Cyber Real Estate
Your New Office is a Click Away
December 1, 2008
Nearly every industry is switching to a digital platform, and commercial real estate is no exception. The Internet is a valuable tool for the small business owner looking to buy or lease the perfect place to fit employees, computers and file cabinets.
But how can the Internet best serve a small business owner’s needs, especially if someone is new to the whole process? Several realtors throughout the Beehive State say few sources beat the Internet’s wealth of information about commercial office space, making the Internet the best place to start your search.
“All too many times business owners end up wasting valuable time driving around and making calls on properties that will not even accommodate their requirement or are out of their price range,” says Brandon Fugal, executive vice president and director of corporate serices for Coldwell Banker Commercial in Salt Lake City. “The Internet is changing that and allowing people to establish clear parameters and criteria, in addition to qualifying properties in advance.”
Fugal adds, though, that it is important for small business owners to not completely rely on the Internet and to make sure to include the advice and assistance of professional real estate agents when looking for a commercial property.
“The Internet has not replaced the need to have good representation and advice, with so much of the information needed to make an educated decision and negotiate the best deal being proprietary in nature,” says Fugal. “In addition, the market changes on a constant basis, and it pays to have an agent or broker to help out in the process.”
This process can be full of complex decisions. Commercial agents and brokers help small businesses navigate the choices and minimize their confusion. Mark Jensen, investment specialist for Commerce CRG in Salt Lake City, says selecting a commercial agent is a crucial part of the process.
“Hire someone that is informed that can help you make the most educated decision possible,” says Jensen. “Every scenario is different depending on the needs and goals of the business, but the Internet is a great place to gather information. If you are looking for space, look at a lot of available spaces. Find out what they have in common, what you like, what you don’t like and what the potential spaces cost. Find out what fits you best and makes the most sense.”
Many Websites show the prices and locations of commercial space and are recommended by Utah real estate agents. CoStar and LoopNet are popular sites providing detailed economic information from building plans and photos. Fugal says most legitimate brokers feature their properties on these sites, providing the latest information on national market conditions and availability.
These sites, however, may not produce the best results for Utahns. Many local commercial real estate organizations provide sites with all the information that is needed to locate an office in the Beehive State. The NAI Utah site, for example, allows people to enter certain criteria for their search by indicting whether they want a Class A, B, or C real estate property.
“On our Website, we have a profile of all of our agents and what their specialties are,” says Jake Davis, associate real estate agent for NAI Utah Commercial. “This helps a small business find exactly what it is looking for. It simply provides knowledge at their fingertips.”
In addition to consulting an agent and searching the Internet, Graig Griffin, ex-ecutive vice president at Coldwell Banker Commercial KGA in St. George, says a small business should consider other allied professionals that could help them establish their business space such as tax and legal advisors, an architect, space planner, engineer, general contractor, property inspector and industry-specific advisors and suppliers. Griffin says the Internet is highly instrumental towards ensuring the success of this team.
“The Internet is a wonderful way to find that team and to give them some examples of what is being contemplated,” says Griffin. “There are also online services that allow all of the team members to keep up to date on the work of the others and for the owner to stay abreast of every detail throughout the process. If a business is selling property should seek out a Realtor that has a high degree of expertise in online marketing to complement its efforts.”