A broker is essentially a tour guide through the process of purchasing commercial real estate. And just like you wouldn’t set out on a treacherous hike without a qualified tour guide, you shouldn’t start the journey into commercial real estate ownership without a broker.
If you have a friend or colleague who can recommend a realtor, you’ve lucked out. Personal referrals are the best way to find a qualified realtor. If you’re able to get a personal recommendation, here are a few questions to ask before contacting the broker:
QUESTIONS FOR A COLLEAGUE RECOMMENDING A BROKER:
Does the broker have a reputation of honesty, experience, and accessibility? You’ll want to have a broker that is knowledgeable and relatively easy to get a hold of.
What were the broker’s weak points? Everyone has them, but you’ll definitely want to know these before the process begins.
What were the broker’s strong points? Think about what would make the process more smooth for you, and then see if the broker’s strong points align with your needs.
Would you use the same broker again? The answer to this question is very telling of how well the process went.
If all of these answers match up with your needs, go ahead and contact the broker. (In fact, contact several so that you can have options.) Make sure to ask each of them these questions:
QUESTIONS FOR A BROKER:
What is your experience with commercial needs like mine? Cite any specific needs that you have in a property, and make sure they have some experience in these properties (or at least have a record of being imaginative enough to adapt space to unique needs).
What is the size of the real estate office? How many clients do you have at the moment? If the realtor is very busy, it’s probably a good sign that they’re highly-qualified, but if they have a lot of clients at the moment, you may get lost in the shuffle.
What is the compensation structure of the broker’s office? Most brokers earn commission based on the length of the lease, square footage, and the rent increase, so their interests may not be aligned with yours. However, larger firms may place brokers on partial salary and reduce dependence on commission earnings.