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Entries Tagged as 'Office Relocation'

Opportunities in the Market

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In the last Tenant Tactics we discussed some of the many opportunities afforded by today’s topsy-turvy economy as it related to leasing commercial real estate. Landlords are more aggressive in many ways. They openly discuss and accept creative extensions to leases or reconfiguration of spaces. In addition, many are renegotiating renewals much sooner than the typical three to six months prior to termination and offering aggressive rents or additional concessions along the way.

Last month I was privileged to be asked to sit on a panel at the monthly NAIOP meeting. NAIOP is the leading organization for developers, owners and related professionals in office, industrial and mixed-use real estate. I sat on the panel with Perry Schoenfeld of LBA and moderated by David Wensley of the law firm of Allen Matkins et al. While in some ways I felt like a hen in a fox house, representing the tenants’ perspective in a room filled with landlords, it was most interesting hearing about lease restructuring from the landlords’ side. Interestingly, much of the rhetoric paralleled the framework outlined in our last Tenant Tactics.

On the other hand, I did observe one interesting point.  There was a level of frustration on the part of some landlords that the tenants “asked for the moon and didn’t understand the process.” Should they be surprised? For the most part, most all lease discussions landlords have with tenants are through their broker who interfaces with the tenant’s broker. Restructuring is much different.

In the case of renewals, tenants often try to negotiate on their own believing “we’ve been a good tenant so the landlord will give us a good deal.” The landlord starts by offering their view of fair market value. Tenants will usually at least make a call to a broker or surf the NET just to get an idea of market conditions so they have a base from which to negotiate. Unfortunately it remains the professional with all the tools against the weekend player.

That scenario has changed dramatically in the past ten years in that most professional landlords prefer to have brokers represent the tenant during renegotiations in that:

  • Negotiations tend to go smoother
  • Tenants feel they are getting a better deal by being represented
  • Landlords find paying the broker fees saves as much as 16% on their cash flow considering should the tenant move out they would not only have to pay a fee to a new broker but also have to assume the cost of down time and additional tenant improvement costs 

However, today’s economy creates a unique situation where negotiations are based not solely on fair market value for which most brokers are equipped to provide market information but rather complex negotiations which significantly include a mix of the tenants’ business planning, multifarious lease restructuring issues AND fair market value.

While landlords have no issue dealing with tenants directly on renewals if the tenant is not represented, they find it frustrating when addressing today’s more complicated issues. It was not surprising at the reaction I got when I raised the point at the panel discussion that tenants are not real estate people and therefore certainly do not understand completely the finer points of real estate. I noted a 1993 survey I had helped develop for the UCI Graduate School of Business which clearly concluded that while real estate is the second largest line item on the budget, most all companies often shift their real estate management (other than actually located premises) to individuals within the company who are not involved in real estate on a day to day and continual basis. These individuals are often good negotiators in their personal sphere of influence so they therefore believe whole heartedly that the skills are transferable. The reality is that for the most part they manage the real estate process particularly when it comes to acquisition of real estate but their brokers primarily do the negotiations with the landlord.

Conversely, in the case of creative restructuring it gets a bit more intricate. On the tenant’s side there too often is little help that is available to them. The choice is, other than moving forward on their own would be to engage an attorney or possibly the broker who initially represented them in the transaction. Typically there is no commission on such transactions. Most brokers and landlords look at commissions as a onetime fee for completing an initial lease or renewal.  Brokers may likely turn down this type of assignment unless an additional fee is paid. Few brokers have our philosophy that commissions are in actuality a retainer for future services provided throughout the term and that service should be continual through the leasehold or engagement.

The best of both worlds is to engage a broker to address the real estate issues and a good attorney to review the legal portion. About half of the transactions we have completed in the past 8-10 months involved some sort of a restructure. Different times call for different approaches. If you are considering restructuring you need to engage outside advisors. You and the landlord will appreciate the process and the result will be a win-win for all parties.

