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Real estate record and builders' guide: v. 73, no. 1880: March 26, 1904

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March 26, 1904. KKfORO AND (iUTDE 665- ,_y • ESTABUSHn)'^iWn2l'^lBB8. -» Di^ TD RfA; ESTWE. BuiLOUfc ftjKifnrcrnniE i^CWSEHOU) DEBOtUIDli. Busotss juiD Theues Of GtifcR^ iKTEfgajj FSUCE PER YEAR IN ADVANCE. SIX DOLLARS Published every Satardap CommunlcatlODH should bo addresBed to C. W. SWEET, 14-16 Vesey Street. New York 8. T. IJNDSET. BuBlnesfl Manager Telophomo. Oortlaadt 81BT "JWwed ot the Post Office at Neu) Tork. N. T.. aa aecond-clatt matfT. MARCH 26, 1904. Vol. LXXIII. 1S80. THE Stock market this ■week has been more interesting superficially than substantially. There has been some speculative agitation which has hinged entirely upon the Northern Securities case. Prices have rocked backwards and forwards without any particularly moving factor, indicating any essential change in the conditions which have prevailed for some time past. There are, no doubt, a great many influences o! one Icind or another at work, but none of them can be said to have force enough at the present moment to register itself in speculative or investment conditions. The business of the country, despite the fact that it remains in a substantially sound condition, is nevertheless concerned with problems and eventu¬ alities that create a cautious tone and a conservatism that leans a hit toward the pessimistic, more on the theory of being sure and safe than on account of anything really unsound. In this mood possibly no one is inclined to take the strong poiuts of the existing situation at their full value. And just as there are times ■when all facts are received at a premium, so there are times when they are accepted at a discount The latter is the case to-day. Under these conditions the general situation is obviously a waiting one—open to conviction. ■^pHE existing speculation in flatsan-d tenements surpasses in -^ its way anything of the kind which has previously taken place in the real estate history of the oity. "Week after week the Record and Guide reports the sale of almost one hundred and fifty of these buildings; whereas only a year ago, when real estate was very active, there were not reported each week one hundred and fifty sales of all the different classes of real estate combined. Of course, many of these sales represent only the passing on of a contract from one speculator to another; but this fact, while it distinguishes the existing activity in flats and tene¬ ments from an investment movement, nevertheless serves rather to characterize the speculation rather than to diminish its im¬ portance. How comes about such an incessant trading in a class of property which is usually sold only with some diffi¬ culty? The rea&on why real estate is not easy to sell is that buyers and sellers usually differ radically about their estimates of the value of a particular piece of property, and no such specu¬ lation as the one now taking place in tenements would be possi¬ ble, were not the value of these buildings determined more accurately by certain standard conditions. At the present time rents are uniformly high, vacancies are reduced to a minimum, and the precise value of the property, from an income point of view, can be pretty well ascertained. But as it is only re¬ cently that these conditions have prevailed, a big opportunity has been offered to speculators to bid up the prices of tenements in certain new districts to the level established in other parts of the city. The truth is that the ownership and the care of tene- metits is gradually passing into the hands of people of small capital who are making a business of trading in them and ex¬ ploiting them. The estates which owned property on the EJast Side have been getting out little by little, for they find this class of property, however profitable, a nuisance; and it is people who do not mind the bother and who increase their profits by collect¬ ing their own rents, etc., who are gradually getting possession of it. These people are experts in the possible and present value of tenement houses; and we fully espect that within a year or two they will establish on East Broadway a tenement house ex¬ change in which quotations for standard classes of tenements ■wiii be placed on a board and will vary according to prospective renting, taxes, and the like. "P'OR the first time in many weeks there has been news from ^ Albany about the fate of the mortgage tax recording bill. A conference has heen held by the Republican leaders; and al¬ though no decision has been reached, the prospects are appar¬ ently favorable. In order to placate the representatives of cer¬ tain recalcitrant rural counties, it is proposed to introduce a provision into the bill allowing any county the option of accept¬ ing or rejecting the substitution—a change to which there is not only no objection, but which may establish a good precedent. The worst aspect of the situation is the fact that the Governor seems to have lost the completeness of bis control over the Leg¬ islature or the energy wilh which he did insist upon certain plans. His hands are apparently tied and his purposes weakened by the struggle which has been taking place within the party; and he is not in a position to force through a bill of which he approves, in spite of strong opposition. 