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Real estate record and builders' guide: v. 28, no. 700: August 13, 1881

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Real Estate Record AND BUILDERS' GUIDE. Vol. XXYIII. NEW YOKE, SATUEDAT, AUGUST 13, 1881. No. 700 Published Weekly by The Real Estate Record Association TERMS: ONE YEAR, in advance.....$6.00 Communications should be addressed to €. W. SWEET, 137 Broadway. J. T. LINDSEY. Business Manager. Mr. John Thompson, of the Chase Nation¬ al Bank, read a very sensible paper at the Convention of Bankers at Niagara. He does not believe a panic is due for two years to conie, but he thinks it inevitable some time during 1884 or 1885. The great danger of the times, in hi-^ opinion, is the vast mass of securities that have been put upon the mar¬ ket. They will absorb a great deal of money and then when gold flows to Europe, as sometime it must, our vast credit system will become paralyzed and a panic precipi¬ tated. Well, at any rate, we shall have two years' grace. It is all very well for Street Superintend¬ ent Coleman to issue an order to contract¬ ors not to put their building rubbish in the streets, nor impede wagons or foot passen¬ gers. But New York is a growing city and a great deal of building is going on, and a generous policy should be pursued to those who are adding to the wealth and import¬ ance of the metropolis. One of the penal¬ ties New York pays for its prosperity is the building which is inevitable, especially in very prosperous times. There is a necessary partial interruption of travel wherever a large building operation is going on. HOW THINGS LOOK. The situation is very mixed. The " street" is bearish and is talking down prices, and it is believed the market is largely oversold. One or two bulls could twist the shorts if they made a dash at the market. Yet the outlook is not promising. It is evident that there is trouble between William H. Van¬ derbilt and Robert Garrett, and that the war of rates is consequently not vet at an end. It is a noticeable fact, by the way, that Baltimore, of all the cities in the Union, is the one that, by her exchanges, has been doing less business than formerly. The New York Central seems to have drawn traffic away from the Monumental City. It is now admitted that crops are poor compared with last year. There is less wheat by 80,000,000 bushels, and there is great doubt about the corn crop. It wUl certainly be 30 per cent, less than the crop of last year. As an offset, it seems to be certain that the harvests of Germany, France and Great Britain wiU be somewhat less than the average. The only good crop of wheat is in Russia. As a nation, we are not so badly off, for our grain crop may sell for as much money as did the crop of last year. But this would not help the railroads. The farmers would be as well ofl, at least such of them as have grain, but the railroad arnings would necessarily diminish. A great deal hinges upon the fact as to whether we wiU have gold shipments this fall. Exchange is weak, almost down to the gold shipping point, and, indeed, some $500,000 is on the way, upon the belief, by the operators, that there will be a profit by the time the vessel arrives here. If there should be gold shipments, there may be a sharp upward turn in the market, at least a bull market has always followed the addition of foreign gold to our already large accu¬ mulated stores of the precious metals. It is to be feared that the era of cheap prices for raw material is over'. Much of the prosperity of the last two years was due to the lower price of grain, cotton and pro¬ visions, as well as iron and the other metals. But the diminished production of grain has led to a large enliancement in values, while the increase in the price of labor has added largely to the cost of production, which is shown by the market quotations for raw material. Cotton alone, of all the staple products, is likely to rule at low figures, be¬ cause of the immense production. Of course, sfime time this fall there will be a sharp rally in the stock market and stocks will reach much higher figures. If gold is imported in any reasonably large quantity, there is every evidence that it will cause a buoyant market. But the proba¬ bilities are that our gold importation will not amount to much, and that our imports will be largely in excess of our exports. In the meantime, the general business of the country promises to be very good. Man¬ ufacturing will be active, prices well sus¬ tained, and land will rise steadily in value. OUR FAULTY LAND LAWS. A representative of The Record while on a visit to Long Beach to escape the heat of New York, fell in with a noted real estate investor, a gentleman belonging to an old New York family, and who has been a buyer and seller of i-ealty for the last thirty-five years. This gentleman's at¬ tention was called to an article in a Sunday paper, on the land laws of Australia. The read¬ ers of The Record are somewhat familiar with these laws, by the report we gave of Dwight H. Olmsted's