We’ve all enjoyed those priceless pearls of wisdom that business-people band around like so much confetti – ‘Thinking outside the box’, ‘At the end of the day’ and the mathematically impossible ‘I’ll give it 110%’. But as any real estate agent will tell you, when it comes to buying and selling property, it really is all about ‘location, location. location’.
You may have your own take on the validity of that increasingly tired, yet pertinent, phrase but one thing’s for sure, its universal message gets some mileage in property markets across the globe.
But from whose wise lips did this often repeated incantation first slip? From where did it originate, and why did it become the mantra for hordes of estate agents around the planet?
As intriguing a question as it may be, the truth itself seems just as confounding.
Even the incredibly vast and astonishing resource that is the world wide web fails to clarify this query, and several options eventually surface. These range from unreferenced suggestions that it was US hotel magnate EM Statler who first coined the now-familiar triple whammy, to more coherent, if equally apocryphal, British origins.
A probe by the late William Safire, The New York Times’ political commentator and language guru, seems to offer the most believable leads. Despite some weighty support from highly regarded London newspapers, Safire dismisses a popular misconception that English tycoon Lord Harold Samuel was behind the phrase when he reportedly stated ‘There are three things that matter in property: location, location, location.’
Safire eventually uncovered, via the editor of The Yale Book of Quotations , the phrase’s oldest known usage in a rather surprising place. It appeared in a real estate advertisement declaring ‘Attention salesmen, sales managers: location, location, location, close to Rogers Park’ in the classified section of The Chicago Tribune dated 1926. Of course, it may well have appeared elsewhere prior to this.
Even if it was, in fact, first coined in that seemingly innocuous ad, how on earth did it take so long to come into common use in the real estate lexicon – and who was responsible for popularizing it, in the latter part of the twentieth century? Even the mighty Google doesn’t seem to be able to clear that one up…