Archive for the 'real estate broker' Category



You Don’t Need a Commission Agreement…You’re Covered Under the Leasing Agent’s Agreement!

How many times have leasing agents told me that I didn’t need to negotiate a separate commission agreement at their building, because they’d already made provisions for the payment of my commissions in the representation agreement between them and their landlord?  I’ve heard comments from brokers suggesting that negotiating a separate commission agreement is a waste of time, when the leasing agent’s agreement provides for them. It has been suggested to me that the time spent on negotiating a separate agreement could be better spent on pursuing and closing another transaction.

  • Here are a few questions that I offer in response to the above:
  • Have you read the representation agreement between the landlord and the leasing agent or have you just relied on claims made by the agent?
  • Do you have a complete original copy of that agreement?
  • Is your company a party to that agreement?
  • Would the obligation to pay you be from the landlord or the leasing agent?
  • Are the commission rate, amount, pay schedule, and terms what you expected?
  • Does that agreement afford you the ability to change terms you find to be unsatisfactory?
  • What rights and protections does that agreement specifically afford you?
  • What future benefits does that agreement afford you?
  • If the agreement between the landlord and the leasing agent expires, do your future rights expire, too?
  • If the landlord sells the building, what happens to your future rights?
  • What would happen if the  leasing agent defaulted in its obligations to you?
  • What would happen if the landlord defaulted in paying your portion of the commission to its leasing agent?
  • Would you really want your compensation arrangement to be through the leasing agent, a third-party, or directly with the landlord, who has the true obligation to pay you? (In earlier articles I’ve written, I’ve suggested that brokers pass even the landlord and secure commission payment commitments from building lenders!)

…and, I’m just getting warmed up!

Some landlords and leasing agents have responded to these questions by saying that their state real estate commission affords them protections under many of the above circumstances.  That may be true.  However, do you really want to have to deal with, what are most certainly bureaucratic, rules under your state’s real estate commission and perhaps endure a legal battle to collect what is rightfully yours?  Or, do you really just want to be paid what is due you?

No leasing agent can bind another company, unless that company agrees to be bound.  That’s a fact!  Irrespective of what a landlord or a leasing agent tells you, just because they have agreed on commission terms between them, doesn’t mean that you must accept those terms.

Remember something very important here:  A broker bringing a tenant, or buyer, to a landlord, whether through the landlord’s agent or directly, is the customer of the landlord and its agent.  That’s right! The broker is the landlord’s customer.  The tenant or buyer, in turn, is that broker’s customer.  This is especially true when the broker is authorized in writing to represent the interests of the tenant or buyer.

So, as the customer, the tenant or buyer’s broker has the right to set its own terms of service and the compensation that it will receive. If a particular landlord elects not to buy what the tenant or buyer’s broker is delivering or chooses not to pay the broker’s price, then that is the landlord’s option. And, it is the option of the broker to take its business elsewhere. Or, in such an instance, the broker also may have the option of securing an alternative compensation arrangement with its tenant or buyer. But, no tenant or buyer broker is obligated to be bound by an agreement between landlord and leasing agent if that broker did not agree to the terms of that agreement.

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.

LINKS:

RealStrat News
Biographies
Articles
Properties
What Our Clients Say

Copyright Real Estate Strategies Corporation 2011.  All Rights Reserved.

###

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One Page Tenant Representation Agreements Are Useless!

First of all, “Tenant Rep” is simply an incorrect term.  Read about that!

One page commercial occupant representation agreements don’t protect clients or real estate professionals.  They may actually be dangerous!

A commercial occupant representation agreement is intended to reflect the nature of the business relationship between the client (the commercial occupant) and its service provider.   A well-written agreement clarifies the roles, rights, and responsibilities of both parties, and should protect them both.

Commercial Occupant Representation Agreements should clearly define:

  • Who the real estate professional represents
  • The term of the agreement
  • Commencement and expiration dates
  • Services to be performed
  • Events that must occur for the real estate professional to be entitled to compensation
  • The amount the real estate professional will be paid, and by whom
  • A statement about how the receipt of commission by the real estate professional from the landlord will not be viewed as a conflict-of-interest by the client
  • A mechanism for identifying and resolving conflicts-of-interest
  • A provision to extend the agreement
  • Obligations of both parties on termination and post-termination
  • Default, cure, and termination provisions
  • Authorization for the real estate professional to deal with the client’s other service providers
  • Statement that the agreement is governed by the laws and courts of the appropriate state
  • Statement that the parties to the agreement are authorized to enter into it
  • Entire agreement, no amendments except in writing
  • And, don’t forget all that other legal text that’s typically associated with service agreements that, while often lengthy, is intended to protect both client and service provider.

