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The Build-Out Process : One Simple Way to Save Time and Money

For years, the process of planning a commercial build-out has been a slow moving and somewhat tedious game of guessing and waiting.

It consists of handing off an idea to one professional who might make a few changes before sending it off to the next one. This typically results in a great deal of time spent and gaps in communication that could have prevented unnecessary work, frustration, and expense.

When your company is preparing for a move or expansion, make the build-out process as efficient as possible by doing one very simple thing.

Get all of your professionals into a room at the same time. With modern technology, this could mean a video conference if an in-person meeting is too difficult to schedule. Have an open discussion with your company VP’s, your real estate professional, architect, contractor, and any other relevant people who may be involved.

Come to an agreement at the start about timing, expectations, and money.

This puts everyone on the same page and gets the ball rolling in the right direction. Rather than only focusing only on their own small piece of the puzzle, the bigger picture is known to all. Honest feedback and discussion can take place to establish workable parameters and, ideally, everyone’s part becomes a little easier.

An added bonus.

Collaboration is a great networking opportunity. It is to your advantage and theirs that they each come to this meeting with their best feet forward. Rather than hiding behind a desk and noting a name on the paperwork, they get to shake hands, talk, expand their knowledge and co-create a great working environment. Win-win.

Looking to move or expand your space? Contact Ryan Hartsell with questions or assistance to purchase or lease commercial real estate in and around the Houston, Texas area.

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Three Ways to Improve the Efficiency of Your Company’s Real Estate

Today’s digital world demands that most companies focus their real estate on maximizing utilization and efficiency while trimming costs.

Here are three areas to consider to make the most of your space:

1) Utilize second-generation space

This alone could save your company and/or your landlord a significant amount in build-out costs and time. It is also an opportunity to negotiate a reduction in the lease rate if the landlord expects to shoulder the cost of a build-out for a new tenant.

2) Share space and/or create co-working areas for employees

Sharing space with another division, branch, or a different company altogether can be a highly effective way of reducing cost while maintaining a standard that is in alignment with your brand. Co-working areas within your space eliminate the need for additional equipment and square footage. With so many businesses now encouraging remote working and collaborative environments within the office, this makes perfect sense and creates a win-win for everyone.

3) Shorten the timeline for your company real estate processes and establish standard communications protocols for all departments.

This is especially important in your operations and finance divisions where the greatest communication challenges tend to happen. Market trends require that companies act quickly and shorten the due diligence process to see a deal through.

 

Contact Ryan Hartsell with questions or assistance to purchase or lease commercial real estate in and around the Houston, Texas area.

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Renegotiate Your Lease Terms – Create a Win-Win with Your Landlord

Many companies believe that they must live with whatever terms are stated in
their existing lease until it expires. However, many property owners will consider a
proposal to change the terms of an existing lease if it provides long term
benefits. There are creative ways a tenant can renegotiate lease terms that will
provide security for the landlord while saving themselves a considerable amount
of rent at the same time.

If the market changes during the term of a lease, it might make sense for both
parties to negotiate a new agreement. If the current market rates have dropped
since the original lease was written, a landlord may be willing to reduce the
monthly rate in exchange for a longer term commitment. This creates security for
the landlord while providing potentially significant savings for the tenant.

If the market rates have increased or remain equal to a tenant’s current rate it
could be beneficial to both the landlord and tenant to reevaluate the need for
space. If a tenant can reduce their footprint in a building it will save them
unnecessary rent while offering the landlord the opportunity to lease the
unneeded space at an equal or higher rate. Like in the previous example, this
could be negotiated by extending the tenant’s term commitment or other
items within the lease agreement.

The renegotiated total financial obligation must exceed that which is remaining
on the existing lease for any proposed changes to make sense for the landlord.
It is wise for a tenant to conduct regular audits of their lease situation to
maximize the use of space and financial obligation.

 

Any questions? Contact Ryan at  [email protected] or  (713) 840-8528.

