6 Indicators of a Well-Managed Office Building

Branding and property certifications are among the requirements that tenants and investors should consider, according to a top property manager.

Evaluating how well an office building is run may be a crucial but difficult assignment for both prospective tenants and potential investors. How can you tell if a building is being maintained to a level that will make it a pleasant place for your company to conduct business or a wise investment?

Javier Lezamiz, senior managing director and New York lead for Cushman & Wakefield’s asset services unit, was consulted by LoopNet to aid with the solution to that question. Lezamiz has overseen commercial real estate for close to 30 years. In his current position, he is in charge of 650 staff members who provide management services for more than 220 properties totaling around 47 million square feet of commercial space in New York City and on Long Island.

That’s a lot of space, to put it simply. In fact, Crain’s New York Business reports that it makes C&W the largest commercial property management in New York City.

Following are the six factors that LoopNet determined to be indicative of a commercial property that is well-managed based on our discussion with Lezamiz.

  • Branding.
  • Employee awareness.
  • Public Area Maintenance
  • Property Certifications.
  • Organizational Framework.
  • Tenant participation.
Lezamiz asserts that one of the simplest methods to determine whether a commercial property is well-managed is to look at the signs identifying the property manager, which are often found on the building’s façade or in the lobby.According to Lezamiz, “Right at the front door, you’ll see a plaque that is prominently affixed to the building that says, ‘Cushman and Wakefield, managing agent.'” This is true for every property that his company looks after.

While a company’s reputation doesn’t always matter, learning about the management company—whether it’s a well-known manager like C&W or a small property owner’s in-house team—can help create reasonable expectations for how the property is operated.

A careful investor or renter should conduct some basic background research on the property manager, including finding out how many properties they are in charge of, how long they have been in the industry, and what other customers and tenants have to say about them.

Lezamiz argued that while C&W manages a wide range of properties in terms of class, size, and function, the capacity to manage various assets in the same way implies a high level of management expertise.

“When you’re able to take your brand and replicate it identically across other assets, that is key to most people distinguishing us versus our competitors or distinguishing one owner versus another,” he added.

Additionally, the absence, concealment, or less-than-obtrusive display of that sign conveys the message that no one is really interested in taking ownership of or being linked with the property. Potential renters and investors are also unlikely to want to be associated with it in that case.

Employee Awareness
You should pay attention to how the staff acts and presents themselves in buildings with enough staff stationed in the lobby, whether it’s security, a concierge, or a porter, Lezamiz advised.

Tenants and investors should anticipate attentive, properly attired building employees, according to Lezamiz. Given the rising security worries in many of the nation’s urban centers, you want “a security staff or concierge in your lobby that gives you a sense of wellbeing.”

This calls for the employees to be cordial while still being forthright about their duties and the expected behavior of site visitors. A good staff, in Lezamiz’s opinion, will make both guests and tenants feel “welcome” and “like they are looking out for me.”

Public Area Maintenance
The lobby, hallways, elevators, and amenity spaces are just a few examples of the common areas in a building that prospective tenants and investors will want to thoroughly inspect.

According to Lezamiz, all of these communal areas ought to be “clean and well-lit.” A light bulb that needs to be replaced or stray pieces of trash, such as a piece of paper here or a food wrapper there, could indicate that the property isn’t being properly maintained.

Additionally, it affects other areas of the property negatively if the common areas that are visible to the public look dirty or in poor condition.

In such a case, “I could imagine in the mechanical rooms and so forth, how dirty they must be,” Lezamiz remarked.

Property Certifications
Speaking of the mechanical rooms, Lezamiz said that building certificates may be used as a stand-in for inspecting such systems even though residents and occasionally even potential investors aren’t typically allowed access to those areas.Lezamiz emphasized that tenants and investors in particular had to look for a LEED or Fitwel certification. While Fitwel assesses how well a property supports the health and wellbeing of its residents by assessing characteristics like indoor air quality and access to outdoor space, among many other indicators, LEED certification focuses on how building systems affect the environment. An alternative certification to Fitwell is called WELL.

Because these certifications are extremely difficult to obtain, Lezamiz claimed that their presence indicates “that the standards of the property management team are very high when it comes to indoor air quality and when it comes to providing the most sustainable type of services to any of the occupants of that building.”
Organizational Framework.
According to Lezamiz, a property should ideally have a dedicated property manager, and even better, one who is based on-site. He did admit that many properties are too small to warrant having their own property manager, but he insisted that this shouldn’t exclude them from being well-managed.

More importantly, anyone with an interest should be aware of the property manager’s level of experience. Additionally, the most crucial query would be what type of support system is in place because efficient property management frequently “takes a village,” as Lezamiz put it.

“If a property manager is across three, four, or five properties of a similar size, but they’re properly supported with assistant managers or administrators, that property manager could still be just as effective as a dedicated property manager.”

Tenant Interaction
The ultimate goal of excellent property management is “always about tenant satisfaction,” according to Lezamiz. “Happily occupied tenants are more likely to extend their leases and recommend that property to others.”

Although asking tenants directly about their opinions of the property may not be practicable, asking the property management about their interactions with tenants will give interested parties an idea of how involved the tenant population is. For instance, a smart property manager, according to Lezamiz, will regularly survey tenants and offer events.

Beyond those activities, it’s crucial for a property manager to meet face-to-face with their tenants on a frequent basis. Lezamiz stated that he likes to have weekly meetings with his tenants because their operational difficulties may have a significant impact on how he manages the building. “Having that one-on-one” will lead to “a tenant who’s satisfied and enjoys being at the property.”

We are ready to assist investors with Santa Ana office properties. For questions about Property Management, contact your Orange County commercial real estate advisors at SVN Vanguard.

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