I have some predictions about 2024 coming to you next week, but before I serve up that article I thought I would take a moment to assess how accurate I have been in my past predictions, as that would be relevant whether you would be open to considering my future predictions.

I have consummate contempt for forecasters who forecast, say, an interest rate spike every year, and after being wrong for ten years in a row, are finally right, and take credit for their brilliant perspicacity.  I vowed never to be like that and instead assess myself as accurately as possible, thereby taking my lumps when appropriate if I have a prediction totally wrong.

And – applying that standard to myself, I have been pretty doggone accurate, with a few solid errors.  

Being honest – as I hope I always am – there are too many predictions for me to really assess things like a formal track record, but I did go back through my articles and these things stand out:

  • My earliest prediction – in one of my first articles in 2016, was that, despite all the concerns being raised, London would be just fine after Brexit.  My theory was that the talent would stick around and I was right about that.
  • Then a few years later – when co-working (and WeWork) was all the rage, I predicted that co-working would be a new way of doing business and not a new business – and there would be very few survivors.  I nailed that one.  
  • When real estate became a separate asset class, I predicted that there would be a major move into real estate by what I called Diversification Purchasers.  Witness Blackstone’s B-REIT and a bunch of imitators, so I was right about that. 
  • In 2021, I titled an article:  What if inflation goes crazy?  I specifically did NOT predict inflation though.  I just said it would be good to be prepared just in case as interest rates had stayed low for an awfully long time.   
  • Then in November of 2022, I was careful not to predict, but suggested it was wise to assume that rates would spike a lot higher. 
  • In the midst of COVID, I posted that the death of retail was greatly exaggerated.  I thought that articles predicting that roughly 50,000 stores would close was idiotic when it was not coupled with a projection of how many stores would open.  And this is exactly what happened.
  • When zillions of dollars were raised to take advantage of post-COVID opportunities, I predicted that the opportunities would be scarce and the money would be unspent.  And this is exactly what happened.   
  • During COVID when everyone was saying NYC was dead, as everyone would move to Florida, I predicted – along with Seinfeld – that this simply wasn’t going to happen.  And it didn’t.  
  • I am not sure I should take credit for this since it was so obvious – in hindsight at least – but on September 2, 2022, I wrote an article saying that it was certainly strange that SL Green – the largest real estate owner in NYC -- was worth a bit less than WeWork – a money-losing business with essentially zero prospects.  And I said I thought that was insane. Since then, WeWork has gone bankrupt and SL Green has almost doubled.  

Then again, I also predicted:

  • The eventual demise – or major trouble – for Amazon.  Boy, was I wrong about that.
  • All of my predictions at the beginning of 2020 were up-ended due to COVID.  Yes, there is an excuse, but I really don’t like excuses and my predictions were completely wrong.
  • Finally, so far, a prediction-in-process is that office will make a major comeback and is the best place to invest.  So far, I have been solidly – and completely – wrong – as the office calamities continue.  However, I will stick with my prediction that office is currently the place to ‘buy low and sell high.’
  • For a thorough analysis of my predictive ability, one would have to look at all of my articles and really assess how I have done.  And I – and presumably you too – have other things to do.  But I believe it is fair to say I have been pretty solidly accurate most of the time.

Why is this?

Because I try to do the following:

Recognize that the media will amplify ups and downs and use that in my thinking.  This is probably my most probable prediction assistant, i.e. the media.       

I try to think 12 months in the future, as opposed to what is happening today. Obviously, I don’t have a crystal ball, but I am pretty confident that what is on the front page today will not be in 12 months.   

Take as close a look as possible to the entire real estate world as opposed to focusing only on microcosms or singular locations.  My lucky break is that my law firm and real estate practice encompasses all levels of all capital stacks and all levels of real estate players – from mega-institutions to startups.  This gives me a major advantage in seeing as much of the real estate world as possible.

I read everything I possibly can about real estate.  I simply devour every possible article, thought, statement, and idea.      

And finally, I just think for myself.  Yes, I listen to others, but as an amateur – okay, now a professional – philosopher – I think about things and try to figure out what is happening and why.

Next week, I will have predictions for 2024 and I hope I am right.

I wish everyone joyous holidays and a super-prosperous 2024.

Bruce Stachenfeld aka The Real Estate Philosopher®