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Best Shot Commercial Real Estate Market Intelligence – Talk to Local Businesses

In today’s commercial property market, the tenants in your local area will tell you a lot if you ask the right questions.  For that very reason you should merge local tenants and businesses into your prospecting activities.

Any local building with multiple tenants should be merged into your call canvassing program.   Providing the owner of the building is not a client of your agency through some other business relationship, there is great advantage to be had by calling down all the tenants on a regular basis.

You can ask the business owners and managers questions such as:

  • Do they own the property?  Property ownership may be an opportunity for a sale and lease back at some stage in the future.
  • Do they lease the property?  If that is the case they will have lease change over issues and lease expiry dates coming up.  Most tenants have no idea about the availability of leased premises in the local area or the current market rentals.
  • When will their lease expire?  If you know this date you can provide market information to them in the year leading up to the lease expiry.  They may be prime tenants for relocating.
  • Do they have local storage needs?  Existing businesses can sometimes be under some pressure to expand storage or relocate staff into nearby local properties.  Ask the questions to see what pressures of occupancy may exist.
  • What type of business are they?  This will have bearing on the type of property and the improvements required in leased occupation.
  • Some businesses have a significant lead time to relocate given the way in which they operate and the plant and equipment that they may use in that business process.
  • What labour force requirements do they have?  The location of the business should be convenient for labour sourcing and access.
  • Some businesses need to be near public transport or have a significant onsite car park for staff and customers as part of business operations.  Find out what the business requires in case a special property in the local area could come onto the market one day.
  • Ask the business owner about the landlord of the property (if they are a tenant).  If you can identify the landlord, you can approach them at a later time regards leasing and property requirements.

In addition to all of the above, the tenants know a lot more about the local area than you do, and the right questions about other businesses in the street may very well turn up a property opportunity.

The best way to gather this information is to call by local businesses on a daily basis.  It takes time, but if you do between 5 and 10 a day, you will get valuable leads to work on.

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Beneficial Local Leads and Opportuntities for Commercial Property Agents

If you keep in contact with the local businesses in your area, you can uncover some significant property opportunity for your commercial real estate agency.  The process of contacting businesses is far easier than chasing down the property owners in your region.  A good prospecting model should involve both processes in balance.

It is the local businesses and the decision makers behind those businesses that can tell you what is going on in their region and their street; they can also tell you what they may be looking for in regard to future property activity.  It is easy to find local businesses, and it is easy to make contact with them.  The business telephone book is a valuable asset to grow your database.

Given that the local businesses are essentially the backbone of property occupancy, part of your database should be deliberately constructed for local business networking and the market intelligence that you gather.  Some of those businesses will be tenants, whilst other businesses will be owner occupiers.  Either way, there are property needs and challenges from time to time that they will need help with.

You can approach local business proprietors in two different ways.

  1. You can cold call them as part of your prospecting model on a daily basis.  This process is quite successful and worthwhile merging into your networking program.  Contacting 40 businesses a day is quite easy when you use the business telephone book.
  2. You can personally canvass the business streets and business locations as part of a ‘drop-in’ prospecting activity.  Getting your face in front of business proprietors in this way will help you gather significant market intelligence.

It should also be said that any significant property with multiple tenants will be a good opportunity for new business prospecting.  Many top commercial real estate agents will pick a large CBD building with multiple tenants and work through the list of tenants until they know what every tenant requires by way of occupancy and when their lease expires.  The direct approach works just about every time.

Many business owners and corporations do not have the experience or the expertise when it comes to commercial or retail property investigation and relocation.  For this very reason, they require local market assistance; you can be the source of this very valuable market intelligence.  Special property services may also be required such as tenant advocacy, or buyer’s agent.

Businesses and larger corporations will generally utilize these specialized services with the right agency.  They then become your client and will be paying your commission.  It is perhaps the reverse process to the normal sale or lease transaction, however it is quite productive and rewarding from an agency perspective.  You simply need to change your perspective on the transaction to help the business owner or corporation find the right property locally with the correct improvements.

The way to make this process work is to establish an initial base of contact with the right decision makers in every local business.  Over time, you can reconnect with these people and encourage a meeting at the right time.  Trust and information will help you open the door on future property requirements.  It may take three or four telephone calls every couple of months before you get to the right decision maker with a face to face meeting.

These business owners and business managers will appreciate local market intelligence and feedback when it comes to property rentals, property availability, and property prices.  As a strategy in connecting with these people, you can create a single page brochure that you can leave with them detailing the recent property activity and results.

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Commercial Real Estate Agents – Lease Renegotiations are Fee Opportunities

In commercial real estate today, there are some significant opportunities for lease renegotiation.  Some tenants would seize the opportunity for a rental reduction or lease adjustment in exchange for some benefits back to the landlord.  This then says that you can through this process stabilise the tenancy mix, and rebalance the property for the longer lease term.

When the business community is under some pressure in regards to trade or occupancy, the lowering of the rental over the short term is a satisfactory exchange for other lease terms and conditions that will have benefit for the landlord.  The pressures on tenants and businesses today will not remain so forever.  A lower rental for 12 months can give you tenant stability through difficult times, whilst preparing the property for greater capital gain or future sale.  This is what lease strategy is all about and these are the ideas that we can give our clients to help them with tenant and lease optimisation.

Lease renegotiation opportunities are normally structured into a tenant retention plan.  That tenant retention plan would identify the tenants that are critical to the future of the property, and then seek to retain these tenants for the long term.  Things should be done to assist them to remain in occupancy conveniently and economically.  The landlord therefore benefits by tenant and rental stability.  There is however the need to achieve a tradeoff and benefit for the landlord if you are to give the tenant a benefit today.

Here are some ideas that can apply to the landlord benefit process.  This is assuming that you achieve or provide an adjusted lower rental for the tenants in occupancy.

  1. Get the tenant to exercise their option in the property early.  By exercising the option, the landlord knows that the tenant will remain in occupancy for the longer term.  That is the base benefit.
  2. You can adjust the terms of the existing lease so that the prevailing make good conditions are more beneficial to the landlord at the end of the lease term.  You can obligate the tenant to undertake further renovation works if they choose to leave the premises at the end of lease.  This then prepares the premises for alternative occupancy with a new tenant, at a lower cost to the landlord.
  3. Any lower rental today, can prepare the tenant for a higher rental at some stage in the future.  This assumes that the business can be seen to be successful in coming years and months.  The lower rental today provides the tenant with breathing space for generating income and repositioning their business. Over time they can likely achieve a better ability to pay the rent.
  4. Any longer lease term provided to the tenant today should include a renovation requirement.  They can be obligated to renovate the premises in a particular way at a certain time.  Normally leased premises require renovation every five years.  That renovation can include painting, carpeting, and cosmetic upgrades.  A suitable agreement can be struck with the tenant and appropriately documented as part of an agreement for a lower rental today.

It is in property markets like this where we can be assisting the landlords to reposition their property and stabilize the tenancy mix.  That is the high value of experience and knowledge in commercial and retail real estate that we can apply to help our clients at this time.