WTH: You’re Ignorant AND Can’t Tell Time?

WHAT THE HELL do you mean you’re not paying the rest of the survey fee? (I always get at least 50% retainer, for just this situation.)

So, you say my survey is wrong, why?

  “The tax map says I have 152 feet of frontage and you show only 141 feet. Your survey is WRONG.”

The 141 feet ± shown, sir, is a straight line distance from one pin to the other. Your property actually is a series of 3 curves and a straight line. You actually have the 151 feet of frontage along the right-of-way that’s shown in red.

  “So you’re saying my line is out in the street?

Well sir, in fact the pavement is actually built over your front line. Whoever paved it didn’t stay within the lines too well. (I said with a smile, trying to introduce some levity, which most times helps.)

  “YOU’RE CRAZY, SO I CAN JUST PUT UP A FENCE OUT INTO THE ROAD AND BLOCK THE STREET?”

Well I wouldn’t advise it sir, but it is your land. I recommend you call the City or County first and discuss it with them.

  “There’s no way that’s right. AND YOUR BILL IS WRONG TOO. Your guys were out here about an hour and they didn’t even know what they were doing.”

Sir, they were out there over 4 hours, you were with them the whole time. And, they are supposed to find as many corners as possible to check the pins that your neighbor’s surveyor set. They ended up shooting 3 or 4 pins on one side of your lot and all of your neighbors pins plus some more just to make sure yours was right. You asked for that right.? Plus, I discounted all that time off, down to our original contract amount. I ate that time.

  “So you came off my neighbors corners? I told you I thought they moved them. I’M NOT PAYING YOU TO SURVEY HIS PROPERTY.”

Well sir, another surveyor actually set the two pins between your land and his. They appear, from the FOUR hours work we did, to be in the right location, maybe a few inches too far on you, but not significant.

“WELL I’M NOT PAYING YOU. You’ll have to talk to my lawyer. He’s my father-in-law.”

The conversation was similar to that but much longer, and more heated than I can illustrate with words. But you get it, the guy didn’t like the answer he got – his out building was over the line over 3 feet, just as the other surveyor found. So, he starts attacking my professionalism and integrity, along with the crew’s competence and that they lied about the time (or that I did.)

I’ve never been to the Supreme Court, and I’m not sure this case will make it, but I’d like to go as far as it takes with this guy, just to wave my $300 in his face after he pays it. In reality, it will cost me $3000 (attorney, my time, and lost opportunity) and a sleepless night or two. Not to mention the frustration each time I think about it.

So, do I take it all the way to the Supreme Court, or do I let this guy get away with $300 of my money?

7/26/2016: As an Update, I joined LegalShield (formerly Prepaid Legal) and spoke to an Alabama attorney. His opinion was that because I did work ON the property and left behind stakes and flagging that I met the requirements for filing a lien against the property in Alabama. He sent a letter to the guys attorney (father-in-law) on my behalf. We’ll see. I do recommend LegalShield for your business, and not just because I might get a couple of bucks if you join. Well worth $39/month.

J. Keith Maxwell is a Professional Land Surveyor and Engineer in Alabama and frequently has conversations with people just to get his heart pumping faster. It’s usually about money. (Aren’t they all?)

WTH: Why the Hell is it Illegal to Bid Survey Work?

Why the HELL l did I just tell that guy that I can’t give him a price on $25,000 to $30,000 worth of work? He said “are you kidding me?” “I know it sounds idiotic sir but that’s the law here in Alabama. Our Board of Licensure says it is illegal for an Engineer and/or Land Surveyor in the State of Alabama to bid work. We would be putting our license at jeopardy. “ WTH?

In Alabama the Board of Licensure (BOL) regulates the practice of land surveying and engineering. All states have a similar entity for that state. I’m not sure about the Qualification Based Selection (QBS) regulations in each one though, but I suspect at least some are similar.

The 1992 Brooks Act

I first heard of QBS in the early 90’s – 1992 to be exact. It was introduced as a procurement process by the US Congress as a part of the Brooks Act, Public Law 92-582, according to Wikipedia. This was to be used by the federal government in the selection of Architects and Engineers. Land Surveyors were identified under the Engineering field at the time. After that, many States adopted their own version of the Brooks Act for themselves.

