Successfully Negotiating the Commercial Real Estate Lease

This is my fourth and final article in a series where I give insight into the world of a California commercial real estate broker. A commercial real estate broker leases/buys/sells commercial real estate (CRE) for the client (tenant/buyer/seller). Commercial real estate is defined for this article as office, retail and industrial spaces.

As reminder from last time, there are four main things a good CRE broker does. They: find suitable locations, negotiate the offer, negotiate the lease itself (the many clauses) and are there when the client needs help thereafter. The first article I wrote was about finding locations; the second about negotiating the major deal points, the third one about negotiating the lease and this one will focus on how I as a broker help my clients after they sign the lease.

What happens if you have a dispute with your landlord after you sign the lease?  Common disputes with landlords that I get involved with quite a bit are a tenant needing to terminate a lease early, HVAC too hot or cold, tenant being overcharged for its share of common area expenses, and many other similar disputes like these.  Shouldn’t you just hire an attorney to help you?  My answer is not right away. If I can settle the dispute, it will save you a lot of money by not having to hire an attorney.

Why can I handle these types of dispute when other brokers can’t and why can I resolve them without usually using an attorney?  Because my experience is mainly from the landlord side of the tenant/landlord equation.  After negotiating over 1,000 leases, handling the property management and legal disputes for large landlords – I’m truly equipped to know how to deal with landlords with disputes like those aforementioned.  It is one of my largest value ads as your broker.  And if you are a landlord, I can even help you also to negotiate these matters with a tenant or the tenant’s attorney because it works both ways with my experience.   I am an expert witness on these matters in court and am used frequently and successfully by real estate attorneys for these types of disputes.

Don’t get me wrong; I value good real estate attorneys highly and use and recommend them often, but only when needed.  I have clout with a landlord because I bring tenants to their property; an attorney does not have this clout.  If a landlord upsets or is unfair to one of my clients, and I share this information with a new potential client, there is a good chance my new client won’t want to lease at this landlord’s project.  I don’t know of any other brokers that offer this service to their clients like I do and have such a high track record of negotiating acceptable settlements between the parties for these types of disputes.

Pick a broker that can help you properly in all areas including these types of landlord/tenant disputes and you will sleep much better at night while saving money and time. When searching, you will find that the list of brokers with this type of expertise is very narrow. Picking the right broker is the key to getting your best deal. You can never do as well, or even come close, if you try and negotiate the deal without a good broker.

If you have questions about any of the above topics or have any CRE needs, please contact David Massie at david@djmcre.com or 805-217-0791.

Want to Lease a Prime Location? It Might Be Best to Buy The Business First

Many of my retail clients, especially restaurants and other food types of users, want to lease a great location with lots of visibility and quality foot traffic.  The main problem is that most of these prime locations are already leased.

So, what if your broker found you a prime location where the business owner might be willing to sell at a very inexpensive price?  Many businesses will accept an unsolicited offer to buy them out inexpensively because they simply aren’t doing that well, are tired of the hours, want to retire, are ready to try something else and for many other reasons.   If you bought the business, you would then have the option to either assume the existing lease or, at times, the landlord will agree on entering a new lease with you instead if he likes your business and/or financial strength better than the existing tenant.

As both a business and commercial real estate broker, I have been successful in doing the above for my clients.  For as little as $20,000, I have been able to secure many prime locations for my clients to lease.  (The price varies for many reasons, such as the worth of the existing improvements in the space, inventory, existing lease terms, perceived value by seller, etc.)

There aren’t many brokers that successfully perform both business sales/buying and commercial real estate leasing/buying/selling like I do, and the combination serves my clients well.  Unless they are very experienced at both, you should never let your leasing broker also represent you on your business sale or your business broker represent you for your lease. They might be good at their main expertise, but won’t be good at the part they don’t do much of; and it won’t end well for you if you do.

If you want to find out more about how to lease a prime location, buy/sell a business or commercial real estate, please contact me at 805-217-0791 or david@djmcre.com or visit our business brokering page.

Retail Spaces Offer a Fix to the Medical Space Shortage in Southern California

Recently, I wrote about the shortage of medical space and an increase in retail vacancies in Southern California right now. My suggestion was to have medical tenants lease space in retail centers as compared to an office or medical building that they traditionally leased space in. This may seem like an unusual suggestion to solve the problem, but recent news suggests that this issue is beginning to grow.

