CRE is Evolving. Are You?

Why Tenant Connect?

It’s clear that commercial real estate is evolving. According to a recent study, 86% of tenants and buyers now rely on the Internet for their CRE information. Luckily, you can reach these consumers directly with OfficeSpace.com’s Tenant Connect program. Tenant Connect is a unique marketing platform designed specifically to help tenant representative brokers expand their online presence and grow their business.

Our latest video teaser (displayed above) shows how this program allows prospective tenants to reach out to tenant rep brokers directly as they are actively searching for spaces on OfficeSpace.com.

Interested in reserving your spot? Contact us at info@officespace.com or 206-204-0096 today!

Hello, Is it Tenants You’re Looking For?

Our Tenant Connect program continues to flourish, and we’re happy to say that 2015 has been an exciting year for the overall growth of the program. Since our last update 11 months ago, OfficeSpace.com has gone nationwide and we’ve more than doubled the number of participating brokers in our Tenant Connect program.

Much of the program’s success can be attributed to the strong year we’ve had as a whole. We’ve seen record traffic numbers and have continued to track growth on all fronts:

 

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Recap: The Program

Tenant Connect is our broker marketing platform which we’ve designed specifically for Tenant Rep Brokers. This platform allows Tenant Rep brokers to connect with prospective tenants who are actively searching for available spaces on OfficeSpace.com. These connections happen via email or phone and are tracked in our system and relayed directly to the broker. As a Tenant Rep, you simply have to qualify and respond to inquiries (something you all do currently).

This platform has truly proved to be beneficial to both the Tenant and the Tenant Reps.

An updated snapshot of what we’ve seen in our program:

– Over 14,000 contacts directly delivered to the broker.
– Over 157% growth in the number of participating partners over the past 10 months.
Tenant rep partners are averaging over a 4x return on their spend.
– Over 75% of our users are tenants searching without representation, and 68% are searching for spaces over 1,000SF.

What Participants Are Saying

We recently turned to one of our Tenant Connect veterans, Scott Driver, to ask how the program has personally impacted him:

Q: How does Tenant Connect compare to other online referral/lead sources?

Scott DriverThere are no other lead resources for Tenant Rep Brokers.

Q: To date, what has been your most memorable tenant contact from OfficeSpace.com

Scott Driver: A contact that resulted in a $15,879.75 commission check for an office lease.

Q: What has been the biggest impact for you as a result of joining Tenant Connect?

Scott DriverAdditional income was $30,000 in 2014 (4 months), and $57,000 2nd quarter of 2015 with many deals in the pipeline. There’s also an additional peace of mind knowing that leads will be received at least weekly if not more often.

Q: Do you have any advice for new members or for those that are interested in joining?

Scott Driver: Contact the leads via email as quickly as possible, followed by a phone call to determine the specifics of the requirement, how “real” it is, and the probability of closing a transaction. Also, show the space as soon as possible.

Q: Anything else you’d like to add?

Scott Driver: Anyone who does not benefit from this lead program isn’t getting up in the morning.

The Next Steps

As we diligently add new listings and drive more traffic, we are continuing to see new opportunities in most of our markets to add more Tenant Rep partners who are hungry to grow their business and understand the value of online marketing.

Contact us below for more information and don’t miss out on reserving a spot to represent yourself as the local tenant expert in your market:

 

OfficeSpace.com Elevates Technology Standards of CRE Industry With a New Mobile Website

Earlier today, OfficeSpace.com announced the launch of its new mobile website. Mobile users can now browse commercial properties and contact brokers with greater ease and efficiency.

The new website is built as a single-page isomorphic web application, a cutting edge concept in web application development. Typical single-page web applications have to load application code before a user can see anything, but an isomorphic application renders the page before the application code is even downloaded. “This leads to a significantly faster experience on mobile devices, especially when using slower mobile internet connections,” says Amol Kelkar, CTO.

Only a handful of major sites on the Internet are built isomorphic today, and OfficeSpace.com is the first one in CRE to utilize this technology. “OfficeSpace.com’s goal is to elevate the technology and user experience standards that are expected from online CRE services,” according to Kelkar. “We are leading the way with this new site.”

OfficeSpace.com plans to share their new isomorphic web platform with the open-source community.

Mobile and tablet users already account for nearly 33% of OfficeSpace.com’s traffic. “We’ve seen a 240% jump in mobile users in the first quarter of this year compared to last year. We are excited to see how our investment in mobile will empower our rapidly growing user base,” says Susie Algard, CEO.

The mobile site is available by navigating to OfficeSpace.com from any mobile device.

