Frequently Asked Questions About Commercial Leasing

Whom does a broker work for?

There are generally two categories of brokers: listing brokers and tenant representatives. The former work for the landlord, but many brokers (intentionally) fall into both categories simultaneously. Conflict of interest? You bet. The listing broker only wants to show you properties that the owner wants you to see (i.e. in the landlord’s building) and – inherently – cannot provide you with the zealous, fiduciary duty that being your agent demands. But BMO’s brokers fall squarely into the second category. We focus exclusively on representing tenants – and their best interests. We show tenants every available opportunity and market our clients’ requirements to landlords aggressively.

Is finding office space without a broker a good idea?

Absolutely not. Would you go to court without an attorney? It’s the same logic. Plus, your company only enters into a lease once every few years at most. Giving yourself the best possible lease terms gives your business the best possible chance of success. And, of course, a good broker’s knowledge and expertise will save you money.

But can’t I just find properties on the Internet without a broker’s assistance?

Sure. But unlike the residential market, the majority of commercial real estate listings are not available to the public. Sites such as Craigslist, Cityfeet and Loopnet are filled with scam “brokers” trolling for clients who will waste your time and money. And, again, the landlord’s listing broker may only show you the properties he wants you to see so he doesn’t have to split his commission. Without a tenant representative, it is extremely time-consuming and prohibitively difficult for you to thoroughly survey your target market for available opportunities.

Once we understand their requirements, BMO presents our clients with every opportunity available on – and off – the market.  We survey every suitable property and aggressively market your requirements to owners. This creates powerful negotiating leverage as multiple landlords compete for your business. We do the research so you don’t have to!

Isn’t commercial office leasing similar to renting an apartment?

Commercial leasing is a significantly more complex process, fraught with significant potential risks and liabilities, and should only be handled by an entity that has both the necessary experience and your best interests in place. You will not save money by trying to negotiate your lease on your own or by expecting that the landlord’s broker will protect you and your company’s best interests. Hiring BMO as your tenant representative will cost you nothing and the landlord will not give you a discount if you are not represented.

Fine, but why should I hire a tenant representative? Why don’t we just use the landlord’s broker to represent us in the lease negotiations?

The landlord engages her own broker, why don’t you?  Landlord brokers represent landlords and their interests, not yours. If you rely on the landlord’s broker to represent you in negotiating the terms of your lease, not only have you created a conflict of interest, but you have assured yourself of not receiving the best possible deal.  As your advocates, BMO and its brokers will exclusively represent you and your needs.

How much space does my company need?

The general rule of thumb is that you will need approximately 200 to 250 square feet per person. But remember that you will be signing a lease that could range in term from anywhere from 3 to 10 years. So you’ll need to add anywhere from 10 to 50 percent to the total square footage you’ve calculated in order to accommodate future growth.

How long of a lease should we sign?

Determining how long your term should be will be perhaps the most difficult real estate-related decision you’ll need to make. Some key questions to consider are:

  • Is your business stable, in terms of the need for future expansion?
  • Do you need to sink significant corporate funds into tenant improvements?
  • Do you expect local asking rents to increase in the future?
  • Is the location you have selected important to your business?
  • Is your business of the type that is difficult to relocate?
  • Will the landlord lower your rent if you sign for a longer term?

BMO’s brokers can assist you in answering these questions and developing and implementing a successful real estate strategy that aligns with your organization’s long-term goals.

More questions? Talk to us.

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