Ten Tips for Touring Office Space

by CoyDavidson on May 20, 2010

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When it comes time to evaluate your office space options, your broker should provide a complete market evaluation of property options that best fit your detailed criteria. Ultimately you are going to make the best real estate decision based on numerous factors including;  location, economics, the quality of the building and its amenities, as well as the reputation of the Landlord.

However, when it comes time to inspect various space options and physically tour buildings there are a several tips to keep in mind to: (1) help you in the evaluation of specific properties and (2) insure that you do not undermine your tenant representatives positioning in the upcoming negotiations.

Limit your scheduled tours to 3-4 properties: If you are going to tour more than 3 or 4 properties, then if feasible break the scheduled space tours up into different days. After three or four building / space inspections the exercise begins to feel tedious and there is a tendency to lose attention and forget details after several hours of repeating the process.

Let the Landlord’s leasing agent make his presentation: It is the Landlord’s leasing agent’s job to present his building and show you various space options within in the building and highlight all the features and amenities of the project. Let the agent make his pitch, learning as much as you can about the property, then it is appropriate to ask key questions. Furthermore, your tenant representative shouldn’t feel the need to unnecessarily demonstrate all of his knowledge during the building tour resulting in overshadowing the building leasing agent.

Have a list of key questions to ask: Review with your broker prior to building tours the key questions to ask of the leasing agent or owner’s representative. You may want to inquire about specific building amenities, services and policies of operation that are important in your selection process. This could be food service, security, after hours HVAC, fiber availability or a variety of different issues.

Keep a poker face: There is nothing worse for your broker’s negotiation position than to have your staff  or management team running around the premises assuming ownerships of the space, as if it’s the obvious choice. Even if you have found the perfect space in the perfect building in the perfect location, attempt to bridle your enthusiasm. There is nothing wrong with making a statement regarding the property being feasible, but do not tip your hand that a particular building may be a clear front-runner. Also, it is probably a good idea to keep space tours limited to key staff involved in the selection process.

Check out the public restrooms and common areas: In most cases the landlord’s leasing and property management team has the opportunity to prepare for the space tour but a routine check of the restrooms and common area for cleanliness can make a statement about the property management services.

Drive through the parking garage: In many cases when you visit a building you are going to park in the designated visitor parking area which is typically very convenient. However, if you lease space in the building this is not where you are going to be parking every day. Check the parking garage for ease of ingress and egress and overall ease of use.

Go back to the building at the beginning and end of the work day: A good time to evaluate the location of the building is at peak traffic times. Is traffic around the building a complete nightmare at the time everyone is arriving for the workday or leaving. Does the building provide building security staff or off-duty law enforcement for directing traffic in and around the building at peak times?

Review the building directory: It is prudent to evaluate the other tenant’s of the project. Is there an undesirable tenant or direct competitor located at the property? Also, a scan of the building directory may reveal a company you know which can ask for an unbiased recommendation or opinion of the building, property management and ownership.

Do not reveal any key information: The Landlord’s leasing agent knows he is going to compete for your tenancy. The well trained landlord agent is going to ask inquisitive questions to establish his relative competitive advantage or disadvantage.  If asked, you can simply instruct the landlord’s agent to direct all questions to your broker.

Make it clear you are looking at other properties but don’t reveal which ones: This can be accomplished in a subtle way by bringing your tour package your broker has provided so it is apparent your are looking at multiple properties, or your broker can make a simple un-revealing statement that you are considering multiple properties. Many leasing agents will ask directly what other properties you are looking at. The best policy is to just refer that question to your broker.

Do you have another tip to add to the list? Leave me a comment if you have a suggestion.

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  • Jim Meredith

    What are your thoughts on pre-developed test fits or concept sketches, and the participation of an architect/designer? Do you prep the Landord’s leasing agent to develop graphics representing your client’s program?

  • CoyDavidson

    Jim I have taken that approach in the past of having the tenant’s architect / space planner develop a proto-type test fit or “box plan” as I referred it, prior to evaluating candidate properties.I have found it very effective for the client tenant to redefine their workspace and getter a better handle on their space requirement.

    As far as prepping the Landlord’s agent I take that on a case by case basis. I don’t always want them to know that level of detail early on as it can impact the negotiation of the tenant improvement allowance.

    All in all I think it is a valuable exercise to take in the process.

  • Great and insightful! I believe that I will prepare a similar list for touring industrial spaces.

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