How to Find a Coworking Space


Coworking spaces can be the perfect solution for a variety of working scenarios — from a solo entrepreneur just starting out to an executive from a large corporation seeking a change in scenery. Much like the businesses they serve, no two coworking spaces are the same. In fact, there are many aspects to consider when selecting a coworking space, including amenities, cost, location and clientele.  

Assess Productivity Pitfalls

When searching for a coworking space, look for one with an atmosphere that is conducive to your individual company’s productivity. Since there will be many people working in close proximity to your “office,” your employees could become distracted. Take a look around the space before signing a lease to see what other businesses are doing and whether or not their day-to-day work is too loud for you and your staff.

Check Networking Opportunities

The professional composition of the coworking office is another factor to consider, as networking can be a large benefit. A space full of professionals from different industries can expand a network fast, providing a budding business with new opportunities and ideas. Many coworking offices host happy hours, workshops and other events to build and foster relationships among tenants.

Investigate Growth Potential

The amenities a coworking space offers can really set it apart from the other options. While a brand new startup may be able to get by with a desk and laptop, a growing business needs additional technology, storage and multiple desks. Young companies expand fast, so make sure the selected coworking space can accommodate a little growth until the business is ready to lease its own office. Additionally, the space should be able to meet the needs of the company, such as meeting rooms, private booths, printing and other professional necessities.

Coworking spaces offer leases with much shorter terms than traditional office spaces, but that doesn’t mean you should rush in to sign. Request a day pass so you can ensure it will be a good fit. Pay attention to the amenities, the other tenants and what the space may be lacking to ensure it meets the needs of the business. This is the time to uncover potential problems, such as Wi-Fi reliability or overall space maintenance.

Conducting thorough due diligence prior to signing a coworking lease is critical, as the office will play a large role on the productivity of a business. Create a list of what is essential to the company, and verify the space can meet those needs. Selecting a coworking office may seem like an easy decision, but it should be taken seriously, as it can either improve or harm productivity.

How to Find the Right Office for a Fast-Growing Startup


The rapid growth of a startup causes changes to come quickly, which makes it challenging to find an office space that will grow with the business. When beginning the search, consider the projected growth, business plan and the needs of the company to find the best suitable space.

Growth

Young companies experiencing hockey stick growth will quickly find themselves with an overcrowding issue, especially if they didn’t plan ahead during the search. Plan for an extra 10 – 20 percent of space to prevent overcrowding in the future. In doing so, you’ll save money by avoiding lease termination fees, as well as eliminate the hassle and expense of subleasing and seeking a larger space before the lease expires.

Landlord

Being able to grow within a building or a landlord’s portfolio is extremely important. Seeking space in a smaller building, like the ones typically found in River North and River West, can be quite limiting, especially as many of those landlords only own one property. Leasing from a larger landlord, like the ones found in the Loop, provides a tremendous amount of flexibility when the time comes to expand. A larger building, or office portfolio, allows that landlord to easily relocate a growing tenant to accommodate their expanding space needs.

Location

Real estate will always be about location. When finding the right office for a startup, consider where it’s located in proximity to employees, current clients, potential clients and vendors. Remember that if the space is out of the way, it will make it difficult for prospective clients to find the business. Location also plays a role in employee retention and morale, as well as talent acquisition.

Needs

When launching a new company, one important aspect is the cultivation of its culture and the office needs to reflect and reinforce it. A financial services startup may need a more structured environment with more private offices and sound proofing. Whereas a creative firm will want an office with more open spaces for collaboration. Additionally, confirm if the space will be able to accommodate the specific needs of an industry. For example, a company with heavy IT needs will want a space that is able to power and protect all of the equipment.

Finding the right office for a startup will build a solid foundation for future growth and success. Remember that having an experienced commercial real estate broker involved from the beginning of the process will save both time and money. Tenant Advisory Group has worked with a variety of growing startups and is happy to share how they have successfully handled the needs of budding businesses.

The Best Negotiations Come from a Complete Commercial Real Estate Team


Negotiating the terms of a commercial real estate lease is difficult, as it is fraught with jargon, clauses and paperwork, and even the slightest misstep can have dire consequences for a business’s bottom line. Hiring the right real estate broker and attorney team to handle this delicate process is the best way to guarantee the most favorable terms while saving you time and money.

They Understand the Industry

Too often, a business owner will request help in negotiating lease terms from an attorney friend or a neighborhood real estate agent. However, these professionals may not be familiar with the industry-specific ins and outs of a commercial real estate lease. A dedicated real estate attorney/commercial broker team will review the terms of the lease with expert eyes, navigating the provisions and clauses to establish the final document.