'We shall probably know within a week or two, however, the results of this play of con¬ tending forces; and the real estate interests of this city will await the result with breathless interest. It is absurd, however, that a united public and trade sentiment should be so helpless in relation to a measure wbich vitally affects one particular business. If the measure is passed it will be hy favor of a few' Albany politicians; and there will be no thought of doing justice or affording pleasure to New York in the aet. THERE is at least a sort of negative advantage in getting the issue involved in the bricklayers' strike defined at last. Hitherto it has not been quite clear what this deplorable re¬ commencement of hostilities was all about. The motive shifted, more or less with the days, and then, finally, came a whisper loud enough for everyone to hear tbat something more was In¬ volved in the contest than the ■wages of the laborers. It was intimated that the fight was really a three-cornered one, the chief combatants not being the laborers and the bricklayers on one side, and the Mason Builders' Association on the other, but two bodies of employers—one the Mason Builders' Association' and the other the National Fireproofing Co.—the struggle of the latter being for a sort of "open door" in New York City. The bricklayers, however, have now come out defiintely and there is certainly no sophistication in the statement which they have issued—"there is noW' no dispute as to wages or hours of labor. "We cannot work with non-union men." "With this issue plainly before the building trades, we very clearly stand pretty near the centre of the battlefield upon which the contest raged last year. Employers are absolutely opposed to the recognition of unions of unskilled labor, and their reasons for this refusal have been set forth frequently in these pages. The bricklayers, by taking the part of the laborers have based the controversy be¬ tween themselves and their employers, so to speak, upon funda¬ mental grounds, and have given it a complexion tbat is not local or temporary, but one that is revolutionary, and is at least so far as the huiiding trades are concerned, tantamount to a for¬ ward movement of the whole labor proposition. Logically, it may seem tbat the unionization of the unskilled should follow the unionization of the skilled. But there are practical consid¬ erations cf tremendous import in the way of the issue of this logic, and so this latter encroachment of the bricklayers becomes another attack upon the whole capitalistic position. Clearly if the bricklayers ■win labor will acquire a much more dominant' position in the building market in this city than it i to-day. T^UT this is one side of the matter, and at the present time is -^-^ more an affair of future possibilities than the actual bone of contention. The present moment is, we judge, not re¬ garded by either of the opponents as an opportune occasion ta lock horns on this particular point Neither side is quite in 3, position to meet that issue and fight it out to a finish; nor would' it be at all profitable for either combatant to do so. The cost of the struggle to both parties, no matter which won, would to-day he too great, and would be out of all proportion to any advantages obtained. There is always in these controversies a; strong undercurrent, and no one will make a mistake In leaning heavily on the fact that both parties recognize that the profitable course is to "get together" as soon as possible with as little loud talk and as little acrimony as possible. The public utter¬ ances of all the leaders are, of course, valiant, and sbould be read with the necessary judicious qualifications, but the whole building year, its wages and profits are at stake, and this stake far outweighs in substance any other immediate gains in¬ volved. In our judgment it needs only a little good temper, a little common sense, a little urbanity and a few concessions 'to promptly settle the difficulty. The actions that have already occurred and the discussion that has already taken place have evaporated many of the hard points that were lodged in the controversy when it started, and both parties must clearly see and doubtless do see how easily the slightest unreasonable or arbitrary act would bring down upon them the strongest public condemnation. The main question now is not so much who was