Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Day the Product Broker Died

Today I reviewed the same 15 emails that I receive from the same 15 brokers every Wednesday. I’m sure I’ll do the same tomorrow. They are very nicely done. Some take you to lovely web sites which extol the values of the property. Some lead you to floor plans. All list 3 or 4 brokers ready and waiting to answer your call. The vacancy never changes.

Product brokerage is dead, and it is the entire landlord community that has allowed it. The typical broker feels that he is actually marketing and leasing a property if he or she does four things:

1. Stick a listing on CoStar.

2. Send the same lame email out weekly.

3. Present his or her client with a list culled from any responses to the above together with the classic and useless “tenants in the market.”

4. Wait for the phone to ring.

Product brokerage is a discipline that brokerage has given up on. The discipline is really quite simple but requires hard work. And the “big houses” don’t like hard work anymore as long as nobody demands hard work from them.

Product brokerage requires that a broker fully assess the attributes of the property-its location and neighboring submarket; the current tenant roster and why those tenants chose the property; its perceived class in the market—A, B, or premier; the reputation of ownership and management; all of its physical attributes from floor plate size to HVAC capacity.

From knowledge of the property attributes, a true product broker will match these against the tenants most likely to have an interest in the property. But a good broker can only do this if he or she maintains a detailed database of all tenants in the Boston market, appropriately categorized by submarket, lease expiration, preferred building quality, industry, and history of relocation, among other attributes, and the contacts at each firm.

Brokerage houses don’t have this information and that’s my challenge to the entire brokerage community. And my challenge to the entire landlord community. Tomorrow, ask your broker to provide you with his or her own list of the target tenants he or she is pursuing, EXCLUDING calls from CoStar, calls from emails, and the ubiquitous but useless “tenants in the market.” Your broker will not have a list. I guarantee it. They do not have demand side information that they have developed themselves. They may ask for a few hours but don’t give it to them.

Then the landlord community may just realize that, in their broker’s opinion, no matter how slick their latest email may be, or how fascinating their web site may appear, that you’re just another building with a “for lease” sign on it. Along with the other 10 buildings they’ve hung a shingle on.

Wouldn’t it be nice if brokers actually marketed your buildings?

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