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Bisnow’s Jealousy List: The 15 Best Stories About Real Estate (That We Didn’t Write) This Year

Us when we read other great journalism

Newsflash: Bisnow is not the only media organisation out there writing great stories about real estate, cities and the built environment generally.

So, in a hat tip to Bloomberg’s annual jealousy list (of which we are also jealous, and thus copying) here is some of the best journalism about this sector produced in 2018.

The Agile Workplace Is Pants

A blog that is lighthearted in tone, but challenges ideas that are being taken as fact in the world of workplace and office design.

Brookfield Prepares Bid For £2.1B Intu Bid

Any scoop on corporate M&A is worthy of envy, and although the deal ultimately didn’t happen, this news from Estates Gazette was one of the big stories of 2018.

Why WeWork Does Not Deserve A $20B Price Tag

The real estate industry spends countless hours arguing about whether WeWork is overvalued. The Financial Times’ Lex column dug into the financials and came up with the most rigorous analysis so far.

Persimmon Boss Refuses To Answer Questions About £75M Bonus

This short interview with the controversial boss of house builder Persimmon highlights the virtue of asking the difficult question, and epitomises the phrase “give them enough rope to hang himself with”.

The Rise And Fall Of Philip Green

Sir Philip Green

The original journalism around the demise of department store chain BHS occurred in 2016, but Sunday Times business editor Oliver Shah brought it all together in a book this year. There can be few examples of a single reporter changing attitudes toward a business titan so sharply. Respect also to the reporting from the Telegraph which further highlighted Green’s controversial alleged conduct.

Pump And Trump

This article on the real estate dealings of the Trump family is the epitome of balanced, in-depth investigative journalism.

The Ghost House Of Sussex: £40M Mansion Left To Rot For 33 Years By Notorious Slum Landlord Nicholas Van Hoogstraten — A Friend Of Robert Mugabe — Crumbles Two Years After He Slammed 'Peasants' Who Complained About Its Condition

Is there anything this story doesn’t have?

Paul Singer, Doomsday Investor

He isn’t a pure real estate investor, but since he has taken some significant short positions in real estate this year, it’s allowed. This profile of Paul Singer, and the tactics used by his fund Elliott Management, highlights the no-holds-barred nature of activist investing at its best and worst.

The Seduction Of 'Wellness Real Estate'

Wellness was one of the big trends in real estate in 2018, and this piece highlights how easily an idea based on health and happiness can be co-opted by quackery and those looking to make a quick buck. Coming from a medical doctor, the piece is all the more powerful.

Lendy Calls Time On Welsh Castle Loan

Eastdil European’s chairman highlighted how peer-to-peer lending could be the next stain on real estate’s reputation, and this piece from Estates Gazette highlights exactly what he means: mom-and-pop investors being opened up to hugely risky investments over which they have no control when they go wrong. This piece from the FT shows the extent of the issue at just one platform.

A Futuristic View: Utopian And Dystopian Urban Landscapes In Film

Cities like Hong Kong are already looking like the original 'Blade Runner' film

The conclusion smacks of the forced positivity that brokers can be guilty of, but using sci-fi films like "Blade Runner" and "Her" was a great way of looking at how we are imaging the cities of the future, and this is the kind of piece you wouldn’t expect from a corporate blog.

Men Only: Inside The Charity Fundraiser Where Hostesses Are Put On Show

Real estate was not the only industry implicated as a result of the FT’s investigation into allegations of harassment at the President’s Club charity dinner. But given the high proportion of the firms present coming from the sector, it prompted property to examine its own conduct in a stark light.

Yes, The Open Office Is Terrible — But It Doesn’t Have To Be

This podcast from Freakonomics is full of incredible nuggets of information — who knew the cubicle was a response to the open office, rather than the other way around? Bisnow would like to point out that the Harvard study the podcast is based on was covered here waaaay before Freakonomics got on to it.

How a Real-Estate Scuffle Turned Into A True Tale of Miami Vice

The kind of incredible real life business tale that Vanity Fair tells so well.

Harvard Quietly Amasses California Vineyards — And The Water Underneath

This sober and well-reported story shows how the endowment of the most famous university in America has been buying up California land that has better-than-average access to water, like some sort of modern day version of "Chinatown."