New Index Shows Preference for Urban Cores

A new index, seeking to measure the walkability of commercial sectors to help better determine value and potential investment opportunities, shows strong consumer preference for urban cores.

Real Capital Analytics Inc., an international data and analytics firm focused on commercial real estate investment markets, announced a new collaboration with WalkScore, a private company providing a numerical index of community walkability via websites and a mobile app. The companies called the RCA & Walk Score Commercial Property Price Indices (CPPI) “the first of its kind to quantify the price value of walkability for commercial properties.”

WalkScore“Prices for commercial properties in highly walkable locations show significantly greater appreciation trends than car-dependent locations,” said RCA Founder Robert White in a release accompanying the announcement. “The findings cut across both urban and suburban locales, large and small markets and each of the office, retail and apartment sectors.”

RCA says the first-quarter results for this year will be released next month. The current release analyzes data through December 2014. RCA says the data “supports growing evidence that demographic shifts and preferences have shifted back to urban locations and more dynamic live/work/play environments.”

They found that over the past decade, prices for properties located in central business districts have risen 125 percent, while comparable properties located in car-dependent areas have risen only around 20 percent during the same time period. And properties don’t have to be located in purely urban areas to benefit; the index finds that prices for suburban properties that are also considered highly walkable are up 43 percent.

Bargain Hunting On the Web

If you enjoy bargain hunting, going to garage sales or attending live auctions, just might be your cup of tea. On the site you have the opportunity to bid on the contents of storage units at hundreds or self-storage facilities across the nation. The site includes photos and brief descriptions of the contents of each unit up for auction.

Dino’s Storage, which has facilities in the Omaha and Des Moines metro areas, is mong the facilities using the site for its auctions. Currently, Dino’s has more than a dozen auctions posted from its Des Moines area facilities.

BidYou can bid with confidence on the website since all units posted on StorageBattles must have a locking ID tag which guarantees the unit has not been tampered with any time after the auction was posted. You also avoid the hassles of crowded live auctions, have plenty of time to research unit contents and avoid the crowds, traffic and bad weather conditions.

Once you regiter at you will receive Emails of new auctions posted, auctions ending soon and weekly auction updates. You can search the site for auctions near you and create a database of auctions you would like to keep your eye on.

When you win an auction, the buyer’s premium of 10% of the bid will be charged to your credit or debit card. There is no annual fee, or membership fee. The full amount of a winning bid will be paid directly to the facility, in cash, when you go to the facility to remove the contents of the storage unit. Winning bidders are charged a refundable cleaning deposit and any applicable taxes.

Immediately at the close of each storage auction, an Email is sent to the winning bidder. This email will contain the unit number and the final bid price, as well as the facility name, address, phone number and manager’s name. Please make initial contact with the facility as soon as soon as possible and let them know when you expect to pick up the contents of that storage unit. The winning bidder will have 72 hours to clean out the storage unit. The winning bidder is responsible for the entire contents of any storage unit won. All contents are to be removed.

Unless otherwise stated, storage auctions posted on are lien sales, meaning a tenant has fallen behind in their rent, and the contents of their storage unit are being auction to pay the delinquent rent. When a tenant pays their lien, the auction for their storage unit is cancelled. The tenant has up until the sale is complete to pay their lien. The legal definition of sale is the transfer of goods in exchange for money. Until the winning bidder has physically paid the full amount of the bid to the facility, the tenant can still pay the lien, even if the bidding has ended unless otherwise stated by state lien laws or storage facility policy.

Bidding times could vary from several days to several weeks. The storage facilities post their own auctions on and choose their end time, according to the time and date on the lien notices that are sent to tenants.

Is Your Site Mobile Friendly?

Google’s mobile search algorithm has changing to emphasize web sites that are mobile-friendly. What does this mean for your website? If your site isn’t optimized and easy to use for mobile users, it will likely get less traffic and go down in the search rankings when people use their mobile devices.

mobilereadyA site is mobile-friendly if it’s fast loading, features readable text without zooming, properly sizes content and photos so the user doesn’t have to scroll sideways, and has links that are easy to click.

Google warned back in February that the change “will have a significant impact in our search results.”

Mobile searches are only growing in popularity. According to ZDNet, “Google is believed to get about half its search traffic from mobile devices. One of the company’s top search execs said in 2014 that he expected the number of mobile searches to top desktop queries that year.”

