When working with a broker to find an ideal office space, several key issues relating to various, feasible properties should be carefully considered, all of which should be highlighted in a comprehensive market evaluation submitted to you by your broker.
Factors such as a landlord’s reputation, the strength and number of a building’s amenities, geography, and the bottom line finances of a space will all inform your decision-making process and help you finalize a deal.
In the initial evaluation process, however, during which you will be physically inspecting and touring potential spaces, there are several protocols you can adhere to that ensure you get the most out of the process. These tips can help guarantee that you thoroughly evaluate each property and that you do not compromise your negotiating position if and when the time comes to discuss a deal.
Go in prepared
Don’t want until you’re in a space to begin compiling your questions and concerns. Do your prep work beforehand, researching the ins and outs of a property and then compiling a list of questions relevant to your needs. Understand what you prioritize in a space before taking your tour and make sure that you ask questions highlighting whether or not a space lines up with your priorities during your tour of a building.
When touring a building, make sure to maintain a neutral demeanor that does not signal your reaction to a space in any way. Nothing can destroy your position during negotiations faster than showing too much enthusiasm and letting the other side know they have an advantage. Keep your team down to a few, key personnel to help limit any revealing discussions. If you do want to clarify a space’s applicability to your needs, feel free to ask questions, but do not make any blanket or overly enthusiastic statements about a site’s feasibility.
Try to keep your scheduled tours to a minimum, with no more than 4 tours on any given day. It is important to stay as focused as possible on detail during a tour. If you have more than a handful of tours scheduled in a day, you are likely to miss out on critical specifications and questions by your fifth or sixth tour.
Listen carefully to the presentation
Pay special mind to the leasing agent’s presentation during a tour, making sure not to interrupt it with too many questions or interjections. The benefits of doing this are two-fold: you can get a thorough understanding of the building and its amenities and you can also keep the breadth of your own knowledge under wraps, allowing you to maintain some key advantages during eventual negotiation.
Review the other tenants in a building
Look through a building’s directory to get an idea of the other tenants in a space. Look for any undesirable companies or tenants that could create problems down the line. Also keep an eye out for respectable, objective tenants that you think may be able to give you some insight into the building’s management.
Revisit a building during rush hours
While you do not want to tour a space during its busiest time, you do want to revisit it after the fact during morning and afternoon rush hours. Assessing a space when it is overloaded with foot traffic and incoming and outgoing car traffic can help you better determine a building’s efficiency and feasibility. It can also give you a clear idea of the quality of a building’s security team and protocols.
Don’t forget common rooms and facilities
The cleanliness and upkeep of common areas and public facilities such as restrooms can give you a good idea of how efficient and well-run a property management team is. Take the time during your tour of a building to stop off at common areas and facilities and ascertain whether or not they are in good condition.
Assess your parking options
When you arrive for a scheduled tour, you will likely get a very convenient space designed to impress visitors. These spaces can be very different from the types of spaces available to lessees. Make sure that you take a moment to look at the actual parking facilities or garages that you will use on a regular basis, confirming that they are conveniently located and easy to access.
Keep your cards close
Make it clear during your tour, either directly or indirectly, that you are considering several properties in your search without revealing your cards. You can do this by simply stating the fact without any further detail or by bringing along your broker-prepared tour package. If a particularly canny leasing agent asks you direct questions as to the properties you are looking at, refer all inquiries to your broker. In general, you want to keep your information as close to the sleeve as possible to avoid giving the landlord agent an advantage in negotiating the lease.
Senior Vice President at Colliers International, based in Houston, Texas.