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.

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.

What You Need to Know About the FASB Updates


Recently, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) updated their standards effectively changing the way companies must list their lease on their balance sheet. This will undoubtedly have rippling effects on businesses, and the leasing process as a whole. The update has the potential to alter the landscape of the commercial real estate lease.

What’s New?

The FASB updates aim to maintain consistency among accounting practices. The update will make businesses account for the entire value of a lease in year one. While it is purely an effect on paper, bankers, lenders and investors will need to understand the changes that will show up on a company’s ledger. The impact will be felt the most by large businesses, however small- to mid-sized businesses will still be affected. The updates will be implemented as of December, 15 2019 for publicly held companies, and Dec. 15 2020 for privately held companies. While this may seem far down the road, preparations to compensate for the potential change in your business’ ledger should start now.

The Impact

Commercial real estate leases need to be negotiated with the new changes in mind, as the new standard will inflate the debts of a company during the first year of the lease. This could impact compliance with current loans, affect future loan approvals and potentially mislead investors. The mandatory listing of a full lease as a liability will be a challenge for accounting teams of larger corporations who strive to maintain consistent earnings. The new standards may throw a company’s books out of balance, and this will be a major factor to consider when negotiating a lease.

The Advantage of a Professional

A professional broker who is trained in understanding the new FASB regulations will be most effective at negotiating optimal lease terms to minimize the impact on your balance sheet. This will include new ways to structure the base rental rate, timing of rent increases, separating out operating expenses and focusing on expansion rights rather than lease renewals that would leave a larger mark on your financial ledger. The ever-changing policies and guidelines are an important reminder to seek the assistance of a professional broker, such as the ones at Tenant Advisory Group. We work closely with our clients to advise them of the best way to proceed in signing a lease while keeping in mind the various impacts of the new FASB guidelines.

Do you Qualify for Rent Abatement?


Commercial leasing agreements commonly extend up to 10 years – or  longer – making negotiations key to long-term savings for your business. One of the greatest opportunities to reduce your monthly cost is rent abatement, or free rent. As you begin the discussion with a Lessor, it is important to understand what rent abatement is and how it can be used to your advantage.

Do You Qualify for Rent Abatement?

Unless there are extenuating circumstances at play, rent abatement is a provision best considered during new or renewal lease negotiations. This is when the Lessee has the most leverage, especially if a business has already shown itself to be an ideal tenant at the current or a previous property.

Why Would a Landlord Provide Free Rent?

If you are a new business needing time to get up and running, or even an established business faced with moving costs and possibly contributing funds to a buildout of your space, the Landlord should understand that you will need some time to build cash reserves back up before the payment of rent commences. If the Tenant is providing the Landlord a large cash security deposit, this is great leverage to negotiate more months of abatement. Furthermore, the cost of acquiring valuable tenants – tenants that take care of the space and pay rent on time – is not insignificant to the Landlord. Leasing commissions, background checks and potential lost rent due to time the space would sit on the market are just a few factors they need to take into consideration when faced with negotiating leasing terms. Potential or current tenants can position rent abatement as a concession that benefits both parties.

How Can You Have this Added to My Lease?

Many business owners don’t realize rent abatement is an option, so simply knowing about and presenting this as an option during negotiations is half the battle. When entering into a discussion with a landlord, present this incentive as one of several the Lessor can provide to reach a mutually beneficial outcome. All negotiations are a give-and-take, and ultimately the Landlord needs to know they will not be losing money in the process. Rent abatement is one of the key terms that can be negotiated, along with tenant improvement dollars and rental rate, in order for both the Tenant and the Landlord to feel they’ve achieved a mutually beneficial deal.

For more of Tenant Advisory Group’s expert tips for negotiating your commercial lease, click here.

5 Reasons a Good Commercial Real Estate Broker Adds Tremendous Value


Choosing the right office space is one of the most important steps a small business owner can take, which is why it’s crucial to have an expert commercial real estate (CRE) broker with local ties to guide you through the process. Not only will a CRE professional handle every detail of the transaction, they also provide invaluable insights, connections and business support that will ultimately benefit both your top and bottom line.

