economic Analysis – Real Estate
Gold Winner: Randy Tucker, The Cincinnati Enquirer, “From redlining to rebirth: How one Cincinnati neighborhood is bouncing back from government-backed racist housing policies”
Judges’ comment: Tucker focuses deeply on one Cincinnati neighborhood for this nuanced story about the modern-day impact of historic redlining in Black neighborhoods, with a twist. For example, a Black homeowner working in the yard of a renovated house is mistaken for the “help”— preparing the house for white owners – by a group of Black neighborhood children. Black people with the ability to invest in the homes are returning to the neighborhood. Tucker’s story is well-written and a unique and important take on the issue.
Silver Winner: Cara Smith-Tenta, CoStar News, “Apartment Industry’s Supply-Chain Woes Worsen, With Delays Hitting Nationally”
Judges’ comment: Smith-Tenta’s engaging angle – following an order of apartment cabinets for a multi-family rehab – draw the reader into her story. Clear writing, strong data, and interesting anecdotes keep them there. From waiting for metal roof decks and window frames to the big jump in Trans-Pacific shipping costs ($25,000 compared with $4,000 “normally”), Smith-Tenta helps the reader understand what housing developers are up against. She also connects the dots to rising rent costs.
Bronze Winner: Nicole Friedman, The Wall Street Journal, “The Pandemic Ignited a Housing Boom — but It’s Different From the Last One”
Honorable Mention: Jason Hidalgo, Reno Gazette-Journal, “The Great Resignation: Why are employers in Reno, and nation, struggling to find workers?”
Category 6: Best Interior Design Story
Gold Winner: Michele Lerner, Freelance Writer, Mansion Global, “Homes That Heal”
Judges’ comment: Thorough reporting and “show, don’t tell” details elevate Lerner’s look at so-called biophilic design that blurs the boundaries between the indoors and the outdoors and makes people feel happier and less stressed. Lerner remembers to look to the future, quoting an expert who predicts that designers will move beyond the visual connection to nature in the future and incorporate more with sounds and smells. Even regular folks can go biophilic with potted plants.
Silver Winner: Helena Madden, Robb Report, “Meet the Designers Using 3-D Printing to Create the Next Generation of Furniture”
Judges’ comment: Who knew? Madden tracks down the people who show how and why serious designers are using 3-D printing to make chairs, tables, and sculptures. The technology is a marvel, but Madden doesn’t write a puff piece. For example, she points out that 3-D printing uses a bioplastic called polylactic acid that’s made of corn starch instead of petroleum – which needs to be decomposed under high temperatures instead of in a landfill.
Bronze Winner: Madeline Bilis, Apartment Therapy, “The Lasting Allure of the Banker’s Lamp”
Honorable Mention: Michelle Hofmann, Freelance Writer, Forbes, “Mattel Family’s Barbie Penthouse Lists for $10 Million in Los Angeles”
Category 7: Best Architecture Story
Gold Winner: Carolina A. Miranda, Los Angeles Times, “Pioneer of the L.A. look: Paul R. Williams wasn’t just ‘architect to the stars,’ he shaped the city”
Judges’ comment: In this important posthumous piece, Carolina Miranda introduces readers to Black architect Paul R. Williams, who designed homes for celebrities like Lucille Ball, as well as public housing agencies and a YMCA with a relief of Booker T. Washington. Her strong reporting includes architect Frank Escher comparing Williams’ ability to juggle architectural styles with musical sampling. Miranda skillfully captures the legacy of an under-recognized mega-talent in a city “where the codes that governed race were just loose enough to let a Black architect triumph.”
Silver Winner: Scott Sowers, Freelance Writer, The Washington Post, “An original Sears ‘kit house’ is reassembled into a modern knockout”
Judges’ comment: Sowers artfully describes a family’s purchase and dramatic renovation of a 1922 house – one of more than 70,000 that Sears sold from a catalog between 1908 and 1940. He captures the history – and the twists and turns, including a burst pipe that floods the house early in the process and the many historic preservation requirements for the Arts and Crafts home in the historic Rock Creek Park area of Washington, D.C. Like the family (two physicians with a daughter), the reader gets a happy ending.
Bronze Winner: Trevor Bach, The Real Deal, “Charles in Charge”
Honorable Mention: Madeline Bilis, Apartment Therapy, “Protect Time Capsule Houses at All Costs”
SECTION 2: INDIVIDUAL AWARDS- DAILY OR WEEKLY NEWSPAPERS, PRINT OR DIGITAL, SINGLE BYLINE
Category 8: Best Residential Real Estate Story – Daily or Weekly Newspaper
Gold Winner: Jeff Collins. The Orange County Register/Southern California News Group, “Developers take different global warming directions”
Judges’ comment: Collins was able to break the global issue of climate change down to the local level by comparing two similarly sized housing projects in Los Angeles County, one aiming to be net-zero, offsetting all carbon emissions, and one that offset only 35% of its carbon emissions, with no intention to improve that statistic. Collins’ crisp writing clearly laid out a complex and technical topic for readers to understand. Illustrating the impact of this reporting, the second development later agreed to become net-zero.
