June 26th, 2010

How Different Were Things Back In 1956?



This week was one for the record books, in the housing market that is. Mortgage rates fell to 54-year lows this week. Not since 1956 have market observers seen rates this low.

That said, on Thursday we mentioned that comparing mortgage rates from 1956 against 2010 isn’t exactly a fair comparison, even if they both range in at 4.69%.  For one, mortgage-rate records are very spotty when you go back five-plus decades, and two, the mortgage market was quite different back then.

Even though our rates were the same, let’s take a quick look back at 1956 to see just how different things were:

Jan 5, Elvis Presley, truck driver, began his 1st recording session for RCA. “Heartbreak Hotel,” written by Mae Boren Axton, was the first song recorded. It became the first of his 45 records to sell over a million copies.

Jan 14, Little Richard released “Tutti Frutti.”

Mar, The Federal Hourly Minimum Wage was set at $1.00 an hour.

Mar 5, The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the ban on segregation in public schools in Brown vs. Board of Education.

Jul 29, Jacques Cousteau’s Calypso anchored in at a record 7,500 m under water.

The 1950s were a simpler time on so many levels, not to mention cheaper! According to, a gallon milk cost $0.97, a loaf of bread went for $0.18, a dozen eggs would have set you back $0.80 and it would have only cost you $0.03 to send a letter.

Readers, how much did your house cost you? Back in 1956 the average house sold for only $22,000. However, the average annual income was only $4,454.

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3 Responses to “How Different Were Things Back In 1956?”

  1. Maurice Colgan Says: June 26th, 2010 at 9:11 am

    Elvis Presley’s Graceland cost around 100,000 dollars back then. But Elvis earned far more than the minimum wage.

    He was buying Cadillacs and houses left right and centre for his friends, and anyone nearby at the time!

    One of his 1956 shirts was auctioned for 51,000 dollars just the other day. Now that’s what I call inflation!

  2. Tim Manni Says: June 28th, 2010 at 4:01 pm


    Thanks for sharing those fun facts. Haha, “One of his 1956 shirts was auctioned for 51,000 dollars just the other day. Now that’s what I call inflation!” — you said it!


  3. Tweets that mention How Different Were Things Back In 1956? | HSH Financial News Blog -- Says: June 29th, 2010 at 8:31 pm

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by HSH Associates. HSH Associates said: How Different Were Things Back In 1956? We take a look back to when rates were comparable to levels seen last week [...]

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Tim Manni

Tim Manni is the Managing Editor of and the author of their daily blog, which concentrates on the latest developments in the mortgage and housing markets.

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