Answering these twenty-one questions about a site will provide an excellent "snapshot" of a specific location. Every appraiser in the country would "love" to have this site data prior to beginning an assignment. As a buyer of real estate, these questions are imperative to understanding the "place" and its surroundings.
1. Name of the site. What is the common and "street name" of the address. Many commercial assets have a name, a street address and aka (also known as). Some have a well established name, others do not. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is also know as "The Met".
2. Address including zip code. The address and zip are imperative for accomplishing further layers of research, like obtaining traffic pattern data, census and block group numbers and crime statistics.
3. Site Contact Information. Who is your contact person for the transaction? They may not be on site.
4. Location. A short description of how to find the place. We have the address, but what are the cross streets?
5. Legal Description including lot and block number. Some refer to this as the description of boundaries.
6. Lot size with dimensions. This includes length and width, preferably with a rough drawing that reflects proximity to streets.
7. Gross acreage. This is a simple number extracted from the lot size dimensions and converted to square feet. For example, a lot size of 150 X 400 = 60,000 square feet, or 1.377 acres.
8. Zoning. What is the existing zoning? Are there zoning changes in process? Is current zoning aligned with current usage? What about zoning of appurtenant land?
9. Improvements. A paragraph describing existing structures and landscaping. Total square feet, year built, current usage. A short narrative on condition.
10. Site Characteristics. Write down what you see. What is the contour of the ground, height of the building. Give the reader a "sense of place" in a few short sentences.
11. Fire District. What is the official name of the governmental agency charged with fire response? Where is the closest fire hydrant and fire station.
12. Water/Sewer provider. Name and telephone number of who to call to turn on/off basic services. Sounds simple, but with so many overlapping jurisdictions it can take more than a minute.
13. Electrical service provider. Name and telephone number of who to call to turn on/off basic services. See #12.
14. Gas/natural gas provider. Name and telephone number of who to call to turn on/off basic services. See #12. Newer properties may be all electric.
15. Floodplain information. Is the property in a floodplain? If yes is it a 100 year floodplain or something else? Placement in a floodplain impacts insurance rates, so this is "must know" information.
16. Taxing Authority. Who does the real estate tax bill come from? What is the mil rate? When was the last assessment? When was the last increase?
17. Police and 911. Telephone number of local police responder. Depending on location, this could be local police, Sheriff, State Troopers. Find out. And get their phone number. Also, is 911 operational and what are average response times to calls?
18. School District. What is the name of the school district. Name of High School attended by people residing at the site address (if any). Name of middle school and elementary.
19. Distance to nearest Grocery anchored shopping. People are creatures of habit. Aside from work and school, gathering food is a regular occurrence. The travel time to obtain milk, eggs and bread is important.
20. Distance to nearest emergency medical services. Medical service providers congregate near medical facilities. What is the distance to these facilities and service providers?
21. Mini-SWOT. In a few lines, write down the strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats that come to mind from being on site.
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