To get started in commercial real estate brokerage and agency today it is essential that you undertake a full review of the property market, your competition, the listings, and the business community. In reviewing those things, you can make some clear choices and take up on the opportunities that you identify.
Whilst you may work for a brokerage within a particular location, there will be strengths and weaknesses to consider and address as you establish your career; make the right choices and build the momentum that you need as an individual broker and agent. The right choices, and some specific action steps will help you move ahead faster in the industry.
Understand your market
Every property market is unique and different; your professional services will need to be shaped into the local market conditions and the opportunities that you identify on the horizon. You can move through some choices relating to sales, leasing, and property management. You can also choose the property types that suit your skills and local property knowledge.
You can develop your skills according to the prevailing market conditions and the property types locally. All of these elements require a definite plan and a definite approach.
Here are some ideas to help you get started in your career in commercial real estate today:
Licensing laws – understand the property licensing laws that apply to commercial real estate in your town or city. Visit the local licensing authority for real estate agents and brokers so that you can see how the licenses are issued, the costs involved, and review the local knowledge required to pass the appropriate examinations. There will always be plenty of other competitors in the location chasing listings and clients. Your skills and your local property knowledge will need to be shaped over time to improve your listings and your commissions. There is an education process here and also the relevant licenses to obtain.
Location specialization – review the location in which you are going to work, and understand the property precincts of activity. You may be restricted in the locations where you can work, so look into the locations specifically and ask all the right questions before you make final decisions. The location or locations may have limitations when it comes to future listing opportunity. The size and the types of assets within the locations will dictate the levels of sales and leasing activity that you can attract.
Professional skills and property knowledge – in looking at a property zone or precinct, understand how you can build the professional skills and the local property knowledge to compete with the other agents. Some agents are better than others, and some of those agents will already dominate the location for particular reasons. That assessment needs to be done as soon as possible as you consider entering into the property market as a broker or agent.
Market specialization – it is very difficult to work with all property types from a sales or leasing perspective. There are just too many facts to understand and listings to cover. Look into the local property market so that you can specialize within certain property types. In that way you can become the agent of choice attracting more business and client opportunity.
Brokerage selection – some brokerages offer more support than others. They can also be very different when it comes to administration, listings, client contact processes, and commissions. There will also be a degree of marketing and promotional support driven from the brokerage level. Ask questions about how these things are done and who pays for each particular process. Marketing in commercial real estate today can be expensive. The listings should be promoted through vendor paid marketing in most cases. You will also require a personal and professional marketing process for yourself. The brokerage may dictate how personal marketing that is done. They may also apply certain costs to the process as part of your employment package. Regardless of who you work for and how many skills you think you may bring to your career, it will very likely take you at least 3 to 6 months to generate some momentum in listings, commissions, and clients. For some brokers and agents, it takes a lot longer. Be prepared for some hard work, and make sure that you choose the correct brokerage to support your actions and momentum.
Personal marketing plan – as mentioned earlier, you should develop a personal marketing program to send a message of attraction to the right clients, the investors, and the business leaders locally who may need your services. You want those people to remember you at the right time when they reach a property or commercial real estate challenge. On that basis your personal marketing plan will be very important. It should cover the media channels available to you both online and off-line. Understand how you can promote your services through your existing listings, your clients, and referrals; also use the fullest promotional opportunities available in social media. Spread your message professionally, personally, and comprehensively using the information from the local area. The property related knowledge that you have now as an industry specialist, and can generate from the location will be a point of difference in your marketing. Use it as leverage when you talk to do people and existing clients.
So there are plenty of things that you can do here to fast track your career in commercial real estate brokerage. Establish a plan to help you get started as a broker or an agent working on commercial property today. Refine that process over time to increase your traction and your career results.
At different times of the calendar year there will be good opportunities to run a sales listing drive. As part of that you will be choosing the best methods of marketing and sale. Business and investor sentiment will also have something to do with the choices made here.
