MONEY: Describing Real Estate During the Great Depression

Letter From Lawyer Describing Real Estate During the Great Depression

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The following (courtesy of Tom at is an excerpt from letter written from a lawyer from Mason City, Iowa in the Corn Belt, recounting the impact of the Great Depression of the 1930s on his town. Foreclosures galore. Tom’s Comment: “Anything sound familiar?” Just substitute residential real estate for farm land, when reading the following:

“The boom period of the last years of the World War and the extremely inflationary period of 1919 and 1920 were like the Mississippi Bubble and the Tulip Craze in Holland in their effect upon the general public. Farm prices shot sky high almost over night. The town barber and the small-town merchant bought and sold options until every town square was a real estate exchange. Bankers and lawyers, doctors and ministers left their offices and clients and drove pell mell over the country to procure options and contracts upon this farm and that, paying a few hundred dollars down and expecting to sell the rights before the following March brought settlement day.

{Extraneous Deleted}

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A sobering read. Neither a borrower nor a lender be? Especially when you’re old and gray.

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