*** The above is not intended to represent a comprehensive list, nor am I practicing law by providing it.  Consult an attorney before drafting or executing an contract or agreement.

Since there exist more issues that are not reflected above, how the heck can you get all that is necessary onto a single page and make it an effective agreement for you and your client?

For your sake, and that of your client, hire an experienced commercial real estate attorney to draft a great document that protects you and your clients, learn how to present it effectively to your prospective clients, and then go make incredible deals for them!

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.

LINKS:

RealStrat News
Biographies
Articles
Properties
What Our Clients Say

Copyright Real Estate Strategies Corporation 2011.  All Rights Reserved.

###

Sleeping with the Enemy Broker

For those companies who prefer not to formally engage real estate service providers because they choose not to sign representation agreements, answer me this:

“Do you enjoy sleeping with the enemy?”

That’s right! The commercial real estate broker with whom you are working, the one who presents properties to you, the one to whom you have disclosed important information about your company, the one who says he’ll keep your information confidential, the guy who said he’d get you the best deal…is the enemy!  He has a legal, binding, fiduciary obligation to disclose everything about you, your company, and its real estate needs to property owners, including your confidential information. He is compelled to negotiate against you on behalf of property owners, to get you to pay as high a price as possible, and to get you to agree to terms that would be more favorable to property owners.

That’s right! The law of agency requires that, absent a written agreement to the contrary, a real estate broker is the agent of, and must protect the interests of, the entity from whom he or she receives compensation. Since, in most commercial real estate transactions, broker commissions are paid by landlords, without a written agreement between you and the broker stating that the broker represents you even though he’ll be paid by the landlord, you’re out of luck!

Surprised? You shouldn’t be.  Don’t take my word for this.  Ask any attorney how this really works.

But, deals are done this way all the time….right? So, why change things now?  Formally engaging a real estate professional to represent a company in acquiring real estate is not a new concept.  In fact, most commercial real estate transactions nowadays include both a landlord representative and a separate tenant representative, where the tenant representative has been formally engaged by the tenant through a written agreement.

Don’t landlords sign representation agreements with real estate brokers?  Doesn’t your company sign other agreements and contracts, such as leases, purchase agreements, service plans, employment agreements, vendor contracts, and others?

So, why not hire a real professional and protect your company’s interests?  Perhaps you don’t trust your broker or would not want to be bound to him.  That’s an easy one!  Find the right broker…and, hire him by a written agreement that protects your company’s interests.

Then, you and your company will be protected, and you will be assured that you won’t be sleeping with the enemy!

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.

LINKS:

RealStrat News
Biographies
Articles
Properties
What Our Clients Say

Copyright Real Estate Strategies Corporation 2011.  All Rights Reserved.

###

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33 Signs That the Building Your Company Leases May Be In Serious Financial Trouble

As your company seeks to reduce costs and preserve its cash, it is important to keep a careful eye on those other companies that provide services to you that can have a material affect on your ability to conduct business productively, safely, and profitably. Specifically, your company’s landlord could be experiencing financial or other challenges that, if unresolved appropriately, could hinder your company’s ability to enjoy a productive business environment, irrespective of your continued rental payments.

Watch for a number of issues that could signal your landlord is having difficulties, or may be headed for them. They could be signs that your landlord may be in danger of losing its building. While this list is not intended to be complete, some indicators may include:

1. Significant increases in vacancy in your building

2. Increases in vacancy in other buildings where your landlord has an ownership interest

3. Increases in vacancy in neighboring competitive buildings

4. Construction projects that start at your building but, languish unfinished for extended time periods (typically a sign that contractors are not being paid on time or at all)

5. Decline in response time and / or communications for service, maintenance, or repairs (a sign that staff has been cut or is stretched too thin)

6. Increase in equipment and system breakdowns, such as elevators, HVAC systems, etc. (indicates a decline in preventative maintenance, staff cuts, or more)