They Can Ask for More

Real estate is a hyper-local specialty, meaning an experienced commercial real estate attorney/broker team is going to have market knowledge regarding tenant improvement allowance and rent abatement. The team will understand where to push back and what is fair for the market. This will result in a far less contentious negotiation, establishing a good rapport with the landlord from the beginning.

They Can Strategize

There are many ways to “get more” out of your lease, and only professionals working in the industry would even know to ask. For example, the lease renewal clause is a point of concession that can greatly benefit your lease terms down the line. A commercial real estate attorney/broker team will work together to create a plan that will include more than simply lower rental costs.

When working with Tenant Advisory Group, we have access to a deep bench of quality connections, including top-tier real estate attorneys to help achieve the best results possible.

What to Expect When Looking for a Medical Office Space


Chicago is the third largest city in the United States, which means there is a deep pool of potential medical spaces to fit just about any practice. Prior to beginning the search for new space, many of our health care clients are interested to know what exactly is involved in the process. Through our experience we’ve assembled a list of the most important steps involved along with tips and tricks we think will help these doctors.

Timeline

Aim for a minimum of nine months before you’re ready to lease or purchase a space. Keep in mind that at least six months worth of time is essential to account for site selection, business term negotiations, attorney review, architectural design, permitting and any interior construction or design work to fit your specific medical office needs. 

The Search

A tenant representative will start with a survey of the market to deliver relevant property options that fit your specifications in terms of a budget, location, type, size and quality of a space.

In addition to the standard software that all CRE firms use, Tenant Advisory Group has established a network of resources to efficiently uncover both newly on- and off-market listings that will increase the quality of your search.

Assuming a budget of a certain amount per month, desired medical office size, building class and neighborhood proximity to transportation are all variables that can be adjusted to stay within your means.

After you’ve selected a list of properties of interest, a tenant representative will organize tours of all potential buildings, helping to guide you through considering all the logistical factors involved with each space.

One great way to get the most out of your dollar is to consider reducing both the number of private offices and reducing the size of the exam rooms to reduce the square foot per capita. However, if individual offices and larger exam rooms work better for your type of practice, and you are not looking to compromise on size, then shifting from a Class A to a Class B building can still maintain relative quality building finishes with amenities while substantially reducing rental rates.

Business Term Negotiations

Once the list is narrowed down to a handful of properties that seem like a potential fit, the next step is to submit RFPs that seek to achieve all of your goals, both financial and in terms of space quality and layout.

Even if you’ve chosen one property for your top choice, seeking proposals from multiple properties will provide you with market comparables to facilitate more negotiating leverage.

In addition to appropriate rental rates, a tenant representative broker will understand terms and be an advocate for you to achieve fair market concession packages such as rent abatement; tenant improvement allowances; escalations; securitizations; rights to expand or renew; and termination rights.  Working with a tenant representative who possesses a deep knowledge of fair market values will be indispensable to this process and overall cost savings.

Upon receiving proposals, a broker will run analyses to outlay the financial impact of the Landlord’s response and will submit counters to advance the negotiations toward your goals until acceptable business terms are agreed upon.

If there is a need for a build out, this will also be the time that a tenant representative will coordinate efforts of an architect to design the space to your specifications. A space planner might be provided from the building, particularly if they will turnkey the work, or an independent architect may be involved.

One thing to keep in mind during the negotiation process is to organize your paperwork. Prior to signing a Letter of Intent with a particular property, the landlord is most likely going to require you to show them financial statements and/or the last two years of your tax returns to be assured that you will be able to pay your rent in a timely and stable manner.

Attorney Review

Once both sides have come to agreement on the key business terms, a tenant representative will coordinate the attorney review process. The will work alongside your attorney to ensure the legal language reflects the negotiated terms.

If your practice does not have an attorney you use that specializes in real estate, Tenant Advisory Group is available as a referral source to qualified and affordable real estate attorneys.

Navigating Construction

Upon lease signing, Tenant Advisory Group will continue to assist with coordinating walk-throughs of the space for meetings with the architect and contractor bidding. We will be there to track progress against the project completion dates to make sure everything and everyone is moving forward efficiently.

Tenant Advisory Group is also available to make introductions to quality furniture vendors, movers, phone & data brokers, IT vendors, insurance brokers, and other ancillary professionals to help facilitate the process.

