What you need to know before signing a commercial lease

by Ana Lopez

Opinions expressed by businessupdates.org contributors are their own.

When it comes time to start looking for a commercial space to rent, there are many things to consider. If this is your first time renting a commercial space, there are certain factors I recommend you know in advance before you start your search.

1. Zoning

First of all, you need to understand the concept of zoning. Zoning laws dictate what types of businesses are allowed to operate on a specific property – then make a list of cities where you’re interested in opening your business.

Once that list is made, you can go online to the websites of the cities’ planning departments, call the planning departments, or visit them in person. I recommend you come by in person as it can speed up the process. When speaking with the person in the schedule, let them know the exact details of the business you will be opening.

Remember, once you have an address of interest, you’ll need to check back in with the city. This time, provide the planning department with the address and confirm that you can open your case at the address. Also ask the planning department whether your use is permitted by law or permit. If all goes well, you should be well advised to get your usage working. However, if the zoning department indicates that the use requires a permit, you should ask follow-up questions. The follow-up questions should be figuring out what permits you need, how long it will take to get them, and how much the permit will cost.

Related: 6 Overlooked Investment Opportunities in Commercial Real Estate

2. Size

Once you understand the zoning you are looking for, you need to know what your ideal room size is. If you want to know the square footage for your type of business, I recommend researching it before you start your search. You can quickly get an idea of ​​the size of the space you need by using the internet and searching for square footage and your usage. I also recommend walking into similar businesses to gain an understanding of the space.

Related: Criteria to Consider When Renting Commercial Space

3. Customer Demographics

Next on the list is to know who your customers are through demographics. Age, median income, and population are the key demographics you’ll want to keep in mind. For reference, in my markets of the Inland Empire and San Gabriel Valley regions of Southern California, most retailers look for establishments with a minimum of 100,000 people within a three-mile radius.

In addition, you want to know when your business is busiest. If you expect lunch to be critical, you’ll also want to know the daytime population numbers near the potential space you’ll be renting.

Knowing who your customers are can help you understand if visibility is vital to your business. Are you a destination tenant or an impulse tenant? If you are an impulse renter, you need high visibility. Without high visibility, potential customers will have a harder time seeing you and won’t be able to visit your store.

An excellent example of an impulsive tenant is dessert. People often decide to have an ice cream because they see it in a mall. Since prime street-facing space is rented at a premium, you’ll have more leverage with landlords if visibility isn’t a major concern for your business.

Related: What to do if your ideal customer isn’t who you expected

4. Traffic counts

If you need excellent visibility, you’ll also want to pay attention to traffic numbers. In commercial real estate, cars are examined on a daily basis. As a reference point, 25,000 vehicles per day on the main street where the location is located is a minimum number that many retailers look for when high traffic areas are needed.

5. Access

The next thing to consider is access. It does not matter whether you are an impulse or destination tenant. Access is a critical part of deciding on a space to rent. When figuring out access for a potential site, be sure to drive all streets in all directions. Pay attention to the lines of the road and whether it is interrupted. Also pay attention to street medians and no U-turn signs. You want to make sure your customers have easy access to your business.

Related: How to make your product more accessible to customers

6. Signage

Signage can also be crucial. Most centers have monument signs. Often tenants think that if they rent a space that previously had a monumental sign, they can take over that sign. That is not the case. You are only entitled to use a monument sign if it is stated in your rental contract.

When considering a center I recommend driving the entire center completely and taking pictures of all monument signs. You must include these images of the monument signs and the specific panels for which you are requesting usage rights in your offer.

Related: 5 key leasing deal points to know before signing a lease

It is essential to realize that there are basic principles when selecting sites. Having your company do its homework in advance will simplify the selection process for your location when looking for commercial space to rent. If you understand what you are looking for, but are also open to it, the process of finding a venue will go more smoothly.

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