This section is from the book "Practical Real Estate Methods For Broker, Operator & Owner", by Thirty Experts. Also available from Amazon: Practical Real Estate Methods for Broker, Operator, Owner.
It may be well to draw a distinction between building loans as made in New York City and elsewhere, owing to the difference in the laws in other States regarding mechanics' liens and building loans. Speculative building, as we understand it in this city, is practically unknown outside. Buildings are, of course, put up by speculators, but they generally do not do the actual building work, as our speculators do, but let a contract for the construction of the building to a building contractor for a fixed sum. If they want to obtain a building loan they file their contract with the financier or the building loan company, which contract states specifically the exact cost of the building. The building loan company agrees to loan to them, let us say, 60 per cent of the cost of the building. As the speculator or owner of the building makes payments to the contractor on account of the contract price, he obtains from his building loan company 60 per cent of the amount he has advanced, upon showing a receipt from the contractor for the payments and a release from the contractor of his right to lien. The lien laws in some States are such as to make the amount due a contractor during the progress of the building, a prior lien to every indebtedness of the property, whether there is a mortgage or not, except the city's claim for taxes, assessments, etc. Therefore the mortgagee dare not advance any money on the building until he knows that there are no liens against it; and to protect himself, he obtains releases in the form of affidavits from the owner and the contractor and subcontractor, if any, that there is no money due or unpaid them on the building, or else a waiver of their right to lien. These laws practically insure to the contractors the receipt of their money, whereas in New York State, the lien laws are very different, and no mechanics' lien takes prior claim to a mortgage unless it is recorded before the mortgage is recorded or before each advance is made under the building loan contract.