Many factors have contributed to the way real estate has developed in the U.S. since the colonists arrived in the early 1600’s. Immigration, the climate, and The Homestead Act of 1862, which granted settlers land for example, and many other factors have influenced the nature of real estate in our beloved .U.S. To make it simple and memorable, I’ve listed 7 objects that have had a huge impact on real estate.
- The Ship
- First and foremost, if there was no ship the Europeans who settled this country, and whom are responsible for the majority of the development here, would never have made it. Meaning, the indigenous people would theoretically still be living in tents and adobe huts.
- The Railroad
- The Railroad is responsible for the first generation of residential land development in the 1840’s and 1850’s as well as completely reshaping the industrial landscape of cities. Manufacturing could now spread out and be done at a larger scale, subsequently prompting the genesis of tall warehouses and factories, as well as the towns created to sustain them. e.g. Gary, Indiana and Birmingham, Alabama.
- The Elevator
- The elevator was invented many centuries before it had any major effect on real estate. It wasn’t until the 1920’s and 30’s did the elevator reach a level of speed and reliability to make an impact on building height. In 1922 there were a few elevators in Chicago and in the Rockefeller Center in New York. A few years later 58 elevators were installed in the Empire State Building to serve it’s 15,000 daily users. We all know what happened from there.
- The Home Insurance Building in Chicago was the first building to use a steel skeleton. In the early to mid 1800’s buildings were made of wood or cement, which could only be built so high without becoming dangerous. In the 1880’s developers in Chicago, New York, and San Francisco began building up instead of out because land prices were so high.
- The Telephone
- Most assume that high-rises began to be developed in the 20’s and 30’s because of increased steel production and the elevator. Just as much credit can be given to the telephone. You’re probably saying the phone has nothing to do with real estate. In reality, it does. It is imperative that businesses communicate with one another. That’s one reason why business cluster downtown and why specific parts of town house all the firms of a particular industry. In your city, are the majority of commercial real estate firms located within a mile of each other? Prior to the widespread use of telephone developers couldn’t build high because it was just too difficult to communicate.
- The Light Bulb
- Without the invention of a long lasting light bulb, giant high rises with large floor plates would not be possible. Factories could now be open all day and all night.
- In early Sci-Fi movies, lasers were always depicted as swords, guns and other killing devices. In reality, the laser has had a much greater effect on the real estate than it has on developing weapons. The laser without the bar code would not have had an impact. But with the development of the barcode, which was first used in a retail store in 1974, quickly had a huge impact on retail development. Big box retailers come of age in part due to the barcode. Retailers were now able to have many more items in stock. Logistics were improved and as a result huge stores containing tons of items would then be able to operate effectively. We have Walmart thanks to the barcode.
- Air Conditioning
- AC enabled the largest migration of human beings in history. People would now move to places like Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Dubai. Without air conditioning, I wouldn’t be sitting comfortably in my home in Scottsdale at the moment. It’s 109 degrees outside!
Since we should use our understanding of history to better our future, the study of these objects begs the question “what will be the next product that has a significant impact on real estate?” We should start by thinking about the technologies currently being developed and improved. The big players are: artificial intelligence, big data, 3D printing, robots, self-driving cars, and software. I think software, coupled with algorithms and big data, will have the biggest impact moving forward. New software combined with existing hardware, as we have all seen, will continue to be the defining invention of this era.