Silver Winner: Tim Grant, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “Battling an insurance company while making sense of how her sister died — and lived”
Bronze Winner: Heidi Groover, The Seattle Times, “How to buy a house in the Seattle area’s red-hot 2021 real estate market”
Honorable Mention: Jon Gorey, Freelance Writer, The Boston Globe, “Wild about homes: As spring nears, nature’s real estate market heats up, too”
Category 9: Best Mortgage or Financial Real Estate Story – Daily or Weekly Newspaper
Gold Winner: Jacob Adelman, The Philadelphia Inquirer, “Open Space, Closed Gates: How the ultrarich carved up a famed Main Line estate – and qualified for big tax breaks”
Judges’ comment: In this impactful story, Adelman draws attention to how big tax breaks in the form of conservation easements benefited wealthy buyers of newly developed homes on the old Androssan estate (the setting for “The Philadelphia Story”), with no public benefit whatsoever. The breaks were legal but, as Adelman skillfully explains, relied on excessively high appraisals to inflate their value. Meticulous unearthing of deeds and other filings underpin this powerfully reported story, but Adelman doesn’t forget to entertain the reader with the fascinating history of the estate.
Silver Winner: Jon Banister, Bisnow, “Nontraded REITs Have Raised Over $20B This Year and Are Shifting CRE Market Dynamics”
Judges’ comment: Banister serves his audience with this thoroughly reported story about a major trend in REIT investment – the growth of non-traded REITs that avoid the volatility of the public markets. In addition to big investment names like Blackstone and Starwood, Banister explains that small private investors are also driving the record-setting boom as baby boomers seek stable returns in their retirement years. Clear writing and an exploration of the impact of this trend made this story a stand-out.
Bronze Winner: Arielle Kass, Crain’s Detroit Business, “Michigan cities use economic development tool to build houses”
Honorable Mention: Jon Gorey, Freelance Writer, The Boston Globe, “The $0 down payment mortgage buyers overlook: USDA loans aren’t just for farmers”
Category 10: Best Commercial Real Estate Story – Daily or Weekly Newspaper
Gold Winner: Daniel Geiger, Insider, “Amazon’s warehouses now span the size of an entire city. A single brokerage is responsible for just about all of it”
Judges’ comment: Amazon’s huge warehouse expansion was big news at the height of the pandemic, but Geiger took it a step further by telling the story of the only brokerage that negotiates the deals. He goes beyond the nuts and bolts of the firm, KBC Advisors (which declined to be interviewed), and weaves the story of how the relationship began. One executive thinks KBC’s principal and Jeffrey Bezos must have been fraternity brothers – but not so. Geiger reveals the answer and more in this engaging story.
Silver Winner: Andy Peters, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “Warehouses boost Atlanta economy, raise stress levels for neighbors”
Judges’ comment: Peters looks at the flip side of economic development when it comes to Amazon’s warehouse expansion: truck traffic and noise at all hours. Peters makes excellent use of numbers to back up the story – from the surge in online ordering and the square footage of fulfillment centers being built to the number of trucks and parking spaces. It’s that detail, and interviews with community members who want a say in whether the warehouses get built, that make the story.
Bronze Winner: Amanda Abrams, Freelance Writer, The Washington Post, “Black Developers Call for Reckoning in Real Estate”
Honorable Mention: Mitchell Parton, San Antonio Business Journal, “Looking West”
SECTION III: INDIVIDUAL AWARDS – MAGAZINES – PRINT OR DIGITAL- SINGLE BYLINE
Category 11: Best Residential, Mortgage or Financial Real Estate Magazine Story – General Circulation
Gold Winner: Michelle Hofmann, Freelance Writer, Forbes, “Jay Leno Opens Up About Buying a $13.5 Million Newport Mansion and Returning to Prime Time”
Judges’ comment: Part story and part Q&A, this piece is packed with wow-worthy details. Hofmann seemingly knows everything about Jay Leno before she asks him about his 15,861-square-foot chateau, which he bought fully furnished and which costs about $50,000 a month to maintain. What does the car buff drive at his Seafair mansion? He rents! The salty ocean air would rust his vehicles. The house boasts 13 bathrooms, and he has yet to flush them all. It’s a fascinating, fun read.
Silver Winner: Jon Gorey, Freelance Writer, The Boston Globe Magazine, “Top Spots to Live”
Judges’ comment: City magazine readers crave in-depth service pieces on subjects like the best places to live, and Gorey delivers with panache. He uses quotes that are gems (“It’s not a town where you see lots of large, manicured lawns”). And of course, he covers bang for the buck in each neighborhood. The median home price in historic Beacon Hill is $1.5 million – but for the well-heeled buyer, it may be worth it for the history, character, and proximity to Boston Common and downtown.