Example images of OfficeSpace.com’s new mobile site:

OfficeSpaceScreenshot1

OfficeSpaceScreenshot2

For press inquiries, please contact Jenica Rhee at jenica@officespace.com or 503-407-5523. 

Tenants. Tenants, Everywhere.

Throughout the past year, one of our goals has been to develop a better understanding of who our users are. While we have always had a general idea about this, it was important for us to confirm our understanding of the matter, especially considering how much we’ve grown over the past 12 months.

We’re now averaging nearly 150,000 new users visiting OfficeSpace.com per month. So we had to ask ourselves: who exactly are our users? And more importantly, what are they looking for?

We set out to find the answers by, well, simply asking our users themselves. We implemented a short survey on our site and received a flood of responses.

In short, here’s what we found:

  • Over 75% of participants said they were tenants who were searching on their own.
  • 80% stated that they were interested in seeing what was available on the market.
  • 31% wanted to see photos and floor plans.

Screen Shot 2015-03-03 at 5.02.09 PM copy

What does this mean? Tenants are actively searching for available spaces on our site, and the majority are using OfficeSpace.com as the starting point for their office search. While this doesn’t come as a huge surprise to us, it’s a great feeling, as our efforts over the past year have been focused on improving this very experience. Of course, there’s always room for improvement, and we’re continuously working towards improving the search experience across all fronts.

More importantly, this confirms how online platforms like OfficeSpace.com are an amazing opportunity for CRE brokers to market their listings and ultimately connect with tenants. Unlike existing pay-to-access services (e.g., Loopnet, Costar), that are primarily used to market to other real estate professionals, our unrestricted platform attracts tenants who are actively searching and researching on their own. With over 75% of our users being tenants searching for space without any initial help, the majority are looking to connect with someone as evidenced by the number of tenant inquiries we pass through on a daily basis. A recent survey also revealed that nearly 60% of all tenants and investors start their commercial real estate search online.

So tell us, how have online platforms like OfficeSpace.com changed how you find and connect with tenants?

Update: To learn more about tenant trends, check our latest survey results. We reveal how tenants are searching for office space and what they’re saying about their CRE search experience. 

Brokers, We Want to Hear From You!

We’re interested in hearing from you, brokers! As we continue to grow, it’s important to us that any changes that we implement – however big or small – are always for the betterment of our users’ experience. That said, your feedback is critical every step of the way.

We invite you to participate in this short survey; it will take no more than 5 minutes of your time, we promise! Tell us how we’re doing, where we can improve, and most importantly, what we can provide to help you:

Take the Survey

So don’t be shy, we want to hear from you! You can also reach us at (800) 560-3544 or feedback@officespace.com.

Why Brokers Won’t Return Entrepreneurs’ Calls

It’s a common complaint among entrepreneurs looking for office space. Why don’t brokers call them back? The truth is that the majority of brokers do return inquiries.

At OfficeSpace.com, we’ve found that how you phrase your initial request about space has a huge impact on whether or not you get a response. After analyzing 10,000 email requests in the last six months, here’s what we’ve determined to be the top three types of requests that do not get responded to quickly.

The wishy-washy entrepreneur

When inquiring on a space, you have a wide range of what will work for you. You may have a huge range of space that you might need, and you don’t say when you need the space. You might need it right away or you might need it in six months. It can be fully built-out space or a wide-open bullpen.

While you might get lucky with a broker who is willing to spend the time extra time talking to you and helping you figure out what you truly need, most brokers won’t know how to prioritize their response for you as they fear you are not serious or that you will require a lot of work.

The short-term entrepreneur

You request a month-to-month lease or something short term (less than one year). If you’re requesting a short-lease term you might as well be saying please do not call me back as far as a broker is concerned. This is fine to request if you are looking at a sublease or executive suite, but it’s not realistic for most landlords, so brokers will not want to waste their time with you.

The secretive entrepreneur

You don’t include enough personal information like your full name, company and any further details or descriptions of what the business use is for the space you’re inquiring about. The only thing you tell the broker is that details on the company are “under wraps.”

Brokers tend to de-prioritize these kinds of inquiries, because it gives them the impression that your business could be dangerous or illegal, which is obviously something the landlord would not allow in their building.

While it’s normal for entrepreneurs to want to keep details of their companies private for competitive reasons, there needs to be a balance with providing the necessary details for landlords. They will want to see financials and even a business plan if you are a startup with no track record.

Best practices

Based on our analysis, providing your full name, company name and specific details are ideal. For example, you might say that you are currently in a 5,000 square-foot space and are looking for bigger space, need a kitchen, two conference rooms and access to storage.

