The front lines Featured

8:00pm EDT September 25, 2007

The best leasing and management team provides building owners/landlords an efficiently run asset with higher occupancies. Senior leasing agents act as the face of the operation and direct the work of a group of experienced professionals. As the head of a real estate asset management team, the building owner/landlord must ensure that people with the right skills are chosen to assist potential new tenants or service the needs of existing tenants.

“The landlord’s team is only as strong as its weakest link,” says Leigh Bower, vice president with CB Richard Ellis in Atlanta. “There’s a lot of work that happens behind the scenes to gain a new tenant or take care of an existing one.”

Smart Business learned from Bower the importance of all of the professionals who contribute to a landlord’s team.

How do landlords view the process of winning a new tenant?

Commercial real estate is a very competitive industry that requires a skilled leasing representative assisted by a team of professionals to effectively position an asset within a submarket. The team’s leader, the senior leasing agent, is in the ‘front lines,’ marketing the asset to the brokerage community and tenants. This person acts as the eyes and ears in all aspects of the process, communicates with the landlord on the status of the surrounding competitive properties, keeps an eye on the submarket’s overall economy and monitors the asset’s position within the submarket. A commercial real estate asset must look its best and be well managed at all times to stay competitive.

What people make up the landlord’s team, and what tasks do they perform?

Senior leasing agents work with a diverse mix of people who maintain the facilities and design and construct new spaces for tenants. Depending on tenants’ needs, they may receive services from some or all of the following professionals:

Senior and junior leasing agents: These individuals perform all aspects of attracting new tenants to a property and renewing current tenants. The senior leasing agent acts as an overall team leader who ensures all of the different professionals interact as a team on projects.

  • Property manager: This person assumes responsibility for the day-to-day management of the property and grounds, including the preparation of the budget needed to effectively manage the property.

  • Building engineer: This expert maintains and monitors the building’s HVAC equipment and control systems to ensure they function safely and efficiently and meet the tenants’ requirements.

  • Landlord’s attorney: This legal professional prepares all tenant lease documentation and any additional legal documents that are required to complete the lease transaction. A local attorney will preferably provide this service.

  • Architects: These design teams create tenant interior floor plans and also guide the group through all aspects of evaluating the building’s interior architectural structure to ensure compliance with local governmental codes. Landlords will preferably have two architects on their team. A more skilled, creative architect can handle projects with tenants that have more difficult, time-intensive requirements. A typical tenant requiring less creative design can be handled by a ‘space planner’ who is more adept at designing ‘vanilla boxes’ for smaller, less demanding tenants.

  • On-site security guards: These individuals monitor the area to preserve the safety of tenants, the property and the surrounding grounds.

  • Construction manager: This person steers the contractors on all new construction projects and tracks their performance to facilitate quality work and on-time completion of projects.

  • Contractors: These skilled craftsmen construct the interior projects for tenants and address other property-related construction issues.
  • Why is every participant in the process an essential part of a successful deal?

    Each team member provides an area of expertise that is crucial to the proper maintenance of an asset and to the process of effectively attracting and servicing new and existing tenants. Before new tenants even step foot into the building or onto the grounds, a highly skilled team of professionals has put in hours of work to anticipate and address their needs. Throughout the tenancy, a host of skilled individuals can assist commercial tenants 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

    What should a tenant look for in a landlord?

    Choosing an experienced team to lease and manage a real estate asset is crucial to its success. As the front-line team leader, the leasing representative must present a positive image to external contacts and effectively manage and guide the team from project start to finish. This leasing representative must possess many positive traits to handle the varied responsibilities of the position. These qualities include:

    Knowledge of all aspects of the commercial real estate industry

  • Leadership skills

  • Positive ‘can-do’ attitude

  • Ability to interact with numerous types of personalities

  • Forward thinker/planner

  • Skilled negotiator

  • Solid time management skills

  • Ability to multitask
  • LEIGH BOWER is vice president with CB Richard Ellis in Atlanta. Reach her at (404) 504-7890 or leigh.bower@cbre.com.