In real estate circles last year, it was common to hear speculation about the sort of black swan event that might finally end the roaring post-global financial crisis growth cycle. It turns out a pandemic-triggered global economic shutdown would do the trick.

Private real estate, like the rest of the world, was caught flat-footed by covid-19 and its disruptive powers. Suddenly, the question of what comes next took on new urgency. And that curiosity was evident in PERE’s most-read stories of 2020, many of which gave insight into the peculiarities of this crisis or an indication of how to respond to it. Below, our 10 most popular pieces of the year:

  1. Blackstone’s Schwarzman on ‘what’s going to happen to office buildings’

When Blackstone chief executive Stephen Schwarzman speaks, the industry listens. And when he spoke in May about the future of office – a topic still ripe for debate today – everyone indeed took note. With more than 18,000 page views, this is our best-read piece ever.

  1. PERE 100: Private real estate’s tried and tested are covid-19 ready

Our list of the top 100 private real estate managers took on heightened significance. Not only does it demonstrate who was most active on the fundraising circuit, it also shows who is best positioned for the next recovery.

  1. Why everyone in real estate is worried about force majeure

As the coronavirus made its way around the globe, the term ‘force majeure’ went viral as well. French for ‘superior force,’ it is also a type of leasing clause allowing tenants to halt rent payments in instances of unforeseeable disruption. But it turns out the implications are not so straightforward legally or politically.

  1. Former real estate boss Chad Pike to leave Blackstone

No covid tie-in here, but rather our biggest scoop of the year, on the departure of one of Blackstone’s best-known European executives. During his 25-year tenure, Chad Pike co-ran the company’s real estate business for six years, helped expand its global footprint and oversaw a string of massive deals.

  1. KKR: Real estate is a ’16x growth opportunity’

KKR has been active in real estate for nearly a decade, but at $10 billion, it lags far behind market leader Blackstone, with its $160 billion property portfolio. But the firm is committed to becoming a top-three manager in the asset class and sees covid-19 as an “inflection point” to help it do so.

  1. Blackstone says distressed buying opportunities still a year away

A major question on industry minds was when and where dealflow would arise from covid-triggered market dislocation. Pointing to prior market resets in 2001 and 2008, chief operating officer Jonathan Gray predicted in April it would take a year before opportunities surface en masse.

  1. The big shifts within private real estate fundraising

Some of the takeaways from this January presentation are particularly interesting when viewed through a covid-era lens. For instance, industrial and multifamily fundraising declined in 2019 while office and hospitality saw modest upticks, a far cry from the prevailing sentiment in today’s market.

  1. Global Investor 100: The full ranking

Much like its counterpart on the manager side, the annual ranking of the sector’s top investors is always popular. And this report, too, has taken on outsized relevance amid industrywide uncertainty. Despite covid-19, there is no shortage of capital – or enthusiasm – for real estate among institutional investors.

  1. Private real estate throws money at its young and restless

The product of our exclusive partnership with London-based real assets recruitment specialist Sousou Partners, this March compensation trends report reveals it pays to be a junior executive right now – quite well, relative to the recent past.

  1. Former Blackstone executive raises $412m for debut US fund

Our readers clearly love to read about other people. This February story, about former Blackstone managing director Chris Chee hitching his wagon to the creative office market and finding fundraising success, is no exception.

There you have our top stories of 2020 to look back on before we turn to the surprises and lessons that await us in 2021. The entire PERE team hopes you have a rejuvenating holiday season and promising start to the new year.

If you have not done so, please take a few minutes to vote in our 2020 PERE Global Awards. Click here.