Timing is everything

Timing is everything

The hours you spend pacing the floor, waiting for a family member’s first child to be born; the minutes you spend waiting for your computer to boot up; the seconds you wait for a text message…each of these intervals remind you of that inescapable truth: timing is everything.

Did you know that timing is equally important in the life span of your office lease? Pay close attention to the date your lease officially begins—it may not be the date that you sign the document. You may allow a month-long grace period for move-in, you might negotiate a lower price during build-out with the official lease beginning a move-in…in short, anything can be negotiated.

If you have a renewal option at the end of your lease, you’d be best advised to open negotiations six months to a year in advance of the lease’s expiration date. Your options will always be better when you have time left on your lease. Delay, and do so at your own financial peril. If you stay beyond the terms of your lease, you could be stuck paying a month-to-month cost, which is mostly likely going to be considerably higher. My advice? Don’t press your luck. Most landlords charge 25 to 100% more on a month-to-month basis.

Conducting a site search
Even if you are happy with the building and the amenities, you may still want to conduct a site search, starting a year in advance of real need. You don’t know what is out there in terms of access, parking and sound-proofing. You could find a landlord who would install an elevator or stairs when you rent multiple floors.

Securing a certificate of occupancy
Once you land a property, you may need a certificate of occupancy from the city stating where your business will reside, whether Troy, Taylor or Southfield. But bureaucracy isn’t what it used to be.
City Hall is operating on a much-reduced budget – in almost every city in North America. Consider that it may take two months for a city inspection and a few weeks to satisfy any problems that arise before you can move in—so time is always of the essence, and the more time you give yourself, the better.

Building out your space
Not to mention, your new build-out may take two or three months, because the sought-after contractors are working with a minimal staff. Ask them to rush the job, and you could find yourself paying high fees for overtime, or getting shoddy work. The best way to handle things is to get on the moving company’s roster early to assure your time slot is held for you.

Want to stay put?
If you wind up staying put, you may negotiate a better lease when time is at your advantage. You can research other buildings and present your landlord with hard evidence of why a rent reduction is practical. But don’t become a slave to the ever-ticking clock and miss the adventure of negotiating prices and evaluating properties. As James Cash Penney said, “Clock watchers never seem to be having a good time.”

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.