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How to Collaborate With A Commercial Real Estate Advisor

Updated July 19, 2018

For businesses of any size, collaborating with a commercial real estate advisor is much like the relationship between a doctor and a patient. The longer you, as the patient, see a particular doctor, the more precise the shorthand becomes as the doctor becomes familiar with your aches, pains, and health goals.

Collaborating with a single commercial real estate broker works in a similar way. Even the largest companies with substantial amounts of money and resources to devote to the search for appropriate office space often work with an individual broker from start to finish on any given project. Suffice it to say, if working with a single broker works for the largest, most reputable corporations in the world, that same strategy will work well for you and your own specific office space needs.

Download the The Guide to Negotiating a New Office LeaseIf at any point during your search for new office space you feel as if that cohesive and comprehensive sort of relationship lacks in your collaboration with a broker – particularly if you're a small business or startup – you should feel comfort in knowing that advisors do exist for your specific needs.

TenantBase is a perfect example of such an advisor where the majority of what we do is tailored to small businesses and startup needs. To that point, we've collected a few best practices to maximize the benefits of your collaboration with a CRE advisor and, thus, maximize the chances of you finding the ideal office space.


How to Collaborate with a CRE Advisor

First and foremost, begin with a full and thorough understanding of what you need from your new office space, utilizing your specific criteria across any search platforms that you might find helpful. Taking full advantage of the many different ways to search and find office space afforded by the digital environment can streamline your search in ways that traditional methods just can't match. As you conduct your search and find good possible fits, be sure to keep your advisor informed on your progress to reduce inefficiencies and redundancies during the process.

Likewise, always keep your particular search criteria needs in mind throughout the search, sharing your insights with your broker who will, in turn, work with you and provide guidance wherever and whenever needed. In fact, TenantBase was founded to facilitate the more modern approach to office space searches, where we invite you to take advantage of any platform available that adds value to your search. If you happen to find ideal office space for your needs, your TenantBase advisor can provide significant insights and guidance for the subsequent steps within the process.

Since finding your new office space is only the beginning of the process, those subsequent steps sometimes include complex negotiations, lease reviews, and careful structuring of the final deal to prepare you for your move-in and the next phase of your organization's life. To that point, the broad spectrum of what's involved in changing your office space is where you'll find the real value of a CRE advisor. Work with an advisor who will guide you throughout the entire process, from start to finish, and always makes recommendations based solely on your best interests.


Be Upfront and Honest From the Beginning

Again using the doctor-patient relationship as a point of comparison, the patient can only reach their health goals if they are honest and open with their physician. Withholding information can do nothing but prevent a patient from reaching optimum health and doctor from doing their job to the best of their abilities. When working with a CRE advisor, always take the same approach as with your doctor to save both of you time and frustration.

When establishing open and transparent communication from the very start, you and your advisor can quickly begin to hone in on properties that fit your particular needs. Use that effective communication as a foundation of trust in your advisor and their ability to guide you throughout the entire process. That trust is a critical component in finding the best deal and property that’s the best fit.

For example, if you knew your new office space would require a minimum number of parking spaces to fit your organization but failed to communicate that information to your advisor, that advisor could devote significant time finding you an absolutely perfect property that, in the end, doesn't work for your needs because you never provided that critical information. Perhaps even worse, the advisor might have passed over on other properties that would have been a good fit for you in favor of office space that ultimately was never appropriate in the first place.

If you conduct a fair amount of your search independently of your advisor on other platforms, it is vitally important that you share your findings with your individual advisor. Favoring a committee approach by using multiple advisors in this instance can backfire as different advisors on different platforms – each working for you – could very well end up pitted against each other which, obviously, isn't efficient use of anyone's time and resources.

Similarly, don't mislead your advisor on your organization's financial situation or intended use of the new office space. Any information purposely withheld or even skewed will ultimately come forward during lease negotiations and could very well prevent you from leasing the space. Along the way, such actions would frustrate your advisor and possibly upset property owners and landlords, making them shy away from working with you or even the advisor in the future.


