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Depending on your locale, commercial real estate is either readily available or hard to find.

Either way, it requires due diligence and skills to negotiate the best commercial real-estate lease.

Here are 11 tips:

1. Location, location, location

Businesses have different priorities in leasing space. What are your location requirements?

Some businesses need to locate as near as possible to their customers.

Temporary help firms need to be accessible to their potential temporary workers. Restaurants need to strategize for the driving convenience of the patrons.

In an interview with The New York Times, I gave suggestions that were published in Advice on Taking an Entrepreneurial Leap.

2. Due diligence

Research the average costs for commercial space that meets your needs. You can get the necessary data for your area. You can also visit or

Develop a checklist of your necessities and prioritize them A, B or C.

3. Assess your necessities

What do you need in access to streets and highways, infrastructure, parking, space, storage and utilities? Develop a checklist of your necessities and prioritize them A, B or C. This becomes your wish list in terms of your priorities.

4. Consider professional input

While real estate pros actually work for the landlords by whom they’re paid commissions on the value of each lease, they can still be a good source of information. It might also be wise for you to get a commercial real estate lawyer to help you understand the fine print and in the negotiation process.

5. Research the costs

There can be common-area maintenance or CAM costs, garbage collection, insurance, property taxes, repairs, utilities and rental rates to consider. Annual rates are usually quoted for urban office space and monthly rates for industrial and retail space.

In retail space, landlords often calculate their base rental rate and add an additional charge — a percentage of your retail gross income.

You might be expected to pay costs directly or pay the landlord.

6. Know the zoning restrictions

There are city ordinances, zoning regulations or laws to keep in mind. Beware as they can have a big effect on your business.

7. Discuss and negotiate necessary improvements

It’s common for property to be remodeled to suit your needs. Know what is possible, your costs, who will manage the work, and whether you’ll be expected to restore the space to its original condition when you move.

You might want to sublease some of the space to save your cash flow until your business expands.

8. Subleasing

You might want to sublease some of the space to save your cash flow until your business expands. So inquire about subleasing and whether you’ll be allowed to rent some or all of the space to another party. You want to avoid legal hassles — being accused of breaking the lease — if you have to suddenly move.

9. Investigate timing contingencies

What is your growth potential? For the most convenience in flexibility, consider a short-term lease with options to renew with a guarantee of no rent increases. In this way, you’ll be able to move if enjoy faster-than-expected growth. Otherwise, a long-term lease usually gets you the best terms.

10. Have your checklist of priorities before leasing

Refer to your priority checklist before approaching a landlord. Keep it handy. Write down your questions and concerns. Get all terms in writing. Carefully study them and show them to your lawyer.

Be patient. Sometimes, it’s necessary and an acceptable practice to make a counter offer — in writing.

11. Be assertive

Don’t be shy about asking for you want. Depending on your locale and situation, you might have more negotiating power than you think.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are related tips:

Due-diligence Tips to Pick the Best Business Location — Whether you’re an established business looking to move or you’re a new entrepreneur looking for your first location, it can be a stressful process. Therefore, it’s important to adequately plan in order to alleviate the impact of such a stress factor. If you’re stressed over a move, you’re not alone.

Strategies, Precautions When Expanding into a New Market — So you see opportunities by expanding into a new market. Whether you’re expanding across town or into a different region, there are risks to anticipate in alleviating any uncertainty. Even it doesn’t seem risky, due diligence is required and certain precautions are imperative for success.

Finance – Managing Hidden Evergreen Clauses for Your Benefit — A big frustration for businesspeople in financing and leasing business and commercial equipment comes after they fail to read the fine print in contracts. Commonly found in financing and leasing contracts, evergreen clauses are designed to keep customers committed to an agreement beyond the original term.

Are You up-to-date on Opportunities in Emerging Markets? Why Many Managers Aren’t — Seventy-six percent of business managers at global companies don’t have information for their needs – even though it’s necessary for productive decisions in expanding into emerging markets.

“The best move you can make in negotiation is to think of an incentive the other person hasn’t even thought of – and then meet it.”

-Eli Broad


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.