If you’ve started a new business and you’re considering leasing an office or retail space, a good way to begin your search is to find a leasing agent who is an established commercial real estate agent in your geographical area. An experienced leasing agent will know how deals are done in your community and in the case of a lease transaction, know how landlords work with agents and brokers. Experienced commercial agents will have the financial stability to allow them to put your best interests first. In most rental situations a commercial leasing agent gets paid when the transaction is completed and commissions are typically calculated based on the dollar per square foot multiplied by the times of the term of the lease. A financially stable leasing agent will be less tempted to rush negotiations or settle for a more expensive result when patience might produce something better for your specific needs.

Finding a commercial real estate leasing agent isn’t much different than finding any other type of professional such as a lawyer, financial planner, mortgage broker, etc. A good dose of common sense; inquiring around within your network of personal and professional associates; and a moderate amount of research should help you achieve your goal. Here are a few questions to ask other professionals before narrowing your choices down to the final two:

What is the commercial agent’s reputation like? What is his / her experience, honesty, availability, follow-through?
A person who recommends a commercial agent to you should have the answers. If not, ask your mortgage lender (they are working with commercial real estate agents all the time).

What are the commercial agent’s weak points?
In every working relationship there has to be some differences that will occur. Find out what they are and if you think they are things you can work with. For instance, is the person always late? This may not be a problem if you tend to run late yourself, however it’s best to know upfront.

What are the commercial agent’s strong points?
You will want to find a commercial agent who can deliver your specific needs and requirements. For example, if you’re seeking a space for a dance studio you’ll need to find an agent who can think out-of-the-box and adapt space in a creative way to meet your highly special needs.

Would they use the same commercial agent again?
This question appears somewhat obvious but is useful because you’ll get a specific response that perhaps might not have been otherwise forthcoming. For example, you may hear a response that starts with “well, yes, because what I really liked was…” and the rest of the sentence often recalls a professional skill, such as attention to detail, that may be important and revealing to you.

Once you’re down to two or three top prospects, you’re ready for the interview phase. Armed with the knowledge you now have about the commercial agent you’ll want to get information from the commercial agent as well. Here are two important questions you’ll want to ask them:

What is the commercial agent’s experience with your needs?
Hopefully you already knew that the agent was familiar with specific business needs like yours. But if you’re not sure – it’s important that the agent verbalizes their experience to you. Ask for references from other business like yours, that he / she conducted business with previously.

What is the size of the real estate office?
If you’re a small business owner with modest space needs, it’s possible to get lost in the shuffle with a larger firm that primarily deals with big tenants who need 10,000-square-feet and up. However, larger firms often have teams with agents on different levels who are willing to deal with smaller spaces and satisfy your needs too. Overall, office size is not important. It’s the quality of service you will receive that is.

Finally, if you’re satisfied that the experience, level of skill, professional and personal style of a commercial real estate agent will suit your specific needs then it’s time to sign a contract. Signing a contract will protect you from the common misunderstandings that arise in every working relationship that is based on a handshake and further solidifies the relationship and trust between yourself and your agent. It will assure that the lease space you find is the lease space that your company needs.