Google’s new algorithm will help find relevant mobile content in two ways:

Site rank will be changed to emphasize mobile-friendliness and will affect mobile searches worldwide in all languages. Mobile users will then have access to sites that have quick loading times, readable text, and top down scrolling rather than side scrolling.

They will also use information from indexed apps in rankings for signed-in-users with the app installed. This app content will also be ranked more prominently in search. For more information on this, they offer a step-by-step-guide at

If you want to see if your site is considered mobile-friendly, Google offers a Mobile-Friendly Test at


We Don’t Coast

It takes no more than a drive around the metro area to see the vibrancy of the Omaha-Council Bluffs area.

OmahaDowntownYou’ll find construction projects from apartment complexes to strip malls to a new hospital to new homes and more stretching across the landscape. You’ll find parking lots full at restaurants of all types. You’ll find bustling crowds from the Old Market to Village Pointe, from Aksarben Village to Legacy, from Shadow Lake Towne Center to Nebraska Crossing.

What’s going on here? Simply put Nebraska is sporting the nation’s lowest unemployment rate – 2.7% in February – for the first time since June 1998 when it stood at 2.5%. And Omaha is thriving. The metro area population hit 904,421 last year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and is on track to top one million within the next 10 years.

The Omaha metro area includes Douglas, Sarpy, Cass, Washington and Saunders Counties in Nebraska and Pottawattamie, Mills and Harrison Counties in Iowa.

Omaha stacks up very well against any metro in the nation. Here are a few pertinent facts, according to the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce’s “We Don’t Coast” magazine:
– Median Household Income: $56,455, compared to $51,929 nationwide
– Cost of Living: 11% below the national average
– Median Home Price: $145,700, compared to $197,400 nationwide
– High School Graduates: 90% plus for adults ages 25 and older compared to 85% nationally

We at Dino’s Storage are proud to be a part of the Omaha community and, together with our Landmark Group partner, we’re proud to be involved in a variety of construction projects – new and renovations – in the metro.

Internet of Things Will Change Your World

The arrival of the Internet changed the way we do business. Now tech watchers say there’s another, equally disruptive technological change that has already begun, and stands to alter the business world once again.

InternetofThingsThe coming change is known as the Internet of Things. Alternatively it is called “Cloud of Things” or “real world web.” The concept behind it is that we will rely on actual computers less and less over the next decade as technological interfaces are woven directly into products. Products – from cars to homes to clothing and everything in between – will be constantly gathering and transmitting data to us, and to other products.

A growing web of connectivity among people, devices and homes will upend the way we interact with the world. Here’s a glimpse into how the changes may affect your life.

“The next generation is not going to understand computers as separate things,” says technology consultant and author Christina Kerley. “When a lightbulb burns out in their house, they’re going to wonder why it didn’t give them a heads-up.”

Tech watchers say 2015 is the year the Internet of Things will start to go mainstream. Indeed, many products already whir constantly in the background of our lives, gathering information on us and the environment. Increasingly, devices will make connections with each other, transferring data and coming to conclusions about how they should operate based on that data. “We are looking at re-instrumenting the physical world – 2015 through 2020 are going to be transformative,” Kerley says.

The tools of this new technology are at a rudimentary stage today, but the potential for game-changing progress, along with disruption, is huge. Think of the Internet of Things in 2015 as analogous to the Internet in 1995. Over time, technology advances have taught us that we could part with certain aspects of our privacy and autonomy. But concerns are mounting that the coming decade may see security breaches and leaks of private information on a scale that was never before possible.

Smart home devices that record and transmit data are already creating a buzz in the marketplace. Perhaps the most familiar such product is the Nest thermostat. Made by a company recently purchased by Google, the Nest thermostat can be controlled from a smartphone but over time learns a household’s schedule. Nest settings can be operated by individual users and integrated with data from institutional hubs like the National Weather Service or a city’s electrical grid. Such devices can serve as a helpful go-between for consumers and municipal smart grids, moderating energy use at peak times to minimize service disruptions. For example, Nest marries its understanding of a household’s habits with data about energy use to make decisions about the best time to run a load of laundry.

