How and when do I start the process of looking for office space?
How do I start?
Finding the right office space can be both one of the most exciting and disruptive challenges for a business. Be in position to make a quick decision by starting with clearly defined business and real estate objectives. Planned growth, location, transportation requirements, parking requirements, estimated space requirements, optimal space configuration, technology requirements, timing and budget.
In order to minimize disruption and increase the effectiveness of the search it is essential to start with a clear understanding of your needs, budget and specifications. Make sure everyone involved buys in up front to avoid bad news late. Understand the process and time commitment required to successfully find and occupy a space. If you need it sooner, it will impact your options.
Who should be involved?
Internally you’ll want to appoint a project leader as the single point of contact. At a minimum, get your IT, HR and finance involved from the beginning. The leader of the group should be the individual that has the most experience in corporate real estate and facilities.
Be sure to gather a team of advisors. More than 90% of the commercial real estate brokers represent both landlords AND tenants. This creates a built-in conflict of interest that few tenants understand and even fewer brokers discuss. Avoid this conflict of interest by working with brokers that only represent tenants and never landlords. Tenant representatives are typically paid by landlords, so you have the benefit of an expert real estate advisor without being out of pocket.
Find an experienced real estate attorney to make sure you have flexibility negotiated into your lease and that the terms and conditions are customary, protective, and fair. Most first drafts of a lease are very tenant-unfriendly and can cause unexpected problems for a tenant down the road. A good cost-conscious real estate attorney will help you avoid these pitfalls.
When should I start the process of finding office space?
Most businesses underestimate the time and effort required to find office space. While it is possible to find an executive suite or co-working space alternative within 30 days, it’s not easily accomplished and is the exception, not the rule.
If you are searching for direct lease office space there are many factors that will impact the timeline for your search including but not limited to the size space you need, market conditions and availability, negotiation time, space planning, lease documentation, permits, and build out time. In general, if you are looking for less than 10,000 square feet you should work backwards from your desired move-in date and allow at least 6-9 months for your search. If you are looking for more than 10,000 square feet you should allow at least 9-12 months.