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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Office Lease Renewal Tips


Business owners face an inherent disadvantage during a lease renewal negotiation.  Landlords recognize the disruption that results from a relocation.  They know that, due to the cost of a move, tenants choose to renew their lease 7 out of 10 times.  Landlords negotiate leases every day, while their tenants will be in the market only every 3 to 10 years.  

Following these guidelines will help even the playing field:  
1. Hire a tenant representation broker.  Their presence will enhance your negotiating leverage by demonstrating your desire to consider alternative space options.  Rely on your tenant representation broker's expert advice to evaluate market conditions and introduce competition into the negotiation.  See 3 Common Mistakes Made by Tenants and 4 Advantages to Using a Tenant Representation Broker.   

2. Start the process early. You need enough time to evaluate your alternatives, negotiate your renewal, and relocate to your alternative if the negotiation fails.  Beware that your landlord will interrupt a late start date as an indicator that you have no intention to relocate.  Thus, starting the process late decreases your negotiation leverage.

3. Have the landlord make the first proposal, revealing his position.  Do not accept the first proposal. Do not believe the landlord's assertions that your prior tenure and/or 'relationship' with the landlord has earned you a special deal. Counter with your own proposal, asking for more than you can get.  Make your first proposal at least as far from the objection as the landlord's initial proposal.  Your tenant representation broker will serve as your advocate and guide during negotiations, and help to take emotions out of a business decision.

4. Limit those involved in negotiations to key executives.  Only speak with your tenant representation broker, do not speak directly with the landlord or leasing agent, as this may undermine your negotiating strategy.

Troy Golden is Vice President at SCGroup Real Estate. He received his undergraduate degree from Yale University and his MBA in Real Estate from the Wisconsin School of Business. Troy specializes in commercial office brokerage in Chicagoland. Please contact him at tgolden@scgroupco.com or (630) 474-9997.  Visit SCGroup Real Estate at www.scgroupco.com.  

Friday, August 17, 2012

Useable Square footage vs. Rentable Square Footage

Commercial office leases are quoted in terms of "Rentable Square Feet", not "Useable Square Feet".  The rentable area of virtually every office includes a portion the common area, for which the tenant is charged rent.   

Useable Square Feet
Simply put, usable square footage means the square feet used directly and exclusively by the tenant. It does not include common area square footage.  Usable square feet includes private (tenant-only) rest rooms, closets, storage and any other areas used only by the tenant.

Rentable Square Feet
Rentable square footage is usable square footage plus a prorata share of the building's common area.  Theoretically, rentable square footage should be the amount of building space from which the tenant benefits.  Most office buildings have common areas not directly and exclusively used by the tenant, but nonetheless benefiting the tenant (e.g., hallways, stairways, lobbies, etc.).  

Business owners should obtain the services of a tenant representation broker to help with translate these and other convoluted definitions into real dollars and cents prices, allowing for an apples-to-apples comparison of alternative properties. 


Troy Golden is Vice President at SCGroup Real Estate. He received his undergraduate degree from Yale University and his MBA in Real Estate from the Wisconsin School of Business. Troy specializes in commercial office brokerage in Chicagoland. Please contact him at tgolden@scgroupco.com or (630) 474-9997.  Visit SCGroup Real Estate at www.scgroupco.com.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Chicago Suburban Office Market Guide


The Chicago suburbs can be divided into four office markets.  These markets offer business owners excellent variety and quality in office space solutions.  Comprised of several scattered pockets of office developments, corporate parks and high-rise office towers, the suburban office market has experienced historically higher vacancy rates, larger swings in absorption, and lower rents than Chicago’s downtown office market.  

North Suburban
The North Suburban market includes the towns of Prospect Heights, Des Plaines and Mount Prospect.  These towns boast excellent accommodations, diverse industries, and an educated, highly qualified workforce.  Many of Chicagoland's largest employers are headquartered in this market.  The North Shore communities are home to many local chief executives and other senior level employees.    

O’Hare
The O’Hare suburban market consists of Elk Grove Village, Northlake, Schiller Park, Bensenville, Rosemont and Franklin Park.  This market benefits from easy access to the Chicago O'Hare airport and the 'El' train, but is challenged by Cook County taxes and expensive land prices.  Many of the office buildings, built during the 1970s and 1980s, struggle with parking shortages.  