Bronze Winner: Aaron Elstein, Crain’s New York Business, “The City’s Rooftops Have Been Respites During the Pandemic”
Honorable Mention: Kathryn Brenzel, The Real Deal, “The Social Housing Movement Picks Up Steam”
Category 12: Best Residential Real Estate Trade or B-to-B Magazine Story
Gold Winner: Trevor Bach, The Real Deal, “LA’s Gentleman Builder on Developing for the Ultra-Wealthy”
Judges’ comment: Bach, a thorough reporter with an eye for telling details, crafts a first-rate profile of Iranian-born builder Ardie Tavangarian. It’s not a puff piece: He notes a few non-fans, including Cher. He tries to connect with nature, changing a design to preserve a mature oak tree and creating warm “barefoot luxury.” Bach ends with Tavangarian showing off YouTube videos of his two most famous recent spec projects, which include a transparent car elevator. It’s a haunting scene for a memorable profile.
Silver Winner: Maria Patterson, RISMedia, “Renaissance Man: How Morgan Carey Is Helping Brokers Fight Back Against VC-Backed Real Estate…and Win”
Judges’ comment: Imagine being the son of a dad who dies before you’re born and a mom who’s a blind street musician in abusive relationships, and then imagine being in foster care, running away, and becoming a father at 15. Patterson skillfully tells the story of Carey’s dramatic childhood and of his work with Renaissance Webmasters, which designs custom real estate websites with quality search-engine optimization features. It’s an inspiring tale, too.
Bronze Winner: Marian McPherson, Inman, “How Pocket Listings Cast Aside Minority Homebuyers”
Honorable Mention: Jon Gorey, Freelance Writer, Chicago Agent Magazine, “Is It Too Easy to Become a Real Estate Agent?”
Category 13: Best Commercial Real Estate Trade or B-to-B Magazine Story
Gold Winner: Joe Lovinger, The Real Deal, “First We Take Manhattan: Inside Reuben Brothers’ NYC Shopping Spree”
Judges’ comment: It’s difficult to pull off a great story about two billionaire, octogenarian brothers who never appear on video or give interviews. But Lovinger does it. He uses numbers effectively, noting that since January 2020, the brothers put about $4 billion into the U.S. real estate market and snapped up assets along Madison and Fifth avenues. They control a $29 billion fortune. Wordsmith that he is, he notes, “Saying the Reubens have some cash available is like calling the ocean damp.” It’s a stylish, fascinating read.
Silver Winner: Trevor Bach, The Real Deal, “Shaken, Not Stirred: Inside Millennium’s Battles at Hollywood Center”
Judges’ comment: Bach blends thorough reporting with engaging writing to pull off a fascinating look at a proposed high-rise development, the Hollywood Center, along what may well be an active earthquake fault line. Importantly, he gives the history and context, noting that a 1971 quake in northern Los Angeles lasted 60 seconds, killed 64 people – and spurred legislation. A dogged reporter, he tries to reach everyone for comment – and notes when they decline. It’s no puff piece – but it’s fair.
Bronze Winner: Andrea Brambila, Inman, “Display of Confederate Flag Violates Hate Speech Ethics Policy: NAR”
Honorable Mention: Jim Dalrymple II, Inman, “Redfin CEO, Zillow Pour Cold Water on TikToker’s iBuyer Theory”
SECTION IV: INDIVIDUAL OR TEAM AWARDS – ONLINE PUBLICATIONS
Category 14: Best Online Residential, Mortgage or Financial Real Estate Story
Gold Winner (tie): Ashley Murray and Joel Jacobs, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “Land bank fails to fight blight”
Judges’ comment: In this deeply reported and well-written story, Murray and Jacobs document how the city managed to do almost nothing in the seven years since trumpeting a new Land Bank that would buy up abandoned properties in underserved neighborhoods, clear their tax and other liabilities, and market them back to potential homeowners. Even with a $400,000 grant, only one vacant lot had been purchased and still sat idle. Maps help the reader visualize the scope of the problem, and interviews with community residents drive home the human impact.
Gold Winner (tie): Daniel Geiger and Alex Nicoll, Insider, “The wild story of a real-estate magnate’s quest to make his own cryptocurrency backed by $6 billion in gold he says is buried near Las Vegas”
Judges’ comment: While others were breathlessly reporting news of New York real estate magnate Ken Swig’s headline-grabbing plan to launch a new cryptocurrency, backed by gold buried near Las Vegas, Geiger and Nicoll dug deeper to discover the project’s shady ties to one of the key players. Piece by piece, in clearly written detail, the reporters show how unlikely it was that the project would succeed, as the head of the gold mining company had been sanctioned for soliciting money for a phony COVID cure. The story was a great read.
