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Real Estate Writers

The Job

Real estate writers report on developments in the real estate industry; their reports appear in a variety of media—print, broadcast, or online. They may also prepare marketing material for industry associations.

Staff writers employed by real estate-related magazines and journals write news stories or feature articles. Topics vary, but all deal with real estate issues. For example, staff writers may be assigned finance-based articles debating the merits of interest-only loans vs. traditional fixed-rate loans; articles detailing the green building movement’s effect on modern architecture; or business-related articles such as the estimated economic effects of the development of a large tract of commercial property in a rundown business district. Many staff writers work on different articles as assigned by editors; some are permanently assigned a particular area of interest, or beat.

A reporter who is assigned real estate-related stories on a regular basis is called a real estate columnist. Columnists are regarded as experts in their field. Aside from regular written articles, columnists may answer real estate questions from readers. Their work may appear in a newspaper’s daily edition or Sunday special section, or in a monthly magazine. Oftentimes, their photo accompanies their byline.

Critics are reporters with extensive knowledge of a particular field—such as real estate. For example, architecture critics may comment on the aesthetic effects of a new skyscraper on a city’s skyline or decry the destruction of 200-year-old row houses in a rapidly gentrifying area. Critics usually have additional training or education related to their industry.

Real estate writers work for a variety of media. They may write material for textbooks used in real estate classes. Others may work for the public relations department of an organization or association producing newsletters or press releases. They may also place reports on behalf of a news station or a real estate Web site.

When working with a new assignment, writers begin gathering as much information as possible about the subject through library research, interviews, the Internet, observation, and other methods. They keep extensive notes from which they will draw material for their project. Once the material has been organized and arranged in logical sequence, writers prepare a written outline. The process of developing a piece of writing is exciting, although it can also involve detailed and solitary work. After researching an idea, a writer might discover that a different perspective or related topic would be more effective, entertaining, or marketable.

When working on assignment, writers usually submit their outlines to an editor or other company representative for approval. Then they write a first draft, trying to put the material into words that will have the desired effect on their audience. They often rewrite or polish sections of the material as they proceed, always searching for just the right way of imparting information or expressing an idea or opinion. A manuscript may be reviewed, corrected, and revised numerous times before a final copy is submitted. Even after that, an editor may request additional changes.

Real estate writers can be employed either as in-house staff or as freelancers. Pay varies according to experience and the position, but freelancers must provide their own office space and equipment such as computers and fax machines. Freelancers also are responsible for keeping tax records, sending out invoices, negotiating contracts, and providing their own health insurance. Freelancers obtain assignments by sending out query letters and writing samples to publications and organizations. While there is much freedom in their daily work hours, freelancers sometimes find it hard to find steady employment.