Stories About Places

Stories About Places

As a CNBC staff writer, I wrote articles and slideshows about cities and towns, luxury, and antiques, but my cornerstone subject was homes, mansions, and other buildings. I later wrote real estate stories for Fortune, Time, Money, and Realtor. Looking inside structures and learning about their histories never gets old.



what's the story 

The following samples were written for CNBC, but agents with historic homes should absolutely consider articles like these for advertorial or sponsored content. 

Give me an old house (please!) and I'll find a story or several. If you're not capitalizing on that, it's a missed opportunity.

Some of my most engrossing real estate articles delve into a building's history, as with the slideshow The Dakota, New York's Most Exclusive Building, and this one interviewing the owner of Grey Gardens. 

This restored 1897 shingle-clad East Hampton "cottage" known as Grey Gardens speaks of a quieter, less crowded, and less ostentatious era in the Hamptons. Future first lady Jacqueline Bouvier frolicked among its bushes and blooms as young girl visiting her relatives, the Beales.

However, Grey Gardens left a pungent impression in the 1975 documentary of the same name, when it was laid bare as the ramshackle home of Jackie O's eccentric aunt and cousin, Big Edie and Little Edie Beale. There, the two eccentric women passed their days in isolated squalor with around three dozen cats, a handful of raccoons in the attic, and zero cat litter boxes.

That infamously dilapidated version of Grey Gardens was left behind along with the 1970s. After the 1977 death of Big Edie, Little Edie sold the home with all of its contents (which included social registers, scrapbooks, photographs, letters, and Louis Vuitton trunks) for just $220,000—a bargain even then.



If you're seeking irresistable adjacent content to expand your audience and keep them engaged, see how these ideas grab you:

5 Private Islands You Can Buy for Less Than  $200K 

7 Doomsday Bunkers to Survive the Apocalypse

Hell, No, We Won't Go! Homeowners Who Wouldn't Budge 

Towns for Sale

Grand Detroit Homes Priced Under $400K

Unique Converted Homes (an enormously popular series of slideshows on CNBC.com showcasing examples of adaptive reuse). 

Sound good to you? They sounded good to me too when I came up with them. And they were all green-lit for publishing on major news websites.

It's fascinating to dig around for the material, so I jump at the chance to write this kind of real estate content.   

Of course, concepts can be tailored to your region. You might tease them on social media or in a newsletter, then they can live on your blog or website, where they continue to draw in your audience.  

Here's a teaser from the islands listicle mentioned above, which was written for Money. 

If you're fed up with what seems like constant bad news, but the cost of space travel and interplanetary colonization is too steep, you may want to consider an earthbound escape -- to a private island.

But private islands are expensive, right?

Not always. These five, located around the United States, are listed on Private Islands Online for $200,000 and less. Some even have structures and utilities in place. All you need is a boat, a vision, and $40,000 down payment or less to get started.

I wrote a book about buildings

Around Louisiana's state capital, structures sit abandoned for years. Some of them hold memories, some hold clues to the city's history. With subjects ranging from antebellum to agri-industrial, from a rickety single-room shack to one of Huey Long's pet projects, to the last gasps of a grand ballroom, this travelogue of decay reveals some of that history and at times, some insight to the city that is today. 

In Abandoned Baton Rouge, discover what's been going on in forgotten spaces when no one else was looking. Learn about the establishments that once were, the high times and the low crimes. Meet the people who loved the places and find out what they kept as souvenirs.