Access to a Bigger, Better Market

In a city as big as Chicago, there are literally tens of thousands of places your business could call home. Active brokers make it part of their job to be in constant communication with local owners, developers and investors providing them with knowledge of both on- and off-market opportunities. They are your guide to locating the right space for you opening up infinitely more possibilities for your business.

Realistic Views of the Space

Commercial brokers work hand-in-hand with the best real estate service providers – architects, contractors, interior designers, etc. – to provide a complete picture of space capabilities and potential costs. Can a 100-year-old converted warehouse handle a gut renovation? What are the sign requirements in a specific ward? Is it worth it to put in new windows? An experienced broker will be able to get the answers.

More Affordable Monthly Payment

Everything is negotiable (from tenant improvements to rent credits and even access to first-class amenities) if you know the right way to ask. A CRE professional tuned into the local market will know the moves to ensure you are getting the most out of your monthly payments.

A Better Understanding of Your Contract

As a business owner, it’s imperative that you have a thorough understanding of a document before you sign it — how can you be expected to comprehend the industry specific terms and legalese that fill a commercial lease? Chicago CRE brokers live and breathe this language every day, creating much-needed guides in these complicated transactions. In fact, Tenant Advisory Group negotiates 25 transactions per year, working with approximately four to six different properties for each deal!

Support Beyond the Lease

CRE brokers work with dozens of professionals across a variety of industries on a daily basis, carefully curating a network of trusted individuals. A close relationship with your broker can provide you access to the top attorneys, accountants, bankers, insurance brokers, financial advisors, web designers and IT companies in Chicago.

For more information about how Tenant Advisory Group can be your partner in all of your commercial real estate needs, click here.

3 Tips to Negotiate Your Co-Working Lease


Co-working workspaces are becoming the new norm for up-and-coming businesses, offering the creature comforts of a big corporation – high-tech workstations, coffee supplies, conference rooms – at a price startups can afford. However, just because a co-working space seems to have it all doesn’t mean there isn’t room for negotiations or amendments to your lease.

Bill Himmelstein, founder and CEO of Tenant Advisory Group, has put together a few crucial components to consider before signing on the dotted line:

Amenities

Exercise ball chairs and trendy lighting are fantastic touches, but remember to factor in all aspects of your business into the monthly cost. Does it include internet access? Phone plans? Access to communal coffee and food? These amenities can be used as bargaining chips in negotiating with the landlord. Understanding what’s included in your leasing package and what’s additional is key to being budget savvy.

Flexible Terms

One key advantage to renting a co-working space is the option of a short-term lease — three- and six-month terms and even month-to-month payments can be negotiated. (Free Range in Wicker Park offers flexible 10-day passes.) This can be especially appealing to freelancers who want a stable work environment without being tied down to a long lease.

Unused Spaces

Co-working options can be found anywhere, not just with large companies like WeWork. Chicago’s many converted warehouses and vintage office buildings are full of carved out communal spaces with a plethora of opportunity. Since leases in these leasing packages aren’t usually as structured, having an expert on-hand can save some of your company’s valuable funds.

For more information about how Tenant Advisory Group can help you negotiate your co-working space lease, contact us today.

A Start-Up’s Guide to Real Estate


From founding a company to raising money to launching a new product. Each stage of an entrepreneur’s journey is crucial – and certainly at every stage of growth. It’s not always talked about but short of what you pay your employees, office space is often a startup’s largest fixed expense. Finding the right office space can even dramatically affect the business’ bottom line.

 

A startup’s office space is more than drywall and hardwood floors. For any startup, the physical office space embodies the company’s beliefs and ideas. It stands for what the business represents, and in many cases it serves as a second home for its employees.

 

Even if you’ve had experience with leasing or buying property, finding the right space to fit your business can be an overwhelming process. While time is always of the essence for most startups, you have to take a calculated quick approach when it comes to real estate – otherwise you may end up burning through critical funds.

