The absorption of two editions of this work, and many expressions of a desire for its re-issue in a third edition, indicate that it has rendered practical service to those interested in real estate. Its presentation of the subject proved of value in the discussions of the methods and effects of the zoning system and its application to the City of New York, a system by which some of the unregulated and ill-considered building operations, to which attention was directed, are now considerably and beneficially restricted.
Since the second edition of "Building for Profit" was issued, the real estate and building interests have passed through the disturbed and inflated conditions resulting from war, and have entered upon a course of slow readjustment. The cessation of new construction brought about a shortage of available space in all types of building, and a general increase of rentals followed. Many unremunerative properties thus became self-supporting, and others exchanged ownership at substantially advanced prices.
While these results afford the appearance of an advance in the value of improved real estate, the actual effects demand careful consideration and analysis. The expense of operation and upkeep of buildings also increased very largely, while the cost of mortgage money as well as the prevailing rate of interest upon investments moved to higher levels. Such conditions, however, are subject to reaction, and deflation has already commenced. The figures of rents, operating costs, and values which were used in this book to illustrate the fundamental principles which it sets forth, have not been altered in this edition, as they still retain their value for comparative purposes. Moreover, re-computation of these illustrations on present prevailing rates, prices, and costs, demonstrates that the same principles hold good under existing developed conditions.
In this edition foot-notes have been added to direct attention to the effect of such changes as have taken place. The interested reader, with a knowledge of any prevailing prices or values, can make deductions applicable to existing conditions.
Certain new elements have entered into the operation of improved real estate, to which attention is drawn in new material added to this edition. The income tax has now made it necessary to give consideration to depreciation and obsolescence as determinable elements in the cost of operation. The relatively short period of economic life of modern buildings, to which particular attention was directed, has been demonstrated by many illustrative occurrences. The large increase in the cost of materials and labor affecting the operation and upkeep of buildings has had a beneficial effect in directing the attention of owners of buildings to the subject of economy, and the reduction or elimination of the burdens of gratuitous services afforded to tenants. The principle of payment for services supplied has been widely applied to electric light and power.
Substantial economies have been developed by the abandonment of power-generating apparatus and by the reduction of mechanical and heating apparatus to the simplest elements. The difficulties which have thus been solved in this manner may prove of permanent benefit to both the owners and occupants of buildings.
The ownership of residential property, particularly multi-family buildings, has become involved in legislative restrictions and is now subject to responsibilities which appear to be permanent. Personal liability is now incurred by owners in the maintenance of services and adequate upkeep and repair.
Rentals are subject to court review, involving careful ascertainment of expenses, costs, and property values by which fair rates of rent are determinable. To these new problems as well as to those of old standing the third edition of "Building for Profit" will, it is hoped, bring intelligent consideration, helpful suggestions, and practical solutions.
R. P. B.