In commercial real estate today, the leasing of office premises is a relatively easy process to prepare for but accurate facts and property information are required. In many respects you will only get one chance to promote a vacancy for lease; have all the facts and information under control from the outset.
Real Estate Leasing Agents should help landlords move through the tenancy and property preparation issues so that the marketing of the vacancy can create real interest in the local area and with the targeted group of tenants. When you are prepared for the lease activity, time on market is shorter and lease negotiations are more direct; in larger office properties and in modern buildings you will also require a ‘tenant information memorandum’ to assist the leasing process.
Here are some tips to help that leasing preparation process occur efficiently:
- Get a plan created of the property and or the tenancy to be leased. You may also require a survey plan so that the lease area is totally accurate in preparation for tenant inspection and enquiries. If that is the case, get the survey done early so it is not a delaying factor in any lease negotiation. It is also of some help to the leasing agent to have an accurate plan of this type for the property and premises. The plan creation process is a cost to the landlord.
- Check out the boundaries of the premises and property; inspect the property comprehensively yourself. Ensure that there are no boundary or premises encroachments. Remove those problems before any lease marketing or negotiations start. Premises problems can slow things down considerably in a lease negotiation. Remove the problems at the start.
- Review the premises from a ‘tenant perspective’. Look at issues as any tenant would. Question things such as rent levels, lighting, floor coverings, wall finishes, lease conditions, and property availability. The property must present well in any inspection, so remove any visual problems and physical challenges that could have an impact on your inspections. Any problems that a tenant can see in the inspection are likely to be ‘discounting factors’ in any lease negotiation. Some landlords like to ‘hold back’ on the costs of premises preparation thinking that they can save some money or wait until a tenant is located; invariably that can be a big error as the ‘first impression’ that a tenant gets from the property will make or break any lease offer.
- The landlord should have considered and created standard lease terms and conditions that are required for any lease negotiation to start. Those facts will also be required in the marketing and advertising of the vacant premises. Ensure that the asking rent is in keeping with the comparable properties locally and the other asking rents in the area.
- Understand how the tenant will connect into the building services and amenities. That connection process will include water, lighting, electricity, drainage, and communications. There will be ‘risers’ in the building to allow the tenant to connect. You may also need engineering comment and ‘as built drawings’ to help that process occur.
Simple things like these help the momentum in any lease marketing process of an office building or office premises. Preparation is the key. Get the facts before you, know the property market, and then understand the client’s requirements and the property.
Commercial real estate websites today are increasingly important as most people considering selling, buying, or renting are going online to research properties before or as part of the process. Every commercial real estate brokerage should have a high quality website for that very reason. A brokerage website once created should be optimized for your property market location, the properties that you sell or lease, and the people that can need your services.
Many brokers and agents only use the industry portals for property promotion and marketing. Not only is that choice quite expensive, it can be and is usually short sighted. Industry portals do offer some advantages in attracting enquiries; however you are limited to their usage policies and their high prices. A ‘standard’ listing package on the portals can be lost in a ‘sea of other listings’.
If you want your property to have a reasonable chance of being seen by buyers and tenants, have you ever noticed how you must list your properties in the online portals with some form of ‘priority placement’? That ‘priority’ process costs real money and is set and controlled by the portals.
In many respects you will limit your online advertising results if ‘priority portal placement’ cannot be covered in a promotional campaign. Only vendor paid marketing campaigns can absorb the high costs of a listing having a ‘portal priority placement’; if the vendor declines the cost then you will most likely have a marketing campaign achieving less inbound inquiries.
To increase your online marketing capability with property listings, you should at least have a selection if not all of the following active and operational:
- Access to industry portals (vendor paid marketing funds for priority placement). This is a cost related decision with every property campaign.
- A well designed website for your brokerage and your listings that is optimized for search engine exposure, location, and property type. If your brokerage specializes in multiple property types you may consider installing special landing pages inside your main website. Those landing pages should be optimized for the property type (that will help your search engine ‘visibility’).
- A series of blogs linking back to your website. The blogs should be property niche specific and can be run by individual agents as part of their personal marketing efforts. The blogs can be linked to and from your newsletter and also your social media platforms.
- Google analytics tracking and measuring the results and configuration of your website and blogs. Certain property types and listings will create more ‘online’ interest. Google Analytics will help you understand those things.
- A professional email newsletter that is sent to your database on a regular basis to share information about property updates and local listing activity.
- An online database and auto responder service that simplifies client contact and capture from all your blogs and websites.
