Finding the right property for your company can be a stressful and challenging task. Locating the appropriate space and negotiating a lease for your company can cost you time, money and unnecessary work. Hiring the right tenant rep broker can relieve you of this unnecessary stress.
However, hiring a tenant rep broker can be a daunting undertaking in itself. With so many qualified brokers in the market, it can be difficult to decide which one to use. Several have certain specialties or attributes that differentiate them, and some work for local brokerages, while others work with national firms.
To help make the selection process easier, we’ve compiled a list of the five main questions you should ask a tenant rep broker, before making the decision to hire them. These questions will ensure that you find a qualified, capable broker who is also the right fit for you and your company.
1. Does the broker work for a reputable firm?
Making sure your tenant representation broker works for a reputable firm is important.
Reputation and resources are key components to hiring a reputable broker.
Does this brokerage firm have a good reputation amongst clients and other industry professionals?
Client testimonials and references can be key to understanding if a firm just presents well, or if they truly have the sophistication and ethical standards to get you the best results possible.
Additionally, you should ensure your broker has the resources needed to handle your project.
Larger reputable firms have access to market research software systems such as Costar, which give them access to comprehensive commercial listings as well as market intelligence. These programs are often critical in identifying locations, narrowing down options and ultimately finding the right available space.
Smaller operations may not have the budget to afford these services, limiting a tenant’s options in their search for the right space.
Another desirable resource that a firm can offer is mapping software. Firms with adequate software and skilled research/GIS staff can provide additional resources in your search for office space.
For example, certain software can take the addresses of all your employees and show where your office location should be in order to be most central for each employee. Additional information that can be mapped includes drive times, demographic data points and other company specific information that may be integral to a company’s decision making process.
These cartographic resources can be helpful during the decision making process or when pitching a new location to company leadership.
Market Research Department
Larger firms typically have internal market research departments that will provide their clients with fluid market intel, including market rates, trends and even projections.
Specific Questions to Ask
Questions you may ask to ensure your broker has access to adequate resources and works for a reputable firm include:
- Do you have any testimonials you can share from clients you’ve worked with in the recent past?
- Can your firm offer mapping services?
- Does your firm maintain a lease comparable database?
- Do you have access to listing services such as Xceligent and CoStar?
2. Has my broker made reputable and trustworthy deals in the past?
It is equally, if not more important, to make sure that the specific broker within the firm you are considering has pleased clients in the past and has a sufficient amount of experience.
Your broker’s reputation within the industry can materially affect how landlords and listing brokers treat your prospective tenancy. Tenants whose broker’s had positive interactions with other industry professionals can reap the benefits of accumulated goodwill, while tenant’s whose brokers had less than pleasant experiences with other industry professionals may have to deal with unwanted and undeserved consequences.
A good way to initially make sure your potential broker has pleased clients in past is looking on their company’s website for testimonials and references.
Once you’ve seen a sufficient number of testimonials and are still unsure about how to proceed, ask your broker for contact references so that you can speak directly to their previous clients.
Your broker should be able to offer you a plethora of previous satisfied clients, and those clients should be able to confirm their satisfaction when working with the broker.
Specific Questions to Ask
With this set of questions, you want to make sure you are asking these of the specific team members that will be working on your assignment, not just the firm as a whole.
- Who are some of your other clients? How long have you worked with them?
- Can you provide names and contact information for references that I can talk to, with whom the brokers on my team have recently worked with on a similar project?
- Do you have any testimonials you can provide from clients who you have worked with directly?
- Are there any relevant case studies from projects that you were involved in that I can look over?
3. How much experience does my broker have?
This does not necessarily mean how long a broker has been in the real estate industry. Instead, you should ask questions about how well they know the local market and the kind of property you’re looking for.
It is important to ask these types of questions when trying to gauge experience, rather than merely asking years in the industry, as a broker may work in the industry for a long time, but still lack experience due to either an absence of clients or connections.
You should make sure that your broker has an exceptional list of clients and connections, and unique access to market resources. This will give them a better understanding of how much their broker truly knows about the market and their particular field.
Specific Questions to Ask
To gauge this, you want to ask the broker questions like:
- What types of tenants do you typically represent?
- What has been leased in my desired area in the last month, last six months, and last year?
- Can you provide me a sampling of similar projects you’ve worked on in the past five years?
4. Does my broker specialize in my industry?
When looking for a tenant rep broker, you want to make sure your broker not only specializes in tenant representation, but understands your property type and industry.
Knowing the exact details of any market (retail, industrial, office, etc.) is key in finding you the right space.
Having a broker that specializes in your type of space means that they know the market better than brokers with other specialty types.
Because of the variety of commercial lease structures and elements of commercial leases, it is important to find a broker with experience dealing with your specific needs. In addition, the office market, industrial market and retail market all have their own industry trends and networks, which a property-type specialist will understand.
For example, if you’re looking for a 20,000-sf Class A office space in downtown Austin, you should make sure your broker specializes in office leasing. On the other hand, if you’re on the hunt for a 100,000-sf warehouse center, you’ll want to make sure to hire an industrial specialist.
Whether you’re a law firm, a tech-startup, a call center or a professional services firm, your company likely has a number of industry-specific requirements. Be it high parking ratios and the ability for high-density office space or the need for substantial tenant improvement requirements for luxurious common spaces, a broker who has worked with similar companies or firms will likely already be aware of these needs, and may even make a few recommendations based on what they’ve learned from these past transactions.
Specific Questions to Ask
Questions you can ask to better understand if your broker has experience that meets your needs:
- Can you give me an overview of the current market for my property type?
- What new developments are underway in the [office, retail, industrial, etc.] market?
- What other companies in my industry have you worked with?
- What have you found to be the biggest priorities for other companies in my industry?
- What trends are you seeing with other companies in my industry?
5. Does my brokerage firm offer additional services and assistance throughout the process?
Finding the right space for your company is only the start of your commercial real estate journey. Your broker should be able to assist you with finding the right consultants and contractors for personalizing your workplace strategy, IT infrastructure, furniture selection and often times can offer you important business insight from past deals.
Having a real estate broker is essentially like having your own personal business consultant. There are no additional fees when asking for services from your broker, so it is logically and financially sound to utilize him or her as a company resource. Furthermore, in the future you can reach out to this broker should you need to expand, renew or relocate.
In addition to the services your broker can provide, your broker should be able to provide you with recommendations for a project manager (a must-have if your new space requires renovations of any sort). Most full-service commercial real estate firms have project management teams that can (and should) be brought in during the site selection process.
Specific Questions to Ask
Additional questions you can ask include:
- What services do you provide in addition to site selection?
- What will our relationship be like after my lease is signed?
- Does your firm offer project management services for the build-out of my space?
- Will you be able to help us if our company decides to sublease some of our space in the future?
Now that you know the right questions to ask before hiring a broker, finding the right tenant rep broker to lead your office search should be a little bit easier. To learn more about AQUILA’s expert tenant representation team, visit our tenant representation team or schedule a consultation with our team.
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