An Overview of OfficeSpace.com’s New Maps Feature

We just launched a completely updated map and search interface that makes it even easier to find your perfect space.  Search by zip code, intersection, neighborhood and more.  Your search results are sortable, and you can view photos and space details without ever leaving the page.

These changes make OfficeSpace.com the most powerful tool available for searching commercial office space:

The new interactive map makes it faster and easier for a tenant to find the space they need.  The building list updates in real time as users zoom in and out of a specific block or area of the map. A user will be able to preview a building by clicking once on the listing or the dot.  This will highlight the listing and dot and a preview of the space will appear on the right column.  The arrows in the building list enable users to sort their search by address, price, spaces in the building and square footage.

While OfficeSpace.com is in 2 metro markets, Portland and Denver, the free-form box offers equal consideration to its suburbs and other cities with OfficeSpace.com listings including Albuquerque, Los Angeles and San Diego.  Users are able to type any city or neighborhood into the box to find all building listings for the area.

We hope the new changes will make your search for space easier and please contact us by phone or email us at feedback@officespace.com with any questions or feedback.

Has Pinterest Helped Your Business Grow?

Pinterest is one of the fastest growing social media websites on the Internet. The mere act of talking about Pinterest is trendy. Penning an article about how to use Pinterest to grow your business-well, that’s even cooler.  This is not one of those articles.

At OfficeSpace.com, we’ve been reading these articles promising success stories of Pinterest and we, too, have been pinning diligently. We developed a strategy and pinned our favorite offices, office supplies, furniture and photos of spaces featured on our own website.  We have 175 pins, 18 boards and 16 followers.  These just all seem to be numbers without meaning at this point and we keep having this discussion- so what?

There’s talk about what the social media phenomenon is worth if they sell. Forbes thought $7.7 billion last April, but one major question remains: how does pinning actually turn into business?  We read about the large affiliate fees that Pinterest earns but not sure how that translates into revenue for us.

Sure Pinterest seems like great fun for crafts and food, but what about branding? I always see tips but haven’t heard many success stories.

To other CRE-industry folks out there, we’re curious: are you using Pinterest? Do you find that it has made a difference in your personal branding or grown your business?

We’d love to hear your stories!

Olympic Athletes are to Coaches as Tenants are to Brokers

For the past week and a half, I’ve been curled up on my couch like an Olympics addict.  I’ve even been watching the biographies NBC puts together for American athletes. These segments show the athletes training, past victories, their families and a final huge factor: their coaches. There’s no denying that the coaches are one of the most important people and an ever-present part of the most important meet of their careers.

I brought this thought with me to work and to the debate of whether or not a tenant needs a tenant rep broker in a transaction. Athletes don’t make their way up to the podium all by themselves now, do they? Much like coaches, tenant rep brokers provide the experience and guidance and negotiate on the tenant’s behalf.

Athletes look for coaches with experience:

Athletes don’t always make it to multiple Olympics, but coaches are often a familiar face. American track and field star Allyson Felix won her long-awaited gold medal yesterday under the coaching of Bob Kersee. If his name sounds familiar, it’s because he also coached legend Jackie Joyner-Kersee. Coincidence? I think not.

That’s not to say there are no newcomer coaches, but no one’s going at it alone.  A tenant rep broker provides the experience and expertise in the commercial real estate industry that a business owner is just less likely to have.  They know how to “coach” their tenants to the best spaces because they’ve done it before.

Coaches fight for bad calls for their athletes:

These Olympics seemed to be the Games of the inquiries. When fencer German Britta Heidemann pounced a decisive hit against South Korean Shin A. Lam’s during a clock malfunction, Heidermann was declared the winner and Lam’s coach immediately filed an appeal. Unfortunately for Lam, she lost her appeal.

Over at the O2 arena, gymnasts Alexandra Raisman (U.S.) and Kohei Uchimura (Japan) found themselves/their teams in 4th place. Immediately, their coaches filed appeals complaining that they did not get enough credit in their technical scores. Both gymnasts subsequently won the appeal and made it to the podium, but one noticeable thing is that the athlete keeps their distance.  Their job is to perform.  Their coaches’ is to fight for them.

