Sec. 40. In buying real property, the buyer should keep in mind four important points, viz:
(1.) The object or end for which the property is intended.
(2.) If the property in question fulfills, or will fulfill, that object.
(3.) If the property can be purchased at the minimum of cost.
(4.) Is the property readily salable at cost?
Sec. 41. In every city, there is a point which is conceded to be the center of the business district. That point is apparently determined by the number of people who pass a given spot within a certain time. If fifty persons per minute pass a given spot as against one person per minute at another point, it is evident that the ratio between the two for advertising and sale purposes is nearly fifty to one. For this reason, merchants pay enormous rents for the sake of locating where the people "most do congregate." From this center of business, there will be lines of business radiating in all directions. With the advent of new and a better class of improvements, the center of business will change, and change, as a rule, in one direction, and that direction will be determined by the length and width of the principal business streets, and the character of the improvements thereon. As the change goes on, there will be a "decaying" end and a "growing"' end of the city. To buy in the "decaying" end, would be to buy where property is at a standstill or is depreciating. Property in a "decaying" section will not be readily salable, as there will be little demand for it. Merchants will be forced to leave the "decaying" end and come as close as possible to the active center in order to retain customers. The observant, judicious investor will take note of the tendency of events in his city, and will buy, according to his means, in advance of the growth of the business section, and hold the property until a demand is created. Real estate at the time he buys, may be dull and dormant; so much the better, as he will then be able to buy at a bargain price and upon his own terms; but he must have the foresight to see that there surely will be a demand in the future for the property by reason of expansion of business and increase in population. His purchase should be something that somebody else eventually must have.
Sec. 42. The ultimate object of acquiring land in the center of the business district is to obtain the highest and most continuous returns in the way of rent. The merchant, who is the tenant, must pay a uniform rent whether trade is dull or brisk. The merchant pays not only for the use of the land and the improvements, but for whatever adds to the value or desirability of the location. Where several separate parcels of land are equally accessible and good, that which is most central will be most desirable, provided the improvements thereon are as good as those on the surrounding parcels. The center is limited in area, of necessity, and the demand for it is greater than the supply. Where the value of real estate consists principally of buildings and improvements, as is the case in cities, location becomes of paramount importance. Men naturally like to measure their wealth and enterprise with their fellows, and, if possible, to out-class them; hence, when the increase of population warrants capitalists in doing so, they erect new and modern business buildings which draw tenants, even at higher rates of rental, from the older buildings of competing capitalists. The highest types of modern business buildings are almost always erected on corners where light and air are accessible on two sides thereof, and the change in the center of business will leap along the principal street, from one cross street to another, in the direction of improvement.
Sec. 43. The erection of new improvements - sometimes the report that new improvements are projected - will give an impetus to the values of adjoining properties, and the increase in values will be the more pronounced if the improvements are such as will concentrate a large number of people at a given point. The improvements concentrate the people; the people draw the merchants; the merchants demand the store rooms; the land owners either improve or sell to those who desire to improve, and the demand being greater than the supply, values rise. Advance information of projected improvements enables one to buy in a choice locality and to the best advantage. Transfers of real estate are reported through the medium of the newspapers, by real estate agents, who take credit for the sale, together with a statement of the nature of the projected improvements, and such reports are given out almost as soon as the deals are made; but the improvements many times are not erected for months afterwards. By buying close to where improvements are to be made, one may take advantage of the rise in values which improvments will bring about. All reports as to contemplated improvements should be investigated thoroughly, as investments cannot be successfully made on the strength of mere rumors. A source of great profit to the owners of electric roads are the land companies organized by them and which buy in advance of improvements along the lines of such roads.
Sec. 44. Where the intending investor is unable to pay several hundred dollars per front foot for close-in business property, he should go farther out, where prices range lower, or on to a side street, running parallel with the principal street, and there buy. At various points along the principal streets, usually at their intersection with cross streets, there is the nucleus of a little business community, and at one of these points the investment should be made. Corners are picked up early and held firmly; they command higher prices than adjoining inside properties, but are generally more desirable as they are capable of more advantageous improvement. If the investor cannot secure a corner, he should buy an inside improved lot, from which he will obtain an income, and if that be beyond his reach, should buy an inside vacant lot adjoining or close to improved property.