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Real estate record and builders' guide: v. 20, no. 489: July 28, 1877

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Real Estate Record AND BUILDERS' GUIDE. Vol. XX. NEW YORK, SATURDAY, JULY 28, 1877. No. 489. Published Weekly by TERMS. ONK YEAR, hi advance....810.00. Communications should be addressed to C. W. S\ir£ET, Nos. 345 AND 347 Broadway. THE SUMMER MARKETS. We will forego any recurrence to the stereo¬ typed phraseology of the market reviewer con¬ cerning torpor, depression and stagnation, for one reason that the pubUc have ,ere now speUed off those words in bitter syllables and become experimentally acquainted with their significance and import; and for the other and more adequate reason that, in some respects, they faU to reflect the actual condition of our several mai-kets. It is true there is a total absence of aU speculative spirit and intent. In fact, in the whole history of our real estate market there was never a period marked by such a complete elimination of specu¬ lative disposition or effort. The poUcies, pur¬ poses and plans of the speculator have become as much matters of ancient history as the wars of the revolution and rebeUion, and are referred to chiefly for uses of criticism and commentary. The natural and legitimate forces of the business are slowly and surely exerting themselves in com¬ pelling no small degree of activity. It would misrepresent our markets to describe them as any longer lying prone and helpless under the shock of disaster which still paralyzes and cripples so many important branches of general business. The dead-lock which held our several markets speU-bound for such a length of time, has quietly and fairly yielded during the present year to the genial and quickening influences of practical sense and sound commercial poUcy. The under¬ tone of each of our respective markets is strongly Jmpregriated with conservatism, "{)rudence, caution, the very bottom stones of substantial prosperity. The one branch of the market which has failed to experience any recuperating or re¬ viving influence is that of. vacant lots, particu¬ larly when lying out in inaccessible locations; even improvable lots show an unchecked decline in current sales, while the character of much of the buUding activity now being developed fails to justify the forecast of any immediate upward tendency in prices. For weal or for woe the activities of the real estate market seem to have disentangled them¬ selves from the general mesh of cjQamityj and are once more starting into what we would fain believe to be a healthy, natural and independent motion. But for the chronic clamor and ceaseless complaining we are accustomed to hear in busi¬ ness circles, we shdidd esteem the present volume of real estate transactions aade from liquidation and settlement as approximating the normal standard. The rotten and worthless timber that has long since been cdndenmed and discarded is gradually beiog disengaged from the live and sound body of the market and thrown far up on the shores pf time. Coj^^rations that have waited with heroic fortitude, but in vain, for a re¬ newal of real estate speculation, to justify their bad investments on mortgage, have decided to wait no longer. By the way they have pressed their foreclosure suits since the first of January they seem determined to get through with them during the present year. In the rent market the great struggle, Avhich ensued between landlords and tenants prior to the first of May, resulted in such universal and marked concessions on the part of the landlords as to indicate quite a panic to secure eUgible and solvent tenants. In consequence, the present season has witnessed the exchanging of a greater number of new leases than in any other within the last five years. The good effect of this har¬ monizing of views is shown in the spirit and Uveliness which characterize our leading business thoroughfares, where few vacancies are now to be found; many of the premises seeming to bristle with an unwonted degree of trade activity. It is a noteworthy fact also that because of this returning reason of landlords, fewer private dwellings were left tenantless after the first of May than at any time since the panic. At such concessions as landlords were compeUed or were willing to make, a suflacient number of ready tenants appeared to secure the houses offered. It is the testimony of leading agents and landlords that nothing but a difference in views prevented the renting of all their apartments and houses. Very few landlords fail to be actuated by consid¬ erations of their own interest as weU as by wise counsel, hence the resulting surplus of empty houses, likely to be carried over to the f aU mar¬ ket, is exceedingly smaU. The eagerness with which houses have been hired or bought when offered at reduced prices, has tempted many of our leading bmlders to initiate new schemes of bmlding enterprise in the expectation of being able to cater to this revived demand through the advantages that are now offered in the way of cheap land, labor and materials. So far as the renting of property is concerned, we feel warranted in declaring our conviction, after no little investigation into the subject, that no one need faU of securing either an eUgible tenant or a reasonably satisfactory rent for good, improved and well located property in this city. There never was a time so calculated to test the renting qualities of New York property as the present, and it is the highest encomium that can be bestowed upon it, as weU as a significant com¬ mentary upon the whole subject of our real es¬ tate, that the rent market has boi-ne the brunt of oppressing and adverse circumstances virith a spirit and obstinacy that can be predicated of no other market conmiodity. Our leadbg landlords have exhibited in no small degree the wisdom and shrewdness which usually characterizes them in relinqusihng old and obsolete standards of rental valuations and conforming their terms to the altered sfcate of business and general affairs. Under the present unequal and crude conditions of pur tax system, the lan(Uords like the pubUcans of old, have the taxes farmed out to them, and are allowed to reassess them upon lessees. It is no deep reproach to our landlords to assert that they have taken fuU advantage of this privilege in the past, and have sought to collect from ten¬ ants not only the fuU measure of taxation, which they were required to bear, but a goodly bonus besides. Landlords have at last realized that there is such a thing as killing the goose that lays the golden egg, and that no more effectual means exist, no more oppressive or exclusive tax or tariff system can be devised, than that of le-vying high rents upon business men and housekeepers. In a city Uke New York where the titles of prop¬ erty are distributed among not more than twenty thousand persons against a population of consid¬ erably over a miUion, it -wiU be readUy seen that it Ues in the power of a strong but small minority to ,wit: the landowners, to effectually cripple, if not destroy, the prosperity of the city, although at the same time they thus destroy the produc¬ tiveness of their own property. The era of low rents, however, which is now setting in promises to reUeve us of any such alarming apprehensions, . as it wiU confer upon our great and energetic population this precious boon—abiUty to live and carry on business at moderate cost. In the loan market the volume of loanable funds is large and seemingly unlimited, resulting in the universal reduction of the standard rate for prime loans from seven to six per cent. This redue tion has been conceded for a year past by private capitalists, and has enabled them to secure many choice loans and reUable investments. The monied institutions through obstinacy, perversity or, perhaps, necessity, united together with the avowed determination of resisting this innovation upon one of their recognized rights and preroga¬ tives. Undoubtedly, the loss of one per cent, on the mortgage loans of our great corporations results in a hea-yy reduction of income, and is perhaps an effect of the hard times, which they least expected and would gladly have a-C^oided. Even their combined strength, which arrayed itself in stubborn opposition to prudent borrowers, has been obUged to succumb to the inexorable logic of events and the natural laws of trade. We are happy to announce to our readers that the crusade which was initiated over a year ago in these columns, in. favor of cheaper money on mortgage loans, has resulted in a complete suc¬ cess, and that the principal loaning institutions not only offer their funds at six per cent., but con¬ sent to make their action retroactive and reduce the rate on aU existing loans which are considered " gUt-edged " at the present time. It is note¬ worthy that the two largest institutions in the city, the Mutual and the Equitable, extend an other valuable concession to borrowers of their funds in not aUowing any legal fees to be charged in connection with their loans, except the actual disbursements for oflGlcial searches at the City HaU. There is no reason why this custom shoiUd not become tmiversal -with aU monied institutions which enjoy such valuable franchises and exemp¬ tions at the hands of the people, and make so Uttle and often such imworthy returns. The Leg¬ islature should pass an act requiring all loaning institutions to employ counsel on salary for the examination of titles, and forbid them to charge any fee for such services, or to exact from the borrower any payments but for searches and surveys.