lecture on the subject and subsequent interviews with him. "What do you think of the wisdom of the Australian land laws and feasibility of their re- enactment here ?" asked the writer. " O, our laws are sadly behind the age. We are at the mercy of every incompetent or care¬ less searcher of titles. As for myself, I decline to give a warrantee deed." This surprised the writer as he knew the gen¬ tleman was a principal in very many transac¬ tions. " Yes," continued the gentleman, " I follow the example of-----(here he mentioned the names of several well-known operators) who hire people to give warrantee deeds. It is generally some clerk in a lawyer's office who is willing to take the re¬ sponsibility for a fee of say ?20. Of coui-se his warrantee deed is not good for anything, for he does not possess a cent in the world; i»ut the title is as good as any other title, and depends upon its past history. But I, personally, will not be re¬ sponsible for titles which have passed through the hands of htindreds of lawyers, in which there i- always a Uability of an error in the description, or of an heir turning up whose claims have been forgotten or overlooked." " There are, of course, many hardships under the present law ?" "Well, I should say so. Some years ago a man named B. sold a house in G-old street to a person named M., and he resold to G. A dozen years after B's death a woman turned up, claim¬ ing to be his wife. She had no marriage certifi¬ cate, and the clergyman who performed the ceremony could not be found. But the jury, as in all such cases, brought in a verdict for the woman. The case is still undecided, but in all hinnan probability, M., who purchased fi'om B. in good faith, will be forced to give this woman a sum equivalent to her dower right. I recently bought a piece of property which had been sold and resold for fifty years past, the title having been scrutinized by the most careful lawyers in New York. But m.y lawyer discovered that in the title which was given in 1831, an error was made in the description, the word northeast being used instead of southeast. Luckily for me tha heir, a woman hving in Florida, was dis¬ covered and for $100 the matter was made all right. But see the peril I ran. Then, look at another case, John Smith No. 1 sells 3.50 parcels of land in fee ; his son subsequently be¬ comes a bankrupt and assigns his property to a receiver. A sharp lawyer looking over the titles discovers that Smith No. 1 had only a life interest in the estate, and that the title had passed to Smith No. 2. He therefore for a trifle purchases the right to the fee from the bankruptcy assignee of Smith No. 2. Smith No. 3 is at present an al¬ derman, an excellent gentleman; but all the pur¬ chasers from Smith No. 1, who have since built houses and made improvements, find that their titles are probably worthless. In any event they cannot sell until the case is settled or a compro¬ mise is made. While I have used the name of Smith, this is a real case well known to the courts. These are some of the workings of our land laws. Now, the Australian system was designed by Sir R. Torrens, who ought to be regarded as one of the benefactors of mankind. The paper in my hand gives a description of the system as follows : The Torrens system of conveyancing is the simplest in the world. When a parcel of land has once been registered—a step which is not taken until a careful inquiry has been made by the official searchers—the title is fixed forever in the registered owner and his grantees. If any mistake has been made, the parties injured must look for a remedy in a suit for damages against the Government, and cannot ask for a specific re¬ covery of the land. Every registration is made in duplicate, and the owner's evidence of title is the record on the official books and the duplicate thereof which he has in his pocket. If an owner desires to sell or mortgage his land, thus regis¬ tered, he has merely to note his wish by an en¬ dorsement on his certificate, which, when taken to the nearest branch of the registration ofiice, will be repeated on the record. There is no draw¬ ing of deeds, no searching of titles, but land is sold encumbered, or used as collateral security precisely as if the slip of paper which serves as a muniment of title were a certificate of bank stock. Sir Robert Torrens explains that entry in tha record is the essential act which gives validity to all real estate transactions in Austraha. The memorandum certifying? registration endorsed upon the certificate renders it conclusive evidence of title in all courts of law and equity. This cer¬ tificate must, as we have said, on the occasion of any dealing, be delivered up to the Registrar or to one of his deputies, in order that an official en¬ dorsement may be made thereon, notifying the existence of such transaction, corresponding with the memorial thereof in the record. Registered interests take priority among themselves accord¬ ing to the date of registration, and over all un- ^ registered interests whatsoever. Under this sys-