Published July 27, 2016
In residential real estate, a number of sites like Zillow, Trulia and Street Easy have gained traction as the go-to places for people to rent, buy and sell properties.
Finding office space has been a little less straightforward. It's not always clear where to find the most relevant listings online, how to get in touch with the right person who can supply information and tour the space with you, and how to make an offer.
If you're in the market for office space, here are a few places you might have considered looking. Some come more recommended than others.
There's always Craiglist...
Thousands of ads for available office space exist on Craiglist at any given moment, but as you can imagine, perusing the listings can be quite painful. If you're new to the market and the process of leasing office space, some of the terminology you'll run into might as well be Icelandic, and quality pictures of commercial space can be hard to come by. Those that make it into the post might not even represent the advertised space.
So feel free to browse Craigslist to gather some preliminary insight on the market, just know the odds of securing your future office on the site are pretty slim.
Walking around the city, you've probably noticed signs that say "Commercial Space Available" or "Office Space for Rent" with a phone number and the name of a company or the name of a person.
Have you ever called one of those numbers?
It's actually not a bad idea to try one and see how the conversation goes. Just know that you will most likely be to talking to a leasing agent - and the leasing agent represents the landlord. Not you. And they are counting on the fact that you're likely a newbie when it comes to commercial real estate. That can make a big difference in the properties you end up seeing and the lease you end up signing.
A tenant broker is a licensed professional who can help you find spaces matching your criteria, tour those spaces with you, and help you navigate all the way through the leasing process.
Here are a few ways they can save you time and money:
- They know the market and what to expect in terms of price
- They know where to start looking
- They do all the legwork for you, from coordinating tours to getting floor plans to physically measuring spaces for you
- They negotiate savings and amenities on your behalf
- They (usually) come at no cost to you
That's right; in most cases you will not have to pay a tenant broker out-of-pocket. The property owner typically doles out the commission, to be split beteween the tenant broker and the leasing agent.
Now, if you know anyone who has undergone the process of leasing office space, perhaps you've heard some horror stories about tenant brokers: That they'll repeatedly show you spaces that don't match your criteria, try to get you to stray from your budget, or rush you into a lease with threats of the property getting "snatched up" if you don't take it.
As in any business, you can run afoul of shady operators. One trend that's starting to reshape the industry, though, is salaried tenant brokers. Without the incentive of commissions, salaried brokers are more akin to advisors or customer service reps whose first priority is customer satisfaction. That means a better a deal and a better experience for you.
If you're a company of a certain size, you might be familiar with a surge of cold calls or emails from brokers suddenly curious about your office space needs. You might have even wondered why there was so much growing interest from the commercial real estate community in your company...
Until you remember all the recent buzz around your company, fresh off a new round of funding or a major product launch. Some brokers take notice of that kind of news and figure your company is entering a growth phase that will require more space soon. Which is smart.
If you're not exactly a press darling, though, the phone might not ring for you. And if it does, there's a good chance you'll treat it the same way you treat most spam that isn't immediately relevant to you.
What's far more likely to kickstart your search for office space is, well... you. Only you really know when you're ready to look for space.When you're ready, you'll Google it, just as you Google everything else you need to know.
Obvious, right? Well until farily recently, taking to a search engine for your office space needs would have yielded pretty limited results. A meaningful aggregation of commercial listings was scarce. If you did come across listings that seemed promising, who to contact, and how, was often pretty opaque. And sort of like those office space for lease signs with the phone numbers on them, the person you were contacting was very likely a listing agent or landlord rep. Not a tenant broker interested in representing your interests.
Fortunately, that dynamic is starting to change as the commercial real estate marketplace migrates to digital. If you're reading this post, however you discovered it is a great example of the office space marketplace moving online.