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.