Some landlords tell us “We don’t know what layout or decor tenants want, so we won't do anything until we have a signed contract.”
Other landlords do the opposite- when they get a vacant space they promptly repaint it, replace the carpet, upgrade the lighting and spend some money and time ensuring it looks great.
From our experience, spaces that are presented nicely lease faster at good rates, usually without layout changes or alterations to the decor.
Here’s some quick tips to make your space attractive without spending huge money:
If the power’s off, get it turned on
Having lights going makes such a difference to the ‘feel’ of a place. It's a real struggle to lease a space when you have to use a torch to show a prospective tenant through.
Remove clutter or storage items
Clutter prevents tenants from imagining themselves in a space. It might be convenient to use a space to store someone’s household belongings or last year's bargains, but it could be the reason the space isn’t leasing.
Paint makes a huge difference
A plaster and paint job doesn’t cost a lot, but a new coat of paint can make a space feel so much more attractive, light and bright.
Change the floor coverings
If the floor coverings are old, worn, and/or a fashion colour from 50 years ago, then do yourself a favour and replace them! Just replacing floor coverings alone will greatly upgrade the feel and look of your space.
Upgrade the building common areas
If your building is a multi-storey office building or has multiple tenants, take time to inspect the appearance of it, from the entry to the building, through to the space for lease. If the entry, foyer and common areas are shabby, tired and old, then consider a paint job, new floor coverings and upgrading the lighting. These three things can completely transform these areas. Your existing tenants will thank you, too.
Other features that are very important to most tenants:
Parking (onsite or nearby)
If your space has ample onsite parking, it's ahead of many Dunedin premises. While not a complete deal maker, onsite parking is a major advantage. Having public or leased parking nearby is the next best level, but for some businesses, onsite parking is essential.
Some businesses simply couldn't serve all their customers without accessible entry. This means level entry or ramped entry as per the NZ building code, and lifts (elevators). We have noticed a discount level applying to first-floor spaces with stair-only access, and these spaces are becoming increasingly more difficult to lease as more tenants require accessible entry and / or lifts.
Although not all office tenants require their own amenities, we have noticed that tenants prefer spaces with their own kitchenette, and having their own toilets is a definite bonus. Requests for a shower are also more common recently.
Building structural strength (NBS%)
A lot of tenants won’t consider any building under 67% of NBS (New Building Standard). And some national and international firms, and government departments, require 100% of NBS.
If you don’t know your building’s NBS% we recommend you commission a report - you are unlikely to lease your space to a quality tenant without this figure being known.
Fast becoming a Very Big Thing due to the recent change in NZ H&S law and higher levels of awareness, a lot of tenants are now requiring a report from the landlord that the entire site is free of asbestos contamination. If you have spent money to rid your premises of asbestos and can provide a report to prove it, you have removed a potential obstacle to leasing your space.
The old cliché that real estate is all about ‘location, location, location’ still has some relevance.
Proximity to nearby cafés, restaurants, shops etc is important for office-based businesses. Ease of parking and proximity to other similar businesses, or businesses that have synergies, can also be important. Either way, if you’re in the wrong location you can’t change that - although sometimes the wrong location can be offset by the quality condition of the premises. However, if you’re in the right location but your space is dilapidated, has a low NBS% or has asbestos, you will likely struggle to lease it. Location is not all-important, but it is a big factor.
Natural light / views
The most sought-after spaces have both good natural light and interesting window views. Spaces with natural light, but without views, tend to sit empty for a long time compared to a similar space with a view. The general rule is: All other things being equal, the better the natural light and view, the quicker it leases.
A good first impression is the secret to giving your property the very best chance to lease well. To do this, you need to improve what you can improve, and change what you can change. You can't change the location, and you may not be able to improve the natural light or the view, but you most likely could get your space de-cluttered and painted, and upgrade the floor coverings and lighting. Doing what you can will greatly improve your chance of getting a good tenant quickly.