How to Hire a Commercial Real Estate Agent

How to Hire a Commercial Real Estate Agent

In the market for a new office, or have some extra space available? Many people might look in the Yellow Pages, some will ask friends. Whatever system you use to find a realtor, make sure to screen them before hiring.

Commercial realtors come in every shape, color, size, and age. You could meet a 25-year-old and 60-year-old agent and think the older one has the experience. Don’t make this mistake, the 25-year-old may not have gone to college and is now in the 7th year in the business. Conversely, the 60-year-old may have been forced from their career dur-ing the recession and has only been in the business a month.

Always ask how long the individual has been in the brokerage business.

Would you ever hire your dermatologist to deliver twins? I guess you could, but would they really understand all the intricacies involved in a complicated delivery? Just like in the medical profession, there are many types of Realtors. Each area has its own spe-cialties.

There are residential, office, industrial, retail, land, and investment realtors. These areas can be further broken down into tenant representation, buyer representation, corporate services, and listing agents.

Friends of mine have asked me to list their homes, but my answer is always the same. NO! I don’t have access to the residential multiple list service. How am I going to get other realtors in to see the house? While I could find out how much the houses on your street sold for, a good residential agent would know this intuitively. I’m not going to hold open houses or send flyers on your home because I don’t want to develop customers in this area.

Conversely, I cringe when I see a residential agent list a commercial property. I have yet to see one list their properties in any of the commercial databases. Why, because they do not belong to them, nor do they know what they are. Occasionally, a commercial building will sell with a sign, but more likely you are going to need a specialist.

You want to hire the right agent to do the job. If you have an office building for sale or lease, don’t go to a firm, which works primarily in the retail sector. They will know all the buzz terms, but will refer up to their overseeing residential expert for an explanation. If an agent works in multiple areas, ask them questions about each area so you can as-sess their knowledge.

If you have a building for lease or sale, drive through the area the property is located in. Notice the agents who have lots of listings. Give them a call. Check the Yellow Pages and ask friends for references.

When listing property, it is advisable to find a team – usually a junior level person com-bined with a senior level person. The senior person manages the account while teach-ing the junior level person. This gives you the advantage of two people to show the property.

The property needs to be listed in the commercial databases. The main ones being Co-star, LoopNet or the local commercial real estate multiple listing that is available in your market.

We live in a high-tech age. This can give someone a sense of an office presence when one doesn’t exist. There are realtors out there who work on their own from their home. If these people get sick or take a vacation your project is at a standstill. Email, faxes, and computers are essential to do business in this day and age. It is hard for me to imagine working without these basic tools but there are those trying to cut corners.

What type of advertising will the agent do for the property? The larger the property, the higher the expectations. The following are a few examples of marketing: brochures, postcards, newspaper or industry specific advertising. Find out how many pieces of mail will be sent out on this property. It is sometimes useful to find out the source for addresses.

Cold calls are not anyone’s favorite thing to do, but hey can bring in good results. Find out if cold calls will be made for the listing. The agent should be able to tell you whom they are targeting for prospective tenants.

Updates are essential. A good agent will keep you updated via calls and written update. Updates should include all marketing efforts including cold calls, inquiring and showings.

When hiring a realtor for an acquisition, you would ask basically the same questions. A good agent will be able to help you maneuver through some of the challenges faced when negotiating terms. Ask questions about their experience and what obstacles they have overcome to reach their clients goals. For example, I always insist that my clients make offers on two sites simultaneously. That way, there is more leverage while nego-tiating.

If you would like a list of questions on how to hire a commercial agent, email [email protected]


About the Author

Lynn Drake’s status is well known in the industry: She’s the commercial realtor focused on maintaining “true north” for her corporate clients. It’s a reputation built on 35 years of commercial real estate experience. Lynn became a commercial realtor in 2001 after 15 years in corporate real estate. Thus far in her career, Lynn has successfully completed over 1,500 real estate transactions ranging from small business tenant leases to the sale and purchase of industrial complexes.