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Historical Examples Of Wealth Accumulation Through Investment In Land

By Expert Author: Chris Westerman

History holds many examples of significant wealth accumulation through land.

Most of the largest landowners today are royalty, and yet some of history’s wealthiest commoners came to their money through real property.

Throughout history, ownership of land has been the single most prominent indication and source of wealth. Until a few hundred years ago land was the sole source of food, of course, which either the landholder farmed himself or, as was the case in feudal society, he essentially rented it out to others – serfs – for them to maintain.

The industrial revolution shifted the balance of wealth accumulation, somewhat, to owners of capital (factories and machinery as well as property), yet land remains one of the most important means of wealth accumulation and preservation. Some of the richest people alive today derive or preserve their wealth from ownership and transactions of land.

The list of the top 20 richest people in the U.K. includes four whose primary wealth is in land. From a list published in 2012 in the Sunday Times of London, land-rich people include the Duke of Westminster (Grosvenor property group), brothers Simon and David Reuben (who own the Millbank Tower in London), Joseph Lau (whose £33 million home is in Eaton Square in London) and Earl Cadogan and family (whose £3.4 billion estate includes 93 acres in Chelsea).

Across the globe, other names that fall onto “biggest landowner” lists are largely, but not exclusively, inherited royalty. These are Queen Elizabeth who technically “owns” 6.6 billion acres in Great Britain, Northern Ireland, Canada, Australia and the Falkland Islands (an incomplete list); King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, also the technical owner of the 830,000 square miles of the kingdom; Pope Benedict, whose Vatican City is 110 acres within Rome plus another 177 million acres of Catholic Church properties around the globe; King Mohammed VI of Morocco, with a 175.6 million acre kingdom; King Bhumibhol of Thailand (128 million acres, including prime coastal properties); the Sultan Qaboos of Oman, whose country of 82,000 square miles lie largely in the desert; King Gyanendra of Nepal (57,000 square miles, including Mount Everest); King Abdullah II of Jordan (35,637 square miles); King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck of Bhutan (15,000 square miles); King Letsie 111 of Lesotho (11,718 square miles, which includes diamond mines); the Emir of Kuwait (4.4 million acres, of 7 million in the nation); King Mswati of Swaziland (6,704 square miles); the non-royal James, Arthur and John Irving of Canada (owners of 3.6 million acres of land in Maine, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia); Sheik Hamad Bin Khalifa of Qatar (all 4,415 square miles of the small but strategically-located country); and CNN founder Ted Turner, whose accumulation of properties in Georgia and Montana (states in America) and in Argentina total 2 million acres. (Source: BusinessInsider.com)

As the American writer Mark Twain said, “Buy land, they’re not making it anymore.” Indeed, as the population of the U.K. continues its brisk ascent – about a 7 percent net growth in the past decade – the finite nature of the country’s land presses the matter further. There is a housing shortage and soon there will be a need to develop residential property to satisfy this growing need. The investor who can effectively accomplish land site assembly that meets market needs wins the day.

Individual investors – those who aren’t born to royalty – sometimes have the skills and knowledge to make strategic land investments in their own pursuit of personal wealth. But other investors enter into joint ventures with professional UK land investment strategists as a means of making strategic investments and development. For more information, consult with a qualified personal financial advisor.

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