Moving Checklist

  • Receive quotes from several movers and line up a company well in advance
  • Line up the phone and data broker to set up the phone and data lines so they are ready by the time you move
  • Contact your IT support and let them know about the move at least six months in advance, but no later than 90 days
  • Recycle or donate unwanted electronics and furniture
  • Consider meeting with a furniture vendor to decide on reusing existing furniture, purchasing new or purchasing refurbished furniture
  • Gather any necessary paperwork for potential tax write-offs
  • Obtain a copy of the building rules and regulations
  • Identify the best point of contact from the building for all moving-related, space buildout and daily space operations questions
  • Understand the acceptable moving procedures in terms of hours, parking, unloading and elevator access
  • Establish a packing schedule to determine what can be packed in advance or last minute to reduce disruption to productivity
  • Setup mail forwarding from your old address
  • Order stationery, business cards and envelopes with the new address printed on them
  • Change your mailing address on your practice registration with the city, website, social media, Google, credit cards, bank accounts and other professional and medical organizations
  • Notify your network of clients and vendors that your practice has a new space and address to proactively avoid any interruptions in productivity

Why Use a Tenant Representative

The tenant does not pay any commission for the brokerage services they receive. The services are paid by the landlord. Even if the tenant negotiates direct, the landlord still pays a commission to its in-house brokers. Shouldn’t you have an experienced advocate on your side, too?

An attorney can negotiate legal terms, but typically does not have sufficient micro-knowledge of the changing local real estate market conditions to ensure you receive favorable business terms.

Tenant Advisory Group has established a network of trustworthy, qualified and affordable real estate-adjacent professionals to incorporate into the transaction, in order to fully service all of our client’s needs.  

Tenant Advisory Group is committed to bringing best-in-class commercial real estate services to every end user, and proudly saves our clients an average of $15,000 per person on leasing costs and over 20% on purchases.

How to Spot a Desirable Landlord


The landlord is an integral part of the commercial real estate leasing experience, which is why this person or entity needs to factor into any final decisions. A lot can be revealed about a landlord by the way they handle the negotiation process, as this is a window into how they treat existing tenants. For example, someone who tries to use bait-and-switch tactics isn’t going to change once you become a legally-bound renter! An easy way to tell a good landlord from a bad one is to identify if they value quality tenants over maximized profits.

Communication is Key

Good landlords are transparent and responsive, especially when they want you as a tenant. Ideally, a future landlord will stay in communication regardless of the situation, providing explanations for any lapses in response. Remember, there are most likely other deals in process that may prevent you from winning the space. However, a worthwhile leasing professional will work with a prospective renter to find a different available space.

Well-Capitalized is Ideal

When a landlord has a large amount of money to negotiate with, they are referred to as “well-capitalized.” There are a variety of reasons why a landlord is flush with capital, such as a recently refinanced building, or having a REIT or sovereign wealth fund as owners. Regardless of the source of funding, this means they are able to offer larger concessions in the form of free rent or tenant improvement allowances. In addition to incentive packages, well-capitalized landlords are able to invest more money back into improving the building. Independently-owned operators typically don’t have access to the large amount of funds needed to pay for a tenant’s buildout or even fix ongoing problems properly or in a timely manner.

Professionals are Best

Tenant Representatives are generally well liked by successful landlords as they work with all parties involved to ensure terms are met, stipulations are understood and proper channels are followed. The quality of business a tenant representative brings to the table – high-quality ancillary professionals – often encourages landlords to make more concessions on a deal with either a current or new tenant.

However, short-sighted landlords can become concerned about paying a broker to renew a tenant or acquire new business. These owners don’t take into account the long-term benefits, rather than the short-term costs. It demonstrates a potential unwillingness to pay to keep the building in good shape, repair the elevator or HVAC or clean the windows and building. If a landlord pinches pennies now, they will surely react poorly down the road when something doesn’t go their way.

The lowest price option is not always the best choice, as it commonly comes with a lack of amenities, service, upkeep and concessions. While lower rent is attractive, there is much more value derived from concession packages. Additionally, if a business uses its own money for a buildout then they won’t have that capital available to invest in the business, making it a very costly way to use available funds.

Landlords gain a lot of value when they sign new tenants or retain existing ones, especially if the building is up for sale, and good landlords know a broker can help them do exactly that to increase the value of their building.

Money Saving Lease Language


who can help with my lease

Reviewing each section of a commercial lease is a long process, but it’s essential to identifying ways a tenant can save money. One often overlooked area of these documents is the array of options that can be used to securitize a lease, as well as the Surrender Clause upon lease expiration. Here are a few different options a tenant should consider when negotiating their lease.