Having recognized that the “lowest cost” is NOT the best way to obtain professional services, this was done as a means to cut out this aspect of the selection process. This is often compared to you selecting a doctor. You wouldn’t necessarily choose a doctor based on what he/she charges for their services, would you?

Aren’t ALL Land Surveyors the Same?

A part of this, to me, is that the public ASSUMES that ALL land surveyors (or engineers, or architects, or lawyers) are generally of the same competency level, or quality level. This is related to the Time-Quality-Cost Triangle that I mentioned in a previous article. The problem is that ALL professionals are NOT the same, some are better, or more qualified than others for certain jobs. Now, we can’t CLAIM to be better than someone else, but it is obvious that there are differing competency levels among all the members of a profession. One of my favorite jokes is “What do you call a guy who graduates last in Medical School?” “A doctor.” Same goes for land surveyors, engineers, architects, and lawyers.

The Alabama Law Reference

Here is the direct law reference for professionals in Alabama: (emphasis added)

330-x-14-.05(f) The engineer or land surveyor,shall not participate in or implement procurement practices (bid submittals) which do not first determine the qualifications of the engineer or land surveyor prior to entering into fee negotiations for services being sought. An engineer or land surveyor having submitted a statement of qualification and performance data, and having first been judged as the qualified individual or firm to provide the services required for the proposed project, may proceed to negotiate a contract with a client and establish compensation or fees for the required services.

AND

330-x-14-.06 (a) The engineer or land surveyor shall not:

14. Participate in procurement procedures for engineering or land surveying services either by providing the bids or in requesting bids from other professional engineers or land surveyors where bidding is the primary consideration.

No Limits Before Law Applies to Professionals

Now, the most significant difference in the Federal and State Brooks Act and these references from the Law governing land surveyors and engineers is that there is NO LIMIT on when this law applies to Professionals under the Board of Licensure’s Law. The federal limit is $150,000 before the law applies. For the State of Alabama, the limit is $15,000 before the law applies. So, the Board of Licensure in Alabama has put the limit at $1 effectively by not giving a bottom limit.

This means that for ANY call that comes into our office WE, the professionals must explain the Brooks Act and QBS as it applies. Now, understand, it is NOT illegal for our potential clients to ask for Bids, just us to provide a bid. Again, unlike the Federal and State statutes, the one procuring the services is NOT responsible.

Summary

If you think that this is an undue burden on us as professionals, many agree with you. If you also think that having no bottom limit is idiotic, many agree with that also.

BUT, this is the law for Professionals in Alabama. Therefore, we must adhere to it or face consequences from our BOL who told us that they will “aggressively seek out and discipline” practitioners who may violate the “letter or spirit” of the BOL rules.

Our professional society, the Alabama Society of Professional Land Surveyors (ASPLS) has responded that they “see serious flaws with the concept at the workaday level and it is time for adjustments to be made.” But that has yet to be done. Hopefully the BOL will take this up at their next meeting.

Ref: http://alabamaadministrativecode.state.al.us/docs/eng/index.html

J. Keith Maxwell is a Land Surveyor and Civil Engineer in Alabama. He has to teach multiple people a day about QBS. At this rate everyone in America will know about it by 2096. He will be 135.

40 Years of Change in Land Surveying

This picture is of my Dad, Johnny Earl Maxwell (middle), my brother Joel (right), and an Uncle who’s land they were surveying. Joel is the only one of us who didn’t survey professionally. My brother Allen and I both followed in Dad’s footsteps to become land surveyors. But we were all introduced to this life early. As soon as we could chop a limb with a bush axe we were on the survey party. We learned to look back and stay on line, to tape distances, and to listen to orders barked out by Dad. “Your other left” being his favorite. “Right a hair,” a couple hundredths or “right a fuzz,” less than a hair, were measurements we also learned. We learned hand signals, because if there were radios, Dad was too cheap to buy them. Of course we would have run the batteries down playing with them anyway. But, beside the personal memories, I wanted to talk about the changes that have taken place in Land Surveying in the last 40 years or so.

Land Surveying Equipment

One of the first things I notice from this mid to late 70’s picture is that we, like most other surveyors, used a Surveyor’s Transit. I went with Dad to buy this used one, for about $700 at the time. Considering that in 1976 he bought a brand new pickup for $3,000, this was a lot of money. This instrument required you to read a vernier to obtain both the horizontal and vertical angles, to the nearest 20 seconds if I recall.

