Steps to Leasing a Commercial Property

November 19, 2021

Hallway of a commercial building

Whether you’re just getting your business started or expanding from your existing space, leasing commercial property can be one of your biggest investments

1. Understand Your Business Needs

Taking time to think through your needs for your new office space may save you money and anxiety. You may want to ask yourself the following questions:  

  • How many people will be using the space?
  • Is it important to have street level frontage?
  • Will natural light be available and is it important?
  • Is your business going to grow quickly?
  • How much confidential work does your business do and will you require private spaces?
  • Would a short-term lease work for now or is a bigger space you can grow into a better deal?  

Try to stick to your business needs when choosing your business space. Also consider if there are ways to make your business efforts more efficient to save space.   

2. Find a Commercial Real Estate Broker

Unless you’re a real estate broker, you aren’t an expert at finding and negotiating commercial spaces. Tapping into experts – commercial real estate brokers – is a smart business move.

Once you share your leasing priorities, your commercial real estate broker can guide you. They’ve had experience, and will consider, important elements like budget, space requirements, possible locations, features and amenities. They can assist with your layout and what possibilities a space may offer.

Commercial real estate brokers are also valuable for keeping your expectations realistic. Listen to them. They’re knowledgeable about the market and what’s possible for you.

3. Don’t Forget to Negotiate

Your commercial real estate broker is also an experienced negotiator. Don’t sign the first lease offer that comes your way. Your lease is usually open to negotiation.

Review all your costs – property tax, insurance, utilities and maintenance. Who’s paying for leasehold improvements?

Always ask about tenant inducements, those special deals that save you money. They may include a couple months rent-free or help with the cost of leasehold improvements.

4. Consider Leasehold Improvements

Who owns any improvements you add once you’re in your office space? If you build an extra bathroom or add more lighting, who does it actually belong to?

Clarify in your lease who owns the improvements when you move out. Unless otherwise specified in the lease, anything attached to the building usually becomes the property of the landlord. That means your investment in new rooms and features stays there; you can’t take it with you.

5. Consult a Real Estate Lawyer

Another expert you need on your commercial real estate leasing team is a real estate lawyer. Your lawyer will make sure you and your business are protected. They’ll walk you through all the steps of financing your move, review your lease contract, help you negotiate your contract and give advice.

6. Expect Downtime

There’s an expression: Nothing comes easy. Moving your business into a new space isn’t easy. It’s time-consuming and likely will require some downtime for your business.   

Work with your employees to find the right time to make the transition. When you start scheduling the move, consider not just the time to move in but also the time to do the leasehold improvements. Often the leasehold improvements take longer than expected so it’s wise to have some flexibility in your scheduling.   

Don’t forget to alert your customers and suppliers that your move is happening. Schedule changes to your digital presence as well. You want your online presence to be up-to-date so new and existing customers can find you.   

Summit Properties’ portfolio includes more than 700,000 square feet of premium commercial office space in some of London’s prime business districts.