Buying Parking Lots and Parking Garages: Finding the Most Profitable Locations

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There are plenty of successful investors out there, but many work so hard that it's hardly worth the money-because they're never freed up to enjoy the fruits of their labor! It's far more worth it to find an investment strategy that would allow you to make considerably more money and create more time to be able to reinvest, spend that money, travel, enjoy time with family, or have fun with that "Bucket List".

Owning a parking lot or parking garage is a great investment because they can offer you two things: free time and exponential amounts of income. Finding these gems is the hard part because most existing "cash cow" lots are sold before they are even listed. And most are purchased by other parking lot owners-they know what they have, and they want more. If you can find these potential parking lots and garages before anyone else, you can find these extremely rewarding profits too.

Think ahead

Most parking lot locations were never designed to be just that. Parking lots are built out of necessity, plain and simple. Someone would never build a parking lot and then proceed to build something that draws people who need to park; never is! It sounds simple, but you need to be ahead of the building curve and search for land before it holds great value. You can do this by recalling where you would need to park a car. Think for a second: Where do people really need to park? Let's brainstorm: shopping malls, schools, sporting events, entertainment districts, government centers … the list goes on.

Now let's look at these ideas: malls will provide parking for customers because they want shoppers (so scratch that); schools do the same, but there always seems to be no parking at some schools (possibility here). Every time I see a concert, I end up paying to park; keeper. Last time I got a traffic ticket, it took me 30 minutes to find a parking place at the courthouse to fight that traffic ticket. Ding, ding, ding-got a good one here. Where have you needed to park? Where have you paid to park? I used the same thought process and search techniques you just practiced to purchase a one acre plot of seemingly worthless land across from a new 380 million dollar courthouse that was yet to be built. The property owner had the land for 30+ years and did nothing with it, including not reading any local newspaper that clearly highlighted the new courthouse: funding was approved, a date for the ground breaking ceremony had been set, and the severe lack of parking was already projected in the overly-crowded area!

Harness the power of Google

Seems so simple, right? After all, who has not Googled something? Google, the most popular search engine in the world, is a robust mechanism for quickly finding what you need on the web. Unfortunately, a standard Google search of "parking lot for sale" will currently return around 14.6 million results that are all but worthless to you. Words like "sale" and "parking lot" come up in a million different searches and you will never find a parking lot by trying to wade through 100 pages of mediocre results. So, put Google to work for you by mastering Google's phrase search and terms you want to exclude. Searching for [ "parking lot for sale" – "parking lot sale"] will only search the exact phrase, "parking lot for sale", and will exclude the pesky "parking lot sale", which we have no desire to attend. Instead of the 14.6 million search results, you now have a more digestible 262 results. Search techniques like this will allow you to quickly and effectively drill down to exactly what you are looking for (even locations) without ever signing up for a commercial listing service, or contacting a time-wasting broker. Finding commercial listings may be the easiest research to conduct, but it will give you the weakest results because some of these properties are listed by a broker – which is what you want to avoid at all costs.

Automate your search

Once you have brainstormed ideas where you and others pay to park, you can once again put Google to work for you by using Google Alerts. Enter your key words with the correct phrasing and exclusions, and set up when you would like to receive the information. You can even place location keywords to search only those geographic areas where you are most interested. Entering "new courthouse proposed in X County" will alert you to any new information with those keywords. Alerts will also email you your desired results as often as you like. I have found outstanding deals waiting for me in my inbox on many occasions, all automated from Google alerts.

"Visit" the area

Once you have found your million dollar idea by searching areas where you would pay to park (eg, land across the street from a university that is doubling their campus buildings and parking is already scarce), you can visit the area from the comforts of your own home using Google Maps (Are you seeing a theme here?). This will show you all you need to know about the area. For example, using Google maps, I was able to visit a potential lot 1,500 miles away. I wanted to look at it because it fit my parameters (ie, I knew it desperately needed parking from news articles and upcoming construction that I researched with the tips above). I knew a piece of land was vacant from a quick Google Maps search and clicking on the view satellite tab, but I did not know what it really looked like-as it would if I were there. Using Google Maps Street View, I was able to see that indeed the lot was empty, and the surrounding lots were packed full of cars, in-you guessed it-paid parking lots!