According to CoStar Group, the gaining US population is expected to drive demand for medical space with more than 200 million square feet of medical office space needed in the next decade:

Driven by an aging U.S. population, within 10 years the amount of medical office space needed is projected to be 16 percent more than today, based on current trends. That’s greater than the combined medical office space in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Dallas–Fort Worth, the nation’s four largest medical office markets. This undeniable demographic trend in the U.S. is both a headwind for traditional office demand and an incredible tailwind for medical office demand in the coming years.

So, what are medical tenants to do with this shortage? Lease space in retail centers.  When you lease in a quality retail center, your business has good parking, signage, and retail visibility from shoppers at the retail center.  The main criteria for any business is usually the bottom line so, if being in a retail center increases your net income, wouldn’t you want to be there?  This is rule #1.

Retail space in southern California is undergoing a change.  The smaller to medium sized retail centers in particular are starting to become more restaurant/food and service focused as opposed to other types of retail uses.  Customers at retail centers want to enjoy their experience and be able to do as much as they can at one location.  So, with the foregoing in mind, wouldn’t many medical tenants fit in with this new retail trend of a retail landlord leasing to service providers like doctors and providing a better experience for the retail customer?  I think so.

Read more on this fix for Medical Space Shortage & Retail Vacancies in Southern California.

David Massie specializes in buying, selling and leasing office, medical/dental, retail and industrial buildings -especially off market ones that are hard to find in Southern California that only his clients are made aware of first.  Contact David now if you have interest in finding one for you:  david@djmcre.com or 805-217-0791.

DJMCRE Closes Escrow in 30 Days on a Medical/Dental Property in Oxnard at Premium Price

David Massie of DJM Commercial Real Estate recently closed escrow on a medical/dental property in Oxnard, CA at 1600 W Gonzales Rd. This was a building in need of work that David was able to sell at a premium price for the seller he represented. In addition, the escrow was only 30 days compared to the normal 4 months or more. This is a prime example of why a seller or buyer should hire an experienced broker like David to successfully sell or buy a commercial building.

Remember, because of David’s experience directing some of the largest real estate companies in the US, he can help both tenants and landlords with any of their commercial real estate needs for any type of commercial real estate for leasing, buying, selling and acting as a legal expert witness.

So, why should a seller hire a broker and pay him a commission when a seller can do it on their own?

  • Simply put, the seller will not be able to get the maximum price that a good broker can. Many brokers have clients waiting in the wings to buy a property and these clients will pay top dollar if they are allowed to make the offer first.  Also, the price a broker is able to sell a property for more than pays for their commission.
  • Sellers don’t have the same marketing ability as a broker. The world has become international and your reach has to be international.  The dollars are flowing into the US from other countries right now and international buyers are willing to pay more many times.  Brokers also know what is needed in terms of a marketing package to interest buyers. It’s complicated, expensive, and time consuming to put this package together properly.
  • The timing of when to put the property up for sale is critical. When is the market peaking?  Is there a lot of competition on the market for sale now?  Good brokers will usually know what is for sale on the market as well as off market, but sellers won’t.
  • The repairs that you need to make to the property before you put it on the market are also important. Some are worth making and some aren’t.  A good broker usually knows what to recommend.
  • What should the asking price of the property for sale be? What if there are no comparable prices for the sales price because the sales price is higher and the property won’t appraise for the sales price and therefore might not sell for this price and waste everyone’s time?
  • There are many other factors in selling a commercial real estate property; but, in our opinion, it starts first and foremost with the right broker. Doing it on your own is always a mistake.  If you don’t hire the right broker or if you do it yourself, it will cost you.  We have seen it many times.

If you want to learn more about leasing, buying and/or selling any and all types of commercial spaces in California or if you have questions about any subject related to commercial real estate, please contact David Massie of DJM Commercial Real Estate at david@djmcre.com or 805-217-0791.

How a Broker Successfully Negotiates the Commercial Real Estate Lease

This is my third article in a series where I give insight into the world of a California commercial real estate broker. A commercial real estate broker leases/buys/sells commercial real estate (CRE) for the client (tenant/buyer/seller). Commercial real estate is defined for this article as office, retail and industrial spaces.

As reminder from last time, there are four main things a good CRE broker does. They: find suitable locations, negotiate the offer, negotiate the lease itself (the many clauses) and are there when the client needs help thereafter. The first article I wrote was about finding locations; the second about negotiating the major deal points and this third one will discuss negotiating the lease.

