Why Commercial and Retail Property Managers are Special People to Help Investors

city highrise buildings

Many property owners in Brisbane think that they can manage their own property and some invariably do, albeit at times poorly.  It’s a common problem.  There are just too many things in property performance today for most situations of owner management to be completely successful.  

Many owners of investment property make property management choices based on cost first and legality or practicality second; that then leads to risk, redundancy, and low-grade investment performance.

Costs of Property Management

Are the cost savings in self-management worth the trouble for a landlord?  Perhaps in a simple single tenancy management the owner self-management process might work; as however, a property becomes more complex with several occupants and or leases, a professional property manager is a better solution in most cases. 

There are plenty of agents around with property managers on staff, however that is where another problem evolves; the experience of the property manager may not be relevant or deep enough for the particular property type and or client.

Challenges of Property Management

Let’s take things a bit further.  There are always challenges in commercial and retail property management.  Think about these things for starters:

  • Negotiations with difficult tenants on leasing and occupancy matters
  • The gathering of comparable market evidence from other leased properties
  • Strategic tenant retention and lease negotiation
  • Vacancy marketing to reduce the problems of loss of rent
  • There are differences to consider in office, industrial, and retail property management

There are other things to add to the list. Rarely will a property owner have enough exposure to the local property market to really understand what comparable situations, vacancies, rents, and prices are currently. 

The property owner can also make mistakes with lease and tenant matters simply because of a lack of understanding when it comes to up to date lease interpretation, and full property market information. 

shopping mall

Things to Look for in Property Management Today

Here are some other key elements of market intelligence that are critical to the property management process.

  1. Latest updates on property types and market rentals for comparable properties.
  2. Access to a local business database of tenant enquiry across property types.
  3. Knowledge about lease incentives in today’s market and how they impact a new lease deal
  4. The ways that a vacant tenancy can be marketed for best enquiry and lease occupancy
  5. The different situations of gross and net rental that can bring benefits to the landlord and their investment situation
  6. How to qualify tenants in the current market.  Some tenants will not share their full business details and or lease requirements.
  7. Knowledge about levels of outgoings in the local area and how they are structured into new leases today

So, there is a message here.  A good property manager or real estate agent with a large team will understand these things and help the property owners appreciate what is possible with the investment property; that will then allow strategies to evolve. 

people walking in shopping mall
Understand the complexity of retail property performance.

An experienced property manager or leasing expert will also make clear recommendations about how to minimise the risk of vacancy and the time on market with existing vacancies.  Its all about strategy and experience.

When occupancy is sorted for the property owner by a chosen property manager, the other issues of property performance can be escalated into a strategic property plan.  Those issues will be prioritized including:

  • Lease documentation review
  • Tenant meetings and interviews
  • Contractor interviews
  • Property handover checklists
  • Critical date assessments over the coming leases and investment cycles
  • Income and expenditure reviews for budget performance assessment
  • Maintenance planning to allow property compliance and safety planning to codes
  • Vacancy reduction plans
  • Tenant retention plans
  • Refurbishment and capital works programs

So, there are plenty of reasons for a property owner to seek outside assistance in managing their property; it’s worth the money and the fees paid.  The only question now left to investigate the is if the property manager has the experience and the business disciplines needed to control the asset efficiently for the future.

How to Find Tenants Faster in Commercial Investment Property

shopping mall and retail shops

When your property becomes vacant it can be a real worry.  It is the same for any landlord in Brisbane and in greater Queensland.  As the online pressures shift and change, the way companies transact business today has a direct impact on property occupancy, be that in leasing or ownership.

Why is that?  Companies today are more ‘mobile’ and the sales force can spend most of their time out of the office.  Everything that they need to create new business, or place and order is typically in the ‘cloud’.  The size of average office premises for a given today is smaller than what it would have been five years ago.

So, that then presents some problems. In precincts and property locations it can take some time to find a new and willing tenant that has the integrity and business stability to occupy a property.  That leasing process means loss of rent, loss of outgoings recovery, incentive costs, legal documentation costs, commissions in leasing, and the list goes on.  

Market Coverage is Important

A good commercial real estate leasing agent that has a solid coverage of the local property market can be of great value to a landlord today.

So, what can you do as a landlord with your investment properties?  You must stay ahead of the vacancy problem and have a good strategy in place to minimise the vacancy downtime. 

Even in tough markets, vacant tenancies do lease, it’s just that it takes more time and effort on the part of the agent and or the landlord to promote and target the property to the right prospective tenants.

Retail Shopping Mall and tenancies
Retail shopping mall and tenancies have an occupancy focus.

