Do You Speak Lease Terms?

Do You Speak Lease Terms?

Some of us speak Greek, Spanish, French or Mandarin, in addition to English. We think that if we can speak these other languages, surely we can speak real estate. But that’s where we’re wrong. See, not everyone can speak real estate. That’s why it’s important to work with a tenant representative that can understand the fine print of your lease terms and can truly speak real estate. Without one, you’re risking having lease terms get lost in translation – and that’s something none of us want when we’re putting our office space on the line.

My advice? Pay careful attention to how a commercial or industrial property is listed. Recently, a client called me, excited to find an office in Farmington Hills, MI, just off I-696, for rent at just $1 a square foot. He suggested I drop everything to check it out. So I did. As it turned out, the deal wasn’t as attractive as it had seemed, especially when I learned it had been written in California lease language – which meant that the actual rate was $12/s.f. Good, but not extraordinary.

As I looked through the lease, and spoke with the building manager, I found the landlord was unwilling to make any improvements to the space without an additional cash outlay. Inside the fine print, I found the tenant was responsible for any increase in heating, as well as a maintenance cost to the lobby and halls. Plus, the tenant would be liable for all utilities and janitorial services. The realistic price wasn’t $1, or $12, per square foot. It was $15.50. Not a deal, considering the liabilities.

My goal is always to make people happy – but beyond that, it’s to educate them in their dealings within the commercial real estate industry. As Sym’s, the clothing warehouse, likes to say: an educated consumer is our best customer. I couldn’t agree more.

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