The three most important foundations of good real estate are… “location, location, location”. The best way to get good real estate value is to put property BEFORE there is a change in its location. The annals of history are filled with stories of investors buying land before the public knew that a railroad line or factory or airport or shopping center or some new economic venture was about to come in.
For example, our nearest shopping town, West Jefferson, was formed when the Virginia-Carolina Railroad decided to run a line through Ashe County. Those in the know people purchased land where a station would be and in 2015 incorporated the town with boundaries extending one mile in each direction from the Virginia-Carolina Railroad depot.
The value of location changes with any shift in a land’s utility.
In the past, “good location” meant access to foot traffic or people or crowds.
If you want to open an ice cream stand, you want a location like this Albanian beach rather than…
A popular beach in Albania.
something like the most remote cabin we have at our farm.
The primitive cabin at Merrily Farms.
A lot of us want to get away from crowds, be remote, but still connected.
This is possible because technology continually changes the meaning of “good location”.
This is the road to our Blue Ridge house.
Our home in North Carolina is remote. At a time there can be obstacles to getting to our house.
Our covered bridge during construction.
Before we installed three very large drains, we could not even get in or out, when Little Horse Creek flooded.
The bridge is secure now, but honestly it does not matter so much because of our broadband. In today’s connected world… a good location is defined as much by access to broadband as it is to foot traffic.
Our local telephone company installed fiber optics throughout the area. This changed everything. We get 45 Mbps, up and down, for $45 a month at the farm. We could have a Gbps (for only $200 a month) if we wanted or needed that much bandwidth.
Such great broadband is currently not norm in rural America.
A Wall Street Journal article, “Rural America Is Stranded in the Dial-Up Age” (1) tells how high costs and lack of access to broadband service prevent residents of far-flung communities from joining the modern economy.
The article says: Delivering up-to-date broadband service to distant reaches of the U.S. would cost hundreds of billions of dollars, experts estimate, an expense government, industry and consumers haven’t been willing to pay.
Counties without modern internet connections can’t attract new firms, and their isolation discourages the enterprises they have: ranchers who want to buy and sell cattle in online auctions or farmers who could use the internet to monitor crops. Reliance on broadband includes any business that uses high-speed data transmission, spanning banks to insurance firms to factories.
About 39% of the U.S. rural population, or 23 million people, lack access to broadband internet service—defined as “fast” by the Federal Communications Commission—compared with 4% of the urban residents.
This is changing. Many local phone and electric companies are planning to bring increased bandwidth into rural areas. Some big communications companies are working on lower cost technology, such as AT&T’s AirGig system now being tested.
AT&T stated a couple of years ago that it has technology “ready to go” to deliver the high-speed wireless broadband via satellite dishes attached to DirecTV customers’ homes. They have also started field trials for a system (they call AirGig) that uses low-cost plastic antennas placed on power lines so that the existing infrastructure is a guide for broadband signals. The power lines don’t carry the signal, and no electrical connection is needed.
Freedom Tip #1: When investigating areas for real estate potential, look for upcoming changes in bandwidth the area. Check with local phone companies, and the big companies to see if bandwidth increases are planned.
If not, then consider the second freedom tip.
Freedom Tip #2: Turn problems into opportunity. Bring in extra bandwidth.
An NPR.org article “Widening the Internet Highway to Rural America” (2) tells the story of how a man in West Virginia brought wireless Internet into his community.
He put on a climbing harness, shook back his aversion to heights and scaled a tower on a hill at the geographic center of the state to put a microwave dish on top. The dish receives a wireless signal from another tower 10 miles away and redistributes it to the homes nearby.
The man and volunteers started their network with about $10,000. It costs very little to keep it running. West Virginia Broadband leases dish space on most of the seven towers it uses for $1 a year. They buy their bandwidth — the wireless signal — from a wholesaler for about $600 a month, and buy surplus equipment on eBay.
The voluntary donations from the 100 or so people who use the wireless service more than cover the expenses. Members are asked to contribute whatever they feel it’s worth.
West Virginia Broadband, is a nonprofit volunteer-run organization that provides Internet service to residents and businesses who were trapped in the slow-moving world of dialup.
This creates three opportunities. First, there may be profit in running such a co-op. Second, even if it’s non profit, the broadband can dramatically change the value of the surrounding property. Third, it offers a chance to buy real estate at a low price, before bringing in the increased bandwidth.
There may be a fourth, invisible but enormously important benefit.
The NPR article said: “When you have a community effort like this, the members of the community feel a sense of ownership. We may operate [the network], but it’s held in the trust of citizens of the community. It’s for the public benefit and for the public good.”
The cooperation may unite the community and make it a friendlier and better place to live.
Problems can create opportunity. The problem of crowded cities, pollution, traffic jams and increased crime create an opportunity in Smalltown USA, for those who want to move. The problem of inadequate bandwidth creates opportunity who look for upcoming changes in broadband or those who may want to bring the change to the land.