Types of Securitization

There are multiple options and opportunities when it comes to security deposits. Review your options thoroughly to decide which makes the most financial sense for your business.

  • Cash Security Deposit: A landlord will hold this in an escrow account, and it is returned if the space is in good condition at the end of the lease.
  • Letter of Credit: The bank holds the money while it earns interest. However, there is a fee of one-half to one percent each year.
  • Checking Account: The money is held in a checking account, and it can’t dip below the amount of the deposit. This can allow tenants to keep the money in their own account, which is beneficial if the business wishes to acquire equipment, property or another large purchase, as it shows stronger financials.
  • Surety Bond: This acts as an insurance policy if things go poorly, and it doesn’t impact credit. Surety bonds are available for larger companies. If the landlord draws upon the security deposit, then the insurance company will cover it.

Expensive Lease Language

Carefully read the language of the lease as it pertains to the Surrender Clause (the condition the tenant is supposed to leave their space in upon lease expiration), as different terms carry their own meanings and some can require a lot more work and money. For example, retail landlords often want the space returned in a “white box” condition. This can be quite expensive, as it means moving furniture, deep cleaning and removing wires. If the Landlord requires the premises to be left “in the condition that existed when the premises were turned over” this could include reversal of any improvements or alterations done to the space. Tenants often underestimate the cost of these requests versus the value it will have for the business. However, you can avoid these expensive requirements by negotiating the space be returned to “broom clean” condition. Working with the language of the lease to favor the tenant can save a significant amount of money and time for a business.

With every lease, there will be an opportunity to negotiate both Securitization and the Surrender of Premises. It is best to use a qualified commercial real estate broker on the Tenant’s behalf in order to achieve optimal savings and negotiate the most favorable lease terms.

Mastering the Lease Negotiation


The lease negotiation has the potential to provide several, lucrative concessions and rights for the tenant, as long as they are requested and properly defined. What most tenants don’t realize is that most landlord’s are sitting on a pile of money that is available to be allocated towards the incoming tenant in the form of lower rent, free rent, tenant improvement dollars or a combination of the aforementioned concessions. How that money is distributed is determined by the terms stipulated in the lease.

Many believe stronger financials will equate to a more expensive deal. However, the lease revolves around the landlord’s risk of the tenant. A company with a strong financial history represents less risk, which means the landlord will offer better terms to entice the potential tenant. The lease negotiation process is similar to how a bank assigns a loan- the terms are based on the amount of risk. Since the landlord is investing in the tenant, the landlord will often spend money upfront to secure a tenant with the highest probability that they’ll pay rent throughout the entirety of the lease. (If a business goes bankrupt mid-lease, the landlord has the potential to lose a significant amount of money.)

Where many inexperienced commercial real estate negotiators miss opportunities in the lease is by not building in provisions for flexibility. This becomes a critical factor for rapidly growing businesses that often take on far more space than necessary to account for projected growth. While it is smart to plan ahead, at Tenant Advisory Group, we recommend you take on the space you need today with a moderate amount of excess room for planned growth. The reason being is that the office is often the second largest expense of a company. Paying for space that is not being used will unnecessarily burden the financial statements and inhibit a business’ ability to grow. Building in flexibility through rights of first refusal or rights of first offer is a far more effective and economical way to foster a company’s growth. Rights of first refusal and rights of first offer create the opportunity for a business to expand at a future time, if and when necessary.

An extremely valuable piece of negotiation leverage is the right to terminate. This assures a growing business can leave a small space, and move into a larger one when the timing is right. How it works is it provides an opportunity to renegotiate the lease while setting a cap on the rental rate. It can extend the terms of the lease to keep the rent lower than the market rates, and if the market prices drop, you can leverage it to lower rent. Another great piece of leverage is the right to renew, though to be most effective it must stipulates cap on how high the rental rate will be at renewal. Similar to the right to terminate, it allows the company to renegotiate the rent down and prohibits the landlord from renegotiating the terms back in their favor.

In order to obtain the largest concession package, demonstrate strong financial security; request a right of first refusal and/or right of first offer, a right to renew and the right to terminate. When combined, these facets of the lease will significantly improve the quality of life for a business while reducing the strain on the company’s financials.

How to Find the Right Office for a Startup


Startups, by nature, are always changing, and the last thing a budding business needs is to constantly search for and move into new spaces. As a company grows in both size and revenue, the physical office space will need to provide the flexibility to house the necessary changes (e.g. additional computer stations, conference rooms, etc.). Here are a few pointers to consider when looking for a location to help the business stay put longer.