When tenants hire a tenant rep broker, they are hiring someone to be on their side.  The listing broker is looking out for his or her client, so why not have someone look out for you? The tenant rep broker will negotiate the price, terms of the lease and other contractual items.  They’ll fight the battles so tenants don’t have to get their hands dirty. The tenant can focus on what they do best: running their business.

Coaches provide guidance and analyze the competition:

During women’s diving semifinals, coach Vince Panzano was seen giving American Katie Bell coaching and a pep talk.  After gymnast Jordyn Wieber’s (U.S.) low beam score in team preliminaries, she was seen talking to her coach across the arena boundary.  NBC speculated he was talking to her about what she needed to do to qualify for the all-around competition above her teammates.

It’s the coach’s job to guide the athletes, tell them what needs to be done and to analyze the competition- brokers are no different.  Tenant rep brokers hear things in the “biz.” They often have an idea of which spaces are currently highly sought after, which neighborhoods are best and how various property owners may work.

At the end of the day, the tenant rep broker works for the tenant.  The space the tenant chooses is up to them. No one became the best in the world without a coach and a tenant rep broker will help the tenant find their best space and deal too.

The Simple Math on Why Brokers Aren’t Returning Your Calls

If you’ve ever wondered why brokers aren’t calling you back when you’re looking for small spaces, let me break it down for you with simple math.

First, here’s some background on how brokers get paid:  brokers usually get paid a percentage of your total lease value.  What that percentage is varies from region to region but it’s typically between 3 to 5%.  However, brokers typically have to share a percentage of their commission with their brokerage companies.  This percentage can also vary but I’m going to use a 60/40-commission split for our purposes with 60% going to the individual broker.

To get to a signed lease, there is typically a lot of work.  There are calls or in-person meetings, searching for available spaces that meet your requirements, calls to set up property tours, the actual property tours and lease negotiations. All of the steps I mention above are the same for a company looking for 10,000 square feet of space as 500 square feet of space.  In addition, most companies looking for smaller spaces are unsure of what their space needs will be in the next year or two so they are only looking for shorter term deals whereas companies needing larger spaces tend to look for longer lease terms.  So, here’s what the math looks like in both scenarios:

500 square foot space x $30/square foot per year = $15,000 in annual rent

Lease term is 1 year:  1 year lease value $15,000 total rent (for ease of calculations, I’m assuming no rent escalation)

Brokerage company’s commission 5% = $750

Broker’s commission 60% of brokerage company’s commission = 60% x $750 = $450

VS.

10,000 square foot space x $30/square foot per year = $300,000 in annual rent

Lease term is 3 years:  3 x $300,000 = $900,000 in total rent

Brokerage company’s commission 5% = $45,000

Broker’s commission 60% of brokerage company’s commission = 60% x $45,000 = $27,000

This is a very simple way to look at the two deals. Every deal is unique but you can see that the numbers just don’t make sense for brokers with smaller spaces.  This doesn’t even take into account the number of times brokers work on a deal where they’ve put in their time and the deal goes dead for reasons outside of their control.   If you could spend the same amount of time for $27,000 versus $450, what would you do with your time?  Even if you tried to make a volume play, you would have to close 60 smaller deals to earn the same revenue that you would with one larger deal.

This is one of the reasons that we’ve built a site designed to allow tenants to self -serve.  By providing all of the relevant information about a space on our site, we are hoping that we can really cut down on the time investment needed for research and tours by brokers.  If you represent a small space that you need to get leased without losing money to get it leased, upload it to our site and ensure that you have lots of photos and that the information is complete.  We’ll be sending you qualified leads in no time.

The Evolution of #CRE

By now, we’ve all heard the joke about brokers and the fax machine.  It’s no secret that commercial real estate has a dinosaur reputation when it comes to technology but times “they are a changing”- sort of.  Some brokers have embraced it while others haven’t.