Here are few things an entrepreneur should consider:

 

Location

The struggle for most startups is to find a space that is easy to access for employees and will help in retaining and attracting talent. If you’re in this position, don’t be seduced by low rents and spaces that are readily available outside of central business areas. Watch out for landlord-driven “move in ready” packages that have pre-installed Internet, phone and furnishings. These places often charge higher rents that traditional spaces. Instead, focus your search on finding spaces in close proximity to city-centers. The vibrant and dense population means you can attract young talent, be close to banks and financial institutions, less wasted time traveling between meetings and creates an environment that breeds partnerships and ideas.

 

Strategic Planning

Most startups make decisions based on incomplete information or lack of strategic planning. Know your people and the direction you want to take the business. Picture how the space will support that culture and vision. Then engage a design professional to work with you on putting those ideas into a firm plan.

 

Working with an Advisor

Especially if you’re inexperienced in this area, choosing a space on your own is risky. Without proper guidance, companies can easily overspend on their lease rates. Even more disappointing, they’ll end up with a space that doesn’t fit their needs. Always work with an experienced broker or agent in your area. You can see the difference we had in work with a client – telling the story about how we were not first in line but got our client into the driver’s seat.

Chicago’s South Loop is Red-Hot, Here’s Why


CHICAGO’S SOUTH LOOP IS RED-HOT, HERE’S WHY - Tag - Blog Header

Bowtruss Coffee, Portillo’s Hot Dogs, even Bernie Sanders. Between businesses and notable politicians, it seems as if everyone is flocking to Chicago’s South Loop neighborhood and setting up shop.

In the late “˜90’s, industrial speculation drove the South Loop’s real estate market. Today, it’s no doubt becoming one of Chicago’s hottest multi-family, commercial and retail markets. We’ll even say it’s on its way to become the next River West or Fulton Market hot-spot, and here’s why:

Students: Chicago is a bustling vibrant city, and it’s easy to overlook the impact of college students in the Loop area. Downtown, alone, is home to over 38,000 full-time college students, and there’s been a corresponding rise in student housing development and sales in recent years.

Surge in multi-family population: Zillow predicts the South Loop will be Chicago’s second “hottest” neighborhood in 2016. With downtown, lakefront, Museum Campus, Grant Park and Columbia College all within walking distance, the South Loop makes an ideal location for anyone looking be near it all. And, as professionals from the Loop look to work and play close to home, developers are rushing to fill this need for more housing. If you’re in the business of recruiting or hiring temporary talent, being located near colleges is perfect for your industry.

Transit and retail development: With the area’s growing residential population, there comes a surge in transit and retail development. Several bus lines run through the area that’ll easily connect you to all areas of the city. Not to mention, the number of El and Metra train stations nearby. With so many transit options, people living in the neighborhood will have an easy time commuting into downtown or any of the outlying neighborhoods like the West Loop, Lakeview, Fulton Market.

Neighborhood shopping and dining is also flourishing. The shops at the Roosevelt Collection seem to grow day by day. Take for example, when the Roosevelt Collection was sold to Prudential for $222M last August, it was already 93% leased with retailers such as Victoria’s Secret, Container Store, Banana Republic and a 16-screen Kerasotes multiplex. It probably goes without saying, but having access to so many restaurants in the area gives businesses and their employees plenty of options for networking lunches and business-related entertaining.

The South Loop market shows no signs of slowing as there’s just so much redevelopment and new developments heading to the area. And one of the best parts to this, is that in the meantime, there are still wonderful lease deals to be had at very affordable prices compared to the very tight markets of River North or River West! The key to finding them is to work with an experienced advisor in the area. Working with a broker or agent who knows the ins and outs of a city, will have access to many of the best hidden deals.

Lastly, working with an advisor means you can be sure you’re getting the best and fair price, and terms for your business – most important when it comes to finding spaces in these “hotter” markets. Keep this in mind as you consider your next move in the Chicago market.

 

1 2 3 4