Writing for Real Estate Publications – John K. Borchardt

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Writing about real estate opens many potential markets: big city, small city and suburban newspapers as well as consumer and trade magazines. Magazine markets may be local, regional or national in their coverage. Occasionally, a real estate subject such as the rise of World Trade Center 1 (the Freedom Tower), on Ground Zero of the World Trade Center, is national news, resulting in syndicated newspaper articles. Additional research can turn a subject that starts as a one-off local story, such as covering a local warehouse roof with solar panels to generate electricity, can also be written as a national trend story.

The Great Recession and other business developments have resulted in many changes in real estate markets and practices resulting in many real estate topics for discussion in articles. Article ideas may be as close as your own neighborhood. For example, what is happening to those former big box stores on the highway and the empty store fronts in area shopping malls?

Trade magazines of interest to developers, property managers, and other real estate professionals offer writing opportunities. These include Area Development, Properties Magazine, and Site Selection. Besides people working in the real estate industry, the readers of these magazines often include those working in urban planning, building design and construction, property management and attorneys dealing with legal matters relating to real estate.
I never considered writing for these magazines until the recent recession reduced the ranks of my magazine clients. Since then, some of these magazines have become good markets for me.

Impact of Business Developments

I came into this market through a ‘side door’. The Great Recession began in 2008-2009 and pharmaceutical industry mergers were resulting in the closure of large research centers employing 3,000 people or more. What was happening to these facilities, many of them built quite recently? What impact did their closure have on employment of laboratory professionals? As a science writer, I wondered about the answers to these questions. In answering these and other questions, I wrote an article for a chemical and pharmaceutical industry trade publication, Laboratory Management. I had written for this publication before and was able to capitalize on my credibility with the editor to sell an article that was actually on a quite different subject than the topics I usually covered for this magazine.

I then wrote a second article on the same subject but from a very different perspective for a quite different market, Area Development Magazine. This magazine had virtually no readership overlap with Laboratory Management but I was able to capitalize on my earlier sale to sell a manuscript to Area Development. My focus was on the sale of these laboratories to new owners, which were seldom large pharmaceutical companies, and the impact of the sales on the communities around the sold laboratories.

I capitalized on my sale to Area Development and my expertise as a science writer to sell additional articles to this publication. These articles included government requirements for closing large industrial sites in an environmentally responsible manner. Local and state governments often offered reduced taxes to companies to persuade them to build new facilities in their jurisdictions. This often became an important aspect of my real estate market articles.

My articles about the closure of large research centers got me interested in a related subject: the closure of large military bases and their redevelopment for other purposes by both the private and public sectors. This subject resulted in additional article sales to real estate magazines. My expertise and credibility as a science write helped me to generate both story ideas and sales of additional articles to real estate magazines. For example, the growing nanotechnology industry is resulting in the construction of new production plants and revitalizing communities.

The bankruptcy and closure of big box and department store chains has been widely covered in major newspapers, business newspapers, and business magazines. Reading these articles prompted me to wonder what was happening to the large regional warehouses that these stores used to supply their establishments with merchandise. I ended up with a somewhat different story than I had anticipated, instead writing about how operators of large warehouses were installing solar panels on the large flat roofs of their warehouses, resulting in significant supplemental income from electricity sales.

Newspaper markets as big and as well known as the Wall Street Journal and New York Times as well as small town and suburban newspapers such as the Duncan Banner often carry real estate articles. City business newspapers such as the Houston Business Journal and Crain’s Detroit Business publish articles on real estate-related subjects. The key for a freelancer is taking a press release or published article in a local publication and expanding the subject, making it suitable for a regional or national publication.

I have neither special expertise in real estate nor any experience in this area other than shopping for the houses I have lived in. However, I was able to capitalize on my experience in writing science-related business articles to make additional sales to real estate publications and then build on this success to write non-science-related articles.

Paying Real Estate Markets

Area Development Magazine
Contact: Geraldine Gambale, Editor
E-mail: gerri – at – areadevelopment.com
Website: http://www.areadevelopment.com
Bimonthly magazine covering corporate facility planning and site selection for industry executives.
Pay varies.

Expansion Management Magazine
Contact: Gorton Wood, publisher
E-mail: gwood – at – penton.com
Website: http://www.eminfo.org, http://www.expansionmanagement.com
Pays $200-$400 for assigned articles

Site Selection
Contact: Adam Bruns, Managing Editor,
E-mail: adam.bruns – at SiteSelection.com
Website: http://siteselection.com/
Magazine focusing on executives making decisions regarding new plant construction or expansion.

Office Buildings Magazine
E-mail: info – at – yrinc.com
Website:
Covers market statistics, trends
Pays $600-$700

Properties Magazine
Contact: Kenneth C. Krych, editor/publisher
E-mail: kkrych – at – propertiesmag.com
Website: http://www.propertiesmag.com
Covers real estate and both residential and commercial construction.
Pays $0.50 per column line

John Borchardt has written more than 1,400 articles published in magazines, newspapers and online. He is the author of “Career Management for Scientists and Engineers,” a Library of Science Alternate Selection. He frequently blogs for the American Chemical Society.