Find the land owner

You found your dream spot, and you are ready to buy it and retire early. Hold up, because finding and contacting the land owner can be exhausting. If you have access to anyone in the title insurance or escrow industry, they will be more than happy to run an address and find the owner on record for you (obviously hoping for the account when you pursue a purchase). If not, you can simply search the county assessor's website for the county where the property is located. Most are automated and you can search by address, map search, or parcel numbers.

Contact the land owner

It may seem old fashioned, but once you find the contact information of the property owner, contact the owner with a hand-addressed letter dropped in the mail. Do not attempt to call, email or meet the owner; simply write a letter. If you are only looking at a few potential parking lots, you can hand write them; if you are looking at many, a printed letter will work as long as you sign it. A simple one line statement that you are interested in buying the property from them, you are not a real estate agent, and you will not waste their time seems to get the best response. Marketing research studies all agree a hand-addressed letter will be opened (and read) 10 to 1 over a computer-printed label.

At this point, you will hopefully have an anxious owner contact you and offer to sell his seemingly useless land. Land that you know from your research is going to be in high demand in the coming months or year. Crafting the deal is the topic of a different article, but now you know where to find and how to research potential parking lots and garages before anyone else. Armed with this valuable information, you will be able to reap the profits that a well-placed lot can bring. Good Luck!

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Source by Lance N Miller

How Real Estate Agents Can Make Additional BPO Income

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If you are like almost every Real Estate Agent I know, you are looking for all the additional income you can get. If that's the case, take it from me, it can happen with BPOs.

What's a BPO and why are they important to know about? BPO stands for Broker Price Opinion and that is exactly what they are; an opinion about the actual market value of a property. A financial institution may require a BPO for one of several reasons ranging from verifying info for homeowner's insurance to foreclosure.

The process of completing a BPO is very similar to a competitive market analysis of a home you are listing or buying. Most BPO Companies will require you to submit at least two and sometimes three similar comps. Therefore, you must have access to a local MLS in order to get that information. You will provide square footage, age, condition, neighborhood information, etc.

There are two types of BPOs; one is a drive by the other a full interior evaluation and comp.

The drive by is much quicker, requiring clear pictures of usually the front, side and street view of the home. The interior evaluation also requires these photos and more. You will take pictures of each room of the house, including the garage. You will take pictures of any damaged areas or areas needing repair. Walk around the home and get photos of the back yard, foundation, etc. You can always eliminate pictures when you get back home, but it will be very expensive to go back and take a picture you wished you had taken.

Your camera equipment must be capable of taking clear pictures in low light; often the power will be off at the property location. Your best bet is to use an auxiliary flash attachment. If you camera does not have a hot shoe flash attachment, perhaps a slave flash will work as well. Also shoot at least 5 mega pixel or more, you will likely need to crop your image to show repair or damaged areas and you can retain detail better with a high-resolution picture.

An important tip to remember when taking photos is to make sure no people are in the picture, especially a picture of someone that can be recognized. Another tip, NEVER take pictures of children. Not only will the BPO Company likely refuse them, you may cause concern within the neighborhood.
When you receive a BPO and * before * you accept it, check the property location on a map. If you can not find the address on a map, in my opinion, forget about it. You will spend much more time locating the property and you only are paid for producing BPOs and not for locating property.

Always be aware for your personal safety. Often you will be in parts of town that may not be a safe as others. If in doubt, call the Police to check vacant property before you go inside if you feel at all uneasy.

Also recommended is a data phone with email and internet access, I use a BlackBerry and highly recommend that you consider one. Many BPO Companies will broadcast a request to several agents in your area; the first one to respond gets it. If you only have email access at your office, you will often be too late in responding.

