Finding the right commercial leasing firm for your property can be a challenge, especially in a competitive market like Austin. Hiring a good company from the beginning can save time, money and a lot of headache down the road.
To help make this selection process easier, we have compiled a list of the five most important questions to ask during your search. These questions will help narrow the field of potential companies and increase the chances of finding the best firm for your needs.
1. Does this leasing firm have a good reputation?
Finding a firm with a good reputation is a top priority when searching for a leasing firm.
Knowing your leasing broker is backed by a reputable and respected team with good relationships in the Austin market should help you feel comfortable that they are experienced and qualified to represent your property.
A number of reputable companies are active in the Austin market, so it is worth the time to filter through each company and find the one that you feel the most comfortable with.
Some ways you can determine the reputation of a specific company include:
- Reviews by previous clients (either online or through referrals)
- Rankings in the Austin Business Journal
- Reviews by tenant rep brokers in the market
Specific questions to ask include:
- Do you have any testimonials you can share from clients you’ve worked with in the recent past?
- Who are some of your other clients? What types of projects have you worked on with them?
- Can you provide names and contact information for references that I can talk to?
- Are there any relevant case studies from past projects that you were involved in that I can look over?
- How long have you been in the business, and what is your specialty?
2. How well does the leasing team know the market?
Every market is different and has its own unique characteristics. With this being said, it is very important that your leasing firm has an extensive background in the market so they can recruit the right tenants and negotiate the best lease terms possible for your building.
Some questions an experienced leasing firm should be able to answer include:
- What is the average rental rate and vacancy rate in this market?
- Is it standard for owners to charge for parking in this market? If so, what are typical parking rates for reserved and non-reserved spaces?
- How have other properties performed in this area?
- Can you provide relevant case studies?
- How is activity in this market, and are there any significant blocks of space available or coming available that might compete with my property?
3. Do you have any conflicts of interest?
While it is important to have a broker who has experience with similar property types in your submarket, you will also want to ensure that they are not already listing a conflicting property.
If a broker already represents a competitive property, this could represent a conflict, as both properties may compete for tenants.
However, a conflict only exists if there are competing availabilities or comparable rent rolls on the horizon. If, for example, your building has 20% vacancy today, but the competitive property is fully leased for the next five years, it is not likely to cause a conflict. Further, in smaller markets you will find that most larger brokerage firms lease competing properties so it’s important to ask the following questions below to have full transparency.
Specific questions you should ask may include:
- What properties do you currently represent?
- What current and upcoming vacancy do you have at these properties?
- How does your firm handle conflicts?
4. Does the firm specialize in my property type?
Due to the nature of commercial real estate, different property types require different expertise to lease successfully.
Leasing an office property requires a different set of skills and knowledge base than leasing a retail shopping center or industrial building.
Luckily, many firms do not focus solely on one property type, but rather have a mix of office, retail and industrial specialists. Typically, each broker will have a specialty, and it is important to make sure that your broker has experience working with your property type.
Some questions to ask are:
- What are the market trends for my specific property type?
- Have you leased spaces like mine in the past?
- What are the most desired amenities by tenants in my property type?
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of my project, and what suggestions do you have to improve my property?
5. Does the firm offer services outside of leasing?
When considering a leasing agent you will also want to consider what other type of services you may need.
Full service commercial real estate companies offer a wide range of services to their clients. Some of the services a full-service commercial real estate company may offer but not limited too include:
- Project Leasing
- Property Management: Having a leasing and management team from the same company allows for efficiency and open lines of communication.
- Project Management: An in-house project management team can help lead capital improvements, TI build-outs, spec suites, and more.
- Tenant Representation: Working with a firm that has a tenant representation team as well can help your brokers know what tenants are in the market and what they are looking for.
- Investment Services: Your project leasing broker should also be able to help you evaluate the market and any potential acquisition or dispositions, as well as assist in underwriting and transacting the sale. Additionally, some firms may have an in-house investment sales specialist.
- Market Research Team: A firm’s market research team can provide you with current market rates and trends, as well as provide an overview of what’s going on in each submarket from current availabilities to upcoming developments.
- Marketing: Your leasing team should be able to provide standard marketing for your commercial property. These items should include a property flyer, leasing signs, a listing page on the company website, addition and maintenance of the property on CoStar and an email marketing campaign.
Specific questions to ask:
- What services do you provide in addition to project leasing?
- Does your firm offer project management services?
- Does your firm offer property management services, and can you provide information and experience for this team?
- How will you be able to assist with future acquisitions and dispositions?
- What reports or information does your market research team produce about the Austin market?
Now that you know the right questions to ask before hiring a broker, finding the right project leasing team to represent your property should be a bit easier.
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