You can also count on a faster call back by including details that show that you’re an established company or what your timing is. You don’t need to divulge all your information, just enough to make the broker know that you are serious.  It’s not imperative that you sound like you know everything, just that you are serious.

So, the next time you spend the time to make the calls or emails to a broker, remember to give enough details and be thoughtful to get the fastest response back.

To get more answers to common tenant-related questions, visit our FAQ page.

This article was written by Susie Algard and  originally featured on Entrepreneur.com. See original source here: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/235894

Creating Productive Office Space in 5 Easy Steps

Let the Sunshine In! – Adjusting Light and Temperature

These may seem like basic necessities for any office space, but the benefits of maximizing their potential are often overlooked. While people are naturally more enthusiastic when they’re comfortable in their environment, as no employee wants to be stuck in a sweltering, dark space, recent studies have shown that fine tuning these two factors can actually have a direct impact on a person’s levels of motivation and fatigue – two key elements of workplace productivity.

For example, one study tested subjects with both daylight and artificial light throughout the course of several days. From that, they found that those who had daylight exposure had significantly better performance than those with artificial light exposure by  the second day. Additionally, another study from Cornell showed results indicating that office productivity actually improves as room temperatures approach a predicted thermal comfort zone.

When considering your space, it is important to learn the details of how the HVAC system works so that temperatures can be adjusted according the day and season (as opposed to leaving the settings at a fixed point, as found in many workplaces). Additionally, employees should be situated near spaces with as much natural lighting as possible, particularly if their work quality is heavily reliant on productivity markers. As the cold reign of noisy, blinkering fluorescent lighting comes to an end, many innovative new lighting options have appeared, including those that serve emulate sunlight itself – which are often useful options to invest in if your work space lacks access to natural lighting.

Turn Down For What? Better Office Productivity!

While it’s true that some of us are more sensitive to noise than others, it’s generally agreed upon that excessive noise is a distraction to most people while trying to work. Unsurprisingly, studies have been performed where up to 99% of those sampled reported that their concentration was negatively affected by various office noises, such as incessantly ringing telephones and constant background chatter.

In addition to being a general annoyance, workplace noise is a serious threat to overall productivity, and is an issue that requires attention now more than ever as offices frequently choose to adopt an open floor plan – less walls does equal more opportunity for noise to travel. Luckily, there are practical ways to control sound in the work space, in order to create a more peaceful and productive environment for employees.

Regardless of your floor plan, it’s always a good idea to create areas of refuge within work spaces where workers can go to focus their concentration, such as a privacy room, a quiet section in a corner outside of all the usual busy distractions, or a sound-proofed conference room – solutions that can usually be enacted without a great deal of time or cost. Other noise reduction options include everything from larger scale projects like sound-masking systems, to smaller solutions such as communal play lists comprised of music that employees can all agree to. At the end of the day, even taking the first step of simply being mindful of the noise levels and looking for solutions can be a great first step towards improving the workplace environment.

The Benefits of A Thoughtful Floor Plan

The debate about the superiority of open floor plans vs closed ones is ongoing, and remains as heated as ever. However, there are certainly ways to make improvements to productivity that work under both options. In it’s most fundamental sense, this comes down to striking the right balance for your space, and being attentive and thoughtful in regards to creating a layout that serves to help employees in achieving their specific work goals.

If you’re in an open space, as mentioned earlier, it’s a good idea to create spaces where workers can go to concentrate away from the high-traffic areas. Conversely, if your main work space is primarily closed, having open collaborative areas where workers can get together to brainstorm, discuss, and interact with each other in a personal manner can be a boon as well. Optimally, the goal should be to foster an environment that allows for both privacy and collaboration, as each is needed.

In addition to these conceptual tips, there are also more practical things that can be done, such as organizing the work pace so that people don’t have to constantly walk across the entire room (and thus distract others) in order to access a commonly used area or piece of equipment. A little bit of observation and consideration can go a long way when planning an office layout.

Love Your Body – Ergonomics and Workplace Flexibility

While this ‘tip’ might be commonly known, it’s still important not to underestimate just what good posture and functional desk space can do for productivity levels. Ensuring that your office is equipped with appropriate equipment (chairs, desks, the right technology, etc.) is always a worthwhile investment. Taking this a step further, many companies of late have been giving the option for workers to choose from a variety of different setups – from standing up with an adjustable desk, to sitting on a medicine ball, as well as all the more conventional options in between.

