“You Owe Me!” said the Landlord’s Broker

Recently, in searching for a suitable property for one of our clients to lease, I spoke with a commercial real estate broker about a property he represents. I asked this landlord broker questions about the property’s size, amenities, and competitive benefits, the available space, rental pricing and offering terms, the owner, and more.  While the broker was a little less than forthcoming at the beginning of our conversation, he eventually opened up, not without some prying, and provided me with details to most of the questions I asked.

At the end of the conversation, based on the information gathered, I was able to determine whether the property would likely be of interest to my client, a company seeking to relocate its headquarters.  I thanked the landlord broker for his time and attempted to end the conversation, offering to speak with him again about my client’s needs after they’d authorized me to do so. Before I could end the call, the landlord broker shouted:

“Wait! You Owe Me!”

When I asked him what he meant, he replied by saying that because he had provided me with so much information about his landlord’s property, that in turn, I had an obligation to answer his questions about my client and its needs. Hmm!  I told him I would provide him with whatever information I could, but that I had no authority, and certainly no obligation, to do so, especially since my client instructed me to maintain strict confidentiality about them and their requirements.

The landlord broker didn’t like my response, and insisted that I was treating him unfairly.  He was serious.  This is not the first time I’ve experienced this kind of interaction.

Why do some landlord brokers think that because they provide tenant advisors with information on their properties…precisely what they were hired to do…that the tenant advisors are then obligated to disclose detailed information about their tenants’ needs?

Isn’t providing specific information the landlord broker’s job?  Isn’t that what the landlord hired him for?

What many landlord brokers fail to recognize is that tenant advisors are customers of the landlord broker.  And, like any good customer service minded professional, property brokers should treat tenant advisors with the respect that any customer deserves.

Landlord brokers are the front line salespeople for landlords. Their job is to inspire tenants and their brokers about their landlord’s property, to engage in negotiations, and to complete transactions on terms favorable to their landlords, so as to achieve their landlords’ intended ROI and other objectives.

The landlord broker’s job would certainly be easier if the tenant advisor disclosed a lot of information about its client, so the landlord broker could better determine how to satisfy the tenant’s needs. But, tenants are not always eager to disclose information for many reasons. Accordingly, they often direct their brokers not to divulge information about them.  And, that’s their right.  Despite this, some landlord brokers act as if providing property information to a tenant or its advisor is almost like doing them a favor.  I find that very odd, and a great way to turn off tenants and their advisors!

If I walked into a shoe store, asked questions about a pair of shoes, listened to the information, provided little feedback, politely said thank you, and turned to leave, would I be obligated or expected to provide a full download to the salesperson as to why I wasn’t interested?

Of course the salesperson would like to know why I chose not to make the purchase, and helping him would be the right thing to do, assuming that I was comfortable doing so. But, does that obligate me to provide such information?  Heck, no!

And, if I chose not to answer the salesperson’s questions, would it be advisable for the salesperson to demand that I answer him or berate me? Would I ever go to that store again? Would the salesperson’s boss appreciate my having been turned off to ever doing business there in the future?

From a customer service perspective, why should interactions over commercial real estate be any different?  Because greater dollar amounts are at stake? Wouldn’t that suggest a greater emphasis on customer service and relationship building with both tenant and broker, as a means of generating a basis for future opportunities?

Most landlord brokers are very professional.  Some still don’t get it.  Those that embrace a customer-service approach to promoting their landlords’ properties continually achieve the lease more space than their competitors, and highest levels of success, both for themselves and their landlords.

About Real Estate Strategies Corporation
Real Estate Strategies Corporation is a respected corporate advisory and transaction services firm that provides thought-leadership, decision-making, planning, project management, and transaction execution services to finance and senior executives at management team-led public, private, and portfolio companies, and not-for-profit organizations.  Under the leadership of its award-winning CEO, Andrew Zezas, RealStrat’s clients engage the firm when acquiring, disposing of, renegotiating, or enhancing occupied leased or owned real estate in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, and throughout North America.  By creating and executing Business DRIVEN Real Estate Solutions and identifying hidden Opportunities, RealStrat drives greater operational and financial performance in support of its clients’ stakeholder objectives, M&A requirements, and exit strategies.

In the current economic environment, RealStrat’s efforts are focused on uncovering, capturing, and re-purposing hidden liquidity and minimizing risk in its clients’ leased and owned real estate.  The firm provides counsel as to competitive advantage strategies in preparation for the eventual economic recovery.  Visit www.RealStrat.com. Read about timely commercial real estate issues at RealStrat’s blog at www.CorporateAdvisor.wordpress.com. Follow RealStrat at http://www.Twitter.com/RealStrat.

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THIS WORK IS DESIGNED TO PROVIDE PRACTICAL AND USEFUL INFORMATION ON THE SUBJECT MATTER COVERED AND REPRESENTS THE OPINION OF THE AUTHOR. HOWEVER, IT IS PROVIDED WITH THE UNDERSTANDING THAT THE AUTHOR IS NOT ENGAGED IN RENDERING LEGAL, FINANCIAL, ACCOUNTING, OR OTHER PROFESSIONAL ADVICE TO THE READER. IF LEGAL, FINANCIAL, ACCOUNTING, OR OTHER PROFESSIONAL ADVICE IS REQUIRED, THE SERVICES OF A COMPETENT PROFESSIONAL SHOULD BE SOUGHT. THE AUTHOR SPECIFICALLY AND EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMS ANY LIABILITY THAT MAY BE INCURRED AS A RESULT OF THE USE OR APPLICATION OF THE INFORMATION THAT IS CONTAINED IN THIS WORK.

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