Willard Jones Real Estate hit a milestone moment. For my entire career, I have wanted to represent 105 West Madison and just recently, we were appointed as the exclusive leasing agent of the building.
As much as there is a yearning to dive right in and hit the ground running, I know there is quite a bit of work to do before we are in a realistic position to start leasing space.
After over 20 years in the business, I’ve established a list of things that need to be figured out to create a smooth transition for the brokers, landlords, and tenants alike.
Here is a checklist of some of the questions to ask and information to know in order to have success when commencing a new leasing assignment:
1) Structure – Determine how the ownership and management structure is set up. Who are the players involved in every step of the decision-making process when deals are presented? Who analyzes the economics of each proposal? Who reviews financial statements and determines the lease securitization?
2) Space Planning – A qualified architect needs to be brought aboard to prepare existing condition space plans (and CAD files) for the entire property and design conceptual layouts for older suites in need of a fresh look. The architect’s services will also be needed to prepare customized space plans for prospects to help make their requirement fit into a designated suite.
3) Construction – Find out who will be providing construction pricing for each new deal when work is involved. Usually, it is best to have at least 2–sometimes 3 on larger jobs– contractors competitively bid on the project. Who will be performing the work? Does the building have rules and regulations that must be followed? What are the established building standard materials for paint, flooring, lighting, and millwork?
4) Mechanicals – Make friends with the building engineer immediately, as he or she is often the most important person in any building. Get familiar with how the HVAC system works, as well as electric, gas, and elevators.
5) Wiring – Establish who the service providers are for phone and internet service. Is there a riser management company whom tenants must use prior to installing their lines? Is fiber available?
6) Security – Check how often a security guard is present in the lobby. Are tenants and visitors required to sign-in and/or swipe with a key card? How is after-hours access handled?
7) Amenities – Figure out what amenities the building offers. Is there food service on site? A building conference facility, tenant lounge, rooftop deck, or fitness center? Some, if not all of these things are standard requirements today for a prospect to seriously consider moving to a building.
8) Vacancy Analysis – Appearance counts. Each vacancy should be critically evaluated to determine what can be done to help make them lease faster. Are they fine as-is, in need of just a cleaning, or is a complete overhaul required? If there is obvious work needed for anyone to lease the space, it should be done immediately. Often, it is wise to create a few spec suites that are move-in ready for immediate occupancies.
9) Furniture – Given the rapidly growing desire for tenants to lease furnished space, a relationship should be established with a qualified furniture vendor who can stage vacancies or be able to quickly furnish spaces upon demand.
10) Previous Regime – If leasing space has been a challenge in the past, analyze what went wrong with the previous leasing agency and try to learn from their mistakes.
11) Management – Who will be the liaison to help new tenants get settled into the building and deal with maintenance requests, logistical issues, and possible complaints once a tenant moves in?
12) Financials – Learn the current and historical real estate tax and operating expense estimates. What are tenants responsible for?
13) Parking – Does the building have parking? If so, what is the cost? If not, can a deal be worked out with a nearby garage on a discounted basis for tenants?
14) Marketing – Give the building a personality. Taking all of the above into account, what is the best way to position and promote the property to prospective tenants?
Once all of this information is obtained, reasonable goals and expectations can then be set. These points should be continuously re-evaluated until a winning formula is established.
Bringing a building up to full occupancy and keeping it there, is never an easy task. However, by utilizing this checklist, chances are that the path to success will be that much easier.