Beacon technology is another facet of the new technology. Beacons are small devices, usually powered by Bluetooth, that can be mounted virtually anywhere. They transmit information to nearby receptors, often a mobile device. Beacons can be used to track the movements of people in a home – perhaps to automatically turn lights to a specific preset when a particular person enters the room or to transmit information about the activities of an older adult to a caregiver outside the home.

In Chicago, researchers from the Urban Center for Computation and Data, Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Chicago have partnered with local officials to launch the Array of Things. It’s a network of interactive sensors collecting both passive data, such as weather and air quality, and data about how people are using the area, by measuring ambient noise and counting nearby Wi-Fi and Bluetooth-enabled devices. Researchers plan to make the data freely available as a “public utility.” Tech developers can then use the data to create helpful tools. Imagine an app that combines air quality data with traffic patterns, telling allergy sufferers the best time for a bike ride.

Beacon technology has some clear applications in the retail environment. Because beacons have a long battery life, are portable, and don’t rely on GPS to pinpoint one’s location, they may be able to replace the more expensive and intrusive “geofencing” technology that many stores are using to reach out to nearby customers via their smartphones. Macy’s, Walmart, American Eagle, Walgreens and Hudson’s Bay Co. were among the first retailers to use beacons in stores to offer shoppers special incentives via their phones. The technology has also been applied by companies in the hotel and airline sectors. In January, Facebook announced it would begin testing its new “Place Tips” service in New York, where its beacons – installed in eight iconic shops – will notify nearby users via their Facebook mobile app when they’re near these retail options.

It’s only a matter of time before malls and retail centers consider offering beacon technology to their tenants. Westfield Group, an Australian firm that owns, develops and manages shopping centers in the United States and around the world, has a subsidiary, Westfield Labs, that is currently testing beacon technology for possible use in its locations across the globe.

“You’re going to have retail properties going gaga for this,” says Kerley. “You’ll be able to demonstrate what the foot traffic is like at certain times of day, and what parking is available and just flow that information to them on their smart devices.”

Alex Filip is deputy communications director for the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which is closely monitoring smart product designs. Filip says a potentially unsafe product is just as risky when consumers push the start button as it is when triggered by automation. “Whether you start your car, slow cooker or furnace remotely is not an issue unless it behaves in an unsafe manner,” Filip said. The agency already cautions against operating certain household appliances, including clothes dryers and dishwashers, when no one is home or awake. That warning will continue to apply as smart versions of those products are rolled out.

One common fear for consumers is that their house could be hacked into the same way e-mail and credit card accounts are today. Not only could thieves gain physical access to the home, but they could also be privy to a large volume of information about the owners that might be stored on devices or in the cloud. McCaughey says individual homes would be less appealing to hackers than the prospect of a wider invasion involving “a back door that is known to all hackers,” putting all consumers who own a vulnerable product at greater risk.

At least one example of a breach has prompted action by the Federal Trade Commission. In February 2014, the commission settled charges against TRENDnet Inc., which makes security cameras that can be monitored via the internet. The company had not secured passwords or online feeds of security videos – exposing the private lives of customers – though it had made statements in its marketing that implied the feeds were safe.

“The type of consumer harm we saw in the TRENDnet case . . . feeds concerns about the Internet of Things overall,” Federal Trade Commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen told the U.S. Chamber of Commerce shortly before the final settlement. But the FTC’s “unique set of policy and enforcement tools” can help ensure new technologies safely achieve their promise, she said.

Beyond security, smart devices have other kinks that need working out. In the short term. “This is a fundamental shift in what is going to happen with our industry,” Chad Davis, senior director of digital media at the National Association of Home Builders, said at the International Builders’ Show. Builders attending the show were cautioned by other speakers to watch the development of smart home technology carefully, using the auto industry as a bellwether, and to be cautious about where they hitch their proverbial wagons.

Kerley agrees that there are limitations due to the many competing systems but predicts that will begin to change soon. “2015 will be the year where we have to make the call that there has to be an open system,” she says. “Much like the web uses the same scripting language, that’s going to have to happen.”

Regardless of bumps in the road ahead, early observers of the Internet of Things are optimistic. “Our digital and physical worlds are converging,” Kerley says. She predicts that 75 years from now, historians will look back at 2010–2025 as a time of exponential change. “We’re going through a renaissance,” she says.