The ability to visualize a property being put to other uses is a skill that you can quickly develop by expanding your knowledge of the types of properties that house various businesses and industries. I read over 20 trade publications a month, which cover a variety of industries, ranging from transportation to logistics to site selection to metal building construction to operating convenience stores. The one thing that all of these trade publications have in common is that they are all involved in real estate in one form or the other. I read these magazines, which, by the way, I receive free of charge, to help stimulate my creative thought process about the various ways in which a piece of property can be put to use. And this helps me to connect the dots between a particular type of property that is in demand and the prospective buyers who may have an urgent need for that type of property. I am also able to pick up bits and pieces of information about the real estate needs of various types of businesses and industries throughout the southeastern United States. For example, a couple of years ago, I read a property wanted ad in a trade publication where a national convenience store chain was seeking a 10,000 square foot refrigerated warehouse in Central Florida, between Tampa and Orlando. I called the person in charge of the real estate department to see if the company would be interested in purchasing an existing warehouse, which could be converted into a cold storage facility. She said they would if the purchase price came in below the replacement cost for an existing facility and the property was located in Lakeland, Florida. I called my insurance broker, who gave me the current cost per square foot to replace a refrigerated warehouse in Lakeland, which is located in Polk County, right smack dab in the middle between Tampa and Orlando. I immediately called the Polk County Property Appraiser's Office and ordered a listing on CD-ROM of all the parcels in Polk County under code number 48 of the Florida Department of Revenue's land use code, which is used to designate warehouses and distribution centers. In my property data request to the property appraiser, I asked for the parcel address, assessed value, square footage, and type of construction, along with the owner's mailing address. Once I received the list, which cost me a grand total of $60, I deleted every parcel with a building over 15,000 square feet from the CD-ROM. Next, I deleted all of the parcels that did not have buildings made of concrete block construction. I wanted concrete block buildings because they provide better insulation than metal or wood, which is important in a hot place like Florida. I ended up with a list of 12 properties that met my basic criteria. I looked up the properties on the property appraiser's web site and then did a quick drive-by inspection of each property. Out of the 12 properties, three were run-down and appeared to be vacant. And those were the three property owners that I sent letters to, proposing to buy a one-year option. I ended up buying an option on one of the properties for $5,000, which I resold a month later to the convenience store chain for a $25,000 profit. All in all, I had spent less than 40 hours putting the whole deal together. However, I would never have had a $25,000 payday if I had not read the property wanted ad in a trade publication and then been able to connect the dots!
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