Editor’s note: The back-to-work balancing act

Sep.September 08, 2021 07:00 AM

Stuart Elliott

Remember those days of the mindless commute, when you would grab a cup of coffee and rush to work, only to plop down at your desk for the day? The humdrum daily routine with nothing so extreme as pandemics and once-in-a-century storms to contend with?

Will we get back to that anytime soon? 

Welcome back to fall and (maybe) the office. 

A widespread return to the workplace after Labor Day now seems unlikely given the Delta variant. Some companies are delaying returns and others are not; some are telling employees, “Get vaxxed or get axed,” and others are not.

With workplaces deserted, values for office buildings have dropped, but perhaps not as much as one would expect (some reports put prices at 10 percent less than pre-Covid). Trophy properties are faring the best, but so far there have been few distressed buildings for bargain-hunting investors to snap up. Leasing also seems to be recovering, despite the large amount of sublease space available. The big question is whether a major downturn lies ahead or the worst is behind us. 

In our cover story, we take a look at ever-present climate crises — every week seems to bring a new hurricane or wildfire, and sometimes both. Coastal areas, the most densely populated parts of the country, are also the most vulnerable. Will any of this change where Americans buy?

The fall is also a busy time here at The Real Deal. 

We are excited to announce that last month we started online daily coverage in a fifth city, San Francisco (adding to our current coverage in New York, Miami, Chicago and Los Angeles).

San Francisco is one of the biggest and most important markets nationally, with prices that rival New York’s. And Silicon Valley — which will also be part of our coverage area — remains the world’s most important tech hub.

It’s fertile ground for a lot of interesting stories. In this issue, we look at the impact of San Francisco’s returning wine country exiles, drawn back to the city from Napa and Sonoma as urban life beckons.

We’ve also got a story on Side, the San Francisco-based, VC-backed residential brokerage that views itself as the industry’s red velvet rope, recruiting top agents in California, Florida and Texas. As the brokerage gears up to go public and launch into New York City’s dog-eat-dog market, questions abound about how its model will scale.

Meanwhile, the 20th anniversary of 9/11 this month is a time to look back and reflect. It’s also a chance to roll out pieces of a book we’ve been working on here at The Real Deal about the past two decades of New York City real estate.  

We’re going to begin pre-orders soon (the book comes out in the spring), but you can catch an excerpt here. 

Also be on the lookout for our first podcast, “Deconstruct,” which launches this month. Produced by our reporter Isabella Farr, the debut episode examines the emerging role of cryptocurrency in real estate. You can’t see it or touch it, but you can buy a house with it. Will outlier crypto deals become more commonplace? 

Finally, we’ve got coverage of the eviction moratorium, inflation’s influence on real estate and Wall Street’s treatment of homes as a hot new commodity.

Good luck wherever you find yourself working this fall, and enjoy the issue.


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