What Would the Rapture Do to Real Estate Prices?

May 24, 2011

by Bruce Watson | DailyFinance.com

May 24, 2011

Scribes from Jonathan Edwards to Robert Frost have ruminated about the end of the world, but few have been willing to suggest a precise date on which it will occur. Perhaps this is part of the reason that the media — as well as millions of people — held their breath for a moment last Saturday, the day on which California-based Christian broadcaster Harold Camping predicted that the world was going to end.

The 89-year-old preacher arrived at that date through a complex series of calculations and idiosyncratic Biblical interpretations. Ultimately, though, the way that he calculated humanity’s expiration date is less important than the interest that his prediction generated. The notion of the Rapture, a final reckoning in which the righteous are called to heaven, has seized a powerful place in the public imagination — and inspired movies and books ranging from 2012 to Tim LaHaye’s popular Left Behind series.

The Big Question: What Happens to the HousesLeft Behind?

While the broader impact of mankind’s final days raises some powerful philosophical and theological questions, I live in New York, where everything from environmentalism to religion is filtered through the lens of rents and property values. Camping predicted that everyone who wasn’t called into heaven would be completely obliterated, but other theorists — including LaHaye — imagine a post-Rapture world in which those who are not pulled into heaven will remain on Earth. Which begs the question: Where will those who are left behind hang their hats?

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