The Washington Post won a first-place award for best Real Estate section in a national journalism competition sponsored by an organization of editors and writers covering the residential and commercial real estate sectors.

Kenneth R. Harney and Katherine Salant, long-time freelance columnists for The Post’s Real Estate section, also won in four other categories. The National Association of Real Estate Editors (NAREE), which sponsored the competition, announced the winners of its 64th annual contest Friday at its conference in Houston.

Judges, in naming The Post the gold winner in the best newspaper real estate or home section category, wrote: “This section is a nice mix of content, including hard news, practical advice and fun features. There is a lot of information laid out attractively with good photographs. Someone new to Washington or even a longtime resident will find many surprises here.”

The Wall Street Journal came in second place; the Orange County Register, third; and the San Francisco Business Times received an honorable mention.

Harney, whose columns are nationally syndicated by The Washington Post Writers Group, won a third-place bronze award for best freelance collection, a third-place award for best collection of work by an individual and a third-place award for best column. 

“His experience in covering real estate is obvious in everything that he writes,” the judges, professors at Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, wrote about Harney. ” He tackles both easy and tough issues and makes all of them interesting and understandable to readers. As his newspaper says online, he ‘guides readers to smart solutions.'”

Salant received an honorable mention in the best column category.

Commenting on Salant’s work, including a cover story she wrote for The Post’s Real Estate section in December on LED light bulbs, the judges wrote: “This columnist can handle the abstract and the esoteric equally well in writing about the psychology of irrational homeowners and LED light bulbs. Her work connects with readers as evidenced by the avalanche of mail.”

Last year, The Post also received five awards from NAREE.

Kathy Orton, the Real Estate section’s Web editor, received a third-place award for a story she wrote on a super energy efficient home built for a low-income family. Harney and Salant received awards for best columns and best freelance collections.