When it comes to working with any new client or prospect in commercial real estate, the quality of the questions that you ask will help you get to the point of the listing or marketing process effectively and directly. Direct questions will help you win new business, convert more transactions, and grow your commissions.
Many of the clients and the prospects that you talk to will initially be quite guarded or reluctant share too much information about the person situation. Trust is a part of client and prospect contact. That being said, you really do need to drill down into the real facts of the property pressure they may be experiencing. The questioning process gets a lot easier when you understand local market activities including prices, rents, availability, and time on market.
One factor to remember here is that you are the property expert for the local area and on that basis you are entitled to ask direct and meaningful questions. If the client or the prospect is reluctant to share their complete property situation with you, then you should also be reluctant to give out too much information about listings and property facts locally.
Direct Qualifying Questions in Commercial Real Estate Brokerage
Here are some questions to use to help you identify property needs and opportunities with new clients and prospects:
- How have they found the property? – Always try to understand how new people have contacted you to make the initial property enquiry. Over time you will soon see the methods of marketing that are attracting the right levels of enquiry for you as the agent or broker. Have they reached you as a result of and Internet listing, the property advertisement, signboard, or a referral?
- What do they know about the local area when it comes to prices and rents? – Some tenants and property buyers have unrealistic expectations when it comes to prices and rents. That will usually be due to their lack of understanding when it comes to the local area. If you are working with a client or prospect with that problem, you will need to show them some other properties where results have been achieved at established market prices or market rents.
- What other properties have they seen locally with other agents? Most buyers and tenants will be working with other agents simultaneously to satisfy their property need in a timely way. On that basis you can never really be sure as to what properties they have seen recently, or what they may be negotiating on right now. Be careful when it comes to the prospects you work with and the potential connection with another agent. The inspecting party, be they a tenant, investor, or business owner, may very well share confidential property information inadvertently about your listings to the other agent.
- Do they have a budget relating to property choice and negotiation? – The budget that they have set when it comes to a property purchase or rental should be questioned. There are other issues to consider as part of the budget that the prospect may have overlooked. In the case of rental, they may not have considered the recoverable outgoings in addition to the rental structure. In the case of price, they may not have considered the associated costs of contract including taxes, moving costs, and any special applications that may apply to property use.
- What is the process that will allow them to make the property decision? – Every prospect business or investor will have a process of negotiation and decision. Make sure that you are talking to the decision maker where ever possible. If you are talking to a company as a prospect, they may have a Board of Directors that need to be included or involved in the final property decision. That Board of Directors may also meet irregularly and therefore the final property decision could be delayed. When you understand the pressures of time and decision, the negotiation for your client gets a lot easier.
So you can ask plenty of direct questions and qualify the prospects people that you work with in commercial real estate brokerage. Drill down into the facts of the matter when it comes to their property selection, intentions, decisions, and needs. Take plenty of notes when you work with these people so that any information they give you today can be proven or discussed in the future.
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.
In commercial real estate brokerage you will hear many people refer to the opportunities gained with attending networking events. Certainly that is the case.
So what are the best networking events that could you attend in your town or city? Here are some ideas to help you:
- Get involved with the local franchise council so that you connect work with franchise groups, franchisors, and franchisees. They may have potential needs when it comes to property relocation, or leasing.
- Solicitors and accountants are good sources of new business opportunity over time. Most of these successful professional people have plenty of clients with property challenges and needs. That being said, these solicitors and the accountants need to trust you and know your relevance as a top agent in the local area. Relationships take time to build with these people but they can be very rewarding over the longer term.
- The local property council or industry group will have networking events on a regular basis. That being said, just about every one of your competitors will be at the same event passing out business cards. All the more reason for you to be present and active on the day.
- Get involved with the local municipal council and know the relative councillors, mayor, and planning officers. They can tell you a lot about the local area when it comes to property changes and future activities.
- The local small business community will have meetings and gatherings from time to time. Understand the role that you can play as a local property specialist and how you can provide quality information to that small business community. On a regular basis you can speak to them about property trends, prices, and rentals. Small business owners invariably need a property to operate from as part of the business function. They may also need knowledge and information relating to property purchase and leasing alternatives at a local level.
So the networking process is quite useful and is part of a strategic process for brokers and agents.
Take your local property knowledge and information to every networking event and opportunity. Share information regards recent sales and leasing activity so that others may benefit from the trends of the market. Soon you will see that others will come to you for help and guidance.