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Before starting your search for space, think carefully about the kind of location and building that will best suit your business, determine the maximum rent you’re willing to pay, and set other priorities, such as the size and configuration of the space. Then consider the working relationship you want with a broker. You want to work with a commercial real estate broker who represents tenants, landlords, property buyers and sellers. Here’s how to get the best results.

What to Look for in a Real Estate Broker

Finding a commercial real estate broker isn’t all that different from finding a good doctor, lawyer, or dentist. An application of common sense, professional and personal connections, and some independent research usually does the trick. The same method works when looking for a broker. Here’s what to look for:

  • Expertise in commercial real estate. Make sure the broker you choose is experienced in helping tenants find office, retail, and other commercial space (not someone who works primarily with houses, condos, and apartments).
  • An established business in your geographical area. Look for someone who’s been in commercial real estate long enough to know how deals are done and how property owners and their brokers work. In addition, experienced and successful brokers will have the financial stability to enable them to firmly put your best interests at the front. Remember, in most situations a broker gets paid when the deal is done, according to the price. A broker who isn’t hungry will be less tempted to rush negotiations or settle for a more expensive result when patience might produce something better for you.

How to Find a Commercial Real Estate Broker

Other commercial property owners in your community will be the best source of leads for brokers. Ask businesses if they have engaged a broker and whom they would recommend. Look for property owners who appear to be running a healthy business (chances are that their good business sense was at work when they chose a broker, too).

You can narrow your field of inquiry by approaching property owners whose businesses are similar to yours.

If you want to locate in a particular area, to take advantage of adjoining businesses, traffic patterns, or expected rents, it makes sense to look for brokers who have already done deals in the neighborhood.

Be sure to check out brokers who represent buyers and sellers—of commercial real estate.

Try to get recommendations from several property owners and businesspeople. You may find that the same name or names pop to the top of everyone’s list. Once you’ve whittled down your list to two or three promising names, you’ll want to ask your contacts about the broker’s strong and weak points, before you interview and choose a broker.