The changing of the calendar year is upon us again. As always, it represents the time of the year when we take the opportunity to look back on what happened in the previous year and think about what we want for the next. This year, in particular, it seems to represent opportunity. Opportunity to put a disease-ridden year behind us. Opportunity to return to a world where “social distance” and “flatten the curve” are just relics of our vernacular. Opportunity to remake ourselves, our buildings, and our cities into something much better than before.
We always use the end of the year to look at which of our hundreds of articles our readers were the most interested in. This isn’t a perfect analysis (clicks on an article isn’t a perfect representation of interest) and has its inherent biases (articles from early in the year have more time to get clicks than recent ones). Even still it is an important exercise to understand what we should be writing about and, admittedly, relive some of the things that we have written that we are the proudest of.
Right after the global pandemic was announced and lockdown orders were starting to be given around the world, our traffic spiked around four times its average. Everyone was stuck at home and hungry for information so they turned to their old friend the internet. If you are (neurotic) like me you probably remember Googling “COVID-19” like every hour or so to see if any new news had come out. One of the biggest questions on people’s minds: will this pandemic qualify as a “force majeure” event that would be able to cancel a lease? We interviewed experts in real estate, law, and insurance to try to get some clarity to an answer that is still playing out in the courts.
Before the pandemic, shared offices like co-working and hotdesking were all the rage. It allowed owners to shrink footprints while servicing the same amount of workers and helped create a community around a space. Once the global outbreak happened, there were clear signs that these shared spaces would be less in demand, in favor of the private suites that we shunned just a few months before. Looking back, the predictions about the future shared office spaces were some of the few that actually come to pass.
To no one’s surprise, this article that breaks down pretty much everything you need to know about COVID-19 and air filtration did incredibly well. What was surprising about this article, though, was how many clicks it got weeks and even months after publication. Most of our articles get the vast majority of their reads in the first few days. The fact that this was able to have such longevity tells us that this is an issue that the building industry struggled with for a long time. It also shows us that there were few other articles written on the subject, something both shocking and exciting for us as it reinforces our place in the crowded media landscape.
Ok, now we are finally getting to an article that isn’t about COVID, but rather the aftermath of the pandemic. The mortgage-backed securities market was what led us into the financial crisis in 2008 and many are worried that something similar could happen with commercial loans. So far, this hasn’t been the case but the increasing amount of loans that are coming due, without a recovery in sight, might tip the scales even further. This article does a good job of outlining the magnitude of the problem and offering some similarities and differences between what is happening now in commercial lending and what happened over a decade ago in residential property loans.
It is no surprise that the coronavirus took center stage. Before the pandemic descended on our lives like a water-logged comforter we had a calendar of what we thought we were going to write about. But as the outbreak intensified we realized that there was little else anyone wanted to read about. By staying nimble we were able to change our editorial direction and keep up with the quickly changing state of the real estate world. So, our main takeaway from this year is to stay flexible. We know this has been a hard year for many of you and we are rather impressed with the way the property and the PropTech industry have been able to adapt in the face of these challenging times. We applaud all of you and feel privileged to have you as readers. Here is to a new year and a new set of (hopefully more uplifting) stories of innovation and technology in the commercial property industry.