Tenant and Buyer Representation… It Does Work.
“Todd represented on two different acquisitions as our company grew. Because we had some rather unique and difficult requirements, he was great about understanding our needs, focusing on what can and cannot be achieved to find us two buildings that worked well for us. He was patient and creative and best of all communicated market and building information consistently so we could adjust our thinking accordingly to consider facility options that fit our needs.”
~ Michael Koerner, Founder of Koerner Camera Systems the largest camera rental house in the Northwest.
You are a business owner that has outgrown your current warehouse and office space and you need to expand to a bigger building and better location with more amenities more suitable to your growing business… or you have found the area where you are located has changed and no longer suits your operations and you need a better location that better fits your business… or your lease is up and you are tired of paying rent and want to buy a building… or you are a corporate real estate manager and your Portland metro area operations need a bigger, consolidated, or more efficient building… or you want to buy a commercial building that you want to redevelop or have as a good long term investment… or you are a developer looking for a great site to build a cutting edge development. There are multitude of scenarios and possibilities concerning both tenants and buyers of commercial real estate where a better, different or larger facility, commercial building/space, investment or development site is extremely important to accomplishing your personal or company goals.
In these important decisions, there is always common questions of how best to go about the process of locating a building, space, property or investment when your knowledge of the market, what is available, pricing and the multitude of issues and processes to complete a successful commercial real estate transaction is not deep or up to date and your time is limited and best spent running your business or looking after your properties and projects. You can cruise the internet on sites like Co-star and Loopnet, drive around the market and call on signs and become more confused and conflicted the more questions you ask and information you receive. Not good. The best way to get to the best commercial space, property or building solution is to hire someone to represent your needs exclusively and systematically. Many buyers or lessees of commercial real estate are convinced of the value of this relationship and representation but many are not and often ask “Why should I work with one broker or real estate person rather than having multiple representatives” or a follow-up question may be “If I have several people out looking for space, property or a building for me will I not get more options to choose from?” Almost always the answer is NO and this is a myth and more often than not proves an old maxim that “If everyone is working on your requirement…no one is” not the mention the wasting of time that occurs and problems that can easily derail the search and cost significant $$$ while never reaching the optimal solution. This is magnified even more in markets that are changing rapidly or very tight with limited options especially if the requirements are unique. Additionally, by having various real estate brokers and representatives, the process can often be fraught with confusion, repetition, loss of control, inefficiency and many times squabbles between who has exposed which opportunity first. I am not saying that trying to go it alone and giving your commercial real estate requirements to multiple brokers or doing it yourself can never work in securing that perfect space, building or site but it’s a very low percentage. Almost always it will not be a successful process or solution in finding the best space or property fit and will often cost you time, money and create stress and frustration. Here are a few good reasons for hiring an exclusive agent to represent you personally or your company’s best interest in finding the best possible commercial real estate fit.
“I have worked with Todd for the past 3 years as part of my agency’s continual search for properties that may be suitable for use as a shelter or permanent housing. I have been continually impressed with Todd’s continual level of attention and responsiveness. I have greatly appreciated Todd’s ability to grasp our needs, identify possible options, help us assess the suitability of those options and –when appropriate use his substantial network to connect us to the relevant property owners. Todd has also proven to be an excellent source of advice and guidance on those occasions when we entered into negotiations with property owners, both public and private. His attitude, frankness and humorous manner helped us to stay on task during a long arduous process to find the right property.”
~ George Devendorf; Director of Transitions Projects one of most revered and largest social service organizations in the city of Portland.
- Focus. A good real estate representative will help you determine more specifically your needs and what part of your space/building (property) criteria are legitimate and accessible in a given market that is always changing and those that are difficult and potentially unattainable. By understanding your current business and space, investment criteria, history, both short and long term goals and just your personal tendencies and by asking probing and specific questions; a good set of achievable space and property characteristics can be determined and articulated especially as it relates to size, pricing, location and amenities. I have seen potential tenants and buyers have some fairly unrealistic ideas of the market and what they need and can achieve that is not often based in current market “facts” and trends which without guidance the chances of meeting these needs will be next to impossible and very frustrating. A good broker will be able to educate, focus and temper those aspirations to come to set of criteria that has the best chance of success.
- You Will Get Access to More Options. While many specific properties can be found now on the internet that information is often flawed and out-dated especially in quickly changing markets. Representative brokers are out in the market every day and often know “what is really going on and available”; motivations of landlords/property owners, and most importantly because of their experience and intimate market knowledge what properties or spaces that are not on the market and how these properties can be leased or purchased.
