Real estate is well known as a fascinating industry, full of odd quirks, bizarre trends, and unheard-of stories. This applies not just to the residential real estate market, but to rare houses, case studies of celebrities’ homes, property history, and more.
Want to learn more about real estate? Here are some of the most interesting facts on the topic:
Housewarming Is a Tradition That Comes From Burning Your Mortgage Paperwork
Even though the current mortgage is far from perfect, it has come a long way since the early 1900s. In the early days of the mortgage, interest rates were pretty high (sometimes up to 15 or 20%), and the loans would often culminate with a “balloon payment” similar in size to a down payment. This made paying off a mortgage an even more momentous occasion, and homeowners would celebrate by throwing a big party and burning their mortgage documents.
Guests would bring gifts to help commemorate the home being owned free and clear, and this tradition evolved into what we now know as the housewarming party.
The Empire State Building Was Once Known as ‘The Empty Space Building’
You can’t picture the New York City skyline without picturing the Empire State Building. For nearly 100 years, people have been living, working, and visiting this NYC landmark, but not so much at first.
Construction on this building finished in 1931, in the height of the Great Depression, and as a result, immediate occupancy rates were startlingly low. In fact, in the first year the building was actually open, only 23% of the building was occupied, leading many New Yorkers to nickname it the “Empty Space Building.”
Fewer Than 500 People Own More Than 50% of the Land in Scotland
Much of Scotland’s privately held land belongs to a group of people small enough that they could all fit on a Boeing 747. This has a lot to do with Scotland’s early societal caste system, where high-born Lords owned much of the land and the low-born worked it (and paid taxes to the owners).
Before you get too alarmed here, remember, 67% of the landmass in Scotland is used for animal grazing, another 17% is forest and woodland, and 9% is used for growing crops, making private ownership of typical home plots less common.
There’s a Secret Apartment at the Top of the Eiffel Tower
As a part of his commission for the design and construction of the most famous Parisian landmark, Gustov Eiffel built and maintained ownership of a secret 1,000-square-foot apartment near the top of the Eiffel Tower.
French aristocrats, international VIPs, and even royalty frequently offered Eiffel over $1,000 (equivalent to over $25,000 today) for a chance to spend just one night in the most exclusive apartment in France, but he never rented the space to anyone. However, he did occasionally entertain “thinkers and artists who inspired the world,” including Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla (on separate evenings, of course.)
The U.S. Bought Alaska From Russia for $52 per Acre
The United States bought the 375 million acres we now call Alaska from Russia in 1876 for $7.2 million, or about $126.5 million in today’s market. Though the Alaska Purchase Treaty certainly provided some upside to Russia at the time, the U.S. has come out a huge financial winner in the deal thanks to the massive oil deposits discovered in 1967.
Source: The Close