This section is from the "Economics In Two Volumes: Volume I. Economic Principles" book, by Frank A. Fetter. Also available from Amazon: Economic
A number of significant facts are here shown graphically. In every census division a larger percentage of farm homes is owned than of "other homes." A larger percentage of farm ownership is found in every northern and western division than in any southern division, New England being highest and the Mountain and Pacific divisions following in order.
The last two columns show the small percentage of ownership by colored occupants in the South, this explaining largely the small percentage of ownership in that section both of farm and other homes.
In every division "other homes" are owned in smaller proportion than are farm homes, the contrast being greatest where the urban population is largest, viz., in New England and the Middle Atlantic states. The North Central, the Mountain, and the Pacific divisions all rank high in ownership of other homes as well as of farms, and the southern divisions rank low in both.
kind of investment under their personal oversight for persons of small or moderate means.
FIG. 23. Home Ownership in the U. S., 1910.
§ 9. Renting of real-estate for business use. The rent-ing-contract has marked advantages in the hiring of shops, stores, and office-buildings in cities. There the land has a well-nigh absolute durativeness, and the buildings may be built of very durable materials. Merchants often find it of advantage to move into larger quarters as business grows, or into a different neighborhood as the center of trade changes. Moreover, as active business men they often can keep their funds invested to better advantage in their business than by putting them into the purchase outright of a store-building, as the rate of yield on real-estate investments is usually less than that in commerce and manufacture.0 Many small mercantile businesses require only a small space, less than could be bought or built on to advantage in a large city, and many agents and professional men need merely office space. This large and regular demand for shops and offices calls forth the enterprise of investors to construct and maintain suitable buildings to let for these purposes. Hundreds of millions of dollars of the funds of life insurance companies, collected from policy-holders, are invested in this way, as well as funds of educational institutions and of business corporations. Thus it happens that many corporations with millions of capital are in the larger cities tenants in offices owned by other corporations which own office buildings, such as the Times Building, the Metropolitan Life Insurance Building, the Singer Building, the Woolworth Building, the Equitable Building, in New York City. The very size of such office buildings and their conspicuousness in public attention give to the offices in them an advantage in convenience of access and for advertising purposes greater than is possible under other circumstances.
The rapid changes that are going on in America bring about most varied conditions of ownership and tenancy in regard to urban industrial real-estate. Manufacturing on a small scale is often started in rented buildings even in small towns, and in the large cities this is more common. But the larger manufacturing firms and companies usually own the building and land in which their manufacturing is done. The special character of the machinery used and of the buildings required make this the better plan. Even then, however, the need of expansion often leads to the hiring of additional land, buildings, and offices. The extent to which the renting of real-estate for business purposes is practised now is thus in the aggregate enormous.
6 See ch. 26 on Enterprise.
§ 10. The renting-contract in other cases. There has always been a strong motive for the renting of smaller objects of movable wealth, rather than their purchase outright, wherever the user has a need of an agent in an unusual place, or a temporary need of an exceptional nature. The traveler wishing to cross the stream needs the boat but once, and many other travelers will pass the same way having the same single-time need. Usually the payment in this case is in the form of a fee for both the boat and the ferryman's services. The farmer would like to have an extra horse for a few days each year and can afford to pay well for its use, but could better go without the horse those few days than have the expense of keeping it throughout the year. He may gain greatly, however, if he can hire a horse at such times.
A hack or a taxicab is hired by the hour, a carriage from the livery stable by the day, a bicycle, a sewing machine, a typewriter, by the day, week, or month. Boats, guns, tents, jewelry, even diamond engagement rings, yield their joys under the renting contract. People frequently hesitate between the renting and the purchase of a piano, and in some cases renting is the more convenient and desirable way of securing its use. The purchase of a dress-coat or of a masquerade-suit to be worn but once, involves for some persons a needlessly large expense, when for a moderate sum the temporary use may be had, and the article may then be returned, little the worse for wear, to the accommodating clothier.
§11. Buying the usance without a renting-contract.
When the owner or his employee has charge of the agent and directs it, there is usually not a renting-contract, altho the purchaser is buying the usance. When the use of the machine is a minor element, the transaction takes the form of hiring the man's services, while he furnishes the needed machines. Thus the cabman, the truckman, the ferryman, the bootblack, the carpenter, are hired and paid for their labors along with the use of the wagon, horse, boat, brushes, and tools. These cases are midway between the hiring of a material use-bearer and the hiring of a laborer, having something of the nature of each. A case of the same kind on a large scale is seen in transportation by railroad or by steamship, where the passenger is getting by one payment a great complex of uses, of fuel, engines, machines, car or ship, services of engineer, seaman, conductor, or captain. It is a step further to the case where the customer buys the product of a factory. The sale of the yard of cloth is the sale of the raw materials, the uses of building, engines, looms, and the labor of various employees, all combined in one product. In some cases the usance (as of craftsmen's tools) is sold under a labor- or wage-contract; in other cases (as of boats and trains) it is sold under a transportation contract, the price becoming chargeable as the usance is given; in other cases (as in manufacturing and mercantile business) the price of the usance is included in the contract of sale of products which the uses of agents have at an earlier time helped to produce. In none of these cases is there a renting-contract, for possession of the agent is not delivered to the buyers of the use, and the owner continues to be responsible for the repair and operation of the agent. It is merely a matter of convenience, reflected and fixed in custom, whether sale of usance shall be under the renting-contract or under some other form. With more or less of difficulty and of advantage its use might be extended to the borrowing and lending of many classes of goods where it is not now used.