Reflections on Listing Commercial Office Property the Right Way

When you work as a commercial real estate broker or agent, the office property category can be quite lucrative from a listing and commission perspective.  In saying that, a degree of specialisation helps on the part of the agent or broker.

Sales and leasing opportunities evolve very easily so long as you know the right people and prospect efficiently across the office property category.  The territory that you control should be split into zones and streets of focus so you can really get to know rents, prices, and upcoming listings.

Local businesses and property investors move in and out of office properties for all types of reasons, so get to know that segment of the market and tap into a few high quality listings in good locations.  Every good quality listing produces high quality enquiry and that’s how you can build market share momentum.

In reflecting on office property by type, there are many things that you can merge into the listing process to show your professionalism.  I have created a checklist below for you; you may be able to add to my list given your location and the types of office properties locally.

Local Knowledge

Information from the local area will help you with pitching and presenting your services to clients, attracting more inspections and building on negotiations.  Knowledge of the local property marketing and strategy will help you close more deals.

  1. Location – Understand the location of the property in a comprehensive way.  Identify the owners of adjoining properties as part of that process and talk to them to see what’s happening in the area.  At a later time you can also approach those other owners to see what they’re doing regards to their property.  When considering the location of the property there will also be other issues to review such as transport, access, exposure, and end user markets.  Some locations are better than others so understand the differences and pick the property attributes those investors and tenants are looking for.
  2. Property Zoning and Use –Check out the local planning regulations for building use compliance.  There may also be opportunities of redevelopment or rezoning when it comes to the sale of any particular office building.  You can cross reference these issues to the local development plan; a redevelopment opportunity will likely have significant benefits from a pricing and a sale perspective.
  3. Floor Area – The floor plates of the building will be of interest to tenants and investors depending on the focus and use of the building.  Smaller floor plates (under 400m2) are only useful to small businesses; the larger corporate businesses and tenants prefer large floor plates (over 500m2) so that business units within the company can work efficiently and directly with each other; nothing is more inefficient for business function as working across multiple floors or in different buildings.  The best investment properties have large floor plates centred in a practical way around the service core; in that way the design of the fit out can be optimised for the tenant access and or the building occupant.  That then leads to advantages in market rental and tenant attraction.
  4. Floor loadings and tolerances – With office design and construction today there will be different tolerances across the floor plates when it comes to floor loading and weight dispersal; in a building containing a number of tenants and in multiple levels of high-rise occupancy that spread of floor loading and weight will be an issue.  Some businesses need special consideration when it comes to floor loading and fit out design.  As an example, attorney’s and solicitors generally require special areas for locating heavy files and a compactus systems; that then requires a floor loading capability in certain areas beyond normal tolerances.  Get the ‘as built drawings’ for the building to understand where floor tolerances may be suitable for ‘heavy loads’.  When in any doubt, seek the advice of an engineer familiar with structural issues.
  5. Services and Amenities – The quality of services and amenities offered within an office building will have a lot to do with leasing, reducing the vacancy factor faster, and increasing the market rental.  Review the services and amenities as they apply to the particular office property.  Ask questions about water supply, gas, electricity, lighting, communication systems, telephone, and the Internet.  Look at the property from an occupation or tenancy perspective, to see how things can work and be used.  The ‘as built drawings’ for the property will help you understand how the services can be tapped into conveniently and directly.
  6. Power and Energy Efficiencies – With many buildings today the factors of energy efficiency and power rating have a lot to do with occupancy costs.  Some businesses and particularly those of a corporate level are quite selective when it comes to the quality of building occupancy and the associated energy and environmental efficiency; it almost becomes a ‘marketing point of difference’.    Most modern buildings can offer energy and environmental efficiency; that can then become a factor of promotion for leasing or selling the office premises.
  7. Air Conditioning –Most building occupants today require a level of flexibility and control when it comes to comfortable occupancy; air conditioning through the premises becomes a critical factor of convenience.  Many businesses operate outside of normal business hours and on that basis will need efficient air conditioning operating at low cost.  If the building offers individual air conditioning access and climate control for each occupant in the property, that will be a factor of attraction when it comes to selling or leasing the building.
  8. Security – Access and security are key components of office usage and occupation.  Many tenants demand advanced levels of security control to both the building and through their tenancy.  Most modern office buildings provide a base building Security System that can then be merged into the internal tenant security requirements (for a fee).  Given that many occupants and businesses within office buildings operate outside of normal office hours, security and access becomes a critical component of business operations.
  9. Fit out – The design and or the flexibility of the fit out will be a factor of attraction for most businesses.  Landlords should offer engineering and architectural design strategies as part of building use and occupancy.  Most tenants and owner occupiers today are looking for buildings with open plan fit out flexibility, natural lighting, environmentally friendly climate controls, and containable or industry standard occupancy costs.  A well designed fit out will help do that, and also support the growth of market rental and the lowering of the vacancy rate with in a building.
  10. Rents and outgoings – Every property should be assessed from a market rental and outgoings perspective; both of those factors will have an impact on establishment of price and the capitalisation rate relative to the property as an investment.  Look at the other properties locally to understand vacancy pressures, time on market, pricing and rental strategies, and any new developments coming up.

So these are the main things to look for when it comes to listing a commercial office building locally.  You can add to the list based on your location, the building, and the client.  From both the sales and leasing perspective these issues apply to office property marketing, and should be understood.  You can create a checklist approach to help you cover these things efficiently and directly with the property owner and or the company in occupancy.

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