An inrush of folk

It became apparent, at least to some folk who now enter the story as property speculators, that there were soon to be lots of folk moving into this sparsely-populated country. Most of these speculators were, themselves, immigrants. They bought up the land and got ready to make huge profits out of renting it to subsequent arrivals. I'll describe folk who lived in the land before these speculators showed up as natives, albeit they might have been immigrants themselves: they're the folk who are used to the land and its civilisation as it stands at the outset of this story, and it must be admitted that there's no crisp boundary between them and the immigrants soon to arrive - except that their culture is very different from that of the bulk of immigrants.

Some speculators spent large sums of money on getting architects to design houses for them; some architects produced designs, speculatively, in hopes of being able to sell use of them to the property speculators once the immigrants started showing up in large numbers. As for houses, so for anything else designed: architects weren't the only designers to get work out of this. Just as Ben Franklin kindly donated the design of the rocking-chair to the community, some designs had been made public property. Indeed, by the time the immigration wave got fully under swing, there was a growing co-operative movement distributing public designs which, collectively, sufficed for most things needed by even a large community.

Most of the immigrants were coming from less technologically sophisticated lands than the scene of this tale and had little or no understanding of good design, at least not in matters of the alien tech they met in their new land. Furthermore, the arrival of a huge flood of immigrants changed the demographic mix - and thus the economic realities - of the land beyond all recognition, so no-one really knew what things folk would need. So a lot of the designs in use weren't very good, though some contained, and some were, gems of design and exquisite examples of craft.

By the time immigrants were arriving in droves, then, a thriving economy had grown up in preparation for them. Some immigrants were arriving poor enough that they simply couldn't afford the prices being paid by their wealthier peers, to whom this economy most addressed itself: so they lived in cheep housing in the expectation of being able to afford better later. They couldn't afford to buy property, but could afford a rent if it was low enough: the speculators had used loans to buy up the land, so they needed some income to cover the interest; and, of course, once the land starts to get crowded, they can push the rents up and up and do a good deal better than just paying the interest.

So, of course, speculators with land became land-lords. Each tries to set a rent at which their total revenue is maximal, but its mostly guess-work because the relevant `what take-up will I get at this rent' is dependent on what my competitors are charging, which will in turn depend on what I charge, as well as on what rent the population can afford. There's a base-line for rent on any given property though: it's the same fraction of the interest on all the land-lord's loans as the fraction of the land-lord's assets that the house represents. If the market won't bear a rent anywhere near that, the land-lord might not bother with letting it at all: that way, he keeps it off the property market and waits for his competitors to drive the price up (as the land begins to get crowded) to the point where he's interested - this is long-term speculation, albeit severely deficient in the virtue of generosity if there are folk homeless. If the landlord can get tennants who will pay more than this base rate, he's happy (not that this'll stop him trying to push up their rent - if only to help cover interest on houses for which he's not currently getting the base-line rent). If the land-lord's property is becomming more valuable as time goes by, of course, this can also be weighed with any rent against the interest: and, of course, the reason the speculators got involved was that they were pretty sure the land's rise in value would soon be enough to more than pay for the interest.

Written by Eddy.
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