The distances were measured with a 100-foot steel tape. After lots of practice, and measuring the distance twice, we could probably get to within a tenth of a foot accuracy.

All the field notes were taken in a field book and then we hand calculated the traverse closure with latitude and departures. The drawings were done by hand with a protractor and scale.

Today we use a Total Station, which is a combination theodolite, electronic distance meter, and a data collector. Everything is digital and stored for you in the data collector, usually to the nearest second or two and the hundredth of a foot. This data produces coordinates which are then transferred to the computer for final drafting.

GPS on Railroad Track

All of this is much more precise than the older methods, and I haven’t even mentioned GPS yet. GPS has taken coordinates and precision to a whole other level. But thick tree canopy is still kryptonite to GPS.

Another recent invention is the Laser Scanner, which I re-posted a video about on Facebook recently. I may write an article about this instrument at a later time, but it’s a game changer for many applications, primarily as-built surveys.

Land Surveying Software

As I mentioned above, we wrote down all of our measurements in a field book, and then used a simple trig calculator to calculate latitudes (change in easting) and departures (change in northing) between two points. From this you would add up all of these changes for each line and hopefully get back to Zero. The error you got was the linear closure error. We summed the interior angles to compare to “(n-2) x 180 degrees”. And then the drawing was done by hand. Area was calculated by the DMD, double meridian distance method, a very long hand calculation process.

Today we have the data collectors attached or built-in to the Total Station and then can transfer that data directly to the computer, directly into a Computer Aided Drafting (CAD) program. Closure is checked in the program, then we either make some adjustments, or go on to connect the dots and then automatically label the bearings and distances of the boundary lines. Acreage is calculated with the push of a button. The legal description can also be written almost automatically, except for a few personal preference edits.

Surveying Precision is Better

The definition of precision is “the repeat-ability of a certain measurement.” With more and more precise measuring tools, the closer you can get to the actual measurement of an angle or a line. This then gives more precise area measurements. All measurements have errors. But, generally, the more precise your measurements, the more probable your accuracy, or “closeness to the actual measurement” you should be.

This is a good thing considering that the value of land is extremely more than 40 years ago. Even small mistakes now are a big deal. When distances were measured with a Gunters’ chain, measurements were within one link, about 8 inches, or 0.66 feet. Today we should be 30 times better.

Land Surveyors are Different

Of course, the old man is older still today, but that’s not what I mean. Land Surveyors today are expected to have MUCH more knowledge than in years past. In most states a 4-year land surveying degree is required to become a land surveyor. In addition, the experience required is increased.

A surveyor is also expected to have a clear understanding of the laws that govern land surveying today. There are many cases from the courts that have changed the way land disputes are decided, and surveyors must stay up to speed on these. But there are also older legal principles which haven’t changed over the years. And, I personally think that we as surveyors haven’t done enough study of this facet of land surveying. There are a few issues today that divide land surveyors as to the proper way to handle them. One, for example, is the division of a section into aliquot parts. Should you re-measure the entire section out with our more precise methods and re-divide the section into quarter-quarters, or should we hold to corners long accepted as the quarter-quarter corners? I believe the latter, but there are those who will debate me on that.

Summary

Is land surveying better today, or are land surveyors better? Well, we have better equipment and software, and we have access to more knowledge than ever before. So, it’s possible for us to do a better job and faster, but it still takes a conscientious and studious practitioner to be a better land surveyor.

J. Keith Maxwell is a Land Surveyor and Civil Engineer in Alabama. He started surveying in the Cheaha mountain area of the state and has since gotten out of the woods completely, mainly sending others out. He feels it’s much nicer looking back fondly than actually being out there chopping bushes.

WTH: Why The Hell Am I Working at 11pm?

As the kids say on text, WTH? Whiskey Tango Hotel? Why the H E double hockey sticks was I still working at 11:00 pm on Friday night? And why is my phone ringing again at 6:51 am on Saturday morning ABOUT THE SAME JOB?

Maybe this has happened to you – someone calls frantic, normally a realtor. They are at the closing or on the day of the closing and find out they need a survey.