Commit to One Advisor

Working with a single advisor is the best way to leverage every possible system and find information on office space that otherwise might slip through the cracks. As previously stated, communicating all of your findings along the way is crucial in getting the most from your relationship with the advisor as well as maximizing your chances for finding the best office space for your needs.

Contrary to popular belief, working with a single advisor in no way limits your office space options but only streamlines your collaboration and the entire process. Committing to one advisor does not prevent you from searching on as many platforms simultaneously as you appropriate but only makes the process more efficient and effective as long as you provide your findings to the advisor so they can help you proceed from there. Working with multiple advisors that don't collaborate with one another will only create bottlenecks and inefficiencies that could ultimately prevent you from finding the best possible office space.

Committing to one advisor requires – once again – a significant amount of trust in their professionalism, expertise, and commitment to your best interests. A piecemeal approach to your search, even when it's with a single advisor, prevents them from leveraging their skill set and knowledge base for you and only ends up costing you time and money as you fail to maximize what their significant insights bring to the table.

Also, since most properties are represented by brokers, those brokers are likely to quickly learn from their peer group that you're working with multiple advisors, immediately reducing your credibility with them along with any negotiation leverage you might have had. Under these circumstances, the power structure within negotiations flips as the property's brokers could worry that your relationship with multiple advisors also means you're negotiating with multiple properties simultaneously.

When this occurs, a landlord is far less likely to make concessions to bring you in as a tenant, negatively impacting any deal they might extend to you. If you are, in fact, negotiating with another property and withheld that information once you've already started negotiations with them, this will undoubtedly upset the landlord broker who will likely refuse to negotiate with you again.

Simply put, when a property knows your collaborating with multiple advisors, everyone involved loses some amount of trust in you, including the landlord brokers. You will immediately lose any leverage you might have otherwise enjoyed because your efforts are not consolidated, and the result will inevitably suffer because of it. Going forward, landlord brokers will not take you seriously due to the sheer lack of professional courtesy you provided them. Because of the distrust created by multiple negotiations with multiple properties, landlords will assume that you will fail to make good on your side of the deal and, therefore, will be far less likely to make any concessions that would benefit you as a tenant and the future of your organization.

Perhaps counterintuitive at first glance, collaborating with multiple advisors is anything but efficient. In fact, simultaneously working with numerous brokers can actually be incredibly inefficient. An advisor is getting paid roughly 4% at contract close, no matter the circumstances or the number of times you collaborate with them when needing new office space. Therefore, if you're only sending a quarter of your work to a particular advisor, it just doesn't make sense to give them the opportunity to earn the same percentage as someone who does 100% of the work.


How Tenant Base Can Help

Business owners such as yourself must wear multiple hats at any given time to keep operations on track. There already aren't enough hours in the day to accomplish everything that needs to get done so, given the sometimes laborious and time-consuming process of finding new office space – along with the necessary thorough understanding of the CRE marketplace – you're best served finding a more efficient use of your team and time.

Working with an experienced advisor who helps organizations find their ideal office space every day is the best of both worlds, allowing you and your team to concentrate on running your organization while also realizing the benefits of working with a seasoned CRE professional and their vast industry networks. Much like looking for a house, you can use Zillow to search for the home of your dreams but, once you're ready to progress in the process, you'll need to schedule tours, narrow the choices, line up your financing, and begin negotiations with the current owner or homebuilder.

In other words, negotiations are too important to conduct them from a novice – at best – background. For instance, if your landlord is negotiating another property, they could very well have used that negotiation as leverage which, lacking professional expertise in CRE, could hurt you in the long run.

Read Next: 10 Questions to Ask A Commercial Real Estate Broker

Working with an experienced advisor that is active in the market eliminates that scenario and gives you easier access to information based on their professional expertise, knowledge, and working relationships. Leverage those valuable advantages to your ultimate benefit and let a TenantBase advisor use their skills, information, and extensive industry knowledge to help you find the best new office space possible, as well as a lease that works to your best interests and no one else's.


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