Italian Markets: Real Estate Exchange and Ethnic Community

in Staying Italian

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print February 2010 | ISBN: 9780226770741
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226770765 | DOI:
Italian Markets: Real Estate Exchange and Ethnic Community

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Housing markets help define the relationship between ethnicity and urban space. This is evident in South Philadelphia and Toronto's Little Italy, where ethnicity was shaped by real estate markets and housing exchanges were the product of ethnic relations. In Little Italy, immigrant families who shared ownership of a home with other recent arrivals could use the accrual of equity to purchase their own single-family homes. Others were able to buy larger houses elsewhere in the city using their growing economic resources. Toronto's postwar housing market was characterized by high prices and profitable exchanges. When credit became scarce, Italian city residents generated their own credit. Vendor “take-back” mortgages, wherein the buyer obtained a mortgage from the seller, soon became dominant in Little Italy. Italian social networks in Toronto were elastic, as reflected in the fact that sellers, lenders, and agents active in the housing market of Little Italy were often geographic outsiders but ethnic insiders.

Keywords: housing markets; ethnicity; urban space; South Philadelphia; Toronto; Little Italy; credit; social networks; mortgages; housing exchanges

Chapter.  8911 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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