Negotiate Your Dental Office Lease or Renewal
By: Dale Willerton – The Lease Coach
Note: This article appeared in the May/June 2012 issue of Academy Connection
For many dentists, negotiating a good lease or lease renewal against an experienced agent or landlord can be a challenge. Dental tenants may go through the leasing process once or twice in their lifetime – yet they have to negotiate against seasoned professionals who negotiate leases every day for a living.
Whether you are negotiating a lease renewal or leasing a new location for the first time for your practice, here are some tips:
Negotiate to Win: Frequently, dental office tenants enter into lease negotiations unprepared. They don’t even try to win the negotiations. If you are not negotiating to win, you won’t. With big commissions at stake, you can be sure the landlord’s agent is negotiating fiercely to win. Remember: It’s okay to negotiate aggressively.
Be Prepared to Walk Away: Set aside your emotions and make objective decisions when negotiating a lease. The landlord who really needs to rent the space will give up the most concessions. And remember, even if your dental office is a good one, it may not achieve its full potential if it’s in a poor location.
Ask the Right Questions: Position yourself for the best deal by gathering information about how much rent other tenants are paying or what incentives they received when signing. The Lease Coach understands that your landlord and agent know what every other tenant in the property is paying in rent, so we do our homework too.
Brokers … Friend or Foe? Real estate agents and brokers typically work for the landlord who is paying their commission. It is not normally the agent’s role to get the dental office tenant the best deal – it is their job to get the landlord the highest rent, the biggest deposit, etc. Often, the higher the rent you pay, the more commission the agent earns. If you are researching multiple properties, try to deal directly with the listing agent for each property, rather than letting one agent show you around or show you another agent’s listing. Your tenancy is more desirable to the listing agent, who will avoid splitting commission with other agents.
Never Accept the First Offer: Even if it seems reasonable, or you are unsure of what to negotiate for, never accept the leasing agent’s first offer. In the real estate industry, most things are negotiable and the landlord expects you to counter-offer.
Ask for More Than You Want: If you want three months of free rent, then ask for five months. No one ever gets more than he/she asks for. Be prepared for the landlord to counter-offer and negotiate with you as well. Don’t be afraid of hearing “no” from the landlord – counter-offers are all part of the game.
Negotiate the Deposit: Large deposits are not legally required in a real estate lease agreement for a dental office. Deposits are negotiable and, more so than anything else, often serve to compensate the landlord for the real estate commissions paid to the realtor. If you are negotiating a lease renewal and your landlord is already holding your deposit, negotiate to get the deposit back. The Lease Coach regularly and successfully negotiates to have the dentist’s deposit returned when renewing a lease.
Measure Your Space: Some dental office tenants pay for phantom space. Most tenants pay their rent per square foot, but often they do not receive as much space as the lease agreement says.
Negotiate, Negotiate: The leasing process is just that – a process, not an event. The more time you, the dental tenant, have to put the deal together and make counter-offers, the better the chance you have of getting what you really want. Too often, tenants mistakenly try to hammer out the deal in a two- or three-hour marathon session. It is more productive to negotiate in stages over time.
Educate Yourself and Get Help: Unless you have money to throw away, it pays to educate yourself. Taking the time to read about the subject or listen to on a leasing webinar will make a difference. And, don’t forget to have your lease documents professionally reviewed before you sign them. With hundreds of thousands of dollars in rent at stake, personal guarantees and other risks, you can’t afford to gamble. In leasing, dental office tenants don’t get what they deserve, they get what they negotiate.
Dale Willerton is The Lease Coach and a Lease Consultant who works exclusively for tenants. Dale is a professional speaker and author of Negotiate Your Dental Office Lease or Renewal. Got a leasing question? Need help with your new lease or renewal? Need a speaker for an upcoming dental convention? Call Dale at 1-800-738-9202, e-mail DaleWillerton@TheLeaseCoach.com or visit www.TheLeaseCoach.com and/or www.HelpULeaseDental.com.