In a recent New York Times Small Business blog, the editors asked this question. They then listed some advice to figure out the answer:
- Be proactive. Get out in front of your lease so you have to time to create options. Start looking a year ahead if possible.
- Hire a real estate broker. A good broker knows the local market and material facts about specific buildings: environmental issues, whether the owner is in bankruptcy, how long it’s been vacant. Those facts can be used as leverage.
- Make sure your current landlord knows that you have hired a broker and that you are serious about getting a better deal — even if you have to move.
- No matter how great the deal, moving can be expensive and cost more than you planned, especially if you have to modify the space. Figure out how many years it will take for the deal to pay off.
These are all right on the money. Perhaps the most important is the advice to hire a commercial real estate broker. Virtually all commercial brokers charge tenants nothing; they get their commissions from landlords when leases are signed. So what do you have to lose by bringing one onboard?
I know some really good commercial brokers. If you’re renting your space, I would be happy to refer you to them.