Touring a Commercial Property: What to Look For – PART I
The lease at your office is expiring within the next 12 months and the time has come to contact your trusted real estate advisor to evaluate new options for your business. It is important to collaborate with your real estate advisor to “help them help you” identify the best possible space for your organization. Enlisting the support of a real estate advisor to guide you through the process will ensure that you identify the optimal location with the optimal amenities, under the most optimal terms. There are a number of things that tenants and advisors alike should be cognizant of.
Accessibility – This applies to both general accessibility of the physical location of the property, as well as any interior accessibility features. In regards to the physical location of the property, is the location convenient for current employees? Is the location easily accessible from key locations like airports and expressways? Are there any environmental features that may make access to the location problematic? Your real estate advisor can help evaluate these options and create a plan to best accommodate your organization.
In regards to the internal accessibility of the facility, keep an eye out for wheelchair ramps, elevators, wide entry doors, and properly equipped restroom facilities to accommodate both your employees and any guests who may need additional accommodations. Adding these accommodations at a later date can be very costly. Again, your real estate advisor can assist in identifying these options.
Physical Condition – During the property tour, look for indications that there may have been structural issues. These include cracks in the masonry, stains on the ceiling, or unusual odors which may indicate larger underlying problems. Be aware of any changes made to the facility or any damage that may have been caused by prior tenants. Changes or damage may point to future issues. Your real estate advisor will be well versed in these and will be on the lookout for any potential issues , including the impacts of each.
Shared Areas – Common areas such as elevators, hallways, lobbies, and shared restrooms will make an impression on employees and visitors. These areas will have as much of an impact on the perception of your space as those located within your office.
Safety – A safe workplace is a productive workplace. Ensuring that the facility is secure both during, and after work hours, is important to employees. Coded or fob systems may be required to allow only permitted employees and visitors access to certain areas. Appropriate locks and access options will vary from organization to organization so it is important that the security solution is tailored to the specific needs of the tenant. Lighting in the parking lot and in and around the facility is nearly as important as securing the physical plant, as it will discourage any illegal activity. Video surveillance may also be required to help secure the facility. Again, your real estate advisor can right-size your organization’s security options.
Parking – It may be easy to overlook parking when exploring potential options. Be sure there is ample parking for both your employees as well as visitors. Be aware of any businesses around you that may have overflow, or who may expand during peak hours and may occupy your space. Particularly in winter months, employees and visitors will appreciate free (or cheap) and convenient parking options.
These are just a few of the more obvious items to be on the lookout while evaluating the physical qualities of commercial properties. Your real estate advisor will guide you through each of these, as well as many more not-so-obvious features of the property throughout the process. The next essential part of the process that your advisor will guide you through will be to help you navigate the terms and Conditions of the Lease, which is to be covered in PART II.