Ransom E. Wilcox

Importance of Good Construction - Impossible to Make Poor House a Good One - The Owner and His Attitude - Agents and Tenants - Repairs

Care of tenement property is an important and very considerable branch of the business in this crowded city. The high price of land has made necessary the using of every possible portion of it, and the multiplication of it in floors one above the other, resulting, so far as places of residence are concerned, in the three-family house, the single flat, the double flat, the triple flat, the "double-decker," the apartment house, etc. - all of which are tenement houses. A great majority of all the people living in Manhattan must ,be dwellers in apartment houses. Any real estate concern on this island, except perhaps in a small portion of its southern end, that gives much attention to the management of property will presently find that the bulk of its business in that line is the care of tenement houses of one kind and another.

Is not almost anybody and everybody qualified to manage tenement property without study? The answer depends on our understanding of what is involved in the word "manage." A boy may ring a doorbell and ask a woman for her rent, and, when it is paid, bring it to the owner. A stupid man may storm his way through a tenement house, denying all requests for attention to necessary matters and go out of the door with every tenant's monthly payment in his pocket. Are these therefore qualified real estate agents?

We have many such, and our real estate seas are strewn with wrecks of investments that under better management would bring their owners satisfactory increases and profits. Many tenement houses wisely planned and well constructed have failed as investments because they have never had a chance. They have borne too heavy a load. If $200 net is the right earning power of a house and you insist on getting $250, you may succeed for a year or two, but only at the cost of the property. It will reckon with you for far more than you have gained. If a property well-designed and placed for select small families in the stress of some poor season is offered to a less desirable class of tenants, you will miss achieving the best the house can do and, in the end, score failure.