By CHARLES ABRAMS
The influence of real estate on other phases of our economy is wide and telling. Bound up with real estate are the future character of the home environment, the physical and financial soundness of cities, the solvency of savings institutions, the security of home and farm tenure. Real estate loans are the largest single form of private credit. Rent exacts a fifth to a third of the family's income. Home building is the industry most potentially influential in the absorption of unemployment. Yet no over-all study of real estate exists, hopeful prophecy is permitted to preclude unprejudiced analysis, outmoded theories dominate much of our official thinking.
Real estate has come a long way since Malthus, Ricardo, Mill and George saw land and the landlord occupying a specially privileged position. Their theories were born when it seemed certain that there would be an unremitting upsurge of population with a continuous reduction of farm products with which to feed it. Ricardo saw rent continuously on the rise. George saw land draining off the combined efforts of capital and labor. Mill thought landlords would "grow richer, as it were, in their sleep without working, risking or economizing." The concepts were carried over to urban land too. What applied to "right little, tight little" England, was frequently applied without modification to expansive America.