What you should be looking for in a commercial real-estate consultant

Commercial real estate consultants do more than take clients’ orders and walk people through buildings. They help clients ensure success through the entire buying or leasing process by taking the time to understand what they’re looking for and negotiate a “value add” transaction on their clients’ behalf.

“A good commercial real estate consultant will guide and lead their client through the full progression of a real estate transaction to successfully meet the client’s interest and goals,” says Simon Caplan, a partner at Cushman & Wakefield/CRESCO Real Estate. “This includes taking the time to get a deep understanding of what the client is actually looking to achieve over and above the lease or sale.”

Smart Business spoke with Caplan about the role of a commercial real estate consultant in a transaction.

Why should someone work with a commercial real estate consultant?

Real estate consultants provide clients with indispensable real-time knowledge, tools, procedures and techniques that enable them to make a more informed decision. Their access to market information, negotiating skills and their ability to manage the various components of the transaction provide the client with tremendous value. 

There are many steps in purchasing or leasing a building or space and it is a complicated process. For example, commercial real estate consultants help those who are buying buildings or leasing a significant space secure government incentives, such as abatements and tax credits. No one wants to be in a position in which they have a building under contract and the municipality turns down the use. Real estate consultants will protect their clients’ interests. 

What are the traits of a good commercial real estate consultant?

A good real estate consultant first needs to fully understand their assignment. They need to ask their client the right questions, really listen to the answers, then dig deep for information. A good real estate consultant will interview multiple positions at a company and then review the responses with the decision maker to ensure that everyone is on the same page. 

Once the requirement is clear, the consultant will complete the research and begin the process with the client. A good consultant should be able to discuss the positive and the negative, including the ugly, about the properties that are visited. And in a short time, they should be able to provide values to the properties that have piqued their client’s interest. 

In today’s world it seems that all transactions are much more complicated, molehills become mountains. Therefore, it is important to assemble the right team to navigate a successful path to the finish line.

Why is it important to choose a consultant who specializes in a certain area of real estate?

It’s difficult if not impossible to have extensive knowledge about each type of commercial property (industrial, office and retail), so clients need to choose a commercial real estate consultant who specializes in the specific type of property they’re looking to buy or lease. That’s particularly important in large markets such as Northeast Ohio.

There are many technical differences when it comes to buying or leasing different classes of property. For instance, letters of intent differ depending on the type of property. The typical letter of intent illustrates all the pricing, earnest money, inspection period, what inspections will entail, who’s responsible for what, the closing period, as well as any other business points important to the transaction. That document is negotiable, and ultimately leads to the purchase agreement, so it’s critically important that it’s negotiated by someone who’s knowledgeable.

Once the appropriate solution is identified, the consultant will assist the buyer with and throughout the entire due diligence process. Even in today’s world of instant access to information, good commercial real estate consultants have experience, market knowledge, contacts, networks, etc., that are incredibly valuable to clients. Having a trained professional assisting in the process should provide a for smooth transaction and enhance opportunities for buyers and lessees.

Insights Real Estate is brought to you by Cushman & Wakefield/CRESCO Real Estate.