My Top Ten Tools...
...in the practice of producing insanely great places to live.
We really are getting to the point where we are moving bits and only doing windshield tours as a final check. Property data is now available online, and the amount of public data is tilting the value add equation. And getting to know the numbers has gotten dramatically easier with online tools--but it takes a fair amount of time to become proficient--
"Give me six hours to to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe."
Here is what I use when turning over stones to find a suitable project:
1. Google search rank has changed how I develop alternatives. The single greatest tool I use.
2. I keep Google Earth open on my desktop all day. Handy for virtual low altitude fly-bys of potential sites. I have a two monitor setup using an NVIDIA Geforce 7800GTX driving two Viewsonic VA1912wb's. I keep Google Earth on one monitor and my current app on the other.
4. For trends in residential markets, Zindex.
5. To understand how current and former residents are trash-talking multifamily properties I am underwriting, I check Apartment Ratings.
6. For property acquisitions, I use re3w. It only works on IE--is really buggy on Firefox, my preferred browser. And it uses MS Visual Earth, not Google Earth. Let me know if you have a better alternative.
7. Proformas are run on MS Excel, it has the flexibility to do whatever I need it to.
8. I use Dreamweaver to put together my web apps--great product, but I am only using about 10% of its capabilities. Need to sharpen this tool...
9. Movable Type v3.34 is my blogging software, a lot of brain damage setting it up on my server, but now seems to be running without a problem.
10. When I am laying out or checking elevations on site, I love my DeWalt Laser rotary level--self leveling, uses the standard DeWalt 18V battery packs, and beeps if it goes out of level.
11. And I never leave home without my trusty Treo 650.
12. My Leatherman Juice is essential to McGyver'ing my way out of a problem. It is always in my pocket...except when on my way to the airport.