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Chicago's land values

Knowing Chicago’s land values benefits real estate buyers and sellers alike. George C. Olcott and Homer Hoyt created reliable indexes in the 1900s. Multiple listings services maintained by boards of realtors support today’s real estate market. Appraisal records and historical research remain important tools in determining land value.

Grant Park in Chicago
Photo by Scott Olson

George C. Olcott (1858-1942), a real estate appraiser, considered Chicago a property value assessment location. He published his blue books of land values and maps starting in 1910. Titled Olcott’s Land Values Blue Book of Chicago and Suburbs and Olcott’s Land Value Maps of Chicago and Suburbs, they were considered the most dependable indexes of land values in the U.S. Published annually for nearly a hundred years, they indexed Chicago and suburban streets and provided information on land values, land use, building heights, public transportation and schools.

Homer Hoyt (1895-1984), a real estate economist, appraiser and consultant, wrote One Hundred Years of Land Values in Chicago in 1933. In his book, he documented Chicago’s volatile real estate boom and bust cycles. He concluded that values peaked in 1836, 1856, 1869, 1891 and 1925. Depressions in real estate occurred in 1842, 1865, 1878, 1898, 1920 and 1933.

Today, boards of realtors maintain multiple listings services and use computerized data for the buying and selling values of real estate. Computers ease the task of monitoring fluctuations in prices for varying types real estate across the nation. Brokers assist buyers in finding property suitable to their needs. Real estate appraisers evaluate the buying and selling values of property by comparing the features of one property with another comparable property.

Appraisal records and historical research provide brokers and appraisers with valuable data regarding a specific property. These records empower all the principals in a real estate transaction to make an informed purchase or sale.

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