Silver Winner: Daniel Geiger, Alex Nicoll, and Taylor Borden, Insider, “Want to buy a home right now? You might have to outbid a $50 billion private equity firm first”
Judges’ comment: The reporters took a major national trend and, focusing on one Cincinnati suburb, showed how homebuyers were being iced out of the single-family home market by private equity firm Cerberus. By searching property records and cold-calling brokers, the reporters tracked down families who, in one case, had bid more for a property but lost out to Cerberus’s all-cash offer. The data points are persuasive, and the story is well-written.
Bronze Winner: Erin Einhorn and Aaron Mondry, NBCnews.com (in collaboration with Outlier Media), “The ‘fake landlord’ scam destroys lives in Detroit. But culprits rarely face consequences”
Honorable Mention: Jacob Passy, MarketWatch, “An inflation storm is coming for the U.S. housing market”
Category 15: Best Online Commercial Real Estate Story
Gold Winner: Andria Cheng, CoStar News, “How Lower Manhattan, 20 Years After the Sept. 11 Attacks, Became a 24/7 Neighborhood”
Judges’ comment: Cheng tells a powerful story of rebirth and redemption, with a real estate angle, 20 years after the September 11 terrorist attacks. Deep reporting netted important details, such as a top broker’s “special sauce” marketing pitch: Lower Manhattan offers a less-than-15-minute commute from places where young people live, such as Brooklyn. New tenants like Spotify and Condé Nast are also where young people want to work. The piece is well-written and includes a helpful schematic that shows the new post-9/11 downtown landscape.
Silver Winner: Randyl Drummer, CoStar News, “Here’s How the Pandemic Is Changing ‘Act of God’ Clauses in Real Estate Contracts”
Judges’ comment: In this thoroughly reported story, Drummer writes about commercial tenants’ mad scramble to add health crises to the list of catastrophic events included in their leases’ “Act of God” clauses. He uses data judiciously to illustrate the story and talks to a wide variety of attorneys, for both landlords and tenants. It’s a story with lots of unknowns, and Drummer did his readers a service by exploring them all, including the latest rulings from judges.
Bronze Winner: Marissa Luck, CoStar News, “Policies to Postpone Evictions During the Pandemic Sound Simple. They’re Not”
Honorable Mention: Cara Smith-Tenta, CoStar News, “Evanston Historic Reparations Plan Aims to Forge New Path Amid Concerns”
Category 16: Best Real Estate E-Newsletter
Gold Winner: Jack Flemming, Los Angeles Times, Real Estate Newsletter, November 6, December 4, December 18, 2021, Issues
Judges’ comment: Flemming starts each newsletter with a swift-moving introduction that weaves together all the stories with a punch of personality. Stories are summarized succinctly yet robustly, providing larger context as well as highlighting eye-popping statistics. For example, news that California’s home sale price record was broken with a $177 million purchase is accompanied with a list of what else that money could have bought: 354,000 PlayStation 5 consoles, any of 700 private islands listed for sale online, or Solandge, a 279-foot-long super yacht.
Silver Winner: Eileen McEleney Woods, The Boston Globe, Address, September 17, 2021, Issue
Judges’ comment: Woods’ intro is snappy, conversational and isn’t afraid to have some fun. For example, in writing about record prices for homes and condos in August, she invokes Green Day’s ‘Wake me up when September ends.’ The blurbs written for the newsletters’ stories follow in the same vein. For a story headlined “For Under $650,000, a Two-Bedroom in the Former Charleston Chew Factory,” Woods adds, “There isn’t any nougat, but there are exposed bricks, pipes, and beams.”
Bronze Winner: Ashley Fahey, The Business Journals, The National Observer: Real Estate Edition, September 29, 2021
SECTION V: INDIVIDUAL OR TEAM AWARDS – ONLINE OR BROADCAST – COMMERCIAL OR RESIDENTIAL
Category 17: Best Audio Real Estate Report – Online or Broadcast – Podcast or Radio – local, network, subscription or internet channels
Gold Winner: Miriam Hall and Mike Phillips, Bisnow, “Needless Construction and Architectural Arrogance: Climate Crisis and the Future of Work”
Judges’ comment: This highly produced podcast takes full advantage of the medium of audio: music transitions, natural sound breaks, and shifting narration between the two anchors. It creates the illusion of movement and keeps the listener engaged, as does the thorough exploration of the climate impact of work-from-home versus in-office work. Clear sound bites from multiple interviews, snappy writing, and “I didn’t know that” tidbits (for example, erecting new net-zero buildings is more climate-polluting than refurbishing an old building), made this podcast the clear winner.