Consider Rapid Growth

In order to avoid overcrowding an office, search for an office space that accounts for reasonable projected growth. Oftentimes, an extra ten or twenty percent of space can prevent a lot of issues from arising. While it may seem like an unnecessary expense, it has the potential to provide greater returns in the future by avoiding terminated lease fees as well as eliminating the hassle and expense of needing to sublease and seek a larger space before the lease expires. One way to compensate for the increased rent expense could be to use that extra square footage as leverage to receive better lease concessions, such as more rent abatement, tenant improvement allowance or termination rights.

Consider the Location

When it comes to real estate, the location of the property will play a critical role in the success of the business. You’ll want to consider the office’s location in regards to current and potential clients, vendors and employees. If the space is hidden, it’ll make it difficult for prospective clients to find the business. The location will also play a role in employee retention and talent acquisition. An office that is far out of the way will reduce company morale, and will be unattractive when trying to acquire top talent. It will go a long way in increasing employee happiness if the location is near quality amenities, such as trendy restaurants and entertainment.

Consider Your Needs

A critical aspect that should be heavily considered during the search is the layout of the office and its amenities. Does it fit the company brand and culture? A financial services startup may need a more structured environment with cubicles and sound proofing. Whereas a creative firm will want an office with open spaces for collaboration. Regardless of the industry, the layout should be conducive to the business. Also, the amenities of the office should play an important role in the selection process, as they can make a difference in employee morale, which will impact productiveness of the workforce. Will there be enough conference rooms, kitchens, restrooms or break rooms? Confirm if the space will be able to accommodate the specific needs of an industry. For example, a company with heavy IT needs will want a space that is able to power and protect all of the equipment.

Finding an office that is a perfect fit for a business is a challenge, especially for a rapidly growing startup. When beginning the search consider the projected growth, business plan and the needs of the company to find the best suitable space. The office search is a daunting task that should be tackled with a long lead up time, preferably one year in advance. The long lead time works in favor of the tenant, and is necessary to account for the lengthy processes of site selection, touring comps, term negotiation, attorney review and architectural design, permitting or construction work. Working with a qualified commercial broker can save a growing business tremendous time and money throughout the leasing process.

The South Loop Continues to be Chicago’s Neighborhood to Watch


The Chicago real estate development industry has been buzzing this summer with dozens of innovative new projects aiming to break ground in the next year in the booming South Loop neighborhood. Tenant Advisory Group predicted at the end of 2014 that the South Loop will continue to be a red-hot neighborhood, and it looks like this momentum will last through 2017 and into 2018.

The recovering economy has brought a resurgence of demand for the neighborhood’s urbanized lifestyle. Construction began last month on Prairie Court Townhomes, a luxury development at 18th and Prairie Ave. that consists of nine buildings offering 55 four-story townhomes for interested buyers. Those looking to rent in the South Loop should keep their eye on some of the high-profile towers coming to the area, including an all-glass, multi-tube designed rental apartment tower and retail center proposed for 1326 S. Michigan Ave.

Commercial and medical spaces are popping up as well. Rush University Medical Center announced it will bring an outpatient center to a new development replacing the former National Letter Carriers Association building at 1411 S. Michigan Ave. The building itself – a mixed-used residential development – will break ground this year, and the medical facility will open in 2018. Additionally, the Essex Inn expansion and the Riverline mega-development will bring more business to the South Loop.

There are plenty more proposals in the works that could drastically change the area, including a 62-acre site of former railroad land southwest of Clark Street and Roosevelt Road that could become its own neighborhood. Tenant Advisory Group continues to predict the South Loop is the future River North.

Landlords Can’t Afford to Ignore Traditional Tenants over Tech Companies


It’s an exciting time in the Chicago tech scene, with new startups changing the entire face of our commercial real estate market. This infusion of creativity and drive is fantastic for our city, but is it really driving our overall economy forward? Reports say it’s not.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Leisure & Hospitality, Construction and Professional Services industries led the market in job growth in May 2016. Tried-and-true professions – e.g. lawyers, accountants, architects, etc. – are the real drivers in keeping Chicago diversified and thriving. These facts, however, are not receiving the same attention as tech to keep the commercial real estate industry fully informed.

Landlords across Chicago are investing in these tech companies, providing incentives such as tenant improvement dollars, rent abatement and leasing commissions, in the hopes they will turn into long-term commitments. Like banks, though, landlords can’t lend on ideas over a tenant’s actual ability to pay. We need to continue to support our tech scene while remembering which leasees prove to be the smartest investments.

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