Speaking to MediaSpeaking to Media | Laura Hanrahan, real estate reporter, STOREYS

Speaking to Media | Laura Hanrahan, real estate reporter, STOREYS

Next up in our Speaking to Media series is Laura Hanrahan. Laura is the deputy editor at STOREYS, reporting on exciting real estate markets in booming cities such as Toronto and Vancouver. Before joining STOREYS she covered all things real estate, property development and transportation at Daily Hive as the Toronto Urbanized Editor.

We picked Laura’s brain on the real estate media landscape, the current market and how she stays up-to-date on the industry.

Tell us about how you found your way to real estate writing.

Funny enough, I fell into it not once but twice before it stuck. The first time I was graduating from journalism school in New York City and looking for my first job. I wanted to get into data journalism and one of the only jobs I could find was at the real estate magazine The Real Deal. At the time I knew next to nothing about real estate – I didn’t even know how a mortgage worked let alone who the big developers were, so getting to work there was a serious crash course that I’m very grateful for.

I shifted away from real estate journalism for a few years before moving back to Canada in March 2020 – amazing timing, I know – just as most media outlets stopped hiring thanks to pandemic issues. I eventually found a job covering Toronto real estate and transportation. That’s when I really learned to love writing about real estate. 

I’ve always been torn between wanting to report hard news stories that felt more fulfilling to cover, and lighter lifestyle pieces that I could have more fun with. Real estate really does have it all. Real estate is also such a personal topic for most people and I love being able to tell those stories.

What are some of the market trends you’re most excited to cover as summer approaches and the market is levelling out?

What we’re seeing right now is competition heating back up (think: multiple offers, the return of offer dates, homes selling over asking) which means a lot of markets are swinging in favour of sellers. It’s definitely nowhere near the madness of early 2022, but inventory is limited, prices are growing, and interest rates are still high – and possibly going higher – so it will be interesting to see how all of that plays out throughout the year. 

What sources do you rely on to gather information for your reporting?

Every story is different, but it’s probably no surprise that agents and brokers are some of the most common sources. I’ll also speak with economists, advocates, politicians, mortgage brokers, real estate lawyers, architects, developers, landlords, tenants, homeowners and property technology developers. When it comes to sourcing data, I’ll often use reports from big banks, brokerages, governments and various real estate platforms. 

What are your expert tips for fact-checking when reporting?

Every reporter has their own way of doing things. I record my interviews so that I can double-check quotes. (It’s also very handy for when someone isn’t happy with a quote and tries to claim they never said it!)

One of the biggest things is always looking at the source material. If a person or a press release is referencing a set of data, a report or any other document, always go look at what it is they’re referencing and make sure it checks out before repeating their claims.

Also, when you’re dealing with reports, particularly reports based on surveys, make sure you look at the methodology and are comfortable with how the information was collected and how the results were calculated.

In that same vein, always ask for proof. If a realtor says they’re seeing a certain sales trend in an area, ask for data and/or specific examples. When a source has a claim, ask to see proof, e-mails, or any audio recordings they might have to back that up. 

Additionally, always triple-check the spelling of names!

What’s your top advice for young buyers in Toronto’s real estate market?

I’d say first things first, get an experienced realtor. It’s better to have someone with their expertise guide you than me, your parents, or that uncle with lots of opinions. To find one, ask your friends and family for recommendations – just make sure the realtor knows the area you want to buy in.

The other thing I’ll say is that I know people say real estate is the best investment you can make and that definitely can be true, but it’s not true for everyone. It’s really important to keep in mind determining factors to make sure it’s the right move for you.

What are some of the most interesting real estate projects currently underway in Toronto?

Anything that doesn’t follow that typical Toronto style of a glassy tower sitting on top of a podium always sticks in my mind. 89 Avenue Yorkville, a 20-storey, pre-war New York City-style condo building, is one I was really excited about that’s currently under construction. 

There’s also an all-brick, flatiron-style building coming to 1071 King Street West that looks very cool. The King Toronto development is another one with a cool design. It is made of Lego-like blocks, and it’s where Elton John purchased a condo!

I think what’s going to have one of the biggest impacts on the city is the redevelopment of the Port Lands and the creation of Villiers Island. It’s going to transform the eastern waterfront into a spot people really want to live and visit.

Your inbox must be filled with real estate pitches, what makes a pitch stand out to you?

The first thing that makes me want to open a pitch is that it has a clear subject line indicating what the email is about. If it’s an invite to an event, something as simple as “INVITE: Name of the Event – Date” is perfect, or if it’s a report or a news release, “REPORT:” or “RELEASE:” is incredibly helpful. 

The pitch also needs to be relevant and addressed to you – a surprisingly high number have a random person’s name or the name of a different publication.

You see properties of all kinds. What style of architecture and decor would you choose for your dream home?

I love interior design so looking at homes every day is definitely a perk of my job. A dream home for me would be a hard loft – exposed brick, original wood beams, huge windows, and, ideally, arched doorways – I love all the quirks that can come with them. 

For decor, I love a mid-century look, especially when you source vintage pieces to get this cohesive but not matchy feel. I love using a decent amount of bright colours to give the space personality, big colourful art pieces, cool light fixtures, or patterned wallpaper – I love it when a home doesn’t look like anywhere else.

Want more of our Speaking To Media series? Check out our interview with Randi Bergman,  freelance fashion, pop culture and lifestyle writer.

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