From this process and these issues you can build your online profile for your brokerage and agency. In doing that, understand that the process does not stop and requires constant upgrading and a ‘refresh’ of strategies.
In commercial real estate today, agents are and should be responsible for marketing themselves. That requirement is in addition to the general brokerage marketing process. At a personal level ‘information marketing’ can be a valuable strategy for individual agents to develop and use. You can build it into your personal sales plan.
So what is ‘information marketing’? It is the provision and use of ‘quality information’ to attract prospects and people online. When correctly implemented, that ‘attraction factor’ can help real estate agents get substantially more online profile as an ‘expert’ in a property type and or location. The strategy works well in commercial real estate and will help you attract more property enquiries locally, and people to use your real estate services.
Here are some of the big issues to help you get started in ‘information marketing’ as a real estate agent or broker:
- Focus your information and efforts on your local area and your property type. Everything that you do in the marketing process should be centred firmly in your market ‘niche’ and location. To achieve this, decide what area of your town or city is your ‘territory’ of focus. Within that area, what property type(s) will be your special field of endeavor? All of your local marketing efforts should be built around those answers. For example, you may focus on ‘industrial warehouse leasing’ or ‘shopping centre sales’. Choose on market segment and drill down into it. Define your market ‘niche’ and work within it as part of your marketing processes.
- Start a real estate blog on one of the blogging platforms (Blogger, or WordPress) and focus your blogs on your property type and location. Everything that you post to your blog should stay within those niche factors; that will help the search engines see you as an agent and the relevance of information that you provide. Topic consistency is the key to the process.
- All of your blogs should be written about the location and the property type. The blogs should be ‘informational’ and not ‘advertorial’; in other words your blogs should be helpful and useful. When you provide valuable local property market information, you start to build trust with your readers.
- On your blog site, link an auto responder and database service to your blog articles so interested people can register for more information about your property type, and town or city. You can now see why fresh ‘information’ is so important to making this marketing process work. Lots of agents advertise prolifically, but not many actually help people with local property information in a convenient way such as an online blog.
- Integrate your blogs and articles to your social media platforms. Whilst most social media platforms concentrate on being ‘social’, most agents only achieve and focus on that level of interaction (which can be self centered and of little interest to others). Take a step further in personal marketing by being ‘helpful’ with local property market information and articles from your blog; provide the links accordingly across all of your social media channels.
All of the above strategies are simple and yet advanced. They can be implemented to a substantial and successful level by any agent in real estate. They are very suitable for commercial real estate agents and brokers. If you are struggling with being ‘seen’ as a broker in your local town or city, now might be a good time to start the online marketing process. Use local information marketing to achieve that.
As an agent this next 12 months can be a very big year for you in property commissions and listings. Many property markets are showing signs of consolidation and activity. Businesses and property investors are looking to upgrade or shift focus. That means sales and leasing activity.
Revisit your database and everyone in it to see what those people intend to do in the next twelve months with commercial and retail property.
There is a ‘golden rule’ in commercial real estate that needs to be remembered if you are to improve your results. The agent or broker with the exclusive listing stock will control the inquiry. Top agents focus on converting exclusive listings.
Most top agents will be running with up to 15 exclusives at any point in time. Given that those top agents will convert those listings to completed deals at a ratio of better than 60% you can now see the importance in lifting your listing numbers.
Here are some ways that you can make this next year very successful in commercial real estate brokerage:
- Specialize even more in your territory on the things that are attracting the attention of buyers and tenants. Drill down into the facts of the market and how you can attract more inquiries and top clients or investors.
- Create some powerful marketing campaigns on vendor funds and exclusive listings. On a monthly basis total up the marketing funds that you have obtained from your clients and prospects. On a month by month basis, those numbers should be increasing.
- When you have a listing it is the start of the process and not the end. Some agents lose focus when they convert the listing; real effort is required to spread the word about a quality property and offering. Understand what the property is and who it will attract.
- Devote much of your marketing efforts on exclusive listing creation and conversions. When you control the listing stock you control the property, the marketing, the deal, the negotiation, and the client.
- Look at additional promotional processes that you have overlooked or not yet mastered. That can include blogs, articles, editorials, email newsletters, social media, or website exposure. Your online profile should be strong and growing; the search engines today are looking for valuable content to assist the searching public. You can attract those search engines by writing content and adding it to your website and blog.
All of these things create leads and opportunities. Load valuable information into your database and lift your levels of client contact. This next 12 months can be a massive year in commercial real estate brokerage if you set the right ‘wheels in motion’.