7. Fewer landlord or management company employees visible on site

8. Decline in security, life and property safety services

9. Consistent lack of consumable items in restrooms and other areas

10. Interior office, common area, or window cleaning occurs less often

11. Trash not disposed of in a timely manner or is stored in basements and other areas

12. Snow not removed from parking lots in a timely manner

13. Landscaping not updated or maintained and / or grass is cut less often

14. General deterioration of the appearance of the building, parking lots, and grounds

15. Reduction of tenant events

16. Deferred capital improvements

17. Preventative maintenance announced or planned but, not implemented

18. Floors, glass, and metal and other interior components not polished or maintained

19. Band-aid repairs being made in place of needed capital replacements

20. Unresolved mechanics liens from contractors and other service providers

21. Real estate taxes delayed or not paid

22. Mortgage payments delayed or not paid

23. Water, utility, or other payments delayed or not paid

24. Increase in unresolved or unpaid fines from the municipality and / or other governmental authorities

25. Substantial and / or unexplained increases in operating expenses and costs of landlord or management company provided services passed on to tenants

26. Landlord making multiple requests for you to sign estoppel certificates or lease summaries (suggests that the landlord may be scrambling for financing or attempting to sell the building)

27. Real estate brokers unwilling to show your building to prospective tenants (suggests that landlord is unable or unwilling to pay commissions – typically a sign of a cash crunch)

28. Contractors seeking payment from you instead of landlord (indicates a lack of confidence on the part of contractors in their ability to be paid on time, in full, or at all)

29. Contractors unwilling to work in your building (see above)

30. Multiple switching of leasing and / or managing agents, building managers, cleaning companies, security services, vendors, service providers

31. Landlord selling other assets

32. Landlord’s inability to sell or refinance your building

33. Change in landlord’s leasing program – agreeing to many short term leases to small, transient, and / or undesirable companies

What can you do to protect your company and assure that your environment remains productive, safe, and profitable, and that your company receives the services to which it is entitled?

Imagine planning and executing a well designed defensive operational and financial strategy, only to find out that the real estate your company leases may not be under your control and that the space may be pulled out from under you!  That’s right!  Your landlord may not be as good at pruning expenses and could lose your building, throwing into question your company’s rights to remain in its space.

“But, we have a lease with many years remaining;  We pay rent and have never been late!  They can’t take our space away from us….can they?”

The answer to that question is a resounding…..”That depends!”  It depends on a number of factors, from whether or not your landlord will really lose its building, to who will end up with it, to what the process will be if the landlord does lose the building, to how thorough your company’s lease was negotiated in the first place and what protections that document affords you.

The first step is to read your company’s lease. Check all of the clauses that might impact your occupancy, including those pertaining to non-disturbance, landlord default, self-help, sublease, early termination, and others. Since your lease constitutes the rules of engagement, be certain to understand your company’s rights, privileges, and obligations, in the event of a serious landlord problem.

Make it your business to understand all lease components that could affect your company’s ability to remain in the building if the landlord were unable to support it financially. Specifically, does your lease provide for self-help (the ability to secure services that the landlord fails to provide) in the event that the landlord defaults in providing services to you? Can you contract for temporary cleaning and other services? Can you secure utilities directly from the utility provider? Can you do the above without putting your company into default of its lease?

What if the landlord actually goes bankrupt and ownership of the building reverts to the lender? Can the lender terminate your lease? Maybe! Does your lease require the landlord to secure a non-disturbance agreement for you from the lender? Has the landlord provided you with that document? A non-disturbance agreement, if written properly, will most often prevent a successor, like a lender, from terminating your lease.

By now, you’re likely asking: “Why would a lender terminate our lease? Wouldn’t they prefer to retain rent paying tenants?”

That, too, depends! It is possible that your building could have a greater value or a greater likelihood of being sold if it were vacant. Perhaps a larger tenant, or one that for some reason is more desirable, may want your space. Or, maybe your company’s use of its space is not conducive to the lender’s future plans for the building. Without a non-disturbance agreement, your company could receive notice to vacate and have little choice.

When commercial landlords experience financial difficulties, the tell tale signs may be easy to spot. In many cases, payments to vendors, service providers, taxing authorities, and others become delayed or are sometimes not paid at all. In others, the building shows signs of neglect.

