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Searching for Commercial Property? - 8 Useful Tips

As of June 15th many shops will be opening their doors for the first time in three months. With the easement of Covid-19 restrictions on the retail industry, businesses may be re-thinking the suitability of their current location or looking to find their first premises.

Outside of retail, many businesses will be evaluating their options for expansion or adapting to changing working practices.

Whatever your reason for exploring the commercial rental sector, Jack McMullan, Commercial Surveyor here at GTH, brings us his tips on how to be more effective in your property search.

1. Identify a list of ‘must-haves’ and ‘like-to-haves’

In terms of business premises, consider what your business needs to function profitably and then beyond that, what would you like your business to have in order to function better. Once you have done this, ponder how these things may change or shift in importance over a 3-10 year timeframe.

2. Size matters

Linked to the first tip, but important enough to be a point of its own.

When other valuation factors are the same, size can have a considerable impact on rental value and cost. With changing work patterns and improvements in technology allowing some workers to be just as effective working from home as well as the workplace, we are aware a lot of occupiers are using this time to monitor staff and re-analyse the size and configuration of space they need now and going forward.

Spend time carefully considering the variety of ways accommodation can be utilised so you can strike that balance between efficiency and room to grow.

If you find it hard to visualise how much space you might need, often it can be useful to check the area stated on the Valuation Office Agency website of a premises that you are already familiar with. While they can’t guarantee 100% accuracy, it’ll give you a good indication.

3. Ask for advice 

People cannot be experts at everything; and it pays to take professional advice. It doesn’t cost to get a fee proposal from a professional, and it gives them the opportunity to explain to you how they can add value to your process.

At the very least, familiarise yourself with the Code for Leasing Business Premises, 1st edition, published by our professional body, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. This is a great starting point if you are inexperienced at acquiring a leasehold interest in commercial property by breaking down complex issues.

4. Understand that there is often a trade-off between rent, quality of accommodation and flexibility of lease terms

Don’t be afraid to ask the agent or Landlord what lease terms the asking rent is predicated on – some will be offering it on very flexible terms, some may be willing to do certain works prior to completion of the lease.

Like you, most Landlord’s will have a list of must-haves and like-to-haves and not all asking terms will have an element of room for negotiation; some Landlords prefer to cut right to the chase and instruct their agent to bring the property to the market on the most tenant-friendly terms they are willing to accept.

5. Take time to search for the right property

Finding the right premises can take a lot longer than you think. Don’t just rely on a quick search on the web or just pursue a lead given to you by a business associate or a friend. Take the time to have a confidential conversation with an agent and be prepared to join their mailing list for properties that match the criteria you have given them.

It is easier said than done in these times, but in an ideal world, existing businesses would have started assessing their options and have commenced at least an initial search 12 months prior to any trigger date or lease expiry, increasing the intensity of the search as time goes on.

Conducting a search over a longer period reduces the chances of pressure affecting your decision-making. For those that are looking to start up a business, be patient and don’t worry if you have been searching for the right premises for 6 months or so, it’s more important to make the right decision rather than a quick one.

6. Help us to help you

Be prepared to be able to briefly explain your business proposition to a commercial agent and/or the Landlord. Conversations with a Chartered Surveyor should be confidential. We can help you to shape your requirement, bring compatible properties to your attention, inform you whether what you are looking for exists in the local market and save you valuable time on searching.

7. Prepare a business plan

Business plans or Landlord packs are not just for start-ups. Almost all Landlords will want to be satisfied that your business is and will be financially viable and taking the property on would not be over extending yourself.

It’s in no one’s interest for the business to fail and how you engage with the Landlord (and how they engage/respond with you) can be a good indicator as to whether there is the prospect for a good, long-term, working relationship.

8. Don’t just focus on the rent

When appraising an opportunity or negotiating, rent or rental concession should not be everything. Lease term, repairing obligations, service charge, security of tenure, alienation provisions, user clause, breaks, rent reviews and alterations should be very important too.

Greenslade Taylor Hunt’s Commercial Surveyors are highly experienced and offer advice across Somerset, Devon and Dorset. Our commercial team has won EG Magazine’s Most Active Agent award for 10 years in a row.

For a free, confidential discussion on your property requirements, contact one of our team:

Duncan Brown and Joseph Hughes: 01823 334455 |

Jack McMullan: 01749 676023 |

Robert Clark and Tim Wright: 01935 423474 |

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