US real estate cycles, overview

The US began selling off its real estate, officially and under a set legal structure, on May 10th, 1800. After that, here is what happened:

1818, a peak in land sales, followed by a downturn. 1836, a peak in land sales, followed by economic depression. 1854, a peak in land sales, followed by depression. 1869, a peak in land sales (Chicago peak, 1872), followed by depression. 1888, a peak in land sales (1890 was the count off 1800, if we were to mark each 18th year from 1800), followed by depression. 1908, a peak in land sales, the following downturn cut short by world war. 1926, a peak in real estate speculation, followed five years later by the world's worst ever depression. 1944, a peak in real estate construction (government financed mainly in this cycle), a probable downturn eliminated by rebuilding from war's destruction.

In other words, for the first 144 years of real estate enclosure in the US, land sales and / or real estate construction peaked almost consistently, every 18 years.

What is the statistical probability of this having been random ?

Following the Second World War and once the US economy finally shrugged off the distorting effects of all the dislocation wrought by the war, the rough 18-year cycle reasserted itself with some vigour. The end years of this first decade of the 21st century will mark the passing of another 18 years since the trough of the previous 18-year cycle in 1991 through 1994. So far, there is little evidence that much has changed to stop the repeat of yet another one...

The chapters following detail the history of how this happened, and why. The 'Director's summary' pages offer a review of each chapter for those who would love to read the full story but find themselves pushed for time.

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