Bart Wise
Bart Wise
Bart specializes in the leasing and selling of office, high tech, and light industrial buildings throughout Washtenaw County. He is experienced in marketing commercial and residential investment properties, and is a front-runner in the marketing of build-to-suit and build-to-lease commercial real estate projects.

The ABC's of Leasing Office Space


Considering leasing new office space or moving from an existing office suite?

If so, here are five points to consider when asking a broker to help you find a new office location:


1. Give yourself enough time It is to your advantage to start your search not less than 3 months prior to your desired occupancy date or from your current lease expiration date. A search starting more than 6 months prior to needing the space or your move date is only necessary if your specifications are unusual or difficult to satisfy.  Keep in mind that though you might identify a satisfactory office location in a matter of weeks, but you need to provide between 1-3 weeks to negotiate and execute a lease.  After lease execution a landlord might need 30 to 90 days to renovate a suite for your occupancy.


2. LocationDo you want your office located on the busiest corridor or in a quiet office park? What side of town? Near a freeway interchange?  If you are considering downtown Ann Arbor, will you be able to secure parking spaces? Where do your employees live?  Do you need easy access for your customers/clients?


3. Understand your specifications - Be prepared to tell your broker how many square feet (within 20%) that you think you will need. It will help if you can describe your preferred office layout, ie. how many enclosed offices, conference room sizes, how many cubicle type offices, reception area, copy/fax room size.   Some guidelines assign a multiplier of 200-300 sf per employee in the office, but of course the multiplier depends a lot on office/cubicle sizes.


4. Special requests – Let your broker know if there are unusual specifications that you are hoping to find with your new office. Technology requirements, certain number of offices or window lines, first floor versus upper floors, or street signage requirements will help the broker to concentrate only on buildings that offer space matching your specifications.


5. Economic prioritiesWho wouldn’t like to rent a Class A office suite, on a flexible short term lease, with plush leasehold improvement upgrades, at a rock bottom rental rate?  In most cases the economic factors are a matter of give and take – if you want low rent you might have to live with more spartan suite finishes – but if you can sign a long term lease, you might get that class A location.  If you want a landlord to make an upfront investment for your leasehold improvements then be prepared to show that landlord your financial statements and/or provide a landlord reference.


Between 2008 and 2013 the economy was weak and landlords were eager to rent vacant office suites.  It was easier for Tenants to negotiate lower rental rates and shorter lease terms.  In 2014 things turned around, vacancies were rented, more renters are looking for office space and as a result the balance of supply and demand has swung toward the landlord.  Rental rates will begin to increase and landlords will ask for longer leases.  See the December 2014 Ann Arbor vacancy report on the Swisher Commercial website.


The better you understand your company’s needs, the better you are able to equip your broker to find the optimal office location. If you are considering a new location, call a broker at Swisher Commercial. We are eager to help, 734-663-0501.


By Bart Wise