If you have at least two years Real Estate experience, willing to drive a little, and do some research you will likely find BPOs a good source of additional income. Your BPO income will not match a home sale, but if you build up a client list, it just may very well keep the bills paid until a sale comes in.

Important: Dealing in BPOs usually requires a Real Estate License in your state along with at least two years experience.

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Source by John Robertson

Ozone Generator Buying Guide

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If you're a homeowner and your home has recently suffered water damage, smoke damage, mold infestation, or the dreaded "smell of death" from an expired rodent in a crawl space, then you've probably read that an ozone generator might just be the answer to your problems. However, with so many different types of ozone machines on the market, how is one to decipher between fact, fiction, and pure unadulterated BS? I have a few tips that will help you avoid getting ripped off and help you make a wise ozone generator buying decision.

The first thing you have to realize is that the ozone generator industry as a whole is not regulated by any government agency. More than half of the so called ozone generator manufacturers are nothing but Internet opportunists trying to cash in on a high priced, somewhat in demand product. These unscrupulous vendors make their overpriced ozone machines in their own garages, set-up a website that makes all kinds of outrageous claims as to the output capabilities of their ozone machines, then advertise their website in the Search Engines. A sure fire way to weed out a few of these vendors is to do a Google search of their business address then use the "street view" feature by dragging and dropping the "little man icon" onto the street right in front of their business address . If you see a residential home, you might want to steer clear of that vendor. Post why? It's easy to shut down your operations when you're doing business from home. When you invest in a business location, it shows you're in it for the long haul and it's harder to walk away from a "brink and mortar" location than it is from a home run business. Why should you care that the vendor is in business for the long haul? Because ozone generators are prone to fail due to the very corrosive nature of ozone and the damaging effects it has on the metal components within switches, timers, relays, etc. Same goes for eBay vendors who buy a lot of ozone machines without also investing in replacement parts. When their supply runs out, they're out of the ozone business, and you're left with an expensive door stop when your machine fails in due time.

Once you find an ozone machine that tickles your fancy and you're ready to invest your hard earned money, the next question one must ask themselves is "How do I know if this machine really puts out as much ozone as the vendor claims? Ozone generator manufacturers do not have to validate the ozone machines they sell to ensure they are producing the amount of ozone being claimed. I've seen some vendors claim 16,000 to 20,000 milligrams per hour yet when we tested those machines in our shop with our ozone meter, they produced 3000-5000 mg / h. That's quite a big difference between what is actually being produced and what is being claimed. How then can you make sure the ozone generator you purchase is actually producing the amount of ozone being advertised? Simple ! Ask the vendor the following questions in an e-mail (future fodder for a 100% money back should you test the machine and find the information provided was incorrect)

QUESTION # 1. How Many Volts is the Power Supply! An ozone generator creates ozone by creating an electrical spark that splits oxygen in the air. In order to accomplish this feat, you have to create a high voltage electrical spark. A simple rule I've observed in the lab and well recognized in the ozone industry is that a 3000 volt transformer can produce around 3000 mg / h of ozone per hour when attached to a high voltage ozone element or six or more MICA plates at 40 % humidity or less. Each Mica plate can produce a maximum of about 400 milligrams of ozone per hour IF it is properly installed due to the weak electrical spark it is capable of generating from the wire mesh. If you own a MICA plate ozone generator, view the plate in the dark. It will not light up very bright, very dimly as a matter of fact. The types of ozone plates that turn bright purple in the dark are called "High Voltage Ozone Elements" and they can produce around 3000-4000 mgh per plate when fed with a 3000-4000 volt power transformer. These types of plates glow purple, almost like UV lamp, in the dark. They create a very strong electrical spark that is much more efficient at producing ozone vs the old fashioned MICA plates. As a matter of fact a 4000 volt transformer and ozone element only uses about 35 watts of electricity, now that's efficient! Therefore, Tip # 1 is to ask the vendor to e-mail you in writing the exact voltage, amps, and watts used by their power transformers and how many and which type of ozone plates their machines use. If a vendor claims for instance their machine produces 16 to 20 thousand milligrams of ozone per hour but their machine only uses one 5000 volt transformer, then you'll things just do not add up.

