Landlords and property managers often work very closely with commercial real estate brokers. Though the majority of engagements between landlords and brokers lead to positive outcomes, there are always opportunities for improvement.
“The brokers we work with do their absolute best,” says Elizabeth Whitton of Armadale Property Management in Toronto. “They’ve opened up to me about the difficulties that they run into in their work, many of them stemming from oversights on the landlord’s end.”
Such difficulties create missed opportunities for relationship-building with brokers, to say nothing of failed deals and lost revenue.
Here are four simple ways for landlords and property managers to make the most out of their relationships with commercial real estate brokers.
A good place to start is by treating your broker as a partner, not simply as someone you’ve hired to perform a transaction. Appreciate the knowledge they bring to the table, and consider their consultations. Treat them like the experts that they are.
“Landlords can make the broker feel as if they’re valuable,” says Whitton. “Brokers don’t often receive acknowledgement for the expertise that they bring to the table, so keeping an open mind and really listening to what they have to say really goes a long way to building that rapport.”
Make it easy for your broker to approach you with questions, concerns, and ideas so they can do their jobs.
Ensure that your broker has unfettered access to properties that you are looking to lease, and go out of your way to join them on site visits. Also, take care of as much of the paperwork for them in advance (especially if the offers are long and overly-detailed).
Do what you can to close deals quickly. This will show your broker your commitment to making the process go smoothly and they will appreciate the effort.
And, finally, pay them promptly when the deal is done.
“Every landlord always thinks that their property’s the best, and often, they’ll price themselves accordingly,” says Whitton. “That’s perfectly understandable. However, landlords must also remember that, depending on the market conditions of the time, there are always other options out there. If brokers have disagreements on market value versus what the landlord believes is the true value, those can be stressful conversations to have.”
Make sure to stay abreast of changes in the commercial real estate market in the areas where you operate. Recognizing where the market actually is helps you establish realistic expectations for new leases and purchases, which makes it easier for your broker to serve your interests and attract lucrative offers.
“For example,” says Whitton, “if gas is trading at $120 and a landlord is asking $150, it makes the brokers work that much more difficult. However, if you’re current with all of the movements in the market, you’ll offer a more reasonable asking price that’s easier for your brokers to sell to their prospects.”
Landlords should keep brokers in the loop with regards to any renovations, damages, or other changes to existing properties. This is a simple oversight that can have major ramifications for your broker’s ability to serve you.
“There are many times when landlords will go lease something directly to another tenant or something will change in their plans, and the brokers are the last to know,” says Whitton. “Brokers have their greatest successes when their landlords are constantly sending them information, making sure they have updated information like a good floor plan, and relaying good intelligence to them so they can do their jobs.”
Finally, in between commercial deals, stay in touch with your broker partners. Take them to dinner to celebrate successful occasions. Send them cards and other tokens of appreciation every so often. Play a round or two of golf with them in the summertime. As with any other aspect of business, building that relationship can be professionally lucrative as well as personally-rewarding for both of you.
“Generally,” says Whitton, “it helps to have a positive attitude, smile, and be pleasant. My brokers have worked with developers who are more distant, with no desire to cultivate a relationship. On the other hand, some of their best client outcomes are with developers who take the time to build that friendship.”