Ryan J. Hartsell, SIOR, MRE, Principal, and Managing Partner of Oxford Partners LLC, focuses on reducing the cost and risk associated with leasing and purchasing office and industrial property. He is recognized by his clients for his attentiveness, market knowledge, and negotiation prowess. He holds a master’s degree in commercial real estate and a bachelor’s degree in finance. As a third generation Houstonian and Principal of Oxford Partners, he has a unique appreciation for the business owners’ challenges by way of his own personal experience, which translates into better representation and empathy for his clients.  

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Add On Factor: Why Office Tenants Pay for Space They Don’t Use

Add On Factor: Why Office Tenants Pay for Space They Don't Use

Rentable and Usable Office Space

When leasing office space in a multi tenant office building it is important to understand the difference between rentable and usable square feet.  Some office tenants are not familiar with these terms.  Tenants unfamiliar with the concept of an add-on factor may be confused about how much space they truly need. Essentially as an office tenant you are paying rent based on the “rentable” size of your space. The rentable square footage is not the actual size of your office space.  Let me tell you a story about just how unbalanced that difference can become…

Energy Corridor Case Study

Recently I worked with a client in the Energy Corridor in Houston looking for new office space. He expressed strong interest in a property which had recently converted from a single tenant corporate use to a multi-tenant layout. This means the property was designed originally for one company – think of an office campus setup. Since the conversion was not yet complete the floor plates and common areas were under construction and not fully determined. During construction the new ownership would be making decisions about which common area corridors, restrooms, lobbies and other common area elements would remain. As a result the leasing agent was unable to provide the true add on factor at the time we toured the property.

What Is An Add-On Factor?

As a quick refresher, the add on factor (sometimes referred to as core factor) is the amount of a commercial building taken up by common areas such as hallways, restrooms, elevators, the lobby, etc. The add on factor will typically fall between 15-20%. This means the usable square footage of a company’s office space will be inflated by 15-20% to account for the common area space in the office building. In this way each tenant pays for their share of the common areas they may use throughout the building.

Back To Our Story

After touring the property with my client we began discussions with the leasing broker. Upon receiving an initial proposal we discovered an add on factor in excess of 60%! Understandably this was not an acceptable calculation for my client. Imagine leasing an office space consisting of 3,000 actual square feet, but paying rental expense on 4,800sf – out of the question. After much discussion and negotiation we were able to reduce the add on factor to 37%, but ultimately this was not enough to make a deal.

It is not uncommon to find re-purposed office buildings with a high percentage of common areas. With the headwinds facing retail developments and malls we may see this trend continue to grow. Typically landlords will opt to use a “market factor” which is artificially lowered to compete with other properties in the area. In this situation the landlord was attempting to secure lease agreements with an add on factor 3 times the market rate. I advised my client throughout this interaction and we decided to pursue alternative options in the area.

Relocation to Multi Tenant Office Space

One important thing to mention is that most types of commercial real estate do not use an add on factor. This type of calculation is typically exclusive to multi-tenant office buildings. This means if you are a tenant in an industrial, flex office, retail or single-tenant office building you are not paying for an add-on factor. Tenants in these types of properties have a rentable and usable square footage which are identical. This can lead to some confusion for tenants looking at relocation to a multi-tenant building. These tenants may expect that the 5,000sf they currently occupy will be the same 5,000sf they need upon relocation. But again, this is 5,000sf usable, and with the add-on factor included they will require at least 5,750sf – and possibly more.

At Oxford Partners we will frequently begin the process of working with a new client by preparing a minimum space analysis. This allows the client to visualize all the necessary space elements for their office, and understand how much space will be required. Part of this assessment is an estimation for add-on factor. You can access our free Space Planning Tool here. Contact us directly for more information about the minimum space analysis if you’re interested in learning more.

Conclusion

Companies leasing space in a multi-tenant office building must always be aware of the add on factor used in their building. At some point a tenant will want to relocate, and it is key to know the exact usable space required for their operations. It is also important to ensure the rentable square footage for your lease agreement is calculated correctly. There should be a clearly identified common area markup listed in the lease. When considering a relocation verify these numbers ahead of time to ensure a market factor is being used. This will help avoid paying for space you don’t use and likely will never see.