When Ralph A. Young, who was then in charge of the National Bureau's Financial Research Program, invited me to participate in the Urban Real Estate Finance Project by preparing this study of the real estate market, the invitation was accepted with alacrity. There seemed to be a real and pressing need for such a study and the assignment was a challenging one, offering as it did the opportunity to contribute to a better understanding of the forces underlying transactions of significance to every adult in the country, to a large group of financial institutions, and to the livelihood of a not inconsiderable portion of our citizenry. What is more, it appeared at that early stage to be a relatively easy undertaking.
In its execution, however, the task has been a formidable one. The data necessary to develop a reasonably complete description of the real estate market are scattered and fragmentary; until an effort was made to establish a systematic framework for this description, and to fill in the important connecting members in that framework, the number and magnitude of the gaps in our information, and the inadequacy of our understanding of real estate market processes, were not apparent. Unfortunately, many of these gaps and much of this inadequacy remain. In many instances, it has been necessary merely to indicate these gaps and to attempt to span them by constructing hypothetical connecting strands of thought. It is hoped that these tentative strands will not prove wholly misleading, that they will not have been projected in a totally wrong direction, and that the territory over which they have been cast will in time be explored more thoroughly by other investigators. If the present work stimulates further research in the nature and operations of the real estate market, it will have accomplished one of the author's principal objectives.
There are many individuals, in both academic and business pursuits, to whom the author is indebted for whatever understanding