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I'm interested in how long it took to carry out major transactions in the nineteenth century compared to today. On the one hand, I expect there was less formality; on the other hand, less information technology to assist with such formality; which factor wins?

Perhaps the most common/important major transaction is buying a house. According to https://www.reallymoving.com/first-time-buyers/guides/timeline-for-buying-a-house it takes (leaving out the time spent selecting the house – I'm just interested in the commercial part of the transaction) 45-90 days today. Was it faster or slower than that in the nineteenth century?

So for a specific question:

How long did it take to buy a house (excluding search/selection time) in New York in 1870?

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    "On the one hand, I expect there was less formality" -- Unsourced but FWIW I'd expect as much if not more of it. If anything IT systems from the past 30 years probably reduced the paperwork and the time it takes. In the 1870s the US already was fairly legalistic. Heck, the US was legalistic enough to declare independence a century earlier, and there are lawyer jokes about real estate (see the one on Louisiana). The only major difference that springs to mind is that there weren't any state sponsored loans at the time to encourage home ownership. – Denis de Bernardy Aug 31 at 17:48
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    The New York TImes still archives its lists of real-estate transactions from 1870, e.g. nytimes.com/1870/10/07/archives/… – Davislor Aug 31 at 19:10
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    @StevenBurnap For the sake of being definite, city. – rwallace Aug 31 at 21:02
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    @DenisdeBernardy That lawyer joke is modern, not from the 19th century. The reference to the FHA clearly establishes it as from the late twentieth century. (Today, it would be problematic to uncritically assert that the Native Americans never had any rights to their land, and that the entire continent belonged to the first white people who set foot in that hemisphere because God said so.) – Davislor Aug 31 at 23:58
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    On the other hand, title insurance does not appear to have existed at that time, so there may have been fewer steps involved. – Davislor Sep 1 at 0:03

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