By Marc Snediker, Sr. Real Estate Manager
Strong leasing efforts are obviously critical to the success of any downtown real estate project. The space needs to be desirable to tenants, it should be seen by as many potential tenants as possible, and it must be priced in accordance with the prevailing market conditions. Below are five tips for overseeing any leasing program.
- Leasing is only one part of a more complicated story. Often, there are obstacles to retail or office leasing beyond just the size and cost of the space. Leasing is most productive when it is a piece of a comprehensive regulatory, infrastructure, and economic development plan.
- Maximize the visibility of the vacant space. It is axiomatic that the more businesses that are aware of the leasing opportunity, the quicker the landlord will find the best tenant. The marketing of the project should include professional “Space Available” signs in the windows, listings on the top real estate sites such as LoopNet and CoStar, feature it on the city website, e-blasts to local commercial brokers and targeted business categories, and old-fashioned direct phone prospecting.
- Keep the property in “ready to show” condition. The property should always look “clean, safe, and friendly.” While spaces in less than pristine condition do get leased all the time (if a location is great, businesses will find it), poor conditions on site can affect the overall image the market has of the location and that can drive down rental rates or even prevent a business from approving a site. With that in mind, and interior space should always be broom-swept clean with the window signs in good repair and not torn or faded. Vacant land should not be overgrown and the leasing sign should be in good condition. Curb appeal matters!
- Select your professionals carefully. Generally, it is advisable to have a licensed real estate professional handle your leasing. Proper leasing efforts can be very labor intensive and follow-up skills and a sense of urgency are important factors in the success of any leasing program. Make sure the broker has experience not only in the local market, but has either a statewide or national presence to attract the type of business targeted. It is also important that the broker have experience with the kind of project being leased. Downtown tenants do not often come from the same pool of businesses as suburban strip center tenants.
- Be realistic. Wanting a particular use or retailer is not enough to bring them to a location if the underlying market conditions are not conducive to their needs. Retailers, in particular, often have very specific criteria for demographics, site configuration, traffic counts, and available parking. This does not mean it is unproductive to think outside the box: creative solutions can often work. But a business needs to be able to thrive in the space. Otherwise, be prepared to have to lease the space again in a short time.
This list is by no means exhaustive but can form the foundation of a strong leasing plan.