I'm often asked the question, "Don't all commercial real estate agents do the same thing?" This question usually comes from someone who is thinking about hiring their brother in law, cousin, family friend, or random acquaintance to sell their commercial real estate. Many sellers assume that all you have to do is put the property online, put a sign up, and put some adds in the paper, and their property will sell. Clearly if this was the case, any old commercial real estate agent would do. Unfortunately it is not the case, and therefore, sellers shouldn't just use the first commercial real estate agent that they meet. Here is a list of a few things that you should expect from a professional commercial agent
- Online Advertising:Of course almost all agents will list your property on the mls, but where else are they putting it? I would expect a professional agent to list your property on several websites that specifically target commercial property purchasers.
- Sign: Most agents are going to put a sign on your property, but the type of sign is what's important. A professional commercial agent should put a large, often 4'X8' sign on your property if it is allowed. The sign should also have information specific to your property. I cringe when I see a commercial property for sale with a little 'For Sale' sign that you would expect to see on a single family home.
- Print Advertising: I often hear that print advertising is dead. I usually hear this from agents who are not willing to spend the money on it. I agree that it is not as effective as it once was, but local targeted print ads do still work. A professional commercial agent will advertise your commercial real estate.
- Email Blasts: This is one of the most overlooked forms of advertising for commercial real estate. A professional agent should have several hundred contacts in commercial real estate. Your agent should email information about your property to a targeted list of interested buyers. This should not be SPAM! The list should only include commercial real estate owners and investors that your agents knows, and has asked permission to send listing information to.
- Networking:A professional commercial real estate agent will spend a good portion of their time networking with bankers, attorneys, CPA's, Financial Advisers, and other business professionals. These peopleare often the first ones to hear about a businesses that need new space or people interested in making new investments. Facebook.com and similar websites do not count here. Facebook.com is a wonderful site to include in your online advertising plan, but it should not replace actual networking.
- Cold Calling:This is one area of the commercial real estate business that really separates the professionals from the slackers. If you have a commercial property with a specific use, your agent must cold call other owners of similar properties. I saw a great example of this earlier this week, where an agent in my office was selling a recycling plant, and she found a buyer by calling owners of other recycling plants nearby. This is one of the most effective and neglected techniques for getting a property sold.
- Handling Incoming Calls:After your agent has done all of the advertising and marketing mentioned above, calls should start coming in. One thing that is of utmost importance is how your commercial real estate agent handles those calls. Are they knowledgeable about the property? Can they explain to the caller the features and benefits of your property? Can they explain the financing process for commercial real estate? Do they sound knowledgeable and professional?
If the commercial real estate agent you are considering working with doesn't do these things, you might want to see who's next on your list.