If you believe you have reason to be concerned, do a little detective work. Check with the local property tax dept, utility companies, and other building services providers to confirm that bills are being paid in-full and on-time. Ask around, too. Are vendors, commercial real estate brokers, contractors, and others being paid in-full and on-time? But, be careful here. You wouldn’t want to spook anyone and create concern about your landlord if problems don’t exist.

Above, we discussed 33 Signs That the Building Your Company Leases May Be In Serious Financial Trouble.  Guess what?  There are more than 33 signs!  Take a look around your building and ask yourself some of these questions:

34. Has building management or maintenance staff been cut?

35. Is the landlord any less responsive?

36. Are capital projects being delayed?

37. Is construction languishing in an incomplete state for extended periods?

38. Are repairs taking too long to complete?

39. Does the building look as good as it did?

40. Are the interior and exterior common areas being well maintained?

41. Is the landscaping being properly maintained, trash being removed and parking areas being plowed of snow promptly?

42. Are vacancies growing?

43. Are smaller, less desirable, and / or transient tenants taking space?

44. Has the landlord tried unsuccessfully to sell or refinance the building?

These are common indicators that a building and / or its landlord may be in serious financial trouble.  So, how bad could it get? What could happen if your landlord DOES lose your building to its lender…..or, to the sheriff for non-payment of property taxes?  It could get ugly…very ugly, with your company’s productive becoming the victim.

Do your homework…early and thoroughly!

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.

LINKS:

RealStrat News
Biographies
Articles
Properties
What Our Clients Say

Copyright Real Estate Strategies Corporation 2011.  All Rights Reserved.

###

11 Intelligent Strategies to Win With Your Clients in 2011!

As this funky worldwide economy claws its way up from the depths of financial hell, your clients need your expertise more now than ever before. Alas, “business as usual” is no more.  Your clients will need your knowledge, creativity, and your resources on new and multiple levels, so that they can achieve their objectives.  After all, your clients’ success is your success!

Here are 11 strategies for 2011:
1. Be Patient. Even your most sophisticated clients are working to figure things out, too

2. Advise First, Worry About Transactions Later. As the economy recovers, albeit slowly, your clients need guidance about viable real estate alternatives that will support multiple paths to business growth, change,
exit, and otherwise

3. Provide Business Advice, Not Just Real Estate Services and Information.
If your clients are not in the real estate business, they will benefit by your ability to distill real estate into their language

4. Be Transparent. Nothing ruins a trusting relationship quicker than an unspoken concern over whether a service provider or advisor has competing or conflicted interests

5. Push Communications. Keep your clients advised and sufficiently informed, never permitting them to wonder about the status of their project

6. Give It To Them Straight…They Can Take It! Your clients need uncensored, unembellished, honest, timely, and pertinent business intelligence, whether they like the outcome or not. Only then, will they be armed to make informed decisions

7. Manage Market Stress. Never let a client enter into a transaction without guiding them to conduct proper due diligence on their transactional opponents.  In this challenging economic environment, many companies are not what they seem

8. Go! Fight! Win! Drive hard and  negotiate aggressively to achieve your clients’ objectives. Now is the time to achieve greatness on their behalf. But, know when you’re on the goal line

9. Bend, But Don’t Break. This year especially, your clients will require assistance in areas that may be new to you. Be flexible and expand your offerings. But, know your boundaries and limitations

10. Information is Powerful. But, the knowledge and skill to  intelligently interpret, plan, and execute is the path to success

11. Stay Close. Your clients’ needs will change and then, change again. If they recognize your value, accept the responsibility to maintain those relationships

If nothing else, 2011 promises to be an interesting, and likely an exciting year.  You can either watch from the sidelines or lead your clients to victory!  Good Luck!

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.

LINKS:

RealStrat News
Biographies
Articles
Properties
What Our Clients Say

Copyright Real Estate Strategies Corporation 2011.  All Rights Reserved.

###

Brokers Compensation is Performance Based…But, Who Must Perform?

I love it when some commercial landlords claim that the commissions they pay to commercial real estate brokers should be conditioned on whether a tenant performs or defaults under a lease.  Some landlords insist that they should not be required to make future commission payments if tenants default.  Some go so far as to demand reimbursement of commissions by real estate brokers when tenants default.

