Finding a commercial space for rent can be a time consuming and arduous process. When negotiating a commercial real estate lease, you’re initiating a rental agreement that allows for a business (yourself or someone who represents your interests) to rent commercial space from a landlord (such as an office building). Generally speaking, commercial leases come in three forms: modified gross leases, full-service leases, and net leases. If you’re ill-advised or simply don’t know what you’re doing, you will be at a severe disadvantage when searching for a commercial space with decent rent. This guide is designed to help you navigate through this process.
1) Set your commercial real estate parameters
As you begin your search, the very first thing you’ll want to do is set your property parameters. This is because of the wide variety of commercial propertiesavailable for all of the different types of businesses. With such parameters in place, you’ll be aided as you search for a commercial property to rent that suits your specific needs. Ideally, you’ll want to have a clear understanding of the following factors:
- Desired size
- Maximum budget
- Property type and zoning
- Ideal customer (or employee pool)
With a clear understanding of these specific elements, you will be well prepared to rent a commercial property.
2) Understand the different types of commercial leases
As already mentioned, there are three types of commercial leases. The only discernible difference between each type of lease is how costs and fees are evaluated.
If you’re searching for an office building for rent, you’ll likely be signing a full-service lease. Full-service leases have a number of benefits. One of which is the benefit of all-inclusive rent. That means that the landlord is solely responsible for paying all expenses associated with the property. This includes maintenance and repairs, utilities, janitorial services, insurance, and taxes. If you’re a tenant, this is the best type of lease that you can get. You don’t have to worry about hidden fees, and it’s quite simple for businesses to predict their annual expenses. If you’re interested in office leasing, this may be the lease for you.
When a tenant engages in a net lease, the landlord will charge a lower annual rent (especially when compared to a full-service lease). In this case, the landlord can also add on other costs such as property insurance, property taxes, and common area maintenance items (CAMS).
Modified Gross Lease
If the full-service lease or the net lease doesn’t quite work for you, the modified gross lease serves as a compromise between the two. With the modified gross lease, the tenant may agree to pay a portion of the property insurance, property tax, and CAMS. However, the payment is taken as a lump sum along with the rent.
3) Identify the right commercial property
As you’re searching through the various property listings that you’re interested in, keep these factors in mind:
- Anchor tenants – anchor tenants are typically associated with multi-unit commercial properties. The best example of an anchor tenant would be businesses anchored to shopping centers and malls. If you find yourself in such a situation, do your research. Your landlord might be able to back out legally of the property’s other leases if one of the anchor tenants leave.
- Location – when choosing your commercial property it’s all about location. Make sure that your property is located near your ideal customer base and/or workforce. You’ll also want to consider other factors such as foot traffic and vehicle traffic as well as adequate parking.
- History of the landlord – this is an important one because commercial leases tend to run for more than one year. If you’re going to sign a multi-year contract, you’ll want to know of the history of your landlord. Sites like ReviewMyLandlord should help you gain a better understanding of who your landlord will be.
- Amenities and services – before you sign any contract, you should learn about all of the amenities and services offered by the office space that you seek. Amenities and services can include free WiFi, communal rooms, dining options, sewage and utilities, on-site security, and much more.
4) Negotiate commercial lease terms
The first part of the process is researching your commercial space of interest. Let’s say you find an office space for rent that you happen to like; the next part is making a choice and negotiating a lease. When entering into the negotiation process, you should begin things by requesting all terms in writing. You should especially do this if the commercial space is in high demand.
When drafting your letter of intent, include these elements:
- Your proposed terms
- A description of your business
- Statement of your intent to lease
- A list of products and services (including pricing)
- Number of years you’ve been in business
When setting your terms, they can either be the same that was offered by the landlord’s broker or a counter-offer proposed by you or your broker. Terms will include the type of lease, the rental price, and more. Understand that you can counter any lease term at any time.
5) Commercial real estate: leasing vs. buying
After examining your desired number of commercial spaces, you’ll wonder whether you should rent or buy. Depending on the situation it may be more advantageous to find an office space for lease as opposed to one that’s for sale. However, the same concept works in reverse. Each situation is unique. Here are a few specific benefits of buying over leasing a commercial real estate property:
- Depreciate the building – the annual depreciation of the building can be claimed on your tax returns.
- Increase cash flow – in most cases, commercial spaces require the owner to occupy at least 51% of the building. The remaining space can be rented out, and the owner can receive the rental income.
- Build equity – you can use this equity as collateral for additional expansions.
There are also benefits to leasing a commercial property as well. For one, tenants are able to avoid down payments. In place of a down payment, leasers pay a refundable deposit equal to 3-6 months’ rent. Furthermore, lease payments can be deducted, thus reducing the tax burden on a business. If you’re interested in these particular benefits, finding offices for lease may be your best option.
Ultimately, commercial real estate leases are a long-term rental agreement that exists between a landlord and a business. As you search for various commercial spaces, such as office rentals, you should always do your homework. Understand the differences between the various lease types (full service lease, net lease, and modified gross lease). Set your property parameters and once you settle upon a property, attempt to negotiate favorable lease terms. Renting a commercial space can be a difficult process, but with the right amount of research you will be prepared to face any situation that may arise.