This section is from the book "Practical Real Estate Methods For Broker, Operator & Owner", by Thirty Experts. Also available from Amazon: Practical Real Estate Methods for Broker, Operator, Owner.
The most gratifying thing about the panic to me, and I am sure real estate men in general, is the way real estate stood the shock. Stocks of all kinds were cut more than in half, many bonds were in default, and no interest was paid. But, when you look back over this period of stress and call to mind how little depreciation has taken place in real estate values, and see how few foreclosures there have been, it is very gratifying. I have not seen statistics on the subject, but I believe there have been fewer foreclosures during this period than in normal times. One reason was that every lender of money felt it was his duty to the community to be as easy on the borrower as possible. That stopped a great many foreclosures. That cannot be said about any other form of investment. A West Side broker, speaking to me during the panic, said he had been approached by a customer to sell some real estate that probably had not paid as well as he expected. The customer was told it was not a very good time to sell. The owner said, "Why, I can sell anything else without any trouble," and the broker's reply was, "If you will sell your real estate at twenty-five per cent of the loss your bonds and stocks would show, I will sell it for you in five minutes." And that is the answer that can be given in regard to real estate in all sections during the whole of that time. Mortgage investors have lost no money. I do not believe there is a man who has had an honest, well-invested mortgage who has lost anything on it.
This lesson will have its effect on investors generally. I believe that the savings banks will put a larger proportion of their funds in mortgage loans, for the reason that they know that, while they might not be able to go out in the market and sell them in a hurry, they will not have to do any marking off, and are certain to get their money some time. The life insurance companies had to mark off their assets to the extent of from ten to fifteen, yes, to twenty per cent of the value of their bonds. While they were worth to them as much as before, in making their report to the State Department, they had to mark them off. With some savings banks and life insurance companies, it would mean insolvency if they had been obliged to sell securities at the market price. That was not necessary with mortgages, and while holding them they have received one to one and a half per cent better interest than on other investments. A larger investment will be made in bonds and mortgages, I think, in the future than ever before, and that is, of course, always to the advantage of real estate interests generally.