Many commercial landlords argue that commissions should be paid based on the value landlords derive when tenants pay rent.  Those landlords claim that if a tenant defaults in paying rent, then the landlord’s value is diminished, and the commercial real estate broker should somehow be responsible for that default and should not be entitled to its full compensation.

This is simply an issue where commercial landlords attempt to pass on their risk to real estate brokers, as a result of landlords not performing the due diligence necessary to protect their own interests.  Do landlords really believe that real estate brokers are capable of analyzing the financial abilities of commercial tenants?  Do landlords really expect brokers to act as credit analysts and insurers of tenant creditworthiness?

Sure, the compensation of commercial real estate brokers is performance based.  But, to who’s performance does that relate?  Not the tenant’s performance!  Real estate brokers are not compensated based on the performance of their tenants. That’s why most courts of law have found that a real estate broker’s commission is due when the lease is executed by landlord and tenant, not at the end of the lease after the tenant has performed its obligations. So, from a landlord’s perspective, a commercial real estate broker should be paid for its own performance, for “delivering” a tenant, not for what that tenant does or doesn’t do after the landlord has accepted the tenant and after the landlord has freely elected to enter into a transaction with that tenant.

In fact, a commercial real estate broker working on behalf of a tenant may receive payment from the landlord, who is, in turn reimbursed by the tenant for the cost of the broker’s compensation along with other costs through payment of rent.  So, because tenants reimburse landlords for real estate broker compensation, some courts of law have held that, in fact, it is the tenant that actually pays the broker’s commission.

The world has changed and business, especially commercial real estate, has become a riskier industry.  Companies that appear to be healthy may not be, or may become unhealthy and default on their obligations at a later date.  This puts more burden on commercial landlords, and the necessity for them to take greater steps to protect their interests has become even more important.  For the record, it is not only tenants that can become unhealthy….

The issue of whether landlords should place the burden of tenant default on the backs of commercial real estate brokers has been an on-going source of debate, both in this blog, in LinkedIn, and in the commercial real estate industry.  And, so long as some commercial landlords, not the best or strongest landlords, mind you, unfairly attempt to shift their obligations and risks onto commercial real estate brokers, unfortunately this discussion will continue.

However, as the commercial landlord industry consolidates and becomes more sophisticated, that out-dated mentality of “stick-it-to the-real-estate-brokers” appears to be fading away, as greater numbers of commercial landlords recognize the benefits they derive from commercial real estate brokers representing tenants and the commissions to which those brokers are rightfully entitled.

 

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.

LINKS:

RealStrat News
Biographies
Articles
Properties
What Our Clients Say

Copyright Real Estate Strategies Corporation 2011.  All Rights Reserved.

###

6 Critical Steps to Protect Your Commissions in a Challenging Market

The compensation of most commercial real estate brokers is performance based, especially in lease transactions.  When real estate brokers perform, they are entitled to receive their compensation. Yet, too many seasoned brokers put their compensation at risk, too often.

Follow these six simple, but critical steps to protect your commissions, and to ensure that you’ll be paid fairly, in-full, and on-time.

Step 1. Speak Up!

As early as possible, discuss your compensation requirements with both your tenant – client and any landlords with whom your client may consider entering into lease negotiations.  That means at your first meetings, before your prospective client actually becomes your client, and at your first landlord meetings, advise them how you expect to be compensated, how much, and why.  Advise them that your compensation is performance based…based on YOUR performance in bringing about an executed lease, not based on the tenant’s performance once the lease is signed.  That’s a critical aspect of a real estate professional’s compensation.  Once the transaction has been completed, so has the job of the real estate broker, and at that point his / her compensation has been earned and is due.  Real estate brokers are NOT in the tenant credit guarantee business and are not responsible for the performance of the tenant after the lease is executed.  Read more on this subject.

Explain to your tenants that at some point, while you are working to protect them, you may ask for them to demonstrate to the landlord that they expect you to be compensated adequately.

Step 2. Make It Clear in Your Representation Agreement

Never work to acquire real estate on a company’s behalf, without having a written agreement between them and your company.  Your agreement should define your obligations and those of your client.  It should specify how and by whom your company would be paid, and should state that your compensation is not dependent on your client’s performance under any lease. Moreover, in your agreement, your client should agree not to execute a lease until your company has secured an executed commission agreement from the landlord.