While Facebook- Does it Extend to CRE? pointed to split camps on Facebook and CRE, there is less debate on Twitter, social media’s 140-character microblog.  Twitter is a conversation where experts come out on top of an array of business topics including  our industry’s very own #CRE.

However, not everyone or every top broker is on Twitter: an evaluation of the top 3 brokers (as determined by Co-Star’s annual awards) across 3 disciplines in New York, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Chicago showed that none of these brokers had Twitter accounts.

With that said, there is an excellent community of brokers, brokerage firms and CRE services on Twitter performing some highly effective habits:

1. They are framing themselves as CRE experts by offering their opinion and feedback on various topics, articles and their own blog.

2.  They are using Twitter to promote their Twitter newsletters, blogs and websites.

3. They insert a little personality and conversation to take away some of the “your broker is invested in the sale more than you” façade.

4. They are forging relationships with others.

5. They are creating excellent name recognition with their strong presences online. You often see the same names come up over and over again for recommended tweeters as they align themselves with the connotation of #cre.

Just as important as what one does, there are “don’ts” that effective CRE tweeters practice as well:

1. They are not promoting their spaces or at least, not to excess.  While it seems to be a more popular practice on other mediums such as Pinterest, few major tweeters are listing spaces on Twitter

2. They are not spamming followers with useless and annoying information and hopefully, not viruses.

3. They are not going off topic: top CRE tweeters are known for their CRE expertise.  They are not known for their sports knowledge, photos of their family or anything else.

Are you part of the #CRE community yet? If not, no better time than the present to get started and find us @officespace!

How Important is the Office Neighborhood?

At OfficeSpace.com, Amazon is a part of our lives in more ways than one.  Our headquarters are located in the downtown Queen Anne/Belltown neighborhoods, within one mile of South Lake Union/Denny Regrade, home to Amazon’s new proposed campus, Facebook’s new Seattle office, Vulcan and a number of up-and-coming internet companies.

Recently, Seattle mayor Mike McGinn has proposed increasing the office tower limit to 240 feet, up from the current 124 feet in South Lake Union.

Why are all these companies moving to South Lake Union?  The answer is simple: the neighborhood puts them in the “center of the Seattle universe.”

McGinn even went as far as to credit the neighborhood growth with the success the city has had in recovering from a slow economy

OfficeSpace.com CEO Susie Algard was recently featured in a Friends.org article speaking to the emphasis of transit-options and amenities.

“[The companies] want to be as competitive as possible on the recruiting front,” Algard said in the article.  “They know that people want to work where they can easily walk to lunch and other amenities.”

The office neighborhood has become particularly important with tech companies in the Pacific Northwest.  These companies are competitive with recruiting and know what their young recruits want.

In addition to restaurants, Algard mentioned doctor’s offices, parks, fitness centers and parking lots as important amenities.  On top of these amenities, South Lake Union is bustling with new condominiums.

For this reason, our OfficeSpace.com listings always include a walk score.  Tenants want to know what’s nearby and how their employees will get to work.  Our walk scores are expandable and include a breakdown of transit, restaurant, hotel and coffee options by distance.  Tenants can also search for directions by entering information on their commute.

Let’s hear back from other cities: How important is the office neighborhood to you and what are the quickly growing neighborhoods in your city?

OfficeSpace.com’s Seattle Office Market Q2 Quarterly Report

OfficeSpace.com released its Seattle Office Market Q2 Quarterly Report today to a steady market and significant office expansions.

Vacancy rates have remained steady rising slightly from 14.4% in Q1 to 14.5% in Q2 while rental rates increased slightly from $25.83 to $26.38 respectively.

The biggest change in Seattle is the anticipated major office expansion from Amazon.com in the Denny Regrade neighborhood. This expansion is expected to add 3,000,000 square feet of class A office space. Additionally, Seattle mayor Mike McGinn has proposed increasing the office tower limit to 240 feet, up from the current 124 feet in South Lake Union.

To purchase this report for more information on major expansions and a breakdown of absorption rates by submarket, please contact John Heimbigner at heimb@officespace.com.

Facebook- Does it Extend to CRE?