A ‘tenant retention plan’ is a good solution for most investment properties.  In a ‘retention plan’, specific strategies are created such as:

  • Closer connections with existing tenants to ensure full awareness of leasing pressures and business changes.
  • Creative lease transactions that are designed to match the overall mix of the property whilst avoiding mass or multiple expiry problems with several tenants or premises at the same time.
  • Targeted tenant profiles of local businesses to simplify the leasing process when a vacancy is known to be happening or upcoming.
  • Direct marketing of vacant space early, so that enquiry is optimized for vacancies at the right time.
  • Incentive packages that are structured to encourage existing tenants to stay in a property.  There are different incentives available, and a package or alternative packages can be created to suit investment targets in the property.
  • A forward matrix assessment of all tenants in an investment property to allow lease expiry awareness and early negotiation.  That matrix is typically a forward-looking assessment of occupancy looking out to 18 months from current time.
  • Leases that are matched to the investment targets of the landlord and the valuation requirements of the property financiers.

As a landlord, and if you have premises to lease, do not make your choice of leasing agent based on discounted commissions, lower fees, low marketing costs, open listing, or friendship.  None of these things will really help you lease your vacant tenancy any faster.  The result is an expensive and protracted vacant tenancy that is ‘eating its head off’ financially in vacancy downtime and costs.  Your losses will far exceed any gains you think you may get from savings on commissions or fees.

What are the Property Strategies?

When you need an experienced real estate agent to help you lease a retail or commercial property, or any property for that matter, ask them to give you their strategy on:

  1. Advertising to a target market that is relevant to the vacant property
  2. Internet listing initiatives to attract more enquiry
  3. Track record leasing similar local property
  4. Lease terms and conditions that attract tenant enquiry
  5. Database email circulation of your vacant property for lease
  6. Cold calling the business community to attract enquiry from the right business owners
  7. Street by street canvassing of businesses for greater information about your vacant tenancy
  8. Signage initiatives that show the vacancy to its true advantage
  9. Target marketing the property locally
  10. Inspection strategies designed for your property

Such a short list and some yet critical points that are so important when you are leasing property or seeking to resolve vacancies.  You can do so much with these things from a leasing perspective providing your commercial real estate agent supports the process and provides the depth of experience to get the job done.

City Buildings
Know the Brisbane Property Market

One final comment and going back to one key point above; open type listings in a tough market are also a waste of time for the average landlord.  The numerous agents that have your property listed as part of an ‘open listing’ are not really marketing your property intensely.  It is what is called a ‘list and hope’ process when it comes to open listings.

Proven Agent Performance

If you want to lease your property in the shortest possible time, find an agent that has real proven experience in the local area using the 8 points above.  Ask questions about what the agent will do for you.  Get them to show you how they will attract the market to your property.  Make them win your business.  Good real estate agents will do this and give you the confidence you expect as a property investor.

I go back to the point that leasing a commercial or retail property is not about getting discounts from the chosen agent.  It is all about market coverage and strategic approaches to the right local businesses.  A timely lease agreement is more important than any ‘discount’.

The Importance of a Signboard in Commercial Real Estate Marketing

city buildings on morning sky

When you list your property for sale or lease in Brisbane, one of the questions that you will be asked by the nominated brokage agent, is if you want a signboard on your property.  I highly recommend a signboard for one very good reason; it is so effective in immediately tapping into the local property market. 

Brisbane is a vibrant and active city on the Australian eastern seaboard.  It is becoming a ‘gateway’ of products and services into SE Asia.  People interested in local commerce drive through the precincts constantly. It is a property investment ‘hub’.

The seaports and airports in Brisbane are surrounded by industrial and commercial properties serving commerce and manufacturing in Queensland.  The precincts of Eagle Farm, Newstead, Port Brisbane, and Tradecoast, are all thriving precincts are also supporting businesses trading internationally through sea, air, and road transport links.

So, the signboard on your property is quite important.  There are people in and around your commercial investment property that want to know about the sale or lease.  Use the signboard to connect with them.

Important Property People

Who are those people?  For starters they will be:

  • Nearby business owners
  • Local tenants that may need to expand, contract, or relocate premises
  • Investors seeking to expand or change their portfolio

Very often when a signboard is placed on a property in Brisbane, the phone starts to ring within a few hours.  The local businesses and the local property investors will see the signboard and invariably want to know what is going on with the property.  They will consider your property from their perspective with their needs in mind, and that is what you want.

The signboard is therefore one of the cheapest and most effective methods of marketing a property that there is.   Add to that the convenience of the available internet advertising today and you have a basic marketing campaign for your Brisbane property at low cost. 