Most brokers and even many attorneys don’t negotiate the lease properly.  Why?  For brokers, many of them simply don’t know what most of the clauses mean and/or simply don’t have the experience to negotiate them properly.  For attorneys, it usually has to do with them not specializing in lease contracts and, again, not having enough experience and knowledge to do it properly.   Both brokers and attorneys many times specialize in only one area, like office or retail or industrial leases, but not all of them so it’s best to get one that specializes in the lease you are negotiating.

The main problem with using a broker or attorney that isn’t experienced and knowledgeable enough at negotiating a lease is that it will usually cost the tenant money and/or problems later on.  There are many clauses in leases that can bankrupt a tenant even when their rent is low like only $1,000 per month. These include insurance clauses, indemnification clauses, operating expense share clauses, maintenance provisions and more.  Therefore, it’s not the size of the deal that matters, it’s what was agreed to in the lease that matters.  A tenant should tread carefully here. I recommend using both an experienced broker and a specific commercial real estate attorney for a lease. In cases like this, two sets of experienced eyes are better than one.  I have saved my clients a lot of money by doing the lease review first and then sending it to their attorney to review thereafter.

After negotiating over 1,000 leases, and over 100 leases per year for many years, I have the experience to really help a tenant in this area.  It’s not something most brokers can do.  Pick a broker that can help you  properly in this area and you will sleep much better at night. When searching, you will find that the list of brokers with this type of expertise is very narrow.  Landlords  usually have a good real estate attorney create their lease and the bigger ones have their attorneys negotiate the lease clauses. Because of this, you really need to even the odds and have someone that specializes in lease negotiating on your side.

Picking the right broker is the key to getting your best deal. You can never do as well, or even come close, if you try and negotiate the deal without a good broker.

Next time, in the final article in this series, we will discuss how a broker can help their client after a lease is signed for items like construction, moving, landlord disputes, terminating a lease early, etc.  Most brokers, unfortunately, cannot do much here as they simply lack the experience and/or knowledge to do so.

If you have questions about any of the above topics or have any CRE needs, please contact David Massie at david@djmcre.com or 805-217-0791.

Why Use a Commercial Real Estate Broker (and what they actually do for you…)

In this series, I will be giving insight into the world of a California commercial real estate broker that leases, buys or sells commercial real estate (CRE) for you, the client. The client is the tenant, buyer or seller of CRE space generally defined as office, retail and industrial.

There are four main things a good CRE broker does: They find suitable locations, negotiate the offer, negotiate the lease clauses, and are there when the client needs help thereafter with matters like construction, moving, future landlord disputes, terminating a lease early, etc.

The first thing a CRE broker does that might seem obvious and easy is finding you locations that fit your criteria.  We normally go on a proprietary website like CoStar that the client doesn’t have access to (a subscription to Costar is expensive and you have to learn how to use the software) and run a search for what you are looking for.  This isn’t as easy as it sounds.  If a broker doesn’t know how to use the software correctly and set up the searches correctly (including keeping a search active so that if a new listing appears that fits your criteria the broker is alerted right away), you won’t find all the possible locations.  Also, consider that many listing brokers for landlords/sellers don’t input the information correctly into the software or even keep the information updated. This makes it difficult to then find applicable properties for a client correctly.  It takes quite a bit of time to do a search correctly.

Seems easy enough; why can’t a client simply find a website like CoStar and do this search themselves?  After all, there are CRE oriented websites like Loopnet or City Feet or Office.com and others that state they have the CRE listings available at no cost, right?  The main problem with these sites is that they don’t have anywhere near all of the listings that CoStar does.  Loopnet, for example, is now owned by CoStar and Loopnet makes brokers and landlords pay to have their properties listed on this site so this site doesn’t list the properties available for those that aren’t willing to pay to do so.  Also, for whatever reason, sites other than CoStar simply aren’t used by CRE brokers because CoStar pretty much has a monopoly on most all listings and other kinds of data like comps.  So, if the client wants to do it themselves they won’t be able to find all of the available properties but only a small fraction thereof.

Then there are the off market non listed properties that you can’t find even on CoStar or other websites.  A good broker has connections to landlords/sellers and other brokers that don’t use listing services or that simply haven’t listed the location yet.  Staying in touch with the aforementioned people pays high dividends to my clients, but again it takes quite a bit of time and good record keeping to do so.

A good broker truly does use their expertise, experience and connections to get you the very best outcome. Next time, our topic will focus on successfully negotiating the deal and what goes into that.  Negotiating correctly is an art unto itself.