There’s been a lot of talk regarding why CRE brokers should not promote their business on Facebook. The main gist: Facebook isn’t a professional network. None of your friends are on Facebook looking for a 5,000sf office or a 10,000sf industrial warehouse.

Yes, Facebook is fairly social and personal but on the other hand, as the largest social media engine, Facebook is a perfect branding vehicle for a brokerage firm or individual broker. It’s easy to control content for the most part and is a much more visual medium than many other social media tools. The photo album feature is easy-to-use and links come with a nice preview, even when you are sharing a link from another Page. Coy Davidson and Blanchard and Calhoun Commercial are great examples of broker and brokerage pages with depth.

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First, create a Page for your professional life.  Leave your profile personal so your friends who are interested in CRE can follow you on the Page and you can spare the rest.

However, don’t just create a Facebook page because you feel you have to have one. It’s a waste of time to create a page and never use it to communicate with your customers or worse, randomly update it every few months which definitely sends the wrong message. If you have a Facebook page, you’ll want to ensure that it looks as professional and polished as everything else you do.

When posting, it’s important to think about customizing your message for Facebook. Even though sites like Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Slideshare, and blogs provide a way to link back to your Facebook page., you want to post with care. Many Facebook pages look like a mishmash of photos, slideshows, hashtags and bit.ly’s and other items not properly formatted for Facebook. There are few discussions, replies or status updates formulated specifically for Facebook. In short, it looks sloppy and abandoned.

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Facebook culture leaves very little patience for spammers so you want to think twice before linking your twitter feed to your Facebook feed. If you want to use the same tweet, re-do it for Facebook by taking out the hashtags and leaving the URL text out of the body of the update. Real estate is still very much visual and Facebook leaves much more opportunity for photos. Make use of the photo album feature and facilitate and lead discussions. Facebook’s newest format Timeline lends itself to numerous branding opportunities. Create the perfect Timeline cover, include tidbits about your company history in the timeline and rearrange your featured items along the top right (the “photos” box cannot be replaced).

Does Facebook translate for CRE? Yes, absolutely! It’s a great visual social media tool to reach many users. Time might be a premium and there are better websites for CRE specifically, but if you’re going to do it, do it right.

Smart Buildings, Tech Portfolio Management- Oh My! Checking in From RealComm 2012

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We’ve been at RealComm 2012 in Las Vegas for the past two days.  The tradeshow, hosted at the Las Vegas Hotel &Casino, connects real estate with technology, a mission shared equally by OfficeSpace.com.  RealComm partnered with IBCom, focusing on intelligent building.

OfficeSpace.com had a booth where we met with professionals from Deloitte, Qube, Property Capsule, Sky Foundry and NOI Strategies amongst others.

Here were some of our favorite tidbits:

  1. Speaker Robert LiMandri of the New York City Buildings Department spoke at “975,000 NYC Buildings – Embracing Innovation and Setting Global Benchmarks.” LiMandri spoke on the less traditional methods of finding office space.  He highlighted “The Development Hub,” a state-of-the-art facility that uses electronic submission of digital construction plans, virtual plan reviews and inter-agency collaboration.  LiMandri also spoke of the opportunities for searching for buildings by environmental friendliness including LEED certification.
  2. Annual Digi Awards: This year’s Digi Awards included JLL, CBRE, Microsoft and the City of New York, but most intriguing were the individual awards given to Don Goldstein of CBC and Tama Huang of NOI Strategies. Huang was named one of RealComm’s Top 35 People to Watch in 2011 previously and has delivered.  We look forward to watching the careers of these winners.
  3. RealComm Live:  RealComm hosted a video series interviewing heads of companies from Sky Foundry, Property Capsule and OfficeSpace.com’s very own, Susie Algard.  Algard went through a web demo of what we do at OfficeSpace.com and announced our Denver launch today at the event.

Commercial real estate sure seems to have come along way from its technology dinosaurs reputation and OfficeSpace.com plans to be there every step of the way.  Between online listings, construction management technology and cloud-based technology portfolio management, what’s next for CRE technology?