What can you
learn about businesses in your marketplace or your intended marketplace from government filings? I’m Mike Sandman and I’m going to be showing you a couple of examples of how you can learn very useful and detailed information about businesses simply by going to the website of the municipality in which the business is located.

The View from Above

So let’s take a look at the view from from 10,000 feet or maybe 1 million feet. You can get satellite images from Google, from terraserver.com, from other web resources, but you can actually get much closer looks at business properties and businesses from the municipalities website, because almost all municipalities that have significant business districts have gone to global mapping systems, GIS mapping systems, that are accompanied by aerial images. So here’s an aerial image of the business, Brookline Animal Hospital, in a suburb of Boston. It’s located on a busy street as you can see on the left, and you can see the outline the property itself on the screen. If you then take the address of that property, and you go to the assessor’s database for the tax records, you can see how many square feet there are and what the tax is that is levied and paid by the landlord.

Do the Research

So if you’re wondering for example how big Brookline Animal Hospital is, well that’s easy to calculate because the number is going to be on the assessor’s database. If you wanted about how much rent they pay, go back to the assessor’s database, find out what the tax base is, what what percentage of rent is charged in tax by the municipality, and you can calculate within about 10% how much rent they’re paying. So there are some very useful tools beyond this that you can explore yourself as you look at municipal information, and a lot of this information is collected locally, it’s available on municipal websites – make good use of it, and you can learn a great deal about the way businesses work in the particular market that you’re interested in.