QUESTION # 2. What type of ozone element does the ozone machine use? Believe it or not, some vendors will try and convince you that the ozone elements in their machines are "permanent" and will last forever. Folks, there's no such thing as a permanent ozone plate! If used in 90-100% humidity, even the expensive high voltage ozone plates will only last 20-40 hours. Ozone generators are not made to be used in 90% plus humidity! In humid areas, you must run the air conditioning or a dehumidifier in order to perform a shock treatment. Tip # 2 therefore is to think twice before buying an ozone generator from a vendor who does not offer replacement ozone plates or makes a machine that utilizes "MICA" plates.

Once you have those answers in writing, save the e-mail in case you need to use it to obtain a refund in the future. When you receive your ozone generator, have a local electrician friend of the family (or hire someone) to open your ozone generator and give it the once over and test the strength (in volts) of the power transformer. If you discover the stated voltage does not match the advertised voltage, ask for a refund. After all, what you're buying when you buy an ozone generator are high voltage power transformers, not a slick sales pitch! The honest vendors will clearly state their machines specifications on their websites and via e-mail if asked. They'll also provide you with a picture of the inside of their units and disclose the amount of plates, type used, etc. You should be weary of vendors who hold this information close to the vest or refuse to go on the record with this information.

Now you know what questions to ask an ozone machine vendor before making a purchase. I want to close out this "Ozone Generator Buying Guide" by giving you a few tips on how to save money on your purchase:

Tip # 1. Ask the vendor if they sell any used units or any "bare bones" ozone generators. Many ozone generator vendors will have spare parts on hand from returned or fixed units they can sell "on the down low" for a mere pittance of the retail price . Others might be able to sell you a "bare bones ozone generator" without any of the bells and whistles you can easily use to make your own ozone generator, especially if you're the "do-it-yourself" type. You might also want to check eBay to see if anyone is selling high voltage power transformers in the 3000-12,000 volt range or high voltage ozone elements that can be easily attached to the power transformer. Some ozone vendors want $ 1000 or more for their ozone generators, however, the fact of the matter is that ozone machines are pretty basic electronic components and they should not cost as much as a used car, especially if you buy the main components and " Do It Yourself. "

Tip # 2. Do not buy an ozone generator with too many "bells and whistles". Ozone as I've already mentioned is very corrosive over time to all metals except stainless steel. Unfortunately, all electronic switches, relays, etc needs to use regular metal in order to be conduce electricity. What we have therefore is a dilemma. The solution? Do not buy an ozone generator with all the bells and whistles! This would include an internal timer, ozone output dial (to turn the ozone up and down), etc. Just realize that if you do buy an ozone generator with these parts that eventually the ozone is going to destroy those parts and all it takes to shut down an ozone generator is to have one of the electrical components fail. If you want a timer, buy an external timer for $ 5 at Lowe's. If you want to be able to turn the ozone output up and down, buy a "repeat cycle timer" that can turn your ozone generator on for a few seconds ever x amount of minutes, and repeat that cycle indefinitely. Both of those items can be connected via an extension cord in another room to your ozone generator. Less is more when it comes to longevity in shock treatment ozone generators.

Tip # 3. Do not over do it when performing shock treatments! There is a reason the trained professionals that administer ozone shock treatments command thousands of dollars to perform shock treatments; they know what they're doing and how to safely and effectively perform a shock treatment without leaving your home smelling like ozone for weeks after the shock treatment! Besides being an ozone generator manufacturer, I also run a restoration business that employs ozone in some of our work. For mold remediation, ozone only plays a small role in riding the house of toxic mold for instance. Sheet rock has to be taken down and replaced, super high CFM air cleaners make sure the mold, when disturbed, is not re-distributed throughout the structure. Wet wood has to be dried. Leaky pipes have to be fixed, etc etc. Yes, shock levels of ozone will kill the mold, but that's just a small part of mold remediation, regardless of what some ozone vendors might advertise to help hawk their units.