Step 3. Spell It Out in RFPs and Offers:

Include text in all requests-for-proposal and offers, specifying how much and by whom your company would be paid, that your compensation is due in-full upon execution of the lease, and that the tenant’s creditworthiness and/ or performance under the lease shall not impact how, how much, or when your compensation would be paid. The old standard text that often appears on offers saying “Commission to be paid by separate agreement” is no longer a viable means of protecting yourself.

Shouldn’t the landlord know in advance what your compensation expectations are, so he/she can properly budget for transaction costs?  Shouldn’t your tenant-client know how you’ll be paid?  Then, why not be transparent?

Include text in RFPs and offers clearly stating that you make no representations, claims, or warranties, as to the tenant’s creditworthiness, financial condition, or ability to perform any of its obligations, that the landlord will be solely responsible to conduct its own investigation of the tenant and satisfy itself as to the tenant’s financial condition, and that your compensation shall not be conditioned on the tenant’s creditworthiness, financial condition, or ability to perform any of its obligations.

Step 4. Be Clear in the Commission Agreement

Irrespective as to whether it is a common practice in any market for a landlord and tenant broker to enter into a commission agreement, always secure a written commission agreement before a lease is executed.

In almost an identical fashion, include text in the commission agreement, whereby the landlord acknowledges that you made no representations, claims, or warranties as to the tenant’s creditworthiness, financial condition, or ability to perform any of its obligations, that the landlord will be solely responsible to conduct its own investigation of the tenant, and that your compensation shall not be conditioned on the tenant’s creditworthiness, financial condition, or ability to perform any of its obligations.

By the way, since you’re asking the landlord to acknowledge that you made no claims, be certain not to make any!

Step 5. Use the Lease to Protect Your Compensation

The lease provides an excellent opportunity for you to be transparent with your tenant and bring the tenant in on the commission conversation.  Explain to your tenant that as you fight hard to secure favorable terms on its behalf, you will need the tenant’s help in securing favorable commission terms.  The tenant’s assistance becomes especially important since you will not ask the tenant to compensate you, but only to stand arm-in-arm with you as you negotiate both the lease terms necessary to protect the tenant and the commission terms needed to protect your company.

With tenant and broker in a unified front, this approach benefits both tenant and broker.  It clearly telegraphs to the landlord that both tenant and broker are aligned in all respects, are co-dependent, and that the landlord will not likely be able to divide and conquer, as some overly-aggressive landlords will seek to do.

Include text in the lease stating that if the landlord does not pay the broker its commission in-full and on-time, in accordance with the terms of the commission agreement, then the tenant may, at its option, pay the broker’s commission and deduct an equal amount from its rent without being in default.

Most tenants will have no issue with the addition of this type of text, as it places no burden on them, and the decision to pay you will be at their discretion.

Some landlords will yell and scream and claim their lenders will never approve of such text. Since such text places no greater burden on landlords than the terms contained in the commission agreement, and since it specifically references the terms of the commission agreement, lenders typically take no issue with such text.  If a landlord fights hard on this issue, be very careful and there may be real problems hiding around the next corner.

Step 6. Secure the Lender’s Cooperation

Landlords get lenders to grant non-disturbance agreements all the time, wherein lenders agree not to disturb tenants’ right to use and occupy their space in the event of a building’s bankruptcy or other similar circumstance.  Similarly, brokers should insist that landlords secure from their lenders written agreements stipulating that, in the event of a building’s bankruptcy or other action that might displace the landlord, the lender would fulfill the landlord’s commission obligations.

In tough times, unusual things can occur, and a business-as-usual approach can prove dangerous. This is especially true when it comes to broker compensation, which is sometimes treated as the last point to be negotiated or as a landlord’s slush fund, in some transactions.  Moreover, if during lease negotiations on your client’s behalf, a rogue landlord thinks he/she can get the best of you because you were not aggressive in securing your compensation requirements, that unfortunate perspective will likely translate into how the landlord will negotiate with you for your client’s lease. If you’re weak in protecting yourself, you’ll be perceived as being weak on your client’s behalf, and in fact, you may actually lose for your client, while you lose for yourself.

 

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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