If you have questions about any of the above topics or have any CRE needs please contact David Massie at david@djmcre.com or 805-217-0791.

Negotiating Your Lease: Why You Need a Good Broker

We read an article recently on what tenants should not be missing in their leases. This brought us back to one of our previous blogs, “Commercial Leasing: Hidden Tenant Costs That Tenants Shouldn’t Pay” that stresses the importance of having a good broker who understands these items and can negotiate them on the tenant’s behalf. This new article, from Retail Real Estate Law, talks about why landlords should be “elephants” in the lease drafting process.

The article is encouraging landlords to save money and headaches by creating versions of the lease provisions in a more favorable way by facing reality and starting with a complete lease form. It’s another example though of why tenants have to be careful of what they could be missing in their leases. It’s also another example of the importance of having a good broker to negotiate these lease terms for you.

From our previous blog on the topic:

“When leasing commercial real estate space of any type, there are many ways for landlords to hide extra costs from tenants that tenants are usually not aware of. […] If tenants aren’t careful to use a broker that understands the operating expense share, this cost to the tenant can be quite large during the lease term.  Many times this costs starts out low and then later on in the lease gets quite high.  It is best, in my opinion, to negotiate an overall annual cap and also have a list of expense exclusions that aren’t reasonable for a landlord to include as part of the tenant’s share. […]Measuring the building is another area where landlords can pad the numbers that will result in a higher rent to the tenant without a tenant even knowing it’s happening and this happens most commonly in office buildings.”

Retail Real Estate Law’s article adds to these thoughts:

“We suggest the following. These items are going to be added to any decent, important lease. Why not pay once to have them included in the lease instead of paying, each and every time a lease is negotiated? And, deny it as people may, the person whose lease form is used controls the outcome. When a provision is not in the form lease and everyone knows that it will wind up there before execution, why should the landlord (who invested) in a lease form in the first place, cede control over the “missing” provisions to the tenant. After all, if the lease is missing something that’s going to be in there at the end of the day, the tenant will supply the initial draft and thereby control the negotiation.”

If you want to learn more about your specific situation and why a good broker will be the difference for you, contact David Massie at DJM Commercial at 805-217-0791 or david@djmcre.com – we can help! For more details from Retail Real Estate law, read the full article here.

How Retail Tenants are Saving on Rent Right Now

We recently read an article in Bis Now highlighting how small retailers are finding their opening while old giants shrink. The general premise is that retail landlords are willing, more and more, to take on smaller retailers by dividing up their spaces and leasing them out where they can instead of holding off for the big fish that probably isn’t coming.

From Bis Now:

“As the country’s largest retailers struggle to adapt to 21st century consumer demands, retail landlords are increasingly willing to slice up their space, take on riskier tenant options and offer flexible lease terms — and smaller retailers are reaping the benefits. […] The market has been marred with a number of big-name store closures in the city. But brokers said the conditions are paving the way for smaller retailers to get their foot in the door, as increasingly desperate landlords stop holding out for the national operators with established track records.”

This article is a great example of how a retail tenant can save on rent right now. Even better news? We can help. Contact David Massie at 805-217-0791 or david@djmcre.com if you are a retail tenant and you want to find a great deal on a retail space like mentioned in the article. For more details, read the full article here.

Options to Renew Your Lease: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

You are a tenant leasing some kind of commercial space like retail, office, industrial or otherwise.  You were smart and negotiated at least one option to renew your lease.  But, should you exercise that option to renew?  Do you really understand what conditions in which it would be favorable or not to exercise this option?

In my market in Southern California, most landlords will grant a tenant who is leasing commercial space an option to renew their lease for one additional lease term that is less or equal to their original term.  For example, if you leased for a 5 year term then you could usually negotiate a 5 year or less option to renew.  If you leased for 10 years, you might get one 10 year option to renew or perhaps two 5 year options to renew.

But here is where it gets tricky.  It’s generally not in your best interest to exercise your option to renew. Instead, you should think of it as a last resort.  Option to renew language usually contains a certain minimum rent to the landlord. For instance, it may be no less than what you were paying at the end of you current term or maybe it has a 3% bump above what you are paying at that time.  I have found that market rents are usually lower than what your option to renew requires you to pay.  And what about current market tenant concessions like free rent, improvements, etc.?  You will most likely miss out on these.