“Nobody Told Us We Needed a Survey!”

Wait, you’re a REALTOR, you went to the classes, all 60 hours of them. You passed the test. You took some more classes, another 30 hours. Now you have a license to collect about 1.5% commission on anything you LIST and/or SELL. You work for a BROKER, who gets another 1.5% commission on that same transaction. And you didn’t know that you need a survey? Or, you don’t want to advise your client that is buying the land that she NEEDS to know where the property lines. After all, she is spending $100,300 for this home and 9 acres of land. (Wow, that seems cheap, but that is beside my point.) Even at that low price, that is a significant investment. What if they want to put up a fence? What if their neighbor is encroaching? There’s endless what if’s. Just read the title insurance policy to see all of them. And, speaking of the title insurance policy, did you read the part that says if you don’t have a survey they won’t cover anything that comes up that a survey WOULD have found?

Did the buyer get a look of the tax map (above)? Did you look at the tax map? Did you see that there was 3800 linear feet of property boundary lines, with 11 sides? Did you see that it is ALL wooded? (And the Parcel number is unlucky #13, but you can’t help that.)

OK, maybe you don’t know why you should have a survey. That’s my fault, or at least my profession’s fault for not educating you AND the general public. Let me educate you – YOU ALWAYS NEED A SURVEY. You need a survey as much or more than you need a Realtor. Just sayin’

“Lot Surveys Are Normally $400”

Yes, I know “lot surveys are normally $400,” or around that. This ISN’T a lot survey. A“lot survey” is normally a small lot, less than an acre, in a platted subdivision, which has been surveyed and pins set when the subdivision was done. This is a larger tract of land, over 9 acres, and we don’t know if it has EVER been surveyed. A boundary survey is required. And, DID YOU LOOK AT THE TAX MAP?

“Why Is It SO Much?”

So, “Why is it so much?” Well, did you look at the tax map or the deed? “Realtors don’t usually get the deed.” OK, maybe you should, especially if you’re the listing agent. That’s worth at least as much as a picture of the property. So is a picture of the Tax Map. (Note to self, I need to tell you about the difference between a tax map and a survey map.) And, an old survey would also be great. If I were a listing agent, I’d round all of these things up, as well as maybe the flood map and have a picture of them on the listing. Us surveyors would LOVE you for it.

The Size and Shape of the Parcel Affects the Price Most

OK, the reason that it’s so much is that this is a 9 acre parcel with 11 sides all in the woods. AND, you’re wanting me to do the work on Saturday and Sunday. And then at 11:00 pm you tell me your client wants to get another price. (Remind me to tell you about how we also can’t BID for survey work.)

Eight Years & Two Exams Passed To Practice Land Surveying

And, I’m a licensed surveyor. In Alabama now, that requires me to have a college degree in Land Surveying. Then I can take the first EIGHT hour Land Surveyor Intern test. Then I have to have FOUR years of experience working for another surveyor before I can take the EIGHT hour Professional Land Surveyor license exam.  When I took the test, I only had to have a four-year degree and 2 years of experience before I could take the 16 hours of exams. And, they only have about a 50% pass/fail rate.

Significant Equipment Expense

Now, let’s talk about the equipment we have to have in order to do the survey. In addition to the two or three employees in the field and the drafter in the office, the equipment investment is significant. A surveying instrument setup to do a basic boundary survey is in the $20,000 to $35,000. Computer and Software adds another $5000 minimum. And, if you have GPS, and most surveyors need it now, that will set you back another $15,000 to $30,000.

Continuing Education

Then, there’s continuing education, 15 hours each year. Most of us get way more than that. We have to stay on top of new technologies, we have to read the law and court cases, know federal, state, and local standards for doing our work, manage employees, handle mandated business issues, manage contracts and collections, and make “professional judgements” about where to set pins that can’t be found.

Time-Quality-Cost Triangle

Good - Fast - Cheap Triangle

You may have seen the above triangle. This is a common pricing model for many types of service. You can pick ONLY two of these factors. In our profession, one of the factors MUST be GOOD by law. It is unethical for us to do a poor job on a survey.  So, you only choose between fast or cheap.