Sometimes we all need a change in scenery to get our brains going, or a chance to get up and stretch, and in this regard workplace flexibility can be a significant step toward providing better overall productivity. Many companies even allow for telecommuting, which is great when possible, but improving workplace flexibility can be something as simple as creating a space where workers can move around and refresh their minds and bodies if needed.

In the most basic terms, efforts to make the office space an enjoyable, comfortable, and efficient place to work can do wonders for performance and productivity. So whether you’re searching for your next office space on OfficeSpace.com or simply looking to spruce up your current office, taking the time to give proper attention to some of the factors discussed above can be a great first step towards improving any type of working environment.

 

Startups, Get Your Finances in Order Before Leasing Office Space

This post was authored by Nathan Smith, a commercial real estate consultant and owner of Austin Tenant Advisors

As a startup or new business owner it’s important to be financially prepared before starting the process of looking for and leasing office space. Gathering your financial information and making your startup look financially strong in the eyes of a Landlord takes longer than you think so you want to do this well in advance. By preparing in advance you better your chances of gaining the Landlord’s confidence in your tenancy and increase your chances of negotiating better office lease concessions such as tenant improvements, rental abatements, etc.

Similar to how banks preapprove you for a loan, Landlords want to make sure you are financially qualified before they lease you office space, especially in hot markets like Austin, TX.   They will be investing time, resources, tenant improvements and other lease concessions in your tenancy so it’s imperative that you prove your financial ability & stability to pay any upfront costs and rent for the duration of the lease term.

Proving that your startup company is financially qualified takes more than a great business idea, having a large 401k, or a big expensive house.

If you are a startup company that has been around for a few years Landlords want to see current profit & loss statements, cash flows, balance sheets, and/or other sources of financing and funding. Depending on the landlord’s perception of your financials you may need to securitize the lease with a security deposit, letter of credit (LOC), personal guaranty or a combination of the latter. Your financial strength, lease term length, total lease amount, tenant improvement costs, & lease commissions will determine the amount needed to securitize the lease.

If you are a brand new startup with no track record or you’re an existing one with weak financials Landlord’s will probably want the person signing the lease to provide 2-3 years of personal tax returns and/or a personal financial statement. Depending on the Landlord’s perception of those personal financial statements they may require that the lease be personally guaranteed, need a larger security deposit, or need a letter of credit (LOC) that will cover the landlords up front costs to do the deal (e.g. tenant improvements, lease commissions, etc.).

Before you begin the search for office space, make sure you have your financials in order and have them ready to show Landlords. You might also consider having your business plan and pro-forma available to show your current and future financial projections.

Do all that you can to put your best foot forward, however because you are a startup Landlord’s still may require you to sign a personal guarantee, pay a larger security deposit, or have a letter of credit (LOC). You only get one shot at making a good impression! The more prepared you are and the better your finances look the better chance you have at proving to the Landlord that you can pay rent AND in receiving office lease concessions.

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Nathan Smith specializes in helping startups companies find, lease and/or purchase office space in Austin, TX. He has advised over 300 companies in finding the best office locations, negotiate new leases and lease renewals, facilitate relocations and expansions. Outside the office Nathan enjoys hanging out with his wife and two children in Bee Cave, TX and is an avid runner and cyclist that participates in many local triathlons and running events.

5 Lease-Term Questions Facing Every Entrepreneur

Now that you have chosen a space that meets your company’s needs, the next step is negotiating your office lease. One of the most important decisions for a company to make during this process is deciding how long they want to stay in that space.

Prior to starting your space search, and definitely prior to making any commitments on a lease term, ask yourself these 5 questions.

1. Do I anticipate changes that might affect my future space needs? A space that works for your company today doesn’t mean it will work for you a year or two down the road. It’s also important to consider whether the space will be effective in attracting the right kind of talent as your company grows.

As a new company, you might simply be relieved that someone let you lease some space, but recruiting a team is easier in some spaces than others.

2. Will I need to invest in improving the space or is it move-in ready? If you need flexibility in the term of your lease, and the space requires a lot of build out, don’t expect the landlord to pay for that.

Landlords expect to make their money back on any tenant improvement allowance by including these costs in your lease rate or term. Hence, a substantial investment in improvements may force you into a longer-term lease by amortizing the improvements over a longer period of time.

Be prepared to pay for tenant improvements out of pocket for shorter-term leases or expect a longer-term request from the landlord. Tenant improvements are never free.

3. Is the rent likely to increase in the future? Keep an eye on the local office market to get a general idea of rental rate trends. If using a broker, take advantage of their market expertise. Market comps are valuable data that a good broker can get for you.