Silver Winner: Emily Myers, Brick Underground, “Finding a deal as NYC landlords pull concessions and raise rents”
Judges’ comment: Brick Underground knows its audience and serves it well with this podcast guiding renters through the post-pandemic rebound in New York City’s rental market. Myers keeps the 30-minute podcast moving with succinct, focused questions and sharp follow-ups to elicit the most helpful advice from a top rental broker in the city. Renters should never pay more than a 1-month security deposit, for example, or base their decision on an online video walk-through. The podcast is well-produced and technically clean to boot.
Bronze Winner: Isabella Farr, The Real Deal, “The Attraction of the Hudson Valley”
Honorable Mention: Suzannah Cavanaugh, The Real Deal, “Surfside Part One: The Causes and the Condo Market”
Category 18: Best Video Real Estate Report Online or Broadcast – Streaming or Television – local, network, subscription or internet channels
Gold Winner: Faith Jessie, Newsday, “Restoring an 1834 mansion in Oyster Bay, and uncovering its surprising history”
Judges’ comment: Jessie hooks the viewer with video of the stunningly renovated mansion and the Black family living in it, juxtaposed with before photos of a home that didn’t look salvageable. As the story unfolds, we learn that the house was once owned by Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. and, before that, a prominent New York abolitionist. Then the punch line – the original owner kept slaves. Jessie does a masterful job weaving the sound, pictures, and words together to reveal the true story and the new owners’ pride in transforming the ugly past.
SECTION VI: INDIVIDUAL OR TEAM AWARDS – ALL MEDIA
Category 19: Best Breaking Real Estate News Story
Gold Winner: Lidia Dinkova and Katherine Kallergis, The Real Deal, “150 missing in deadly Surfside condo collapse: Here’s what we know”
Judges’ comment: In the immediate aftermath of the Surfside condo collapse, Dinkova and Kallergis began to ask the question all journalism seeks to answer: Why? Reporting the story from all angles, they kept readers up to date on the growing number of casualties while also beginning to explore how the collapse could have happened in the first place. By interviewing experts, they delved into the building’s history as well as explored the possibility that nearby construction could have been a factor.
Silver Winner: Andrea Brambila, Inman, “Justice Department withdraws from settlement with the National Association of Realtors”
Judges’ comment: On the same day the U.S. Department of Justice announced it was pulling out of a settlement with the National Association of Realtors, Brambila reported and wrote a story that went beyond a news-ticker headline. Not only did the story include the latest developments in the saga, but it also outlined the history of the lawsuit, highlighted what the settlement would have required of NAR, and provided context for what this meant to buyers and sellers.
Bronze Winner: Jason Hidalgo, Reno Gazette-Journal, “Washoe Assessor Mike Clark accused of harassment, banned from county offices through TPO”
Honorable Mention: Andy Peters, Greg Bluestein, Matt Kempner, and J. Scott Trubey, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “Rivian electric vehicle plant may be coming to Georgia”
Category 20: Best Investigative Report or Investigative Series – Real Estate
Platinum Winner: Sarah Blaskey, Nicholas Nehamas, Aaron Leibowitz, Ben Conarck, Linda Robertson, Andres Viglucci, Sohail Al-Jamea, Rachel Handley, David Newcomb, Aaron Albright, and Connie Ogle, The Miami Herald, “Disaster in Surfside”
Judges’ comment: Miami Herald reporters utilized their proximity to the 40-year-old high-rise condo that collapsed in Surfside, Florida. An online interactive called “House of Cards” reconstructs the disaster, beginning with the parking area and pool deck caving in, using photos, videos, call records, building plans and interviews with eyewitnesses and engineers. A second piece tells the stories of the victims (with a photo of each one, ages one to 92), even giving their apartment numbers and showing their units on a map.
Gold Winner: Jeff Collins, The Orange County Register/Southern California News Group, “Rental Assistance Impasse Angers Tenants, Landlords”
Judges’ comment: Collins tracks down real people whose pandemic-related job losses caused them to be on the brink of homelessness – sometimes because of confusing paperwork for emergency relief and bureaucratic delays in processing it, and sometimes because of language barriers or internet challenges. He skillfully weaves in the numbers ($5.2 billion of rental assistance available in California) and even adds a helpful service box on how to apply for aid.
Silver Winner: Joel Jacobs and Ashley Murray, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “Housing Misery – Pittsburgh public housing plagued by crumbling buildings, failed inspections,” “’Stop this nightmare now’: Pittsburgh mayoral candidates, residents demand improvements to public housing conditions,” “Housing Authority acknowledges breakdowns revealed by PG investigation, defends practices”
Judges’ comment: This investigation showed that more than half the city’s low-income public housing developments had failed their inspections – and led, finally, to overdue fixes. The Housing Authority started fixing leaky sewage pipes, broken toilets, widespread mold and rotted cabinets. A picture is worth a thousand words, of course, and a photo of a mushroom growing from a ceiling (taken in May 2019, pre-COVID delays) seemed to be the ultimate “show, don’t tell” example. A powerful piece that prompted action.
