FOCUS ON WHAT’S IMPORTANT
Companies searching for new office or industrial space in today’s soft office market, or conversely today’s healthy industrial market and listing brokers and landlords are guilty of this as well… They often tend to focus almost exclusively on rental rate. In other words, the lowest price should be enough to positively influence a tenant’s decision to lease space in a building. The result? We’re “commoditizing” commercial space alternatives while losing the focus on what is right and best for the tenant.
SPACE ISSUES BEYOND PRICE
Let me be the first to say that economics are always important and competing buildings must be reasonably similar. However, economics are not the most important element when it comes to making a real estate decision. I have often told clients, “What difference does it make if the landlord provides the space at no cost, if the space is not functional and does not effectively work for you?” Retail clients generally seem to have a better handle on weighing the intangibles when they make space decisions. They understand that there are issues far more important than price. Issues such as exposure, vehicle traffic counts, ease of access, parking and neighboring tenants. Issues that will impact their long‐term success more than a marginal reduction in their base rental rate.
TOTAL COST SOLUTION
So many components go into a good real estate decision, and price is only one of those components. Tenants need to look at a “total cost solution” rather than just a “rental rate” solution. The latter is the proverbial tail wagging the dog kind of decision, and decisions like that never work well over the long term. That’s why establishing a preliminary budget is critical to the process. So that companies don’t waste time looking at what they can’t afford. Companies often do themselves a disservice by discounting the importance that a well thought out facilities plan plays in their long‐term success. Space, like any other component of a firm’s business plan, should function strategically. Ultimately, ensuring long‐term success for the firm. The list of items that ensure long‐term success generally relegates price to the lower tier of importance.
RANKING CRITICAL ISSUES
Companies must address, evaluate and rank the importance of critical issues. These may include parking availability, access, visibility, building efficiency, flexibility to expand and contract, on‐site or close‐by amenities, public transportation availability, security, sustainability issues, building management, landlord financial viability ‐‐‐ and, obviously, the financial structure. Whether internally generated or broker generated, tenants must understand the total cost of the deal. One deal may provide more dollars for tenant improvements; another deal may offer less tenant improvement dollars but more free rent. Yet another may offer to graduate or step the rent and pay moving costs. And in the end, a simple consideration like ease of client access or proximity to public transportation may trump the lower base rent deal.
Guard against making an impulsive, “head in the sand” facility evaluation. Select a member of your team and a competent real estate broker who will ensure that your firm makes a well thought out space decision, not a decision based on a single issue like rental rate. Make sure you have completed the proper due diligence before signing on the bottom line!
NEED HELP FINDING THE RIGHT SPACE?
Reach out to one of our
TRUSTED. DEDICATED. EXPERIENCED.
brokers at Paramount Real Estate Corporation:
Industrial: Fred Hedberg, CCIM, SIOR, Principal
Phil Simonet, Principal
John Young, CCIM, Vice President
Joseph Schultz, Associate
Jack Buttenhoff, Associate
Office: Nancy Powell, Vice President
FOCUS ON WHAT’S IMPORTANT
WHAT IS YOUR RENT TO REVENUE RATIO?
One financial metric that many business owners are unfamiliar with is the industry rent-to-revenue ratio (I-RRR). The math is simple; rent paid divided by total revenue from operations. Naturally, some industries will pay a higher percentage of their revenue in rent; a retail shop will surely pay a different percentage of revenue to rent compared to a small law firm.
So what is your I-RRR? With data collected across the entire nation, manufacturers, on average, paid 1.78% of their total revenue from operations toward rent. In 2017, they paid 1.87%; 2018 they paid 1.77%; and in 2019, they paid 1.69%
The amount of rent a business must pay involves many factors. Location, site access, building quality, and, most importantly, market conditions are all factors. A business in New York City will certainly pay more in rent while a business in rural Minnesota may pay less. The formula is simple, but the underlying factors can be quite complicated. Many companies believe their I-RRR should be much lower during this economic slowdown. However, the dramatic drop in rents that occurred in 2008-2009 has not happened…yet. It is possible that large-scale business closures create urgency on behalf of landlords to make low cost deals, but it is not happening now. Stay tuned for more market information as we near the end of 2021.
Source of Data: Bizminer.com
MID-YEAR 2020 INDUSTRIAL MARKET UPDATE
Net Absorption & Vacancy Rates
Statistically, Q2 2020 is showing the effects of COVID-19 on industrial leasing activity and the industrial market. Net absorption of vacant space during Q2 2020 was only 107,345 SF compared to 829,298 SF for Q2 2019. YTD net absorption for 2020 totals 330,369 SF compared to 1,587,669 SF in 2019.