When it comes to pitching for a high quality commercial real estate listing, the whole process has to be well considered and staged. There are plenty of competitors that are likely to be chasing the same property. Only the top agent that shows property market relevance will win.
- Define the property and its strengths in today’s market. Help the client see that you really understand the facts of the property and how to sell it. Many properties will have advantages that can be integrated into the marketing campaign.
- State your understanding of the client’s requirements and points of focus. Many clients have specific outcomes that they require; that may be in price, timing, and investment results, method of sale, or inspection and marketing strategies. Help the client see that you fully understand what they need to achieve in the property market today.
- Talk about the current property market and the competing listings. Many clients don’t really understand what is going on locally with property. When they can see the competing listings and the prices that are being set, your job gets a bit easier.
- Link the property to a segment of the market as you see it. The target market that you focus on will have an impact on the marketing campaign. It may also have an impact on the timing a method of sale. Choose your facts wisely.
- Provide a definite method of sale for the property and the reasons behind your recommendations. Some properties are only suited to a particular method of sale. Understand what works for the property type and make recommendations accordingly.
- Match your marketing recommendations to the method of sale and the target market.
- Show the client some successful samples of marketing for properties in the same category and location. Many clients like to hear stories of others that have worked through property problems and challenges. Keep a set of stories and supporting marketing material for that very reason.
- Ask for the business and provide a time line of action so the client can see exactly what will be done for them. As strange as it may seem, many clients do not know what is required to market and sell their property. Your timeline can show them the process and the parts that are really important to momentum.
The sales pitch process for a listing in commercial real estate does not need to be difficult. Set some rules and systems similar to those above. Your conversions will then get a lot easier.
They say that a person can change a career a few times in their working life. In commercial real estate that doesn’t need to be the case. There are so many options within the industry that you can easily move around within property types and specialities; variety and opportunities are always available to those that look for them. A good career can be obtained by those that are prepared to learn and work hard.
Here are some tips and ideas to help you with your business activities and focus in the industry:
- Market knowledge – You will be tested by property owners, business leaders, and others as part of prospecting and networking. Local property market knowledge will be valuable leverage in connecting with more people. Most people and the prospects that we work with don’t have the exposure to the market; they need good real estate agents to tell them what is going on in sales, leasing, and new property developments. Build your knowledge so that you can be of real value to the people you talk to.
- Observe and interpret – Observe the market intelligently and completely. Look at the relationships between prices, rents, and investment. There are reasons for your clients and prospects to transact a sale or a lease. Look for those reasons. Look for distressed properties, changing of use, lease pressures, vacancy factors, and returns on investment. Those issues will all offer opportunities for new business and listing activity.
- Practice – I cannot understate the importance of practice. Our industry is one of professionalism across key skills such as listing, prospecting, inspecting, negotiating, and marketing. Each of those factors requires regular practice if you want to accelerate results.
- Prospecting – Connecting with new people and particularly those looking for property opportunity or change should occur every day. Most agents struggle with the disciplines to do that. For those agents that devote the time to prospecting and networking for new business, the market can be very rewarding in so many ways.
- Systems – The actions that you take each day will be boosted by systems that can be monitored and improved at a personal level. Have a careful look at your systems and activities in prospecting and marketing. Both of those issues are so critical to growing market share. Your database will be part of that process of growth and change.
- Client collateral – Your clients are the lifeblood of the market that you work in. Over time look to grow your client relationships and services. Improve your value by specialising in certain segments of the market.
So these 6 simple things are so vital to opportunity in commercial real estate agency. They are the foundations or ‘corner stones’ of a successful commercial real estate career. Now might be a good time to look at any weaknesses in these factors that can be improved on or modified for better personal performance.
When you work in commercial or retail property leasing, you need a rich source of tenants and business leads. There are a number of resources that you can use for that purpose, and on that basis it is simply a matter of selecting the ones that work for you and your property market. Develop your leasing strategies.
Here are some of the best leasing sources of business names and tenant identities:
- Check out all of the major buildings in your leasing territory. When it comes to buildings that contain multiple tenants, it is a matter of taking down or capturing the details from the directory board that is located in the property. The easiest way to do that is to take a photograph of the directory board on your mobile telephone. You can process and review the photograph later.
- From the details that you get in the previous ‘directory board’ step, it is a matter of telephoning down all the businesses in the particular buildings to discuss future leasing and occupation needs. Leases come to an end at some stage for all types of reasons. Some tenants prefer to move when that occurs, and on that basis you can be the source of market information and relocation opportunity.