So you have some sales listings? Maybe you want more of that? Either way, here are the main factors of opportunity to tap into as you drive the sales momentum forward locally:
Timing for season and location – look at the property activity for the year, and reflect on the history for the area. Most sales calendars are best commenced just after the Christmas break and also just after the change in the financial year. In each case you have a few months to build momentum on listed properties, and the people looking to buy are not generally distracted in local business issues or holidays.
Best methods of sale for the time of year – you have a few methods of sale at your disposal. Choose the right ones that match the property and the client’s needs. At the basic end of the equation you will have auctions, tender, expressions of interest, and sale at a price. One or more of those methods will be the right choice for your listing. Talk to the client and get their commitment to your recommendations; explain the issue to them, and convert them. Match some vendor paid marketing into the right method of sale, and the exclusive listing process.
Talk to the right investors and property owners – every listing will be more or less attractive to certain segments of the local property market. Find those people by directly target marketing at an individual level. Get involved separately in doing that. Make sure that you meet with the right people in the right places. You want them to know you and remember you as the industry professional that they require.
Repeat contact 300/90 – in our industry, regular contact will always help listing momentum and conversion. All of the people in your database should be spoken to regularly. The 90-day cycle works well. The way to achieve that level of contact will be through deliberate calls, letters, and meetings. The database that you use should be adjusted to bring up that 90-day process of contact automatically.
Track your streets and location progress – when you have anything to sell or market, review the streets and the competing listings. Get very involved in local area marketing. Know what is happening in the streets and do something with that knowledge.
These simple strategies are all relevant and special in the sales drive that you may create in your commercial real estate business. Optimize the process of promotion and property momentum. The first few weeks of any sales campaign are the most important. Get involved and get active.
In commercial real estate leasing, the competition that exists in your property market will very likely be talking to the same very people and businesses that you are. In saying that, the quality of the connection between agents and businesses or landlords can sometimes be of poor quality, so you have something that you can work with and improve.
If you are going to stand out as a top agent in the leasing market, then you have to do the right things with real focus and control; and then you should work on the good quality buildings or locations from a leasing and vacancy perspective.
Stand out as the agent of significance for the location and property type. When you work the better buildings, more inquiry will come your way.
Drill Down into Facts
To get ahead in the leasing market, here are 7 points of focus to drill down into with your landlords and tenants:
Know who you are talking to – Always get to the facts when you are talking to someone new, be that across the telephone, in a meeting, or through a door knocking process in the local area. The people that you talk to will give you the momentum in your leasing business, but understand who they are before you say too much about the property or give out information. If a person is slow to introduce themselves, then you should also be slow to give out the property facts. There is no point in wasting time on someone that is not fully honest and open with you.
What do they need and when? – Get to the core facts of their property situation. What do they want from a leasing perspective and what will be the critical timing? Ask about their critical points of choice or need with any property they may find or want to inspect.
Where are they now? – If they are in business now, seek out the facts of that occupancy. It is also valuable to see their current location and how they use premises as part of a business operation. You can see the interaction between staff, customers, business operations, and layout of the current property.
Exactly what can they afford? – Rents change by location, not just by property type. Tenants don’t fully understand that fact, so a market rent awareness for a new location and property type is valuable. Help them understand net rents, outgoings, and other operational costs such as water, electricity, and gas. Those services will be consumable within the property, and the tenant will have to pay as consumed. How will that happen?
Business requirements for the change – When you ask about their current business, there will be many things to explore in property layout, configuration, improvements, access in and around the premises, and special zones such as showrooms, administration, sales, and storage. See how they are using their current property with these factors in mind.
Staff and customer requirements – How will the balance between staff and customers be accommodated within the building? There will be special zones to consider such as car parking, customer service, customer sales, and showroom access. Remember also the factors of parking that may apply in the precinct and on the street. At certain times of the day there may also be issues with access from busy roads and freeways.