Bronze Winner: Spencer Woodman and Margot Gibbs, International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and Peter Whoriskey, The Washington Post, “How a Billion-Dollar Housing Bet Upended a Tennessee Neighborhood”
Honorable Mention: Jacob Adelman, The Philadelphia Inquirer, “Big Philly Builder Catches the Feds’ Eye”
Category 21: Best Multi-Platform Package or Series – Real Estate
Gold Winner: Ben Muessig, Terry Castleman, Andrea Chang, Laurence Darmiento, Sam Dean, Suhauna Hussain, Andrew Khouri, Hugo Martín, Samantha Masunaga, Genaro Molina, Steve Saldivar, Sonja Sharp, Doug Smith, Roger Vincent, Ronald D. White, Jerome Adamstein, Steve Appleford, J.R. Lizarraga, Robert Meeks, Casey Miller, Ryan Murphy, Swetha Kannan, Albert Lee, Los Angeles Times, “A Year of Change on Pico Boulevard”
Judges’ comment: For this visually arresting package, the journalists literally travel the length of Pico Boulevard, from Santa Monica to downtown Los Angeles, photographing and talking to shop owners along the way. How did they adapt to the restrictions that started on March 15, 2020? It’s not all gloom and doom: The owner of a cannabis dispensary flourishes as his delivery business triples. The journalists take full advantage of the video and photo capabilities.
Silver Winner: Taylor Borden, Laura Grace Tarpley, Hillary Hoffower, Natasha Solo-Lyons, Andy Kiersz, and Sawyer Click, Insider, “The Road to Home: Our Comprehensive Guide to Buying Your First House”
Judges’ comment: This series of how-to pieces is comprehensive and helpful. The writers know readers want specific dollar figures, so they always give them. They also use interactive features, including a quiz, “Should You Buy a House?” Plug in the number of bedrooms, annual income, monthly debt payments, credit score and county and state – and get a “yes” or “no” with a detailed explanation. It’s service journalism at its finest.
Bronze Winner: Nikie Johnson and Jeff Collins, The Orange County Register/Southern California News Group, California Report Card “A Housing Hole Deepens in State”
Honorable Mention: Hana R. Alberts, James Rodriguez, Kelsey Neubauer, and Perri Ormont Blumberg, Insider, “10 People Who Relocated During the Pandemic Share the Sheer Joys and Utter Disappointments of Their Big Moves”
Category 22: Best International Real Estate Story
Gold Winner: Mike Phillips, Bisnow, “How the World’s Most Expensive Apartment Building Became a Lightning Rod for How We Feel About the Super Rich”
Judges’ comment: For its 10-year anniversary, the world’s most expensive apartment building, London’s One Hyde Park, gets a detail-filled, in-depth examination by Phillips. At one point, 2,500 workers were at the construction site. The rich Russian buyers are fewer in number these days after the 2018 poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal led the UK to remove some of their visas. It’s a thoroughly reported gem.
Silver Winner: Ari Altstedter, Bloomberg News, “In Posh Toronto, Building Just One House Sparks Fierce Backlash”
Judges’ comment: Altstedter hooks the reader from the first sentence: “A proposal to turn one house into two is all it took to transform the quiet Toronto neighborhood of St. Andrew-Windfields into a battlefield.” With charts, statistics and anecdotes, he shows how the number of affordable houses isn’t keeping up with the number of immigrants. It’s a compelling tale of housing dysfunction in a country with a booming population.
Bronze Winner: Rachelle Younglai and Greg Mercer, The Globe and Mail, “Chinese Developer DDI Bet Big on Canadian Commercial Real Estate and Failed”
Honorable Mention: Robyn A. Friedman, Freelance Writer, The Wall Street Journal, “Citizenship-by-Investment: How to Buy a Home That Could Come With a Foreign Passport or Residency Permit”
Honorable Mention: David Thame, Bisnow, “Dark Days for London’s Transport Infrastructure: Why Property Needs to Wake Up”
SECTION VII: TEAM AWARDS – ALL MEDIA, MULTIPLE BYLINES
Category 23: Best Team Report – Real Estate
Gold Winner: Casey Sullivan and Daniel Geiger, Insider, “Jon Gray Is the Future of Blackstone. 50 Insiders Reveal How the Superinvestor Consolidated Power, Elbowed Out Rivals, and Is Remaking the Firm in His Golden-Boy Image”
Judges’ comment: For this riveting profile of Jon Gray, the No. 2 billionaire at private-equity behemoth Blackstone, Sullivan and Geiger interviewed more than 50 people. As a result, they can vividly recount multiple scenes – like Gray heading straight from a Trans-Atlantic overnight flight to a breakfast with CEO Stephen Schwarzman and dating app founder Whitney Wolfe Herd. (Of course, they also interviewed Herd, who praises Gray’s humility and “genuine interest” in getting to know her.) It’s a reporting tour de force.