Guest Post by our Orange County, Ca Member
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Lease Negotiations , Office Relocation , Office Space Negotiations , Orange County Office Space , Tenant Representation

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Sublease Office Space Plentiful


A recent article in the NuWire Investor describes the state of the sublease office space availability throughout the US. In a word, plentiful. In fact, Cushman and Wakefield has pegged the amount of available sublease space at 10.3 million square feet at the end of the first quarter. Cities experiencing the largest increases in sublease office space include New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Denver and Boston.

My educated guess is that there is a lot more sublease office space available than is reported.  With all the recent layoffs, many companies have probably not had time or been willing to prioritize getting their excess space listed.  Many of these companies have more to worry about than a little excess office space. They are trying figure out how to survive.

A word to the wise. If you are considering renting or leasing sublease office space, be careful.  There are many pitfalls that need to be navigated to make sure that your sublease will stand up in the event the sub-lessor defaults. Makes sure to work with someone who knows the ins and outs, otherwise you could find yourself with nowhere to house your employees when you get evicted... without any fault of your own.

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Boston Office Space , Chicago Office Space , Denver Office Space , Manhattan Office Space , Office Relocation , Office Space , San Francisco Office Space , Sublease Office Space

National Office Vacancy at 15.2% and rising

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A recent article in the Wall Street Journal reports that office vacancy has reached 15.2% and is expected to continue rising to 19.3% over the next year. The data comes from REIS, Inc a provider of commercial real estate performance and analysis data for over 25 years. Over 25 million square feet were returned to the market in the first quarter of 2009 driving vacancy rates up and rents down. "Effective rents, which include free rent and other landlord concessions, fell 2% in the first quarter to a national average of $24.16, the largest drop since the first quarter of 2002, according to REIS. Sublet space, on average, is going for between 10% and 15% less than what landlords are charging."

It is a great market for tenant looking for space or renewing during the next 12 months.  Smart Landlords cutting deals to keep their buildings full during this downturn providing tenants a great opportunity.

Markets such as Houston and Washington DC, with less exposure to financial services, is weathering the downturn better than others like New York City. The vacancy rate in New York increased two percentage points in one quarter, from 8% to 10.2% and rents dropped over 5% to $52.00 per square foot, still over double the national average.

How can you, as a tenant, take advantage of this opportunity? Make sure you get professional assistance. OfficeFinder tenant representative specialists can provide you the answers to your questions and help you find and negotiate (or re-negotiate) a great deal. There is no obligation to contact them and there is usually no cost to you for their services. Request a contact.

Houston Office Space , Lease Negotiations , Manhattan Office Space , Office Relocation , Office Space , Tenant Representation , Washington DC Office Space

Downtown Chicago sees an 8% increase in empty offices in last quarter


 According to a recent report by CBRE the amount of empty offices in downtown Chicago took an 8% jump in the first quarter of 2009. The year end 2008 empty office rate for office space in downtown Chicago stood at 12.3%. The 8% jump brings the current office vacancy to 13.3%. They also noted that there was a 40% increase in sublease office space to a total of 3.8 million square feet. Much of the sublease space came from "financial companies, including the collapsed Bear Stearns Cos. and Washington Mutual Inc. JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Bank of America Corp. also resorted to subleases."

As we see unemployment increase we will also see a corresponding increase in the vacancy rate in not only Chicago, but all major markets. The higher the unemployment, the greater the increase in the office vacancy rate in that office space market. This in turn will help turn the office rental rates lower providing better deals for those tenants who are looking for space.

Taking advantage of these opportunities can be tricky, especially if you are considering sublease space.  There are risks involved and it is important that you get professional advice.  A great source is to use a tenant representative; a licensed real estate professional who specializes in office space leasing and sales. They have a fiduciary responsibility to look after your best interest. Avoid using listing agents.  No matter what they tell you, they represent the landlord.  Typically a tenant rep will not cost you anything since they share in commissions offered by the landlord. It is a win-win for you.  Make sure and level the playing field and have an advocate who know the tricks of the trade. They will make sure you not only get great space at the best price, but also avoid potentially business crippling mistakes.

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Chicago Office Space , Lease Negotiations , Office Relocation , Office Space , Tenant Representation