Vacant commercial spaces have always been an issue for real estate agents. After the Covid-19 pandemic hit in 2020, many companies were forced to close their doors for good. This led to an increase in the number of vacant commercial spaces around the world.
The question that commercial real estate agents have asked themselves throughout history remains: how can they find new opportunities for vacant commercial spaces? Here, 11 members of the Bids For Real Estate Council share their expert opinion.
1. Stay visible to connect
Finding new opportunities for vacant spaces often depends on the confluence of timing, connection and visibility. You never know when a new opportunity will arise. The best way to connect is to be visible – in the industry, business and community. Visibility is not easy and does not come overnight, but over time it will pay off and help commercial brokers provide solutions. – Andrew Hochberg, Next Realty, LLC
2. Look for opportunities to reuse
Look for repurposing possibilities and do more legwork on feasibility. This means you can open up your traditional office, hotel or retail market to a new set of clients such as apartment investors, etc. – Elisa Zhang, EZ Real Estate
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3. Consider converting to self-storage
Those in the self-storage business are aggressively seeking vacant commercial warehouse spaces to convert to self-storage. We have also been successful in buying with the potential to reposition, say, a 100,000 sqm commercial building into 10 commercial spaces. These strategies have proven to be viable in this space. – Scott Meyers, Kingdom Storage Holdings
4. View master lease scenarios
Vacant commercial spaces cost the owner untold costs. Brokers can and should look at master lease scenarios (and possibly even offer a buy option). The tenant typically takes over the property on an NNN basis, then stabilizes the property with good credit tenants and even manages it himself. This lets the owner know that the tenant is incentivized to take care of the property. – Steve Alkandros, New England Management Group/AR Property Services, LLC
5. Consider mixed-use conversion
The current real estate landscape is ripe for innovation. We partner with several real estate companies focused on access to federal and state dollars aimed at increasing the affordable housing market. Many commercial properties qualify for mixed use or residential conversion to meet state goals for new housing. Low interest rates and deferred capital gains are some of the great benefits available. – Susan Leger Ferraro, peace, love, happiness real estate
6. Find Non-Traditional Tenants for Complement
Thanks to social media, geofencing, void analysis and research into emerging trends, we have found non-traditional tenants to fill commercial space. Hospitals decentralized into local markets, micrologistics centers, shared office space and a growing F&B market provide a new stable of potential tenants. Recent stimulus measures have also boosted growth as people trade their 9-to-5 jobs to pursue entrepreneurship. – James Prendamano, Casandra Properties, Inc,
7. Create value in important ways
Vacant space remains empty if it is not equipped with the latest technology. No one wants to share phones, handsets or regular keyboards anymore. The likely solution is to use personal cell phones and laptops. Help hosts evaluate and equip spaces with the latest technology, then market the capacity. – Richard Lackey, City Commercial Real Estate, Inc.
8. Rediscover empty commercial spaces
Today’s market demands an in-depth understanding of the possibilities of reshaping vacant commercial spaces. Industries hit by the challenges of the past year can provide opportunities for new businesses to leverage adaptive reuse of empty spaces. – Adam Mopsick, Amicon
9. Network with business owners
Network with business owners who can be potential users, commercial real estate agents who can bring buyers or renters and even residential real estate agents who can refer a client. People always focus on new technology, but one of the most effective methods of marketing remains your sphere of influence. Talk to people. Maybe they just know someone who could use the space or have a new business idea. – Catherine Kuo, Elite Homes | Christie’s International Real Estate
10. Join the Chamber of Commerce
While Chamber of Commerce membership is unlikely to help you find opportunities, it will be beneficial to connect with Chamber of Commerce member business owners to know when a business is likely to relocate or close . This will lead to an open retail space that is ready for a new motivated consumer. – Marco Del Zotto, LIV | Sotheby’s International Realty – Breckenridge CO
11. Examine the zoning
Examine the zoning plan: does the property have a zoning plan that allows for vertical expansion or is suitable for both residents and commercial use? If there is no zoning, what is the ideal zoning for the site and product? Find the councilor or local official to start a discussion about that possibility. – Lee Kiser, Kiser Group