The difference in the net absorption numbers (SF) between 2019 and 2020 is significant. However, the industrial market remains healthy as demonstrated by the overall industrial vacancy rate of 5.0% through the Q2 2019 and 4.8% through Q2 2020. More specifically, YTD industrial vacancy rates reflect the continued sound condition of the market by product type:
What is Influencing this Market Condition?
Two characteristics of the current market have significantly influenced the ongoing strong conditions of the industrial market: 1) Vacancy rates were at historical lows prior to the introduction of COVID-19 and, 2) Delivery of new industrial product to the market year-over-year has moderated. YTD Q2 2019 deliveries of new industrial product totaled 1,853,203 SF. While Q2 2020 new deliveries of industrial product totaled only 906,571 SF. The combination of less new development coming on line and limited negative absorption has enabled vacancy rates to remain low. Therefore, the overall market is in a state of good health.
Current expectations between landlords and tenants do seem to significantly differ. Tenants believe the industrial market has weakened and landlords are still very bullish on the market. A major reason for this difference in perception of the market has been the media’s reporting on the commercial real estate market. Retail and office space have been significantly impacted by COVID-19, so far in 2020. COVID-19 has had a very limited impact on new industrial lease terms and conditions, at least through Q2 2020. Limited net free rent, and tenant improvement packages, combined with strong net rates seems to be the story of the day for most industrial properties. The one exception to these healthy characteristics is office/flex/showroom product. Office/flex/showroom product still requires net free rent and significant improvement dollars generally to consume a new lease.
Hottest Industrial Market Segment
One of the brightest spots in the industrial market is User/Owner building sales. The limited supply of functional industrial properties currently available For Sale, combined with the low interest rate environment for debt, has pushed User/Owner building values to all time highs. Specifically, well-located properties receive multiple offers in many instances.
What is to Come
Finally, finding a vaccine that will make the current pandemic a thing of the past will remove much of the uncertainty existing today in the economy and the commercial/industrial real estate market. If the pandemic continues on into next year, the statistics and resulting story being told may be much different than it is today.
Written by: Phil Simonet, Principal
Successful Commercial Leasing = Understanding Your Rent
by Bob Johnston | Vice President Sales & Leasing
THE TERMINOLOGY OF RENT
Successful commercial leasing is all about understanding your rent. Most commercial leasing today are “net leases.” Meaning that the tenant pays a “base rent” which is “net rent”, or separate from, the operating costs and real estate taxes for the property. The operating costs are then passed on to the tenant as a separate cost. Equaling a total rent cost and what many then refer to as “gross rent.”
Even this varies, however, from property to property. For example, often times in retail and industrial properties, tenants pay for their use of electricity and gas as well as janitorial services. In addition, sometimes the tenant, at its expense, must contract for local trash pick-up. These separately contracted costs are not part of the ordinary operating expenses. On the other hand, office leases typically are “full service” leases. In other words, there are generally no extra charges. Other than perhaps charges for extraordinary use of services such as air conditioning or cleaning, etc.
It is critical that a tenant understand the complete picture and know what the total rent will be. Also, it is critical that the tenant understand what expenses make up operating costs. Then understand what costs are reasonable and legitimate. It is obviously to the landlord’s advantage to get the tenant to pay as much of the total operating budget as possible. This is even more critical in mixed-use projects. Mixed use is where landlords tend to shift maintenance costs for the residences to the office component. Thus, the office tenant contribution is actually more than what it should be. I once audited the landlord of a very large mixed-use project in Chicago. I found over $100,000 wrongfully allocated to the tenant even though the lease prohibited their doing so.
WHAT SHOULD NOT BE INCLUDED IN RENT?
Here are some suggestions as to what to eliminate from the landlord’s menu. The list is obviously not exhaustive, but rather illustrative of some of the costs landlords attempt to pass on to tenants:
Leasing commissions, space planning expenses with architects/interior designers, or even attorney costs associated with a lease negotiation or existing tenant dispute.
Costs associated with the construction of tenant improvements, either with new tenant relocations or existing tenant renovations and remodeling.
Costs associated with the entity of landlord, particularly as it relates to partnership/ownership issues or the selling or refinancing the property.
Many large landlords have affiliates or interests in affiliate companies, so it is important to ensure that the contracted vendor costs are no more than what an unrelated third party vendor might charge.
Be careful about the expenses for salaries, benefits, etc. that go into “management fees.” Executive salaries, or any allocation of those salaries, should not be part of the operating costs for the building.
Capital improvements are not, by accounting standards, expense items. Although, landlords can routinely pass on the amortized cost of the improvement as an operating expense.
Make certain that in a retail environment, the tenant’s pro-rata share of operating expenses is calculated over the entire leasable area of the property. Rather than only on the space currently leased and occupied.
Proper due diligence and understanding of the components of a building’s operating budget are critical to a tenant’s successful occupancy, financial stability and long-term enjoyment of the space.