Commercial Property Management Questions to Use in a Handover

When you take over a new commercial property as part of a management strategy for a new client, you should ask specific questions relating to the asset, its history, and the tenancy mix.

You can get plenty of commercial property management tips and ideas as part of our regular online coaching right here.

There are many things to explore as part of a new property management listing on your brokerage books. In this audio program, John Highman talks about the factors to question and review. Most particularly key matters to look into will include:

– lease documentation
– tenancy mix
– property maintenance routines
– risk matters
– rentals and rent recoveries
– critical dates
– vacancy factors and pressures

You can listen to the audio program here to understand exactly how you can approach the handover process in commercial property management today. It doesn’t matter whether you are managing a retail shopping centre, or a commercial office tower. The same strategies and processes apply. Attention to detail will help you with the fact review and gathering process.

You can get the audio below:

Things to do in a Commercial Property Management Handover

If you are about to take on a new commercial or retail property from a management perspective, there are things to think about.  There are things to think about and the property management handover is critical to gathering the right information.  Every client and every property will have unique issues to prepare for and ask questions about. (NB – you can get plenty of property management tips in our Snapshot program right here – its free)

 

Handover Importance

There is something to remember here about a property handover and why it is so important; you only have a short period to get the full information about the property and its performance over time.  Questions must be asked of the previous property manager, owner, or tenants.

 

Stay Organised

An organised approach with a checklist as part of a handover process is a good thing to work with.  A checklist will keep you on focus and task for the property type.  Different questions are asked when it comes to the different properties.

So here are my experiences and ideas relating to taking over a complex commercial or retail property.  Preparation is the key to success in capturing all the recent and relevant property detail.  You may be able to add to the list based on the location and the landlord:

  1. Check out the physical aspects of the property – it always helps if you visit the property first before you do other things. The visual aspects of the property will help you significantly with investigations and questions.
  2. Review the tenancy mix – in a property with several tenants, look at the types of businesses, location of each tenant, and the performance of the property for the tenants in situ. Some tenant types put pressures on the property such as security or staff issues.
  3. Review all the leases relating to occupancy – the leases will have unique elements of occupancy to review. All leases should be read; extracts and critical dates should be taken from each lease where you can see important facts impacting occupancy.
  4. Understand the vacancy factors – any vacancy now or in the future is an issue. Resolve vacancies through a tenant retention plan, a marketing plan, or a targeted leasing program.  You can also move existing tenants around the property.  Think outside the square when it comes to tenant movement and placement.
  5. Look at maintenance and risk factors – any person owning a property assumes risk and must plan for the challenges of property ownership. The building, the improvements, the location, or the tenant mix, can create risk matters and pressures.  See things for what they are and how they could challenge the investment performance.
  6. Review income and expenditure results – there will be a pattern of income and expenditure to review and consider. The last few years will have value to you when assessing passing income and net income.  The results of the last few years will help you set new budgets for the property given the existing tenants, leases, vacancies, and landlord targets.
  7. Talk to the landlord about expectations and reporting – every landlord will have certain requirements of reporting and control. The property will have income and capital value targets over time.  How can you report to that criteria for the current property owner?  Have you got a software property management program that allows you to report conveniently about the asset and the current results of income, leasing, and tenant activity?  The information that you gather from a property management handover will be captured into the software that you are using to manage the property.

So, there are many things on this list to investigate.  One thing or one question will lead to many others.   As you take on a new property to manage, be prepared for the information and the facts that come your way; take plenty of notes.

Commercial Property Management Handover Tips

woman wrestling with cables
Choose the right information in any commercial property management handover.

When you take over another commercial property from another property manager, or perhaps even a landlord, it is really important to ensure that you capture all of the right information that has an impact on the property today and into the future.

Any errors that are made in the property management handover process can impact the property significantly into the future, and make your job significantly harder as a property manager.  Unfortunately the previous records relating to the property may not be complete or accurate.  Your questioning process needs to identify this challenge and work through the issues that it provides.

So here are some tips that relate to the handover strategy and your systems.

  1. Ask for complete and accurate financial records relating to the income and the expenditure activity in the property over the last 12 months.  You will need a detailed breakdown of the income and expenditure records for the financial year to date.  This will be essential when it comes to reconciling the property at the end of financial year.  The integrity and accuracy of those records should be questioned and checked.
  2. It is always desirable to get records of previous property reconciliations and budgets for the two or three years prior to your appointment.  This will help you in budget analysis and creation in the forthcoming financial period.  When you create a budget, keep detailed records of your assumptions and findings.  This is best done on a spreadsheet that is archived for future use in other financial years.  All of your assumptions will be critical to your budget tracking process throughout the year.  Simple things can be forgotten and complicate the overall property performance.
  3. Get copies of all lease documentation that apply to the current tenants and the tenancy mix.  Those documents should be checked against the current rental invoices as they apply to the property.  Copies of correspondence relating to previous rent reviews and options should be obtained.
  4. Look for situations of rental rebate, incentive, or discount.  Some of these things can exist for a number of years under an original lease agreement.  If that is the case, they will need to be merged into the new income budget for the property.
  5. Meet with the tenants as quickly as possible during the handover process.  The meeting is a personal process to be undertaken by the property manager, and will remove any uncertainty from the ongoing relationship with tenants.  They should understand who you are and how to contact you if any property matters occur from the date of handover.
  6. Every property is unique and special when it comes to maintenance matters.  It is wise to meet with the maintenance contractor’s for the property as soon as possible after the date of handover.  These contractors’ can tell you of the events to look for when it comes to property performance, repairs, and break down.  They will also give you a summation of expected future property performance within their specialty of plant and equipment.
  7. When taking on any new property, give special care and focus to the subject of essential services compliance to the current building codes.  Some properties will have issues of compliance that will need to be addressed.  Also look for any orders or notices relating to property occupancy or usage.  Failure to address any of these items can see the property lose its ability to function as a property investment.
  8. It should also be said that the terms and conditions of each particular lease should be checked to see if any matters of occupancy remaining outstanding or need to be policed.  Obligations can exist on either the tenant or the landlord in a variety of ways.

So these are some other main things to look at when it comes to a commercial or retail property management handover.  You can develop a checklist of the process which will keep you focused on task and allow you to maintain accuracy in any new property management portfolio.  Always keep notes of the handover process so that any misunderstandings or omissions can be proven at a later date.

If you want more free tips on commercial or retail property management you can get them in our newsletter or at our website http://www.commercial-realestate-training.com/