Ask them to provide comps for the same building and comparable buildings to help you determine the trends. If considerable rental spikes are expected in the future, consider locking in a longer-term lease at the current rate.

4. Exactly how important is location for my business? Although primarily applicable to retail businesses, it’s always worth considering the potential impact of a space’s location. Your location may be important for attracting talent, situating yourself strategically among complementary and competing companies, establishing your brand and so forth.

If the success of your company depends heavily on location, or your company becomes more valuable because customers can find you easily, consider securing that space for a longer period of time. On the other hand, if your business isn’t particularly driven by location, you can be more flexible with the lease term. Finding a comparable space likely won’t be an issue, should the landlord decide not to renew your lease.

5. Will my rent be lower if I sign for a longer term? This is the trick question! Most entrepreneurs think that they must sign a longer lease to get the best deal. While landlords (and brokers) are happy to work with longer term leases, and will reward this with better incentives, that does not mean that this is a better deal for your company overall.

Lease term is one of the most important parts of your lease. Many brokers will admit their clients do not negotiate carefully enough. Ask yourself the right questions early to help you negotiate a term that works for your company’s current and future plans.

To get more information about lease term best practices other tenant-related topics, visit our FAQ.

This article was written by Susie Algard and  originally featured on Entrepreneur.com. See original source here: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/235894

When Does it Make Sense to Use a Broker to Find Office Space?

With the explosive growth of small businesses in the U.S., more entrepreneurs are finding themselves negotiating and closing leases without the help of a broker. While at times it makes sense to do this, using a broker in the right scenario can greatly assist in securing the best possible lease for you and your company.

Before deciding whether you need extra help, it’s important to understand what motivates brokers and how they can benefit you during a lease transaction.

Getting their attention. Knowing how brokers get paid is important to understanding their motivations — and why sometimes, they don’t return your calls. Most brokers get paid a percentage of your total lease value, which is typically between 3 and 5 percent. However, this often isn’t the full amount your broker will receive, as they usually have to share a percentage of their commission with their brokerage companies.

Getting to a signed lease can be a lot of work. This can involve conference calls or face-to-face meetings, searching for spaces that satisfy your requirements, setting up and attending property tours and actual lease negotiations themselves.

A broker will have to do these steps for a company regardless of if they’re looking for 10,000 square feet of space or 500 square feet of space, but the difference in size means that the amount the broker receives will be significantly different.

This is why you might want to — or have to — represent yourself in a lease transaction for a smaller space. If your space requirements are bigger or more complicated, then there are instances where using a broker may be in your best interest. To better understand the potential costs of working with a broker, check out our FAQ.

Knowing the landlord landscape. It’s tempting for experienced entrepreneurs to think that they can deal with the landlord directly and save money by not using a broker, expecting that the landlord will pass savings on to them. While there may be times when this is true, there are just as many situations where it isn’t necessarily the case.

While you might do a lease transaction every three to five years, brokers do many deals every month. The end result is that brokers are likely to know more about the landlords operating in the local area than you do. They know the property owning landscape well: who is flexible, who is motivated and who will go the extra mile to accommodate a tenant.

For example, let’s say you are a growing company with the stability to sign a long-term lease if desired, but want to retain a short-term lease for greater growth flexibility. In situations such as this, an experienced broker can guide you to spaces with landlords who are not only flexible, but can accommodate you in alternative buildings while under your current lease.

Let’s say you run out of space two years into a five-year lease, you may have the option to transfer your lease terms and move to a larger space in their portfolio. Additionally, as opposed to having to take a large space that is intended to be grown into, a broker may be able to negotiate rights of first refusal on adjacent spaces one or two years into your lease term, saving you from paying that rent from the onset.

Striking a creative deal. A broker may also be able to work out a plan that works best for your company’s financial needs by getting creative with how your rent escalation is constructed. If you are working on a product launch that runs on an 18-month cycle, a broker may work with you to escalate your rent accordingly instead of a traditional 12-month rent increase cycle.

If you are facing a scenario where you may have run out of space completely, they may even be able to negotiate a lease buyout with the landlord so that you can move into their new space without paying double rent.

There are no hard and fast rules on when to work with a broker. Before putting in a lot of work shaving a few percentage points off your lease by saving the landlord from a commission, ask yourself if you’re paying for something that you shouldn’t have to or if there’s any flexibility that is worth more to your company than the rent savings.

These factors could amount to much more savings than the commission saved and passed to you.

This article was written by Susie Algard and  originally featured on Entrepreneur.com. See original source here: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/235529