Some investors figure it’s easy enough to find a commercial real estate property without a broker’s help. After all, numerous sites on the web – Loopnet and CoStar being just two out of many – offer dozens of properties at the click of the mouse.
In addition to state of the art color photos, 3D walkthroughs, and chatbots that let ask you questions of a realtor, you can also view detailed data on choice properties.
So what could be wrong with finding a net lease property this way?
Take it from a commercial real estate broker with over 40 years of experience: plenty.
The Best Properties Are Never Listed Publicly
While some of the properties you find online may be decent properties, the best ones are never listed on a public website.
The owners of those investment properties aren’t interested in being bothered by every Tom, Dick and Harry; they want to make sure they’re put in contact with vetted buyers who won’t waste their time.
Another factor is that unlike residential real estate, commercial real estate has no central database for listings. There are many different types of properties and transactions, and they are all spread out on different listing platforms. Not working with an agent means you won’t know about the majority of properties available.
At the same time, the vast majority of brokers aren’t interested in putting a plum piece of real estate on the table for the entire world to sniff over.
They also don’t want to deal with inexperienced or unvetted owners, and they don’t want other brokers sniffing around their deal. Of course, they’re happy to work with brokers they know – and CRE is a business where most of us know each other – but on their own terms.
Another factor has to do with the sheer amount of contacts a good broker has. Personally, I have more than two thousand, and while I’m not in contact with each one every day, I know exactly who I need to speak to when the situation arises.
But a good agent doesn’t only use his network in order to find out about listings. It’s also an excellent way to let buyers or tenants who have bought with us previously that we have a new property available.
If your property runs into a zoning problem, or you just need to check what the on-the-ground reaction is to a specific property, then your broker can contact local politicians to find out more.
And lastly, brokers are an excellent source of information in terms of finding lenders who will help you purchase your property. That information is sometimes very difficult to find, especially when you’re talking about local lenders.
The best property may or may not be the best property for you. Not all properties are created equal when it comes to your investment goals.
Some properties might have a great net income, creditworthy tenants, and a great location, but the management responsibilities might be too high for your particular situation.
Others might have a lower profit but are steadier than a rock in terms of a reliable income. A good commercial property will generally run for anywhere from half a million dollars on up; if you’re investing that amount of money you must be sure that the investment fits in with your long-term investment goals.
You Save Time
If you’re like most businessmen, you already have more than enough to do.
Time is precious, and you’re already juggling several urgent tasks that need your immediate attention. Do you really want to spend two or three hours a day checking out listings, saving the ones you’re interested into a file, calling listing agents, waiting for them to call you back, schedule and go on property yours, write offers, and so on?
If you can afford to buy a commercial property, then the amount of time you lose can cost you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. It’s work that requires dozens of hours of someone’s time, but that person doesn’t need to be you.
Do you spend hours of your day scrubbing your house from top to bottom, or do you call a house cleaner? Unless you thoroughly enjoy cleaning, you hire someone else who can do an effective job.
You Save Money
Commercial real estate brokers work on a commission-only basis. So if you’re a seller, you would pay a commission based on the sale price of your property.
But if you’re looking to buy a property, then it makes absolutely no sense not to use a broker due to this simple fact: only sellers pay a commission. Buyers or tenants do not get charged a fee for the transaction.
However, if you choose not to use a broker, you will pay for access to the listing service, and you will spend a heck of a lot of time on a project that your broker will happily do for you – for free.
Brokers Know The Market, The Location, And The Property Type Better Than You Do
No, I’m not saying you’re not smart, or incapable of knowing a lot about commercial real estate. But if something is your job – something you do day after day for years, and you are passionate about it like I am, then you’re going to have a lot of expertise.
I read a dozen journal on commercial real estate a week – that’s aside from commercial real estate news found online, passed on from broker to broker, or from the many investors, owners, and tenants that I am in contact with on a daily basis.
Commercial brokers see a wide variety of properties and take the time to run the data and analyze the results day in and day out. They also make sure to keep up with the various trends in their geographic area, and in the nation as a whole.
The market moves fast, and trends that were up and coming a half a year ago might be on their way out before you realize it.
For the same reason that you go to a health specialist, choosing a broker who specializes in one particular real estate field is the best way to make sure you have the best information you can.
In short, you have a lot to gain when you choose a commercial broker. Find one that has experience in the type of property you’re interested in and has overall experience in the field.
Of course, hiring a broker doesn’t mean you can’t be intimately involved in the deal, but it does mean you’ll have someone whose job is to look out for you.