- It Saves You Time. Going it alone can result in tons of unsubstantiated contacts by other brokers often prying you with “silly” property options wasting your time and confusing you even more on “what is what”. With a specific, focused and agreed upon set of requirements and needs, you will see properties that fit within those criteria so time is not wasted looking all over the place for ill-suited ideas and opportunities. Also I believe a good representative will also move beyond somewhat those established property requirements (but not too far) to be creative about other options as many times properties, spaces and locations not thought workable at some point (especially early on in the process) may work with more thought and research. This is especially true if there are compelling reasons such as motivated landlord or sellers, below market or price, structure of the deal or government incentives. I believe it is better to see more options that may not quite fit initially and say “no” then not to see options especially in markets that are strong with limited space or property options. Additionally it is a good “give and take” and education process for both of you.
- It Will Save You Money. Armed with good up to date market information regarding trends, comparable sales, landlord or seller motivations, information on recent leases and more, the good buyer or tenant rep broker is able to tailor proposals to best take advantage of these changing market dynamics and individual property options so the chances of success are high once a solution is targeted and proposals are made and best market deal is accomplished. Plus almost always a tenant or buyer representative is reimbursed through commissions paid by the landlord or seller so it costs you nothing.
- Connections. Leasing or buying property has a multitude of aspects and issues to it revolving around land use/occupancies, legal documents, financials, tenant improvements, environmental, architectural and more. A good tenant or buyer broker will be able to expertly guide you through this maze and demystify the process. Additionally they will have proven and experienced experts that can be drawn upon to provide advice, input and analysis to get to the end of successful transaction which saves time and money and keeps you out of trouble and making poor decisions.
- Legitimacy. Hiring someone to represent you who promulgates that relationship and your needs to the markets sends a strong signal of “realness” to the other brokers and property owners who are much more motivated to provide property options and information that many times you will not get going it alone. You are not a “tire kicker” and are legitimate and the requirement is respected and the flow of possibilities is increased, more accurate and concentrated..
- Communication. A good representative should be able to provide consistent and valuable communication about ideas, opportunities and market information. This allows you as the client to understand what is going on out there in the market, status of space and property options, get accurate feedback from brokers and property owners on your requirements. This is additionally important that if in the middle of a transaction, all the aspects related to proposals, negotiations, documents and due diligence can be quickly addressed to not lose time and get you all the way up to move in or closing with the least amount of “bumps” along the way. That way smart “adjustments” at key points in the process, problems can often be foreseen and avoided.
“Todd has demonstrated a strong ability to identify buildings and land that may be of interest to us and has an excellent handle on the market and what is available. Our needs were very specific as far as location and physical characteristics for a replacement property making the process often difficult. It was a long process but Todd kept at it as made offers on multiple properties and finally found a great solution on a property that was not on the market. Todd also helped with city entitlements, city programs that were of assistance to us as well as consultants and experts in various fields to help in our due diligence process on buildings we were considering. I would not hesitate to recommend Todd as an honest and diligent and always available and follows through as a representative for companies looking to acquire properties of their operations.”
~ Stuart Sulman; Vice President of Real Estate of Keller Supply Corporation, one of the largest Wholesalers of Plumbing and Heating Supplies in the Western US.
With all that said finding that good broker to represent you in the leasing or buying of commercial real estate needs attention and due diligence up front. While there are many qualified brokers and firms that specialize in just representing potential tenants and buyers by no means is that always a compelling reason to hang your hat with that person or firm. A very good case can be made that brokers that have substantial experience in working for both landlords/sellers as well as lessees/ buyers have seen and been on both sides of a lease or sale transaction so as to know the motivations, details, attitudes, and market dynamics affecting both side thus are able to negotiate more effectively and work for you successfully by seeing the transaction as a win-win between two competing interests. Besides finding an experienced and knowledgeable tenant or buyer representative it has to be a good fit from a standpoint of expertise, personality, knowledge, attitude and time commitment. Having a broker that sells apartments representing you to find an industrial building or someone that specializes in properties in Hillsboro or exclusively on the westside of Portland to find you creative space in Portland’s core probably will not be the best fit. So meeting and interacting up front with several brokers is important as well as knowing specifically details on specific successful assignments they have handled that are similar to your needs and situation. Any good and transparent broker should be able to easily give you references, letters of recommendation, details on successful similar assignments. Telling good but less than totally factual “stories” of success, and representing more than they can accomplished and more can be unfortunately be part of the “convincing” process. So you need to spend that time up front to find that alignment of experience, knowledge, personality and attitude that aligns best with your goals. I often “walk away” from lease/buyer assignments because it is out the realm of my experience, knowledge and time commitment. This honesty is important.
Should I sign a specific Tenant of Buyer Representative Agreement? In almost all cases the answer is yes because if you are asking someone to spend the time, effort and resources to work for you, that should be memorialized in a simple but non-binding agreement that outlines responsibilities, expectations and commitment. These agreements are mostly based in “trust” but it gives both of you a formality of legitimacy of a relationship but always allows you to “move on” or dissolve that relationship fairly easily if it is not working or circumstances change. A sample of that agreement is here.
I stand ready to meet with you to see if my experience, knowledge and approach aligns with your needs and goals as a tenant or buyer of commercial real estate.