Northwest Suburban
The Northwest Suburban market includes the municipalities of Schaumburg, Hoffman Estates, Rolling Meadows, Palatine, and Buffalo Grove.  Residential and commercial buildings intermingle freely in the area, enjoying easy access to highways.  Major tenants include AT&T, Sears, Zurich, and Harley Davidson.  This market was hit hard with negative absorption during the 2008 recession.

East-West Corridor
The East-West Corridor is the largest and most diverse of the suburban office markets.  Business owners in this locale enjoy easy access to and from the city and other suburban markets.  The market is split into western and eastern sections by I-355.  The western half of the market consists of relatively new product, with larger blocks of space. Tenants include Alcatel-Lucent, Tellabs, Navistar, and BP Amoco.  The eastern section is characterized by more diverse multi-tenant buildings, smaller blocks of space, and older product.

Troy Golden is Vice President at SCGroup Real Estate. He received his undergraduate degree from Yale University and his MBA in Real Estate from the Wisconsin School of Business. Troy specializes in commercial office brokerage in Chicagoland. Please contact him at tgolden@scgroupco.com or (630) 474-9997.  Visit SCGroup Real Estate at www.scgroupco.com.

Friday, August 3, 2012

How to Lease Office Space

In today's market, the abundance of options can overwhelm business owners leasing office space.  Follow the guide below to structure and simplify the lease process.  


1. Consult with a Office Tenant Representative Broker
A tenant representative brokers will guide you through the process below, contributing expert information and advice.  See the blog posts 4 Advantages to Using a Tenant Representation Broker and 3 Common Mistakes Made by Tenants.


2. Evaluate Your Office Space Needs
Evaluate your office space needs, today and in the years to come.  Determine about the ideal size and layout of your new office. Consider industry standards and the state of your business.  For example, an upscale law firm requires a different floor plan than a call center.  See the blog post, How Much Office Space Do I Need.

3. Determine Your Desired Office Building Location
Weigh the pros and cons of various submarkets.  Do you want to locate in an urban or suburban setting?  Close to a major expressway?  In an office park?  Consider the location of your clients and competitors, and the commute of your employees.

4. Determine Your Leasing Budget

5. Determine Your Parking Needs

6. Tour and Review Properties

7. Select Your Space

8. Sign Your Lease

Troy Golden is Vice President at SCGroup Real Estate. He received his undergraduate degree from Yale University and his MBA in Real Estate from the Wisconsin School of Business. Troy specializes in commercial office brokerage in Chicagoland. Please contact him at tgolden@scgroupco.com or (630) 474-9997.  Visit SCGroup Real Estate at www.scgroupco.com.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Commercial Real Estate Lease Negotiation Tips

One of the greatest values a tenant representation broker can provide to his client is advice during the lease negotiation with a landlord.  A professional landlord negotiates leases every day, with the help of a leasing broker and an attorney.  The tenant, who rarely participates in the market, should even the playing field by enlisting the services of his own advisers.  Remember, hiring a tenant representative broker doesn't cost you money, but it can save you money.


Below are best practice guidelines for commercial real estate lease negotiations.  Please consider these tactics early in your space search process.  


1. Develop Realistic Alternatives to Create a Competitive Environment
Many tenants do not develop legitimate alternatives to their first choice. If a landlord believes you’re not willing to switch to a different property, you lose your negotiating leverage.  Tenants often make this mistake in a lease renewal scenario; their landlord does not believe they are ready, willing, and able to walk away. The key to a successful negotiation is creating competition between your current landlord and other landlords in the area.


2. Start the Process Early
Landlords know that the managers of other buildings can take six to eight months to create a space plan, get construction pricing, agree on a rental rate, prepare a lease document and ready the space for occupancy.  If a tenant waits too long before asking for a renewal proposal, he signals to the landlord that he's not developing realistic alternatives, reducing his leverage in the negotiation.  Landlords will drag out the process of a renewal in an attempt to limit the tenant's alternatives and reduce the tenant's negotiating leverage.


3. Knowledge is Power 
A quality tenant representation broker can provide valuable knowledge to inform your position in a negotiation. Your broker should be able to answer the following questions:
Is the office building being sold? 
Is the largest tenant moving out? 
How much free rent did the last tenant get? 
Does the building have HVAC or parking problems? 
What is the landlord’s financial situation? 