Good + Cheap = Slow

Good + Fast = Expensive

Summary

I’m NOT saying that my job is harder than yours. It’s different. I’m not really concerned with what commission you charge. You should get paid for the work and value you provide, and most folks can’t sell their house or buy a house without an agent. They could very well make a mistake worth more than the sales commission. I just want the same courtesy, to be paid for my knowledge, work, and value that is put into the survey of a parcel of land and to have you, as a real estate agent, understand the role that a professional land surveyor plays in the whole real estate ownership process.

J. Keith Maxwell is a Professional Land Surveyor and Civil Engineer in Alabama. He stays up late at night and wakes early to answer questions that frantic real estate salespeople ask, hoping to meet their and their clients needs and to gain a loyal customer for the future. He lives in a constant state of frustration.

Welcome

Welcome to USA Land Surveyors. This site is owned by a land surveyor and it is for land surveyors. After 25 years owning his own land surveying and engineering consulting firm, Keith Maxwell was “forced” to do marketing by the Great Recession. After much trial and error he hit on this thing called the Internet, which blew away all the other marketing methods. For the last 5 years he’s been helping other surveyors get found on the front page of Google in their local market.

Why Land Surveyors MUST Be Online

Keith works with only one local surveyor per city or town. No city is too small for internet marketing. If you have more than 2 competitors, you need to be found on Google ahead of them, preferably in 1st place.Keith Maxwell, PLS, PE

If you prefer to be only found for ALTA Land Surveys, we have a page dedicated to this valuable surveying business type.

Call Keith today at 888-316-4124 to talk about how he can help market your land surveying business and get found on Page 1 of Google.

Six Things To Know About Your Property

Your property and house may be your single largest purchase in your life. You should protect it with the diligence that you would a stack of gold. Here are a half dozen things you should know about your property.

  1. Where are the property corners/property lines? And, what is marking the corners?
  2. Are there any encroachments over my property lines? If so, how far? Are these encroachments by me onto my neighbor or vice versa?
  3. Are there easements across my land?
  4. Am I in a flood hazard zone?
  5. Do I have a copy of my deed?
  6. Do I have a drawing from the last survey?

Where are my Property Lines/Property Corners?

Property corners are usually marked by some type of permanent marker, like a rebar or metal pipe. Wooden stakes rarely mark your property corners, they are a witness to the metal corner that is probably buried underground near the stake. So, a little digging may be necessary to find your corner. Surveyors bury these corners to keep them from being hit by lawn mowers or pulled up by neighbors.

Your property lines run between two property corners. Most times property lines run in a straight line, though they could also be in a curve. Typically road right-of-ways are the most probable curved lines. By looking at the original plat of your property at the courthouse (for a subdivision lot) you can determine if any of your lines are curved.

If you are not in a platted subdivision, there should be a “metes & bounds” legal description on your deed to indicate the distances and any curved lines. If you don’t have a copy of the deed look County Probate or Recorders office.

Are There Encroachments Over My Property Lines?

An encroachment is anything man-made, owned by one landowner that is built over their property line between them and another owner. Common encroachments are driveways, retaining walls, fences, outbuildings, and utility lines. These encroachments can be in either direction. If your driveway encroaches onto your neighbors land, that is an encroachment onto them. It is more of a problem for them than you, technically. If this isn’t significant, and wouldn’t hinder you using your driveway, then it may not be worth bringing up to your neighbor. And, if a neighbor’s driveway, or fence, or other object encroaches barely (less than a 6-inches) then this may not be worth arguing over.

Property Line Encroachments - Land SurveyingOnce an encroachment is found, there are numerous solutions. Moving the encroaching object is most times the easiest. If this will create a significant burden, then an easement can be written that indicates that both sides are aware of the encroachment and they are OK with it as long as it doesn’t setup any type of adverse possession claims later.

Are There Easements Across My Land?

An easement is where one person or entity (a utility company for example) has a right to use your land, but doesn’t own that part of your land. Common easements are for sanitary sewers, water mains, storm drainage, power lines or other utilities, or access easements. An easement is for a specific purpose. A sanitary sewer easement cannot be used for a power line, unless an additional agreement is given by the landowner. You should know of any easements that are currently on your property. There is usually some type of recorded document of an easement.

