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"It was a time of dreams; almost anything that anybody could suggest that might actually get a house built was worth considering. Apartments were not to be had except occasionally by bribing an agent or a superintendent or by watching the obituary columns and getting your bid in before the body was buried. People who owned houses wanted twice or three times what they had paid for them a year or so earlier. It looked like a moment when a great many people, having to build from scratch and with GI loans to help them, might almost create an architectural renaissance."

Could you please tell me what the author means with the blue sentence?

Cadzao.
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The house owners wanted to make a quick profit.

Say:
They had bought for $1.
They wanted now to sell for $2-3.
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The net result is that the houses were unaffordable. A house that had sold for $100,000 a couple years before couldn't be bought for that amount, or anything close to it, because the people who owned the home now thought it was worth a lot more. I think the author might be exaggerating a bit - no one really expects their home to double or triple in value in the span of a year or two, unless you live in one of only a few places where housing is just crazy.

So, with apartments unavailable, and existing housing unaffordable, the only solution was to build a new house for youself.
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Comments  
Oh, how simple it is. Why didn't I get it?

Thank you, Marius Hancu.

Cadzao
 BarbaraPA's reply was promoted to an answer.
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Apartments were not to be had except occasionally by bribing an agent or a superintendent or by watching the obituary columns and getting your bid in before the body was buried.
sounds quite odd to me,I suppose that means
Apartments didnt like before,previously they used to except occasionally by bribing an agent or a superintendent ....
is that right,?
hope my description is clear:)
No. You could not get into an apartment because there weren't any available. The only way you could get an apartment was by bribing the people who assigned them. Or, if you learned someone in an apartment had died (by reading about it in the obituaries), you had to act very, very quickly.