The main mistake I see homeowners make when doing a shock treatment is not properly removing or covering all petroleum based products such as carpet foam, sofa cushions, etc. We use Kevlar to cover carpets and foam filled sofas, mattresses, etc. Kevlar is ozone resistant and will keep the foam from interacting with the ozone. Ozone will oxidize foam and rubber and cause a chemical-ozone smell that can linger for weeks. So tip # 3 is to not over do it with an ozone shock treatment! One or two hour shock treatments in furniture filled homes is advisable. You might have to perform several such shock treatments, but it's better to be safe than sorry when shocking a furniture filled home. Some vendors tell their clients to just turn the ozone generator on and let it run for a few days. I strongly advise against that practice.

Tip # 4. When you are ready to buy, call the vendor and order over the phone. Odds are at some point in time your ozone generator is going to need service. I do not know about you but I hate buying something on-line, having it break down, then not being able to speak with a live person for support without having to wait on hold for 30 minutes or worse yet, not being able to speak to a live person at all then not having my e-mails answered! You can nip this type of situation in the bud by first calling. If you can not easily get through and get a well informed live person to answer the phone to place your order, then consider buying elsewhere. This bit of advice goes for making any large ticket item purchase on the Internet.

If you want to save money and make a wise investment, ask the right questions before you buy your ozone generator and also consider incorporating some of my tip suggestions as well. The more you shop around, the more time you spend doing some Internet research, and most importantly, the more time you spend e-mailing and talk directly with the vendor, the more likely you are to make a wise investment and end up with a great ozone machine that lasts you a lifetime.

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Source by Mickey Alcantara

Power Pole Setter – Machines That Do the Work for You

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As cities expand and rural areas begin to open up to development, more and more rough terrain utility pole installations are being seen across the US When work is contracted out to companies who specialize in this type of job, the companies should be able to provide a power pole setter than can get the work done with smaller crews and more controlled precision. The machinery used should also be able to work through any kind of weather, including strong winds and ice. Poleset is a company who qualifies across the board, offering to get rough terrain jobs done in no time by utilizing our Xtreme Polesetter II hard-tracked trucks.

The Polesetter II has been engineered to work even in the harshest of inclement weathers and rough land terrain. The truck was tested by independent parties using computer generated analysis to ensure that it would live up to the claims made of its abilities. This impressive power pole setter is able to dig a hole to the appropriate depth with ease, effortlessly lift and place the nearly half-ton pole, and attach requisite wires seamlessly. Other pole setters may vary in size, making different machines right for different jobs, but before every job begins, engineering and design plans are thoroughly researched and implemented.

Before excavation of land begins for the power pole setter to drop in the towers, crews will be thinking about everything involved in the job, including the new installations, retrofitting or upgrading existing systems, consolidation, or realignments. Designers will do their best to ensure that work done in a neighborhood will block street and sidewalk access as little as possible and also do their best to ensure that the end result does not add up to a cluttered street view. Pre-planning allows for maximizing space for drops, reducing clutter, cutting, and trenching, and creating a job environment that is safer for the amount of planning to ensure that it will be so.

With the amazing modern machinery used today, it's no wonder that power pole setters have cut down both crew size and job time from years gone by. These trucks are able to be transported easily to and from job sites without ruining lawns and landscapes in the process, can hoist one to two workers 60 feet into the air to reach important work spaces with little fear of injury, and can be remotely operated to ensure safety in cases where extra precaution is required. Durable, weather touch, and quick, it make sense to have these trucks, especially trucks like the Xtreme Polesetter II, with you on any pole set job.

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Source by Jerry Seaman