Value for Money in Property Marketing Today

Where is the value for money in marketing commercial real estate today? Consider these questions:

  • What does a signboard cost?  A few hundred dollars for a generous signboard.  The signboard is a silent promoter of your property in an ongoing way.
  • What does the internet cost?  Can be a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars, depending on advert placement, size, and message.  There is long term value in internet-based marketing placement.

It is interesting today to remember that newspaper advertising for commercial and retail property is less effective and still very costly.  Most people that want to sell, purchase, or lease a local property will go to the internet first and will see the signboard as they travel through the local area.

Advertising your property for sale or lease does not have to be expensive or complex.  Simple marketing with effective channels of marketing is all that is required.

Retail Tenant Contact Cycles for Better Investment Property Performance

retail shopping mall escalators

When you own a commercial or retail property, it pays to keep in close contact with your tenants.  They are a key part of the property performance and should be nurtured to stabilise income from the property. 

Build a tenant retention plan to boost your tenant stability.  Have reasons to talk to your tenants and do so frequently.  Build positive and strong relationships with your tenants.

As part of keeping in contact with the tenants in your property, you can create a tenant contact plan that formalises the meeting and any feedback that may happen as a direct result. 

Highly Performing Properties

Many larger landlords in high performing properties will create and hold tenant contact meetings with all tenants at least every 90 days.  In retail property this cycle is shorter given that a retail property is a very active type of property investment and changes happen all too quickly with property pressures and retail sales.

So just what can and should you talk to your tenants about?  Try this list:

  • Need to expand premises
  • Need to contract premises
  • Maintenance needs in the property
  • Interaction with other tenants in the same building
  • Exercise of lease option
  • Use of the building
  • End of lease issues
  • Renovation or refurbishment plans
  • Insurance
  • Terms and conditions of their lease and compliance to that

It is interesting to note that good tenants are constantly being networked by other property owners and real estate agents in your local area.  More reason to keep in contact with your own tenants to make sure they are happy in occupancy.

Choosing the Best Rentals for Your Investment Property

city buildings at night

When you own commercial property in Brisbane, the decision of rental type will arise from time to time, when you are ready to do a new lease with fresh tenants.  Prepare for the situations of a new lease so that you can find the right tenant and transact the lease effectively and directly at the right time.

It is a competitive property market today, and tenants are sometimes hard to find and difficult to negotiate with. Ensure that you have the total tenant and lease negotiation control from the very start through a proactive rental strategy of lease marketing.

What type of tenant do you want in your property?  Not all tenants are equal.  Not all tenants can pay the same rent regardless of the property and its location.  Don’t focus just on leasing the vacancy; focus on the best tenant that will support the asset and the investment plans that you have.

retail food court
Know your property and your tenant mix

Take the property and the vacancy to the market with a defined lease strategy considering other competing properties in the location. Review all the other lease properties in the location so that you can position your vacancy for the best enquiry and the best opportunity.

The rental question will be between a net type rent or a gross type rent in the leasing process.  The decision you make should be driven by:

1.         The rental standards set in the local property market for a property of that type
2.         The requirements of the tenants in taking a lease
3.         The age of the building and the expenditure trends based on recoverable outgoings
4.         The expectations of the landlord in cash flow management

These 4 simple facts will help you with the choices to be made on the lease rental.  If you need other help, an experienced local commercial property agent or property manager will have some answers.

Given that you must live with the rent amount, lease type and the tenant for a long period of time, it pays to fully consider the rent choice and make the best decision before you proceed.  Property investments are a product of choice and strategy developed over time.

Proven Property Successes are Important

city buildings on skyline

As a commercial or retail property owner, if are considering listing the property for sale or lease, ask your agent about their successes in the local area with property that is specifically like yours.  Selling or leasing a property is not an experiment in marketing; it is a significant business and investment decision that is supported by strategies and target marketing.  The real estate agent you choose to list and market your property will be critical to the outcomes achieved in several ways.

An experienced real estate agent will know about the following:

  • Existing properties on the market at the moment that will compete with your property
  • The asking rents and prices in the market at the moment on comparable property
  • The supply and demand for space in your area that can impact on the price or rent outcome now and in the future
  • The target market that would be most interested in your property for sale or lease.
  • Marketing methods that work in this property market without wasting time or money
  • They should have an extensive database of existing property enquiry from qualified buyers and tenants as the case may be
  • The agent should know about the existing time on market for properties given the prevailing market conditions
  • The best choice of method of sale or lease that should be applied to your property to get momentum.

Any commercial investment property can sell today or in the future.  The results that you get are driven from your choices today and just how you list your property.  A good real estate agent that knows your area will help with that.