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Commercial Agents – What Should You Do in Slow Leasing Markets?

commercial office tower and leasing market
Leasing strategies in city office towers

The leasing market will become difficult and slow from time to time.  It really doesn’t matter what property type you work on, you simply need to be sensitive to the pressures of supply and demand that impact your local area.  Here are some tips from our bulletin for commercial property agents.

As property leasing experts, we need to see the rental and leasing market changes before they take a real hold and then impact our clients property.  That foresight would normally involve ongoing research with rental levels, lease incentives, tenant enquiries, property improvements, and new developments in the local area.

So if you are experiencing a slow property leasing market the following strategies will be very useful.

  1. Local businesses will always be a valuable source of market intelligence and future leasing needs.  Business people talk to each other and share information about property changes, business pressures, and landlords.  When you connect with the local businesses on a regular basis you will see and experience a goldmine of opportunity and information.
  2. Competing properties exist in your local area and will have impact on the marketing of your listings.  When you are marketing a property or tenancy for lease, you really do need to know about the competition that you are up against.  Compare the rentals, the lease terms, and the property improvements.  Advise your landlord accordingly so they can make adjustments in their marketing of vacant space.
  3. Tenancy schedules should be obtained for as many large quality properties that you can get your hands on.  The quality properties will contain larger and successful businesses.  Over time you can build your own tenancy schedules within the targeted buildings by talking to the tenants and inspecting the properties.  Enter the information into a database so you can maintain ongoing contact in a relevant way.
  4. Accountants in the local area will normally serve the local business proprietors when it comes to issues of business performance and taxation.  On that basis you will find that accountants are very good sources of lease leads and opportunities.  Build relationships with these accountants so they come to respect your skill as a leasing expert.  Very soon they will let you work with the business pressures of occupancy that can apply to some of their clients.
  5. Franchise groups are always looking for new space to occupy subject to their business type and lease requirements.  Get to know the franchise groups that are active in your area and location.  Further to that you can identify franchise groups that have not as yet moved into your territory.  They will all require particular property types and lease terms and conditions.  You simply a matter of understanding the needs so that the appropriate properties can be provided at the right time.

Database tools and technologies are integral to making inroads into the local business community.  Prospects and business proprietors should be entered into the database given their property types and needs.  Over time your database should grow to at least 1000 qualified people.  When you grow the database through continual daily effort, the leasing opportunities will start to grow, as will your commissions.

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Leases Really Matter in Selling Commercial Property

city buildings on river edge

As the opportunity for listing commercial investment property arises, we can sometimes be too eager to take the listing without getting all the important facts that affect the price.

Check the leases on a commercial investment property before you talk about price on the property as the leases may assist or hinder the sale.  They can also dictate a sale strategy.  This says that a good commercial real estate broker or agent must know the structures of a lease and what makes a good lease.

Depending on the age of a property, the next phase of its lifecycle may be refurbishment, demolition or remix of tenancies.  Every phase is different.  The demographics of the region in which the property is located will also have something to do with the future of the property.

A property that has a majority of leases that are soon to expire may be attractive to a purchaser that wants to owner occupy the property or a developer that wants to change the site and create a new building.  On the other hand, the same property in such circumstances will not be attractive to a new investor unless they want to undertake refurbishment works and re-position the property with new tenants.  Decisions are based around strategy needs and timing; an agent or broker for a commercial property you need to be the ultimate strategist.

commercial office leasing system
How to find more tenants for commercial and retail buildings.

 

Know These Leasing and Tenant Mix Facts

When looking at the potential sale of the property, the lease aspects requiring future awareness and understanding in the sale include:

  • Rent review profiles – are they strong and well-timed or do they just gear to the consumer price index?  Also look for the market rent reviews and see if they are well timed or if they expose the property owner to volatile cash flow changes.
  • Lease expiry dates – these are always a concern if the property requires stable cash flow, so look for multiple lease expiries that are close to each other, and also that may consist of a majority of the lettable space in the building.  Understand the cash flow in the property before the sale process starts.  What tenants should stay in the property at lease expiry?  Will you need to fix those occupancy facts before sale marketing?
  • Option periods – from a landlord perspective, lease options are not always a good thing to have as they can frustrate the future of the property; it really depends on what the landlord thinks that they want to do with the property.  It is of note that many large shopping centres and malls do not allow lease options for that very reason.
  • Details of any current incentives with existing tenants – some lease incentives carry on impacting the property for some months or even years.  When the property is to be sold, these incentives must be offset or discharged at settlement as the future purchaser may not want to take over the burden of such.
  • Outgoings recoveries – leases and most particularly net leases will allow the landlord to get back some of the building operating costs.  It pays to check the leases to see exactly what those recoverable items may be as it can impact the property sale or buyer interest
  • History of income and expenditure performance – I always go back at least 3 years to check these numbers and to see what have been the major changes in the outgoings.  What you are looking for is overly large imbalances in outgoings from year to year that indicate that something major has impacted the property or a strategy has changed.  Get reasons for any changes of this type so that any astute buyer can be given logical explanations.
  • The current budget of income and expenditure performance – every commercial investment building of any type should function to a budget each year and the details should be available for your review.  Parts of the expenditure that impact greatly on the property are the rates and taxes as they take up on average a full 33% of most building expenditure.  You need to know that these rates and taxes are on average with other properties in the region.

Property performance elements such as these will affect the potential income from the property well into the future and will also dictate the best time to sell the property.  In an ideal world, you would time the sale so that the income is optimised and the outgoings are controlled to acceptable levels.  This cannot always be done especially in markets like that which we have today, but you should know where you stand on the property performance before you proceed into a sales program.  Strengths and weaknesses of cash flow should be identified and logical reasons provided before any sale campaign starts.