Timing for the change – The timing of property change will be variable and will likely be impacted by individual business activities and seasonal business fluctuations. It takes time to move business into a new building and location. There will be a crossover of time that applies to the relocation into the new property. You may be able to help the tenant in understanding how the new occupancy can commence with rent-free periods and early access being given to the new property and location.
There are some quite specific things that you can look into as part of the leasing services and solutions you provide to tenants today. Ask the right questions and go deeper into the issues that really impact the relocation for the business.
The deeper that you can go into the tenant’s situation will show a degree of professionalism that other agents may struggle with. Be special, real, and relevant when it comes to the commercial property leasing market today. Show that you are the best agent or broker to assist when it comes to business relocation and leasing resolve.
Build some sales magnetism in commercial property. Here are the rules to help with this idea:
Your listing will be location based. When the property comes to the market, get into the location and talk to lots of local people. Tell them about the new listing, why it could be important to them, and how you can help with more information.
Target market your properties. Every listing can be taken to certain business owners, investors, and industry professionals. Make this a special part of your client services. Define the target market as you pitch for the listing, and then comprehensively connect with the target market through the campaign.
The people that inspect your property listings should be comprehensively qualified so you can show them other things as they come to market. It is interesting to remember that the best listings create the best leads and prospect inquiry. If you lift your listing focus for that very reason, you will find that your database will grow faster and with higher conversion factors.
Choose the best method of sale and particularly use the exclusive listing process. When you look at any subject property, the methods of sale that you use should be high on inquiry generation and inspection creation. Do you know what types of campaigns and methods of sale are better than others currently?
Help your clients succeed. A successful outcome for your clients could be a higher price or rent, a shorter time on market, or a timely sale that fits into their business activities and investment plans.
When you seriously think about these things, you will soon understand that most agents and brokers are very ordinary. They don’t do much with the listings that they win. What a mistake! They list, advertise, then hope for a result. That is the generic marketing approach; it doesn’t do anything for your brokerage profile or client base.
If you have had a bit to do with tenants in leasing any commercial or retail property you will know that they can really delay things for their own reasons, thereby impacting the landlord in negotiation and slowing the agent as to finalizing the deal. As the leasing professional your job is to work with that challenge and encourage agreement to the benefit of the client.
Understanding the tenant’s situation now and applying that requirement to the current property market will help you with activating and progressing the lease deal. That then means a better negotiation.
Here is an interesting leasing based question for you. Can you believe what at tenant tells you about the property lease requirements that they have? Perhaps not totally, however you can ‘read between the lines’ of what the tenant is saying and doing, and get to some of the real facts of what is happening in their business world.
A good outcome?
A good lease negotiation is generally a result of the leasing broker informing the parties to the deal, then discussing, listening, and seeing through the challenges. Though all stages of the inquiry, inspection, and meeting process you can find out more of the tenant’s requirements and priorities.
So what really goes on in a lease negotiation?
The balance of any lease negotiation will shift and change based on just how much available space may be in the property market at any point in time; you have to prepare for that variation. It directly follows that you should be prepared for any and all of these tenant ‘delay’ tactics:
Asking the landlord to do some internal fit-out works
Seeking early access to the premises before documents are signed
Fit Out approvals slowing
Plans of the fit-out not available
There are many variations as to what a tenant will be looking to do with a lease negotiation. As the professional, you are to guide the process and negotiate through these barriers and many more. Control and research are the keys to any successful commercial property lease negotiation.
There are all sorts of procrastination problems in commercial real estate brokerage today. Don’t let them hold you back or derail your business efforts. Break through the barriers and issues that are holding you back. Time is your most valuable resource, so use it well and dedicate your time to the things that really matter.
Get your business diversions under control and stop procrastinating. Know what is important to your market share, client list, listings, and commissions. Somewhere in that awareness will be listings and leads. You (and only you) are the person to resolve the ‘quandary’.
Your key resource?
