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street's” for a number of years past, and kindly furnished by Mr. Albert C. Stevens, the editor, have been considerably less than the total number and amounts of foreclosure executions for the same periods. It is reasonable to conclude, that the mercantile failures are duplicated in the foreclosure executions—that is, every merchant failing had at least one foreclosure on his lands. At the same time,, the amounts of foreclosure executions given in the Bureau tables, as already has been stated, are only the principal and interest due on the complainants' (mortgagees) mortgages, and do not include costs, sheriffs fees or the sum due to prior incumbrancers, or that decreed in favor of subsequent incumbrancers.
The following data, showing the number and amount of mercantile failures both in the United States and New Jersey, are from “ Bradstreet's,” the years being the calendar years :
New Jersey.......... $ $
$ 5,958, $ 1, 511, $ 2, 730, $ 1,467, $ 1, 226, $ 556, $ 1,993, 1,731, 76,094 | 93, 238 175, 968 248, 740 119, 121 113, 648 130, 605 120, 242 27, 100 30,768 59, 673 107, 025 | 38, 712 30, 447 42, 669 37, 412 11, 130 | 13, 323 27, 073 | 71, 643 16, 123 11, 222 17,019 17, 023
In the following table are given the total number of foreclosure executions issued in New Jersey against individual mortgagors,
* Total for New Jersey not available.
that is, not including those against corporations, from 1880 to 1888 inclusive, and the amounts of principal and interest decreed due on the complainants' mortgages; also the number and amounts of such executions levied on farm lands, or what have been classed as such. It is not pretended that this classification is more than an approximation, for the records themselves do not positively disclose whether a stated tract of land, given in acres, was, even at the date of the mortgage, in use for agricultural purposes, or was suburban real estate, mining property, or simply held for speculative purposes. The amount of the decree is the only indication in many cases, but that is by no means decisive, for there may be a great variation between the amount of the decree and of the original mortgage foreclosed, which may have been paid off partly, or increased by accumulations of interest, or made in times of inflated values.* As far as was practicable, these qualifying circumstances have been taken into consideration in making the following calculations :
*As a matter of fact a considerable proportion of the mortgages foreclosed during the years mentioned had been made in the period of inflated values.
If this estimate is accurate, it means that in the nine years last past, there were 1,396 farmers sold out under foreclosure executions, and a total of 128,476 acres of land,t or not less than four per cent. of our total farms and acreage, improved and unimproved. The same rate extended over a generation would mean the bankruptcy of more than one-seventh of the farmers. I These fişures are anything but a favorable indication of the prosperity of the agricultural community, which constitutes a large portion of our population, and whose success is of the profoundest interest to all; and especially does its welfare affect directly and indirectly every part of the wage-earning class.
Personal inquiries made by this office of the leading lawyers, who have a large foreclosure practice in New Jersey, amply confirm these conclusions as to the generally depressed condition of the agricultural industry. There is a consensus of opinion as to the undesirableness of farm mortgages as investments, ard that the decrease of farm foreclosures is due, principally, to the disinclination of mortgagees to force a sale of depreciated rural estate. F. G. Burnham, Esq, general counsel, for New Jersey, of the New York Mutual
*Both years inclusive.
+These estimates can hardly be considered too radical. In the tables at the close of this chapter, where all acre executions have been classed under . acres'' which were not manifestly urban or speculative tracts, the totals for these nine years are 1, 800 executions, on 230, 952 acres, amounting to $5,787, 499.
#According to the census of 1880, there were 34, 307 farms in New Jersey, containing 2, 929, 773 acres of improved and unimproved land. Over one-sixth of the total. (397, 000), engaged in gainful occupations in New Jersey in 1880, were employed in agriculture. There has been a constant increase in the migration of the rural population of the cities; and the effect of agricultural depression accelerates this drift and adds to the competition among the wage-earners engaged in manufactures
SSee p. 67.
Life Insurance Co., does not think there were one-quarter as many foreclosure proceedings pending in either one of the past three years as in the years from 1876 to 1885. “The reason for this is because after the terrible financial crisis of 1873, resulting in such a complete letting down of values of real estate, the value of the equity in many pieces of property was completely blotted out, and the holders of mortgages were compelled to foreclose in order to save themselves to some extent. Resulting from the same financial crash, the payment of interest was more in frequent than before, debtors being unable to pay their debts, or even the interest on their debts. The times have been getting steadily better for several years past, and mortgagors of urban property, whose values have been steadily increasing, are able to pay their interest. The values of farms have not been increasing, but this is, I think, because of the great rivalry of the west, and it is therefore difficult for farmers to secure loans on their farms. I am not aware of a single large corporation that is now willing to loan to any considerable extent on farming property in this State, while several are loaning very freely on city and town property."
The counsel of the Mutual Benefit Life Insurance Co., F. K. Howell, Esq, of Newark, referring especially to urban real estate, reports that there is a “marked decrease in foreclosures of mortgages at the present time as compared with former years. I find upon examination, that the total number of foreclosures coming to my hand for the five years 1880-84 inclusive, was about double the number for the five years 1885–89 inclusive. The proportion of cases settled pending suit was, in the last five years, also double that of the preceding five years. In my opinion, this result was due to the more prompt payment of interest and principal, and not to any disinclination of mortgagees to force sales. Upon the whole, I think, there has been, recently, an appreciation of real estate, which, coupled with an easy money market has favored borrowers, enabling them to place their loans at lower rates of interest. Another reason for recent decrease in foreclosures is, that mortgages, made during the prevalence of inflated values from 1865 to 1875, were for the most part foreclosed or otherwise terminated prior to 1885. Now mortgages are made on much more conservative valuations, and are consequently less liable to default. But my impression is that mortgages on rural property in this State are less satisfactory in point of promptness of payment than on city property. I think the values of land adapted for agricultural purposes only have declined since 1880, due largely to the lower prices realized for farm products, and the increased cost of production, making the net profit less. Of course, land so situated as to be available for other uses, as for villa sites, etc., has in many cases advanced in price in anticipation of such use. I think there is some evidence that the increased population of our cities and towns is, in part, at the expense of the rural districts.”
James C. McDonald, of Newark, who refers only to city property, as he rarely if ever gets an opportunity to handle farming lands, writes, that "foreclosure of mortgages for non-payment of interest is at present a rare thing compared with the years 1880 to 1885, due to the prompt payment of interest, which the good times and the good wages very easily permits.”
The firm of Collins & Corbin, of Jersey City, speaking only of city property, also report a falling off in foreclosures. “This we. think, is because the effects of the panic of 1873, and consequent depression of land values, have worn 'away, and owners of land are again prosperous. Moreover, the rate of interest has decreased, rents are better, population has much increased, tenants are more numerous and owners of real estate are better able to pay interest than formerly.”
Judge Gilhooly, of the firm of Gilhooly & Marsh, Elizabeth, states that the reason why there are not half as many foreclosures in Union county now as in 1880, is “because of prompter payments of mortgage debts and because in this city and county there has been no inflation of land values since 1880; also owing to the existence of the numerous building and loan associations which have started since then. There has been a falling in farm values of at least 25 per cent."
Speaking for Atlantic County, J. E. P. Abbott, Esq., of May's Landing, writes : “I have been in practice in this county for twentyfour years, and have had a very extensive experience in the matter of loaning money on mortgage, and in foreclosure. There has been a decided drop in the values of farm and unimproved lands and in villages, since 1880, but not so in beach property, which has increased