A Comedic History of Real Estate
Interested in real estate? Well, you’re in luck because that is the focus of this month’s issue of the magazine, particularly Fort Worth neighborhoods. Now, I always thought the real estate industry, especially when it came to home ownership and real estate salespeople, was a fairly recent phenomenon in terms of world history. Not true. After almost five minutes of in-depth research, I discovered that between 15,000 to 30,000 years ago, our ancestors transitioned from hunters and gatherers to a more agrarian society. This also marked the advent of home ownership, and even though it was in the middle of an ice age, a cave-dwelling boom was in full swing. Early Realtors also took advantage of the real estate market. They included firms like Century 21 BC, Ebby Flintstone, and Unbearably Coldwell Banker. If you were a young Neanderthal trying to raise a young family, for just a couple of pelts, they could locate you a nice starter cave. And for a few pelts more, it might include a two-Mastodon garage.
Now, over the next few thousand years, cave dwelling became less popular because there were no guest bedrooms. This was especially bothersome when the in-laws paid a visit. But it’s amazing how much a dwelling has evolved since then. Now we have all the modern amenities including wireless internet, outdoor kitchens and above-ground pools. (Actually, I was one of the few who had the foresight to purchase one of these.) It has always seemed throughout history that most people in the United States owned their own homes, right? But back in 1900, barely 20 percent of the population were homeowners. So, what happened?
Well, it has to do with the word “suburb.” Now most people view the term as synonymous with neighborhood and think of an area outside the city. But the early suburbs were actually urban developments. During the Industrial Revolution, most people began moving to the city. But as a rapid migration of the poor started flooding the cities, wealthier members of society began to purchase property outside the urban areas. The first suburbs popped up in cities like Boston and New York. Inner-city residents couldn’t really afford to buy a home. But as lending began loosening up over the next few years, more people could secure loans and moved outside the city. After World War II, the suburban areas across the country exploded when all the veterans returned and the G.I. Bill guaranteed them low-cost home loans. Along with shopping centers, companies began moving their office facilities to these neighborhoods to make everybody’s commute shorter. Fort Worth was no different. Nice residential neighborhoods sprung up all over the city. These were in addition to the older established neighborhoods, particularly along Eighth Avenue near TCU and the west side of Fort Worth. But the real escalation in real estate values came in the early 1970s when all the baby boomers reached the home-buying age. Prior to that, a small house along Camp Bowie might cost as little as $12,000. These days, that would barely cover a premium cable bill. And now, just the lot alone in that same area could run well over $200,000.
Over the last few years, real estate has continued to thrive. In fact, a lot of new neighborhoods will be springing up on the far west side. The east side is also seeing a resurgence, and some of the older neighborhoods are being revitalized. Of course, the most expensive homes are still in neighborhoods that were developed over 100 years ago. I know that many of you have driven through those neighborhoods and thought to yourselves that you would never be able to afford one of those mansions. But who knows? I’ve always heard that good things happen if you dream big and think positive. That’s why every time I see a Lamborghini dealership, I always stop, go put my nose against the window and say, “Someday I’ll own a window like this.”