Help Wanted: What to Ask Before You Hire a Tenant Rep

A professional tenant rep is a vital member of your team when you’re looking for new space. Hiring the correct rep can mean the difference between a good deal and one you’ll regret. Asking these questions can facilitate a thoughtful discussion and help you determine who is the best fit for you.

  1. Is your firm primarily a tenant advocate (tenant representative) or a listing agent?

Landlord and tenant lease objectives often conflict. When a broker who is representing the landlord takes you on tours, it means that your interests are not fully being represented—you’re seeing properties that the landlord wants you to see, but they might not be the best fit for your firm.

Not having someone negotiating and advocating for your objectives can end up being costly. Compare it to the residential real estate world—you would never go to an open house and tell the realtor running it details like your top offer or the timeline you are working under. When you work directly with the landlord’s broker, you are doing the equivalent.

  1. Will there be any conflicts of interest if we work together? 

Before engaging a new client for any type of litigation, law firms require verifications to confirm that they are not representing the other party, so there is no conflict of interest. Imagine if you hired a law firm, only to learn when your day in court arrived that your attorney was also representing the plaintiff! It’s also essential to make sure that there is no conflict of interest when hiring a tenant rep, because this can be common in commercial real estate.

  1. Do you have adequate time to work on this project?

There are a lot of steps involved in finding and leasing space, and it usually takes between 9-12 months. If the broker is working on multiple deals, they might not have enough time in the day for all of them. If the broker doesn’t have time, they will often hand it down to a junior broker or analyst who is making a tiny fraction of the commission on your deal—which means they might not be taking your transaction as seriously as you are.

  1. How long will this search take?

One of the biggest mistakes that a business owner can make when it comes to real estate is not allocating enough time to relocate their business. The search can be lengthy, and problems and delays can arise during the negotiation of the lease and the buildout. One way to avoid these headaches is to start your search at least 12 months before your current lease ends, so your new space can be ready when the time comes.