Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you got into journalism? I realized after graduating high school that journalism was a pretty good way to incorporate a lot of the interests I’ve had since I was a kid — history, politics, social science, etc. I couldn’t think of any career that wouldn’t bore me after a while and journalism lets you get into so many different things, sort of switch gears whenever you want, so it’s good for people like me who have wide interests that don’t fit into many other careers. My father was also a journalist when he was younger, so that probably influenced me.
What do you enjoy about journalism and real estate? From the outside, real estate is an intimidating beat to cover. I had never covered anything as complex before I started at The Real Deal and it’s been rewarding and fun to learn how the machine works. That’s true about anything you cover. The most exciting thing for me is that point when you realize your following the right path — that your inferences were right and that you’re asking good questions, on the way to a good story.
Apart from that I genuinely enjoy providing (what I think is) unbiased information to people, because you know, that’s the job, and what I like about The Real Deal, is that we straddle a trade publication and a general interest publication. I think that provides an opportunity to help the general interest crowd better understand the business and to remind our industry readers that cap rates, rents, and development affect more than just a company’s bottom line, which I’ve seen get lost in the sauce.
What is your favorite story that you have covered? Not my “biggest” story by any means, but a story I wrote a year ago about a fairly small lease dispute led me down a rabbit hole that involves a missing foreign royal, a web of LLCs excessive even for real estate, and allegations of massive fraud. It’s an example of why you should always dig as deep as you can. Still digging on that one.
What are some changes/trends you have seen in the real estate sector? On the positive side, it’s great to see more architects and developers thinking environmentally. They’re some of the few people who can directly influence the everyday living habits and ecological footprint of hundreds, if not thousands of people, so I hope that stays a trend. I hope they continue to keep pedestrians at the center of the conversation too.
On the other side of the coin, it’s very disheartening to see the low quality, identical development projects that are popping up in cities across the country. This is a problem in both commercial and residential sectors. I know the financials sometimes only allow for it, but I would like to see developers think more long-term — a built environment who’s main purpose is to create cashflow for the people who own it isn’t a nice place to live. Sooner or later the financials will suffer. I worry that every block in every city across the country is going to look the same and what’s the good in that? On a side note, it’s only a matter of time before popular opinion turns against the exposed brick, coffee shop, hip design style. I think it’s on its last legs, so I hope we’re about to see some changes.
Tell us something most people wouldn’t know about you. I’m hijacking this for a shameless plug: most people don’t know I’m in Los Angeles for work for most of April, so LA folks email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) with story ideas and tips, lets meet up in person!