Silver Winner: Daniel Geiger, Alex Nicoll, James Rodriguez, Taylor Borden, Hana R. Alberts, Al Yoon, Heather Schiltz, Britney Nguyen, Rachel DuRose, Natasha Solo-Lyons and Meghan Morris, Insider, “Zillow Insiders are Blaming an Internal Initiative Called Project Ketchup for the Company’s Home-Flipping Failures,” “Inside Zillow’s 2 Weeks from Hell,” “Zillow CEO Rich Barton Might Be Reeling from Its iBuying Fiasco, but Don’t Count Him Out. He’s Probably Already Planning the Next Thing,” “Zillow Is Selling Hundreds of Homes in Places Such as Atlanta, Phoenix, and Houston. An Insider Analysis Found Almost Two-Thirds Were Listed for Less Than It Paid,” “The Trouble with Zestimates,” “Inside Zillow as Waves of Layoffs Leave Employees Reeling,” “How a Secretive Plan to Grow Zillow’s Home-Flipping Business Angered the Contractors That Were Essential to Its Success”
Judges’ comment: In this multipart series on Zillow’s much hyped, and ultimately disastrous, foray into insta-buying and flipping, Insider journalists retrace many missteps. In theory, Zillow Offers would quickly make modest improvements on homes it buys using an algorithm and would relist them to fetch a profit, collecting even more money by offering mortgage and insurance services. Easier said than done. Extensive reporting (despite Zillow declining to talk) pays off.
Bronze Winner: Ethan Rothstein, Miriam Hall, Jon Banister, Dees Stribling and Bianca Barragán, Bisnow, “Special Report: New Analysis Shows Uneven Progress Toward Diversity at CRE’s Biggest Firms”
Honorable Mention: Helena Madden, Rachel Cormack, Abby Montanez and Tori Latham, Robb Report, “From Alabama to Wyoming: The Most Expensive Home for Sale in Every State”
SECTION VIII: INDIVIDUAL OR TEAM AWARDS – (Award recognizes the work of the publication and its editor(s) – digital or print)
Category 24: Best Design, Home or Shelter Magazine
Gold Winner: Mark Moffa, Unique Homes, “Special 50th Anniversary Issue 2021”
Judges’ comment: Unique Homes knows what its audience wants to read about – luxurious houses on private islands, ranches, and the Plaza Hotel. The editors reveal that a cover of Tommy Hilfiger’s penthouse at the home of Eloise may be their favorite from the past 50 years. The ads get as much space as the editorial content, but it’s a good bet that readers don’t mind. They, too, showcase luxurious, multimillion-dollar properties. It’s all a guilty pleasure.
Category 25: Best Residential Real Estate Trade Magazine
Gold Winner: Stuart Elliott, Hiten Samtani and Danielle Balbi, The Real Deal, February 2021
Judges’ comment: The editors and writers know how to craft a high-quality, must-read national real estate magazine. The recipe: Mix a cover on the Compass CEO with a piece on one in four Fifth Avenue storefronts being vacant with a piece on a developer who borrowed a CIA tactic and blasted the Barney song to roust a homeless encampment (and then apologized). They toss in two pages of “in their words” (a spec developer, who got $94 million instead of $250 million, laments, “I needed a billionaire to buy that house”). They also write strong heds and deks (“A Reckoning on Rent: Tenants Owe Landlords $57 billion. What Happens When They Don’t Pay?”) A+.
Silver Winner: James Kleimann, HousingWire, October/November 2021
Judges’ comment: HousingWire delivers what matters to its readers, including a feature on the acting director (now director) of the Federal Housing Finance Agency and her plans for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and write-ups on the 50 “Vanguard winners” who are leaders in housing and mortgage finance. They answer one of two questions: What has been your secret to success? What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? (“Treat others as you wish to be treated.”) The coverage is useful and inspiring.
Bronze Winner: Suzann D. Silverman, Jessica Fiur and the editorial team, Commercial Property Executive and Multi-Housing News: Mid-Year Guide 2021
Honorable Mention: Matthew Power and Alan Naditz, Green Builder, May/June 2021
Category 26: Best Commercial Real Estate Trade Magazine
Gold Winner: Stuart Elliott, Hiten Samtani and Greg Dool, The Real Deal, December 2021 National issue
Judges’ comment: As Stuart Elliott says in his “Succession”-themed editor’s note, real estate is owned by dynasties – the Kushners, the Tishmans, the LeFraks. With polished, detail-rich, juicy profiles and pieces about the industry’s movers and shakers, The Real Deal distinguishes itself as best in class. It’s never boring. The magazine artfully manages to combine vital information for industry professionals (a story on where the top candidates in New York’s gubernatorial race stand on real estate for example) with humor and exuberance. To wit, the quotes page includes this doozy: “Ya sex is cool, but have you ever done a massive cash out refi?”