- Get a copy of the local business telephone book as it applies to your location, town and city. It is preferable to use the telephone book in hardcopy rather than online. That is simply because the telephone book can be logically processed and marked off with a colored pen or highlighters as you proceed through it. Starting at the beginning of the telephone book work through every business name to find those businesses that are located in your priority suburbs and leasing territory. Whilst this process may seem tedious, it is simply a matter of reviewing one or two pages of telephone numbers each night in preparation for your prospecting processes the next day. One telephone book can take you an entire year to move through. You will however see that the system is quite easy to implement and soon you will be covering 5 to 10 pages a day as part of that process. One page of the telephone book should give you two or three numbers to call; cold calls lead to information and potential meetings with the right tenants. You may wish to choose a greater number of businesses given the filtering process and the criteria of targeted tenants locally.
- You can also get some good leads and opportunities from using the Internet methodically and specifically. In your town or city, there will be a business ‘Yellow Pages’ telephone book online that you can use for this very purpose. In most cases you can search the ‘Yellow pages’ based on targeted business types and by suburbs. From that search process you can get specific names of businesses and tenants to put into your prospecting activities and cold calling systems.
So these four strategies are quite simple. You can see why things need to be methodical and systemized.
When you create a large list of local businesses and tenants, and then take the time to understand their occupation needs from a leasing perspective, you are of high value to the landlords that you serve. Use your database as leverage in this way when it comes to winning a property leasing appointment. Tell the landlord about your database and how accurate and up to date it is. They will find it difficult to ignore an agent with a comprehensive and up to date database of tenants.
The commercial real estate market can be very competitive at the best of times. Many agents and brokers will be chasing the same listing and attempting to influence the client towards their marketing solution and property package. For this reason you may only have one chance to attract new business and the client to your brokerage. Your sales pitch or presentation needs to be of the highest quality.
So here are five effective ways to improve the client connection and potentially win the listing. Compare these strategies to what you are doing currently. Small improvements can bring big results.
- Clients today know when they are talking to a top agent that dominates the market segment or the location. Every presentation or sales pitch should be designed around those facts. If you miss out on a listing, it can largely be due to the fact that you have not sufficiently convinced the client of your relevance for the property and their marketing situation. A client or a prospective client will not turn their back on the recommendations of a top agent. It really doesn’t matter what relationships exist between the client and your competitors. If you specifically sell your marketing package at a high level, the relevance and the recommendations are hard for the client to avoid or overlook.
- When you present to the client, be totally absorbed in the strategies recommended and the requirements of the client. Every sales or leasing situation can be quite unique. Drill down into the facts of price and rent as the case may be. If you provide any recommendation around the price or the rental, show clear market evidence to support those facts. Also comment regards the best way forward for the client given the current market conditions.
- Show the client exactly what you will be doing to help them with their property challenge. Also show them the stages required to move ahead. You can do that through a simple Gantt chart that itemizes the marketing preparation, marketing campaign, inspection strategy, and negotiation approach. The visual approach of a Gantt chart will help you significantly with any sales pitch or presentation for the listing.
- When any of your competitors put a signboard on a property in your local area, canvass the surrounding property owners and business proprietors. It has been proven many times over that some nearby property investors and business owners are likely to compete when it comes to dealing with their property challenges. You can be the agent or broker to help them with the process of competing; you can list their property. The momentum gained from the nearby competitors listing will give you leverage in packaging your property listing. You can adjust your methods of sale or lease accordingly, together with the necessary pricing package to attract better levels of enquiry.
- Put yourself into the promotion of any exclusive listing. Any exclusive listing should be secured for a reasonable period of time together with vendor paid marketing. As part of that process, you can then commit to the marketing effort by canvassing local business owners and property investors. It directly follows that any quality property listing will give you many reasons to talk to others.
The commercial real estate brokerage process doesn’t need to be hard or difficult. It does however need to be simplified and direct. Get involved with your clients and your property listings so that you can attract more enquiries and create more inspections. Over time those two factors will help you build market share and potentially dominate your market.
Many people think that the life of a commercial real estate broker is easy. Perhaps some people even join the industry assuming that is the case. The reality of the industry is far and away from those assumptions. The top agents in the market work really hard and do so to a definite plan or system.
When you put in the effort individually, you will get results. The efforts applied should be specific to the property type and the location; in other words you do need to do the right things each and every day and systemise the process. That is exactly what the top agents do.