Another provision that option to renew language usually contains is that the lease (except for the rent) will be on the same terms and conditions.  So, if there is a clause in your lease that needs to be negotiated you may want to reconsider the option to renew.  These clauses could include receiving a new base year for operating expense increases for an office tenant or excluding unreasonable lease clauses from applying. For instance, certain Triple Net clauses could be excluded for a retail tenant if you negotiated your renewal instead, but these exclusions won’t apply if you simply exercise your option to renew.

What is a tenant to do?  Hire a good commercial broker to help.  This broker will know the current market rents and be able to review the lease with you and recommend all necessary changes.  If the broker is active in your area, then the landlord will be concerned that this broker might relocate you to another building if the landlord isn’t fair.  You simply don’t have the same clout without a good broker and you won’t get as good of a deal.  But do it at least 6-12 months in advance of when your current lease terminates or at least 3 months before you have to exercise your option to renew so your broker and you have time to review your needs and options. One other really good thing that happens when you don’t exercise your option to renew, but rather negotiate your renewal, is that your option to renew many times gets left in place and is still valid the next time your lease terminates.

I have successfully represented many commercials tenants for renewals for their leases and not just new leases.  I can’t remember the last time I didn’t do much better than the tenant could do on their own.  Many times the landlords end up paying my fee for the tenant’s renewal just like they always do when I represent a tenant for a new lease.

For more information about commercial leasing, buying, and selling please contact David Massie at DJM Commercial Real Estate at 505-217-0791 or david@djmcre.com.

Commercial Real Estate Dual Representation: Possibly Illegal Soon?

Assembly Bill 1059 has been introduced to the California Legislature to ban commercial real estate dual agency relationships. Specifically, the bill “would prohibit an agent from acting as a dual agent in a commercial real estate transaction,” and also prevent different individuals in the same firm from “acting as an agent for both a seller and buyer in the same commercial real estate transaction.”

There are many pro landlord groups opposing this bill like AIR CRE.  Why?  In my opinion, it’s because it will help the tenant and buyer and reduce the profit of the landlord and seller.  Just read some of the weak arguments made by AIR CRE here.  All of them primarily have to do with a landlord or seller making less money or not doing as well somehow.  Don’t you feel sorry for them?

Dual Representation is not legally allowed in many states.  Why?  Because it can’t be done without violating ethical issues as there are simply too many conflicts of interest.  The tenant/buyer loses big time and the owners and their brokers gain big time. This is why so many brokers and owners are in favor of it.

For 25 years I worked as a landlord and seller and directed some very large real estate companies that owned millions of square feet of commercial property across the US and even internationally.  Many brokers wanted my business because I could give them 5 or 6 figure salaries off some of my properties in any one region that I controlled.  As a landlord, I loved it when my brokers were able to do dual representations because I had a great amount of leverage over the brokers who worked for me.  If they, or anyone in their firm representing a tenant/buyer, pushed too hard for a tenant/buyer at one of my properties –all I had to do was hint that they might not be able to keep my listings.  Would a broker risk losing a 5 or 6 figure salary working for me over one deal where they also represented the tenant/buyer?  Not likely.  That is all it took for the tenant/buyer to not get as good of a deal as they could have received had they used another broker from another firm; a firm that was not affiliated with a listing broker who worked for me or that wasn’t trying to get listings from me.  This is why dual representations shouldn’t be done.

Even though dual representations are legal in California, I won’t do them.  They should be outlawed.  Ask any good real estate attorney how it goes in court when they have to defend a broker for a dual representation. Attorneys that I have spoken with that have experience in this matter have said “it’s not a matter of whether they can win the case but rather of how much they can settle for”.  This is because these attorneys know that it is impossible for a broker to represent both parties correctly without fault.

Can you imagine an attorney who has represented a large property owner for decades attempting to also represent a tenant in a dispute in court?  It wouldn’t be possible to represent both parties fairly.  It doesn’t happen. This is the same reason why dual broker representation should not happen.

Every tenant/buyer should hire a broker that doesn’t have any conflict of interest with a landlord/seller or their broker.  The landlord/seller pays the tenant/buyer’s broker’s commission so it costs the tenant nothing.

Brokerage firms that specialize primarily in representing tenants/buyers are a very good choice because they don’t have the conflicts mentioned above.  If a tenant/buyer is thinking of representing themselves –that can potentially be even worse.  Hire an experienced broker who only has your interests in mind instead.  You will save a lot of time, money and headaches if you use the right broker.