Silver Winner: Neil Pierson, Jeff Bond, and Jeffrey Sabourin, Scotsman Guide – December 2021 Commercial Edition
Judges’ comment: This resource for “mortgage originators” shares valuable information about everything from money-saving clean-energy loans to smaller cities as the new home-renovation stars and Singapore as one of the top four sources of foreign investment into U.S. commercial real estate. Who knew? A short, fascinating “this month in history” item looks at December 1933, when the 21st amendment repealed the 18th amendment that mandated alcohol prohibition – and real estate markets improved as restaurants and taverns raced to secure new space. The magazine contains a surprising number of gems.
Bronze Winner: Matthew Valley, Jeff Shaw, Jane Adler, and Eric Taub, Seniors Housing Business, August-September 2021
Honorable Mention: Jessica Fiur, Suzann D. Silverman, and the editorial team, Commercial Property Executive, June 1, 2021
Category 27: Best Real Estate Newsletter
Gold Winner: Katherine Feser, Houston Chronicle, Prime Property, December 2021
Judges’ comment: Instead of inundating the reader, the well-organized Prime Property newsletter outlines the week’s top story overall, then breaks down the top residential and top commercial stories from the Chronicle before ending with recent real estate transactions. But the highlight is the “stat you can cite,” which pulls out a fun fact (and the news surrounding it) that’s easy to share around the water cooler … or while waiting for everyone to join a Zoom meeting.
Silver Winner: Kathryn Brenzel and Joe Lovinger, The Real Deal, The Daily Dirt, November 2021
Judges’ comment: This quick-hitting daily newsletter gives readers what they need to know in a crisp and concise manner that’s still chock-full of information. While most of the newsletter’s real estate is dedicated to a robust summary of the lede story, the tidbits under eye-catching labels such as “closing time” and “breaking ground” lay out the facts about recent residential and commercial closings and permit applications in New York. The newsletter finishes off with other need-to-know real estate news reported by and credited to other outlets.
Bronze Winner: Glenn Demby, Commercial Lease Law Insider, June 2021
Category 28: Best Newspaper Real Estate or Home Section
Gold Winner: Heather Halberstadt, The Wall Street Journal, Mansion, September 3, 2021
Judges’ comment: Mansion continues to deliver the high quality its readers have come to expect. Well-reported stories about the recovery of California wine country after devastating fires and the conversion of B&Bs into family homes are bolstered by breathtaking photography, and the section is designed as beautifully as some of the homes featured within its pages.
Silver Winner: Eileen McEleney Woods, The Boston Globe, Address, September 19, 2021
Judges’ comment: The Fall House Hunt issue of Address is geared toward helping homebuyers, from home tours (check out that handy checklist), to home improvement how-tos, to interior design once you’ve found “the one.” The section also features more hard-hitting stories such as a dive into real estate terms that are outdated and rooted in racist culture, as well as an exploration of how far listing photos can be altered.
Bronze Winner: Lois Weiss, Steve Cuozzo, Zachary Kussin, Adam Bonislawski and Christopher Cameron, New York Post, Commercial Real Estate Section, April 20, 2021
Category 29: Best Real Estate Web Site
Gold Winner: Jennifer White Karp, Emily Myers, Austin Havens-Bowen, Kelly Kreth, Evelyn Battaglia, and Mimi O’Connor, Brick Underground, “The Buyer’s and Renter’s Guide to NYC’s Public and Private Elementary Schools,” February 25, 2021
Judges’ comments: Brick Underground is a one-stop shop for anyone who is living or looking to live in New York. Articles are clearly labeled according to one’s living situation — “the search,” “live,” “improve,” “small spaces,” “roommates + landlords,” etc. — directing readers exactly where to click. How-to guides for buying, selling, renting and renovating are comprehensive and well-organized. Overall, the website design is interesting and informative, inviting scrollers to stop and read all the stories that apply to them.
Silver Winner: Pete Catapano, Mansion Global, January 1, 2021
Judges’ comments: Leaning on breathtaking images of luxury real estate listings, Mansion Global’s website is certainly eye-catching, but if one has the will to stop flipping through the photos, many of the accompanying stories go beyond what the photos can show, intertwining news with additional description of the properties and their histories. Mansion Global also keeps its finger on the pulse of the global real estate market with stories like “Remote Working Continues to Fuel U.K. Housing Market” and “Developers Were Behind Half of the Luxury Sales in Manhattan Last Week.”
Bronze Winner: Stuart Elliot, Hiten Samtani, and Greg Dool, TheRealDeal.com, March 8, 2021
Honorable Mention: Jessica Fiur, Suzann D. Silverman, and the editorial team, Multi-Housing News, September 1, 2021