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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.”