In commercial real estate it is best to locate your office in the heart of the market that you serve or want to serve. Choose the right town and suburb location that has growth and opportunity. Assess the competition as part of that analysis so you are not fighting an uphill battle with other agents without knowing what they are doing and why they are successful.
That then helps your clients and prospects identify with the properties that you specialize in. It directly follows that the city or town of location should have a vibrant business community and plenty of investors for you to act for. Do your research to make sure you have plenty of both groups in your location.
What do you need for your real estate office?
Whilst you don’t really need a ‘shop front’ for the business (a ‘shop front’ would be more typical of a residential real estate office), you should consider an office location that is easy to find and positioned in a recognized business precinct. Choose the location that you can afford from a rental perspective, taking into account base rent, rent reviews, outgoings, signage rights, and car parking charges. Understand the cost of having an office and then build your business into that costing process.
Merge your occupancy costs into a business plan for the office. Get a lease term that gives you predicable business stability for at least 5 years, and if possible with the capability of handling the expansion factors that you expect.
Office Location Checklist
So what other things do you need to think about? Understand the stakeholders involved in the real estate office operations and decide how you will serve them most effectively. Consider the pressures and strategies of marketing the business and the properties that you are going to list. Here are a few things to think about:
- Customers – How easy is it for your customers to find the office? Car parking and signage rights on the building will have an important part to play in the ultimate property location for your real estate business.
- Landlords – Local landlords use local real estate agents predominantly to handle properties under management. That is why it is so important to be located in your business zone.
- Office branding – If you are part of a franchise group or larger real estate organization, the office branding, colors, and logo will need to be featured across your shop or office location. It takes about $15,000 of hard earned cash to paint out a medium sized real estate office ready for business.
- Signage approvals – Make sure that you can get local council approvals for the signage that you require. If you are renting premises as part of running your business then the landlord will have approval processes and make good provisions in the lease talking about how you should deal with signage approvals. Those factors should be fully explored before you commit to the lease.
- Tenants -New and prospective tenants relate to the location from an inquiry perspective. You will be talking with tenants constantly if you have a leasing and property management focus in your business. Ensure that your office is easy for tenants to find, pay the rent, and make inquiries about vacant premises. They must see you as the local specialist commercial real estate agent.
- Business owners – When local business owners are looking for property help, they invariably use agents from the general location. You can and should market your real estate services to local businesses through signage, flyers, direct mail, cold calling, and a website identity that is ‘location’ related. For example it is important that you have a blog or website that speaks to the location and property type such as yourtown.com or bigtowncommercial.com. Whilst you may have a main website that is franchise name or brand focused, get another website that speaks to properties and listings locally. People inquiring about property relate to the location first, the property type second, and then perhaps an agency name third. That is how the search engines will look at your identity and so all of your online marketing strategies should be built around that logic and approach.
- Sales and Leasing Staff – What will the sales and leasing team need from an access and activity perspective? The members of the team will come and go at all times of the business day as they interact with clients, listings, and inspections. Access and car parking around your office needs to be good. How easy should it be for the team and the ‘commission generating’ sales and leasing people to move in and out of the office at all times of day? What if they have to access the office out of hours? Is there sufficient security to protect your staff and clients as they go around their business?
- Property Management Staff – Your property management team will require efficient office space to work from where they can concentrate on getting the work done with accuracy. They don’t need to be near other parts of the business as they are autonomous and create their own work-space and business systems. In saying that they will need a good computer network and filing systems for property files and records.
- Administrative staff – The support team in your office will back up the activities of the sales and leasing team. They also will need car parking onsite, adequate business communication systems, office equipment, and a safe and secure workplace. Plan your office layout accordingly.
When you consider the different stakeholders, you can see how the ‘jigsaw puzzle’ of office functions and resources starts to come together. A good real estate office should be planned in every respect and the location issues are part of that.