There are also times when an unwritten easement has been “given” (acquiesced) by you not stopping the use. In one case I know of, a landowner allowed school children to cut through his yard for years and later when a new owner tried to stop this “trespass” he could not do so because it had been allowed to go on for so long a time.

Am I in a Flood Hazard Zone?

Flood Hazard Maps are created by FEMA to show the areas that are susceptible to flooding during a 1-percent chance storm event. You can find these flood maps by visiting the FEMA Map Service Center and entering your street address. Flood zones are determined by a certain elevation, the Base Flood Elevation (BFE), in the vicinity of your house. If the flood zone adjacent or on your property is anything other than Zone A, which has no BFE determined, then the surveyor has a flood elevation he can compare to your house elevation.  You can learn more by visiting our elevation certificate page.

Flood Hazard Zone - Elevation Certificate

Do I Have a Copy of My Deed?

If you can’t find your deed, one can typically be found in the Probate or Recorders office at your local county courthouse. Some counties have these documents online and others require you to visit the courthouse. The record room is usually staffed by someone who can help you find your deed. Expect to pay a copying fee if you want to take a copy home with you.

You should have a copy of your deed if you want to hire a surveyor to find your property corners. If you live in a subdivision that is platted (the entire map is recorded in the Probate Office) you can get a copy of a portion of the plat map that covers your lot. Carrying a digital camera or camera on your phone is often preferable to a paper copy, and cheaper. Snap a picture of all parts of a subdivision plat for the surveyor.

Do I Have a Drawing from The Last Survey?

If you haven’t had a survey done on your property since you moved in you may have to ask the former owners for that. If they don’t have it, then you may have to rely on just the subdivision plat copy from the courthouse. If you did have a survey done, and you can’t find it, contact the surveyor who completed the survey and ask for an unsigned copy.

When you get a new survey completed, protect the survey drawing just like you would your other valuable papers. You may have paid hundreds or thousands of dollars for this survey and having a copy is extremely valuable to you if you had to have any additional survey work done in the future. A prior survey is an invaluable document for us surveyors trying to “retrace” your property lines.

Keith Maxwell is a licensed land surveyor and civil engineer in the State of Alabama. He has over 25 years’ experience in surveying property in the state. Contact him at 334-826-9540 for help with your property in Alabama.

Even Millionaires Have Fence Problems

Boundary Line Disputes – Fence Problems

In this NY Post Article, two Manhattan millionaires fight over the placement of a fence. One neighbor, who’s fence had been over the line by 12-inches for 20 years tried to sue for “squatters rights” and prevent the neighbor from making improvements to their property and taking down the fence.

While I can’t really sympathize with millionaires about anything, it certainly shows you that boundary line disputes can happen to anyone.

Even if your land isn’t worth millions per square foot, you should “protect your boundary lines.” It has certainly been the case in the past that fences have “matured” to the point that they are judged to be the property line.

So, if your neighbor’s fence is over the line, or a wall, or anything really, you should do something about it. Now, you don’t have to always sue them.

One solution might be to write them an easement for the encroachment and have them sign and acknowledge the encroachment. This lets them know that you know they are encroaching, and their agreement to the easement should remove any chance of them taking the property.

Of course, always consult an attorney in these matters. The attorney will want an updated survey so he/she knows what the situation is.

Protect your own property rights. Even if you’re not a millionaire.

 J. Keith Maxwell is a Professional Engineer & Land Surveyor and has acted as an Expert Witness on multiple boundary line disputes.

Get Permission to Market Your Business First

Interruption Based Marketing is the Worst

How many of you hate commercial interruptions as much as I do? Probably not many of you because I HATE them so much that I unplugged from Cable. I only watch the channels (Apps) that I subscribe to (Hulu & CBS mostly.) I even pay extra for Hulu to skip the commercials. CBS they still shows a few commercials, but less than watching live. I hate the interruptions. You may not realize it but an hour program contains almost 20 minutes of commercials.

As people flit from app to app online, they have little patience for any interruption, especially a banner ad or, heaven forbid, a 30-second commercial. – NYTimes Article

This is the same if you listen to radio, unless you pay for Satellite radio. So, we pay more to skip commercials in our lives. But advertisers are constantly trying to get our attention. They interrupt us with ads on videos, billboards, signs everywhere, and commercials on anything we can watch.

Interruption based marketing is the worst type, as opposed to Permission based marketing.