Your tenant representation broker should also analyze the market to provide a true “apples to apples” comparison of different facility choices.  Lease terms such as full service gross, modified gross, triple net, tenant improvement allowances, rental abatement, escalations, base years, operating expense stops and loss and load factors can obscure the true amount you’re paying and make legitimate comparisons difficult.  A good tenant representative will sort through all this for you.

Troy Golden is Vice President at SCGroup Real Estate. He received his undergraduate degree from Yale University and his MBA in Real Estate from the Wisconsin School of Business. Troy specializes in commercial office brokerage in Chicagoland. Please contact him at tgolden@scgroupco.com or (630) 474-9997.  Visit SCGroup Real Estate at www.scgroupco.com

Friday, July 6, 2012

Direct Lease vs. Sublease of Commercial Office Space

Direct Leasing vs. Subleasing
Business owners who wish to lease commercial office space may either lease space directly from the landlord or sublease space from another tenant.  Decision makers should review the advantages and disadvantages of both options.  The best option depends on the state of the business, market conditions, and lease terms.  Enlist the help of a qualified tenant representation broker to help you make the right decision.

Subleasing
A sublease arrangement is a lease transaction with a current tenant, subject to the approval of the landlord.  Businesses who sublease space typically benefit from below-market rents and lower buildout costs.  Sublease terms can be more flexible than direct lease terms.  Sublease arrangements may run month-to-month, or include special ad-hoc provisions.  However, businesses subleasing space end up having two defacto landlords, the original tenant and the building landlord, with twice as many restrictions.

Direct Leasing
A direct lease is a contract between two parties, the tenant and the landlord.  Direct leases are simpler than sublease arrangements.  With fewer parties involved, there is less chance for confusion of responsibilities or missing payments.  The landlord knows who is paying rent, and knows who to go to when a payment is late. The tenant knows who is responsible for common area maintenance, and knows who to go to when an elevator is broken.  However, professional landlords tend to be less flexible in negotiating direct lease contracts than most tenants are in negotiating sublease contracts.

Troy Golden is Vice President at SCGroup Real Estate. He received his undergraduate degree from Yale University and his MBA in Real Estate from the Wisconsin School of Business. Troy specializes in commercial office brokerage in Chicagoland. Please contact him at tgolden@scgroupco.com or (630) 474-9997.  Visit SCGroup Real Estate at www.scgroupco.com

Monday, July 2, 2012

How Much Office Space Do I Need?

One of the first steps in the leasing process is to estimate how much office space your business requires.  An experienced tenant representation broker will seek to understand your business needs and want, asking these questions in your first encounter: 


-What do you do?
-How do you work?
-What space can be shared?  What space can be eliminated? 

An architect can help you decide the layout for your new space.  Most landlords provide professional space planning services at no cost to the tenant.

In general, most businesses need 250 square feet of office space per employee.  However, the amount and configuration of space varies widely from office to office.  Below are some common categories of space and their space requirements.  Use these standards when estimating how much office space your business needs.


How Much Office Space Do I Need?
Category Dimensions Total Sq Ft
Private Office, Very Large 20x15 300
Private Office, Large 15x15 225
Private Office, Medium 15x10 150
Private Office, Small 12x10 120
Workstation, Large 9x9 81
Workstation, Medium 8x6 42
Workstation, Small 6x6 36
Reception Area, Large 25x15 375
Reception Area, Small 20x15 300
Conference Room, Large (12-24 Seats) 25x15 375
Conference Room, Medium (8-14 Seats) 20x15 300
Conference Room, Small (4-6 Seats) 10x10 100
Kitchen, Large 20x15 300
Kitchen, Small 10x8 80
Copy Room 15x10 150
Telecom Room 10x8 80
Closet 7x4 28

Troy Golden is Vice President at SCGroup Real Estate. He received his undergraduate degree from Yale University and his MBA in Real Estate from the Wisconsin School of Business. Troy specializes in commercial office brokerage in Chicagoland. Please contact him at tgolden@scgroupco.com or (630) 474-9997.  Visit SCGroup Real Estate at www.scgroupco.com