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.
A man about to purchase for investment will observe the locality with great care, weigh the chances for permanence and increase, give some attention to the plan of the apartment and then haggle over the price, having scarcely thought whether the material and workmanship are such as will tend to permanence and economy. If the house appears to stand up straight and the front door and hall are attractive, he thinks it is a good building. Even loaning concerns who take first mortgages on tenements are negligent upon this point. Hundreds of tenement houses are put upon the market in this city, in every building period, which are constructed so poorly they can never be made to pay - so much of the earnings must go constantly to hold the building together. At intervals must come expensive overhaulings and re-enforcement.
A good house can never be made out of a poor one. Tenement houses are artificial and complicated structures. At their very best it costs a great deal of money to preserve them. Probably not one per cent of our tenement houses are erected by the parties who intend to hold them. Much of our ordinary five and six story tenement construction is not put up by builders, but by speculators, and irresponsible speculators at that. They are adepts in nothing but in making a little go a long way, and a very poor thing look for a time as if it were good. A buyer's eyes are so dazzled with the mahogany and marble of the vestibule and the embossed plush with which the halls are hung, that he cannot see that the floors of the house are out of level, that the doors do not fit, and that scanty and poor labor and material are everywhere in evidence. There is such a fine polish on the parlor mantel that he does not see that the balance of the woodwork has not received a particle of sandpapering since it left the mill, and very likely only one coat of cheap varnish. A skilful agent must have a discerning eye for these things. When a client seeks his opinion let him not be swerved by the prospective commission. A reputation for reliable dealing in such matters is worth money in the trade.
No man without experience should purchase a piece of improved real estate, even for speculation, without disinterested professional advice. It costs but ten dollars to get an appraisement on an ordinary tenement. We ought to advise our clients oftener than we do to have prospective purchases appraised.