What are the best ways of attracting tenants?

Have you ever driven down a street and thought to yourself, ‘that property has been available and vacant for a long time’? Has the signage perhaps faded from being exposed to the elements? Well, there is probably a reason why that is.

Many landlords and developers alike have a reputation either for having good product or for having space available that is subpar. Those that have the better product often do not have For Lease signs in the windows or on the front lawns of their buildings.

Here are 5 things that differentiate between real estate that successfully attracts tenants and properties that sit vacant more often than they are full.

Five things that successfully attracts tenants:
  1. Amenities… whether it be strong parking ratios, natural light, elevators, or up-to-date technology for an office user; high ceiling height, access, compound and dock, grade and drive-through loading for an industrial tenant; or strong visibility, parking, and residential rooftops in the area for a retail tenant, the more of these items on your checklist, the better your chances.
  2. Cleanliness… presentation and first impression go the distance in where your property ranks among others. In all markets, how a space “shows” determines where tenants want to spend the next several years operating their business.
  3. Deferred Maintenance… if something needs to be repaired, spend the money and do it before the property is viewed and several sets of eyes take a pass on it as a result of poor upkeep with items that should have been attended to left incomplete or in a shoddy state of repair. Failing to do so will immediately cause tenants to question whether this is a common theme with the landlord.
  4. Marketing… using as many online and social media platforms as you can simply increases your exposure to the public and covers off anywhere a tenant might try to find your property. Ensure as well that you are represented by a broker or agent who uses these platforms, and who also has the knowledge to answer all questions that may arise not only about this property, but about the market in general. Knowledge sells and cannot be replaced.
  5. Ongoing Care… your success as a landlord is often a result of your reputation throughout the term of a lease in regards to how you take care of tenants’ needs and how you are there for them. Do your best to handle small requests and manage things in a professional manner. Even if some of these asks cost you money, they may go along way to maintaining and keeping your tenant versus having to look for another one, which will likely have a more negative impact due to loss of income.

Attracting and keeping tenants takes work and attention to detail. These 5 points are essential in leasing success and keeping spaces full and cash flowing. Good luck!

Saskatoon’s Golden Mile??? (8th Street Retail)

I was born and raised in Saskatoon. Like some of you, I remember the dreaded traffic circle at what is now the Circle Drive and 8th Street overpass. You would pull up to the circle, grip the wheel, and hope and pray as you entered the loop.

For decades, 8th Street was the “Street of Dreams” of Saskatoon real estate. It was home to classics like the Holiday House Motel, Duffy’s Theater, and El Rancho. These historic businesses slowly moved out of the limelight as rising stars like Superstore and other national brands moved in to backfill the sites. Some staples remain, like the McDonalds at Louise and 8th, the window-service-only A&W and probably the most iconic, the Granary and Fuddruckers.

But what does the future hold for Saskatoon’s Golden Mile? As the city expands and shopping patterns change, can 8th Street maintain its top billing on the marquee?

Many of the shopping centres along the street were constructed in the 1980s. As years have passed, some of these developments are starting to look their age.

The growth of new areas of the city at an exponential rate along with changing traffic patterns means that 8th Street is bound to slowly experience a decrease in traffic. As well, these new residential communities are planned to include a multitude of services like grocery stores, pharmacies, and places to dine that are all closer to home for residents. Landlords in these areas are achieving rents in the range of $30-45 net for new construction – lease rates that until recently were only recorded on 8th Street.

If owners of 8th Street real estate expect to continue to achieve current rental rates, they will need to update, renovate, and reassess their shopping centres. Removing antiquated signage, updating exteriors, and having cohesive tenant mixes will all be driving forces to get consumers on the lots.

A prime example is the retail site at the corner of 8th and Cumberland, where once sat an aging Safeway. The site was demolished and rebuilt to accommodate a new Save-On-Foods, Urban Cellars, Scotiabank and a number of other CRU tenants. This rebuild allowed the site to achieve better site lines, parking layout, and rents for the owner.

Is 8th Street’s time in the spotlight over?

Probably not. But like other classics, it may be time for a reboot with some fresh faces. A little rouge on the cheeks never hurt anyone.

Has technology made bricks and mortar obsolete?

We have all heard about how Amazon has affected retailers and their physical stores (bricks and mortar). I like it just as much as you do, ordering my goods from the couch. Our lives have been enhanced/disrupted in every way since the advent of the internet. Retail was tested, retail adapted.

Now, it’s the office market’s turn. One of my mentors in commercial leasing said the best way to sell is face-to-face; failing that, next best is dialing for dollars. Well, why not dial face-to-face? Zoom and Microsoft Teams have become part of my work life. Never, in all my real estate career, have I had more conference calls via one of these video chat services than in the past year. Our office used to have weekly sales meetings with 30 agents all in the same boardroom, but now this is a Teams call. I had the service all along as part of my Microsoft software but never saw the necessity. Now it’s hard to imagine NOT using it.

I deal with companies that are still not physically in the office and will not be until late 2021 to ensure as little covid impact as possible. They are still in business, still working. So on the outside, one may ask, do we need physical space? Can we imagine a world where we all work from home and all our goods are delivered to the door? It is easy to get there, but that is not the case. Just go to Costco and see the line out the door.

I remember the reaction from the office world at the start of the pandemic. Alright, we can do this! People excelled, keeping their minds and bodies sharp, working from home as we knew we were in it for the long haul. Lately the tune has changed. We need human interaction. I need to focus on my work call without stepping on a Lego or telling my kid “give me five minutes!” My three year old even learned the phrase, on her imaginary phone, “I need to take this call.”

Overall it begged many questions to be asked by companies taking up office space. Do we need less space? Employees can work part time from home. No one needs a permanent desk. Could we provide hoteling/hot desking? We can still be efficient with Zoom calls. What happens to our corporate culture? Everything from how offices are laid out to how a company functions was brought into question. I did not envy any company that had a lease come due and had to make those decisions now for the next 5-10 years. Maybe it will just go back to what it was pre-pandemic? Doubtful.

So what are we learning as we navigate the speed of technology? We are social beings. We want to personally interact with people in the office, not just work virtually. We need to touch, taste, and feel retail goods, as much as I like convenience. Tech will always be changing our lives, but it will be a tool to enhance our lives and give us another option. I do not think it will replace physical real estate. But it will change the way real estate is used, likely for the better.