Before you even begin looking for space, make sure you've thought about exactly what you need. You'll save yourself some considerable time pounding the pavement, as well as eliminate a lot of wasted effort. Also, begin the process as early as possible to avoid being rushed into making the wrong decision.
- Estimate your space needs as accurately as possible, but keep in mind future growth and account for that as well.
- Know what features you need in the space. (See our sidebar for additional office features that you may not have thought about)
- Have an "ideal" timeframe in mind, but remember it may not be feasible.
- Know your budget. If you know the upper limit of what you can spend, you'll not waste time looking at spaces out of your ballpark.
- Know the length of lease you need. Don't let yourself get tied into a long contract for space you know you'll outgrow too quickly.
- Get familiar with the lingo. Don't let a communication breakdown lead to paying too much for your space. Know what they mean when they say "usable square feet" versus "leasable square feet."
- Have a list of questions ready to ask about each location that include items like "what utilities are included in the lease?" or "what are your maintenance responsibilities?" Having a list ready will help you more efficiently compare each property and not leave items out.
OK. So, now you are a little more prepared to begin this process. To give you an idea of the length of time this might take, here are some guidelines for spaces up to 50,000 square feet. (More detailed schedules are posted by TenantWise, a company that will help you search for, negotiable and finalize your property deal, and OfficeFinder)
- Determine your needs -- estimate anywhere from 2-3 days to two weeks.
- Conduct the search -- 1-4 weeks
- Walk the spaces and narrow your choices -- 1-4 weeks
- Lease it! -- 2-4 weeks (includes negotiation and legal work)
- Modify the space -- 4-5 weeks for simple construction modifications, or 6-12 weeks for major construction modifications
So, by pulling out the old calculator, you can see that this endeavor may be over as quickly as one month, or may drag on for almost 7 months. Planning for what you need and can afford along with understanding the terms of leasing and real estate in general will help tremendously.