So, as I have said, the most important resource that you have is time. Use your time wisely and specifically. Yes, you will have challenging and difficult things to deal with every day, but do the work in an organized and specific way; that is how you build your real estate business. Are you ready to move ahead in the industry?
Solutions to common problems?
Here are the solutions to help solve procrastination, given the typical commercial property agent problems:
Unrealistic clients – some clients will waste your time, so don’t let that happen. You are (or should be) the property expert, so tell the clients what you can recommend with the property listing and or the challenge of the client; if they won’t listen, then you have a choice as to whether you should take on the property and the challenge. Don’t take on a listing or client requirement that is too far off the market. Give good reasons for your recommendations and be very specific when working with clients. Be prepared to walk away from an unrealistic client in a professional way.
Too many meetings – some brokerage businesses are overly controlling of their agents and brokers. The fact of the matter is that top agents don’t need to be controlled; they know what they have to do and they will go and do it if you let them. One brokerage meeting per week is more than enough to control and direct a real estate business, and that meeting should be at a time of day that is not ‘peak’. On another note, any of your junior agents and trainees should be controlled through direct mentoring and not frequent meetings involving others. Allow your good agents and brokers to get out into the market each and every day. ‘Kill’ the extra meeting requirements.
Complex listings – some of the larger properties take a lot of research and investigation before the property is released to the market. That is your job and you can’t avoid the full property investigation requirements. However, when the investigation is done, the mundane listing issues can be done by others. Make sure you have the right administrative support to get this extra work done.
Complex marketing campaigns – this is a special problem to watch. Your marketing has to be specific to the property and the location. You should be taking a good degree of time in structuring and releasing your marketing campaigns on your exclusive listings. Sure, open listings are a different situation and they should not take much of your time, but differentiate your marketing efforts and only spend extended time on your exclusive listings.
Unqualified inquiry – we have all been impacted by people that seem to say that they can purchase or lease a listing. Deeper qualification about their market awareness, intentions, budget, and inquiry will prevent you spending too much time on ‘time wasting’ people.
So you need a plan to solve these things. What could you do with that plan? What could you put into it? Some of the answers here will help you get your plan in motion.
Commissions get easier in commercial real estate when you understand that one single listing or one deal can easily be used as the foundation for other things and particularly opportunities. That’s when you can refine your actions and focus.
Take your single client, listing, or transaction and open up the opportunities that exist around you.
Need some more real estate business?
Here are the facts and some valuable ideas:
A good listing in any location can be the basis of making lots of calls to property owners in your town or city. Talk about your listings with the local people.
A signboard that you place on a property will be the foundation of connecting with nearby business owners and property owners. A signboard is a great business tool and will give you conversational leverage locally.
A quality property listing will (or should) be the origin of a door knocking program in your business precincts or territory. Get into your local area and talk to people about your listing stock.
Every time you get a call from an advertisement, ask the person calling you about what they have seen locally. They may have looked at other properties and therefore be an active buyer or tenant.
When you hold a property inspection, get the fuller perspective from the inspecting party about where they are now, what they are doing, where they want to be with their property needs, and when they have to do something. Ask good questions and make lots of notes.
List exclusively so that you can control your listing stock. Some agents just take on open listings for the sake of having a property on their books. Whilst I can understand the basic idea, open listings give you little leverage and ability to grow your market share. Exclusivity is the only thing with listing that will help you build your real estate business.
Know the market locally. Your comprehensive awareness of the listings, deals, negotiations, and time on market will help you through any client conversation and listing process. Be prepared to quote the facts.
Build on your successes and tell the ‘world’. When you have done a deal, get the message out to your location, your database, and your clients. Let people know that you are the person that has created a result. Encourage them to talk to you and discuss what happened.
Look for referrals in each contact and relationship. Use the power of referral business to grow your database with ‘warm contacts’. It is very easy to open a new opportunity from the basis of a referral.
This list is just the start of the process, and particularly so when you look at all the opportunities that are around you.
Every conversation, every lead, and client relationship can be expanded into something else. Ask and you shall receive.