Homebuilder histories, housing history, and History and Policy.
Upon retiring Dr. Baer undertook new research, turning away from twentieth-century housing policy and plans. The School’s recently formed real estate program created in him an interest interested in the history of speculative real estate development. Initially tracing it back to seventeenth-century London, he found a wealth of housing-related data that historians—untrained in housing analysis and real estate development techniques—could not fully exploit. He began writing articles on London housing matters in the 1500s and 1600s, publishing in academic history journals. Expanding on that initial research, he began research in the newly emerging field of real estate development history. He learned that the first such entrepreneur was Marcus Crassus, a colleague of Julius Caesar, who reputedly owned half of Rome (500,000 people) at one time or another. Dr. Nicholas Barbon was London’s “Great Builder” in the late 1600s and was first to provide Britain with fire insurance policies, and the first to begin to conceptualize the housing market.