Here are some cold hard facts regards the industry:
- Commissions – looked at in isolation, the commissions that we earn can be quite large. For most property transactions and listings however real strategy and effort is required to attract a successful outcome in any sale or lease. As large as the commissions may seem, they don’t come easily. If you want significant income, you need to work hard.
- Hours of work – the hours of work are variable and sometimes quite long. It is not unusual to be negotiating a contract or a lease later into the evening, across the weekend, or early one morning. The business is out there to be done providing you are flexible enough to do the work of any time of day.
- Property knowledge – property knowledge will have a big impact on your inspections and negotiations. It will also help you significantly when it comes to the listing process. On that basis you will really need to know a lot about the local area, the property type, and the current levels of enquiry.
- Personal marketing – whilst you may work for a well-known brokerage or agency, you must market yourself each and every day to the right people in the right way. On that basis every agent or broker should have a specific prospecting and networking program underway.
- Prospecting – it should be said quite clearly that prospecting is not easy. It is required business skill that takes practice and improvement. Simply lifting the telephone or door knocking on the business will not be very successful without the necessary practice factors. Build some prospecting practice into your business day prior to getting into the office.
- Negotiation – negotiation skills are something you learn over time. Every landlord, seller, buyer, and tenant will have different factors of leverage and requirements when it comes to property negotiation. As the agent or the broker to the deal, your advantage will be in seeing those factors of leverage and the requirements that can be satisfied. That is how a good negotiator works.
- Inspection – the inspection of a property will happen for a number of reasons and preparation is required. Every listing will have strengths and weaknesses impacting the inspection process. Your job is to use them or work through them to achieve the best result. That is where property knowledge and local market information will be of high value.
- Documentation – some property lease and sales situations are very complex. Expert information and assistance will be required when it comes to complex transactions. Make sure that every contract or lease that you create is correctly designed for the property and the client’s situation.
- Database – your database will be the most important business tool that you have available. Spend time every day connecting with people within the database and adding new people to the process. Over time the database will give you plenty of leads, and referral opportunities. From the database you can create a specialised list of VIP clients and prospects.
Looking at all of these things, you can see how important the commitment and the skills of the agent will be to their progress in the industry. They say that nothing really comes easy; certainly that is the case in commercial real estate brokerage. Be prepared to put in the hours and improve your skills over time. That is how you can be a very successful agent in the industry.
When it comes to selling or leasing any commercial, industrial, or retail property, the more specific that you are to the location and property the easier it is to attract attention and negotiate. To do something with this you need property specific data. It is very difficult for the negotiating party to refute or dispute valid information from the local market.
So, the message here is quite clear that you will need to create and maintain relevant property information that you can use in any negotiation locally. Here are some ideas to help you with that:
- Track the activity of prices within your property speciality. The prices can be related to land, improvements, and location. Take those numbers and trend them over a period of time using a simple line or bar graph. The visual approach can be very powerful when it comes to any client or prospect presentation.
- When it comes to selling any property, there will be a preferable method of sale. That sale method will be based on industry results and activity, the property type, and demand. Select the best preferable method of sale when it comes to every property presentation and sales pitch. Ensure that the client clearly understands your reasons for that particular choice. Use graphs and charts to show them how one method of sale is proving to be more successful than others.
- Given the previous point, you can and should track the levels of rental that apply within the property type. Rental variations can be and usually are a bit more challenging from the analysis point of view. You will need to address and assess the rental types such as gross rental, net rental, incentives, and market rentals. Understand what is leasing and for what reason. Business sentiment in the local area and your town or city will have a lot to do with leasing enquiry and lease conversions. What types of leases are being negotiated today and for what reason?
- Understand the supply and demand for investment property and business premises. To track that activity you can monitor the new planning approvals being processed at your municipal council. Also look for any changes to property zoning and property use.
- The supply of vacant land will have an impact on the creation of new property developments. New property developments are considered when the population and the business demographic are within a growth phase. In some towns and cities, the supply of vacant land is restricted. On that basis a change of property use and redevelopment will be more likely. Staying close contact with property developers and the business community to identify any future needs and changes within property demand.
The property promotion process is quite specific if you want to win an exclusive listing. You can show the client quite clearly how specific that is when it comes to their property challenge with any sale or leasing. Use local market information and comparable evidence through charts, graphs, and historic trends to help prove your point.
When you specialise within a property type, this information display is quite important. The specific approach to the property type in any listing presentation will help you greatly in conversions.