How to Select a Commercial REALTOR®
Purchasing, leasing, selling or investing in commercial property requires professional assistance. The REALTOR® brand is your assurance that your representative in the transaction abides to a strict code of ethical conduct and aspires to the highest level of professionalism and industry knowledge.
Following is information to consider when determining who will represent your interests in the transaction.
• Is the Commercial Real Estate Agent a Commercial REALTOR®? While the public often uses the term commercial broker, commercial real estate agent and commercial REALTOR® interchangeably they are very different. While a commercial real estate agent may hold a license, only the commercial REALTOR® subscribes to a strict code of ethics, is committed to upholding the professional standards of the industry, and has access to numerous resources not available to non-REALTORS®, as part of their voluntary participation in the St. Louis, Missouri and National Association of REALTORS®. Consumers can rest assured that their REALTOR® is bound by the code of ethics and that there is a process for administering standards including handling consumer complaints. Using a REALTOR® is an additional layer of consumer protection.
• Research the Brokerage Firm and its Specialty. The commercial market is quite complex. Remember that most brokerage firms specialize in residential real estate; it is important to look for the Red REALTOR® “R” symbol which indicates a commercial brokerage. Just as you wouldn’t ask a foot doctor to treat your sore throat, make sure you use the right professional, a commercial REALTOR® in your commercial transaction. However, while a company may be specifically dedicated to commercial real estate many deal exclusively with vacant land, property management or industrial space. Do your homework and ensure that you are using a commercial REALTOR® and that they specialize in the type of transaction or consulting services that match your particular need.
• Education is critical. In addition to the required bi-annual Code of Ethics Training and Continuing Education requirements many REALTORS® seek higher forms of education or specialization called designations. The CCIM designation indicates the REALTOR® has participated in extensive and rigorous additional training. Other designations include GREEN (those specializing in sustainable or “green buildings”) RLI (those specializing in land) and e-PRO (a designation indicating a high level of technological skills.
• Affiliations are important. Many commercial REALTORS® voluntarily join affiliated organizations of the National Association of REALTORS® and others that focus on their specialty. These affiliations offer specialty education and resources (trend information, market data) specific to the specialty. These affiliations include IREM, SIOR, CCIM, BOMA, NAIOP, RLI, ICSC to name a few.
• Web presence and tools. Ask your potential REALTOR® what access to internet networks he/she has. As sellers you want maximum exposure of your property, as buyers you want to make sure you have a full array of choices and are aware of available properties on the market. Only a REALTOR® can utilize REALTOR.com, the nation’s largest property database. Does the agent belong to the local Commercial Information Exchange as well as national exchanges such as Co-Star? Do they have their own website or company website? For those looking for multi-family properties, vacant land, or rental investment properties, ask the REALTOR if they belong to the association’s Multiple Listing Service (MLS).
• Experience. Ask your potential REALTOR® how much experience they have in their market and specifically in the type of transaction you are looking to close. Ask how long their firm has been in business? Remember that just as you and your needs are unique so are REALTORS® and a new firm may have a creative or innovative model. Only you can weigh the distinct benefits of the firm, what the REALTOR® brings to the table in terms of experience, education, specialty knowledge, and communication skills.