1. Look sooner rather than later
The amount of time you’ll need to find new premises varies, but the larger the amount of space you want, the more difficult it is to find in Central London. So while 6 months might be enough for a smaller move, if you’re looking for 40,000 square feet and up you’d be advised to start looking 18 months to 2 years before you intend to move.
This can be difficult for some companies because of uncertainty over how much space they’ll need in the future. We’re finding that some of the bigger, very fast-growing companies are leaving their property decisions to the last minute because they don’t want to make a call on their headcount – but it means they’re limiting their choices considerably.
In the current market, if you’re looking 2 years ahead that’s a good position to be in. You can look off-plan and choose something you can have an impact on. You won’t have to commit financially until the building is ready.
If you think you might eventually need more space, choose a bigger building and take option space, or take surplus space and look at sub-letting or assigning.
2. Ask the experts
Some companies will initially delegate finding premises to view to an inexperienced member of staff, asking them to search on the internet, or even simply walk around looking for “To Let” boards. Since boards and internet pages are often out of date, this can waste an awful lot of time that you’re paying for.
The commercial property market is more complex than the residential and more closed. If you are unrepresented, you won’t know how many people are looking at a building, how much interest there is in it and how much space there is available on the market – making moving offices more challenging.
Broker-type agents will tend simply to provide you with a list of possible properties and charge fees for introducing them to you. However, an agent such as Allsop will use their market knowledge and market intelligence to identify premises that are actually suitable for your needs, and will also be able to bring you options that haven’t come on the market yet.
3. Be flexible
Businesses that haven’t moved during the last 5 years may be unaware of how much rents have moved on and will try to manage their rental roll within their current rental budget. This is unrealistic.
To accommodate higher rents, tenants need to be flexible – and this is already happening in Central London. We’re finding Clerkenwell tenants moving to Shoreditch and Shoreditch people moving to Hackney and London Fields, as the tradition of having certain types of industries concentrated in particular areas breaks down.
4. Balance image with practicality
Companies want to attract the best young talent and to do that they feel they have to provide offices that compete with Google’s. Plus, if you’ve spent hundreds of thousands on your brand, your office has to reflect it. But you need to balance image with practicality. Don’t get carried away but instead find an office where you can both promote your brand and occupy the space efficiently.
In the current market where there’s so much demand and so little supply, tenants need to move quickly and appropriately. Balancing the need to take enough space for growth with your budget is a business decision, but it’s one you need to take without debating too long – otherwise you can find yourself left with no options and having to start the whole process again.
Associate, Office Agency – City
Rachel has 10 years’ experience working in Allsop’s City Agency Team providing acquisition and disposal advice to both Landlords and Tenants.
Rachel joined Allsop on the graduate training scheme in 2003. After spending six months in residential auctions and commercial valuations she then transferred to the City office to do a 12 month graduate placement. Rachel qualified as a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors in 2005 where upon she joined the City Agency Team on a permanent basis. Rachel was promoted to senior surveyor in 2007 and Associate in 2010.
The posts on this blog are provided ‘as is’ with no warranties and confer no rights. The opinions expressed are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of their employer.