Searching for Business Space
For prospective buyers or tenants, the common criteria for formulating a search are square footage and cost, both important considerations to be sure, but here are some other factors that might be equally important to consider.
- Before even beginning a search, discuss the pros and cons of buying versus leasing with an accountant and develop or update a business plan to predict future needs.
- Consider space requirements not only for today, but also in the future. Where there’s a marked difference, weighing such things as future relocation costs, marketing expenses geared toward redevelopment of customers’ location awareness, new signage, and in the case of owned property, the marketing time, expense, and asset recovery risk associated with a future sale, it may make sense to pay a little more now to avoid those costs in the future. Where that’s important, do possible property options offer room for later expansion or contraction?
- Consider traffic counts, general location, and ease of access. These are critical where visibility and accessibility are essential to business, but the building cost is in large part reflective of that, so don’t pay more than necessary if those are not as important.
- Look at area businesses. Are they complementary or competing, or are they philosophically in contradiction to your business objectives?
- Does the intended use conform with current zoning, or if not, while it is otherwise suitable, is a variance possible?
- Assess particular necessities and/or improvements that would be essential to accommodate your business. Does the property’s interior and exterior condition aesthetically convey the image that the business desires to portray? For industrial spaces, consider items such as dock access, overhead door and ceiling heights, temperature controlled storage or warehouse space. Food service businesses might require grease traps, refrigeration, and venting, in addition to commercial cooking equipment and cleaning stations. Particularly relevant to office space, is the configuration conducive to your workflow? Businesses servicing vehicles might be concerned with the existence of oil separating drains. Some general concerns for any business might be the age and condition of the mechanicals and roof, the adequacy of electrical and plumbing systems, parking adequacy for both employees and customers, including required handicapped spaces, signage availability and restrictions, whether there are adequate restroom facilities available to accommodate staff and customers, handicap accessibility, network wiring, parking lot lighting, fire suppression and/or security systems, or after-hours security measures where space is shared with adjacent businesses.
- Where deficiencies are noted, some may be incurable, but they often may be remedied through modifications. The cost of such alterations can of course vary from being relatively inexpensive to significant and cost-preventative. Consult with a professional contractor to determine feasibility and cost, and where possible, compare those costs together with the building cost itself against the sale or lease prices of properties in desired condition. The results may justify the expense, or where they do not, they may factor into negotiations with the seller or landlord where the property is otherwise suitable.
- Finally, once a suitable property is identified and negotiated, engage with professionals to evaluate systems for which the business will be responsible, such as mechanicals, plumbing and electrical systems, structural integrity, roof, code compliance, or environmental concerns.
Consult with a commercial Realtor for help in navigating through this property search process, from an initial assessment of needs to negotiation and closing.