Permission Based Marketing is In

Permission based marketing is where the person you’re marketing to is actively looking for a business like yours. An early example is the Yellow Pages. Years ago, when you needed a plumber, you’d look in the Yellow Pages under Plumber and there they were. You were giving them permission to show you their ad and tell you what they could do for you.

Today folks use Search Engines, mainly Google. When someone searches for a “land surveyor near me” they are giving you permission to market to them. Stop and go enter “land surveyor city st” into Google. Did your company come up at the top of the list? Did you show up in the Top 3? Did you show up on the first page at all?

Permission Marketing by Seth Godin

Just like the Yellow Pages of old, if you aren’t in there, you aren’t in business.

I highly recommend Seth Godin’s book “Permission Marketing” for extra reading on this subject.

J. Keith Maxwell is a land surveyor and engineer in Alabama who is helping other surveyors to market their business online. Call him at 888-316-4124 to discuss how he can help you.

Benefits of Investing in Real Estate

Investing in real estate should be treated like any other investment you make.  You need to fully understand what you are getting into and the risks associated.

Investment Risk

ALL investments have some sort of risk. Even keeping your cash in a mason jar in the back yard has risks, and not just that you’ll forget where you buried it. Cash or CD’s paying a very low return carry “inflation risk.” This means that if you consider inflation, and you don’t earn more than inflation, you’re actually losing value in your money. Inflation averages around 3% per year. So, your money has to gain 3% in order for you just to keep up with the same buying ability for the same dollar.

Investing in mutual funds has “hidden fees” risk. Most mutual funds carry significant fees, anywhere from 0.5% to 5% which “drain away” from your balance without you knowing it.

There are many investors who view real estate as too risky of an investment to get involved in.  Another camp looks at real estate as the best way to make sustainable wealth now and in the future.  The benefits of investing in real estate greatly outweigh the negatives.  There is risk with everything you do, but real estate offers security and benefits that no other form of investing can match.

Top Reasons to Get Into the Real Estate Business

  • Tax benefitsThe tax benefits alone make real estate an attractive investment vehicle.  On any rental property you own you can write off mortgage interest and depreciation.  Because of this the money you make from cash flow is essentially tax free.  You can also use rental properties to claim deductions that will lower your taxable income for the year.  Even when you decide to sell you can take advantage of a 1031 tax exchange so you do not have to pay the full capital gains tax.  There are many ways to use the tax code to help your real estate business. And, passive income, is taxed at the lowest level.
  • Appreciation.  Buying a piece of real estate often times holds greater future value. Of course this is not the case all of the time but over the past several years we have seen values increase.  All markets work in cycles but in most cases property values will appreciate five and ten years down the road.  This gives you the ability to cash in on your investment when you sell in addition to see the rewards every month.
  • Cash flow.  Owning the right rental property allows you to collect checks every month while still looking at the future.  Running a rental property is not easy but it could offer a higher monthly return than anything else you do.  The beauty is that this cycle can continue in much the same way for years to come.  With the right property and the right tenants you can see cash flow for the foreseeable future.
  • Leverage. Real estate is one of the few investment vehicles where using the bank’s money couldn’t be easier. The ability to make a down payment, leverage your own capital, and increase your overall return on YOUR investment is incredible.
  • Uncapped returns.  With IRA’s and bonds you know what your annual returns will be from the first day you own them.  In most cases these returns will be less than 2%.  While this may be considered safe there is something to be said for the returns you are not making on your money.  Real estate gives you the ability to earn an unlimited amount of money on every deal.  Some deals you can earn a 20% rate of return while others only 10-12%.  The upside potential is much higher in real estate than anything else you will get into, including the stock market.
  • Private money lending. Real estate deals thrive on private money lending. Most property rehab projects can’t get bank funding. So real estate investors are needed. These returns can be extremely attractive AND they are guaranteed with real estate.

Summary

Some of the most successful people have accumulated their wealth through real estate.  There are risks associated with every type of investing but only with real estate does the reward make sense.

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J. Keith Maxwell is the Office Manager for Astute Home Solutions in Madison, AL. He buys and rehabs houses in order to make neighborhoods look better, to help employ others, and to help homeowners out of difficult situations. Call him at 866-HOMES60.