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Homer Hoyt (June 14, 1895 – November 29, 1984) was an American economist. Born in Saint Joseph, Missouri, he conducted path-breaking research on land economics, developed an influential approach to the analysis of neighborhoods and housing markets, refined local area economic analysis, and was a major figure in the development of suburban shopping centers in the decades after World War II. His sector model of land use remains one of his most well-known contributions to urban scholarship.

Hoyt attended the University of Kansas from which he graduated at the age of 18 with a Phi Beta Kappa key. He also earned a J.D. in 1918 and a Ph.D. in economics in 1933, both from the University of Chicago. Between 1918 and 1933, he taught economics, business law, and accounting at various colleges. His dissertation, One Hundred Years of Land Values in Chicago, led to numerous opportunities to work as a real estate consultant. In 1934, he joined the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) as Principal Housing Economist and later taught as a visiting professor at MIT and Columbia University before opening a consulting firm in 1946. He maintained an active practice consulting on real estate development (with a specialization in suburban shopping malls) and economic analysis. Hoyt also invested in real estate, out of which came the money to establish the Homer Hoyt Institute.

Hoyt made significant contributions in five areas. First, he developed a novel approach to the historical analysis of land values that utilized primary data and mapping techniques.

Second, he applied this methodology during his time at the FHA to assessing the viability of neighborhoods and designing strategies for intervention. His approach combined multiple factors (e.g., condition of dwelling, transportation access, proportion of non-whites) using overlay mapping. The approach enabled the FHA to assess the risk a neighborhood posed for mortgage lenders. The methodology was also used by the Home Owners' Loan Corporation (HOLC) to produce Residential Security maps to determine the risks associated with the mortgages it had made previously. At the time, mixed race neighborhoods were considered unstable and the corresponding attitude towards lending came to be known as red-lining because of the color used on the maps to designate a high-risk neighborhood. Out of this work emerged the sector theory that replaced Ernest Burgess's concentric zone theory of urban morphology.

Third, Hoyt refined the method of economic base analysis that enabled municipal and state governments to assess potential population growth based on the mix of basic and non-basic employment within their economies. Fourth, Hoyt's ability to analyze profitable locations for shopping centers and to estimate their likely revenues made him the country's premier consultant on these matters. Lastly, Hoyt wrote frequently on urban development from a comparative perspective, producing some of the earliest writings in this vein.

Hoyt was not only a consultant but an active contributor to the profession of real estate appraising and to land economics and real estate analysis. The textbook, Principles of Real Estate co-authored with Arthur Weimer, went through seven editions and he published in a variety of professional and academic journals. His legacy continues with the Homer Hoyt Institute that supports real estate research, provides advanced studies for Weimer School fellows, and works to support careers in real estate.

The Homer Hoyt Institute

Hoyt, in addition to his theories, had a great interest in research produced by academia. His desire was to bring academia and industry together for the enrichment of both. Towards this end, Hoyt decided to underwrite the formation of the Homer Hoyt Institute in 1967. Income from the sale of his Florida property was used to support research at the American University as part of a consortium of 35 universities. It was later shifted to the creation of an advanced studies institute named in honor of Dean Arthur M. Weimer (1910–1987), Hoyt’s closest friend and co-author of a longstanding leading textbook in real estate. By January 2009, the Institute had admitted over 120 candidates who are national and international leaders in academic and industry research in real estate and related areas to the status of Weimer School Fellows. The Advanced Studies Institute, which oversees the Weimer School, was renamed the Maury Seldin Advanced Studies Institute in Real Estate and Land Economics when Dr. Seldin, the founding president of the Homer Hoyt Institute, retired after twenty-five years of service.

A division of the Homer Hoyt Institute is known as the Hoyt Fellows. It is the industry counterpart of the Weimer School Fellows. The Institute has also formed the Hoyt Institute for Real Estate, which is oriented to those seeking a career in this field.

More information on these Hoyt Group activities is available on the Hoyt Group website: [1]

Influence on redlining

In 1933, Hoyt published a list of racial groups and ranked them from positive to negative influence on property values:

1. English, Scotch, Irish, Scandinavians.

2. North Italians.

3. Bohemians or Czechs.

4. Poles.

5. Lithuanians.

6. Greeks.

7. Russians, Jews (lower class).

8. South Italians.

9. Negroes.

10. Mexicans.

In 1934, the federal government hired Hoyt to develop "the first underwriting criteria — who is a good credit risk and who is not — for the new Federal Housing Administration (FHA). His list wasn't included, but warnings on racial influence were."[1]

Selected publications


  1. ^ Dedman, Bill (1989). "The Color of Money" (PDF). The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.