By Jason Hughes
For business owners, finding new office space is typically exciting and simultaneously overwhelming. Whether you’re looking to open your doors for the first time, you’re growing and need to expand, or you’re even considering buying your own property, there are countless items that will need to be given serious consideration. But none is more important than selecting the right broker for your needs.
Selecting the right broker will not only reduce your stress, but will likely save you thousands of man-hours (not to mention thousands of dollars). So, how do you find the right brokerage? Do you go with the biggest brokerage in town? Do you select a boutique agency? Do all brokerages offer the same services?
The answer to the last question is unequivocally, no. Here’s why:
The vast majority of large commercial real estate brokerages work with landlords. They primarily focus on representing their landlord clients with lease-ups and renewals of tenants in their buildings, property management, asset management and selling of their buildings. Virtually everything revolves around their landlord clients, who often give them multiple assignments and relationships that span years and sometimes decades. The commercial real estate leasing industry was set up to service landlords, and large brokerage companies do that very well.
By contrast, Hughes Marino is a bit of a disrupter in the industry. We believe that the tenants who pay rent for office space are the ultimate consumer – not the landlord. Without the tenant, there would be no building, property manager, leasing brokers, etc. Therefore, we believe that the tenant should be entitled to the best objective, conflict-free advice and representation available.
As a tenants-only firm, Hughes Marino is an anomaly first and foremost because we are fiduciaries to only one group: the companies, non-profits and municipalities that lease and purchase office space. We never represent landlords, and that keeps our interests totally aligned with our clients. Moreover, our brokers are prohibited from accepting kickbacks or vendor referrals of any kind (which is alarmingly prevalent in our industry). Hughes Marino clients can rely on our brokers to provide 100% objective, conflict-free, professional service.
Speaking of brokers, we are incredibly selective about who joins our team. They are the top-of-class tenant brokers in each geographical market. Our average broker earns more than ten times the average for all commercial brokers in the state, maybe the nation. Our brokers are able to produce at these levels due to the company’s support with our operations team. Presently, we have a two-to-one ratio of operations team members to brokers. This enables our brokers to provide gold-standard client service levels, while also allowing for far more efficiency in representing double and triple the number of clients annually that many other brokers represent. This, in turn, gives them leverage and clout in the market, as well as real-time knowledge of where deals are being made.
We attract these top brokers because we reinvest heavily in our brokers, our culture and our communities. This continues to propel our brokers to deliver even better client service, all the while creating an amazing place to work both culturally and aesthetically.
As a privately held company, we are able to maintain company values that would never work if we were a publicly owned company. Margins are everything to Wall Street, while they are nowhere near our primary objective. We adhere strictly to our core values, and we regularly publicize them to ensure transparency and hold ourselves accountable. As a pleasant by-product, operating a business under these guidelines has produced outsized revenue and profits, which makes it a rewarding validation.
By remaining a private, family owned business, we ensure our nimbleness, which allows for immediate decisions and innovation as the market demands. For example, our Lease Administration service was created precisely because we are nimble, and we listen to what clients need. (Our Lease Administration division emerged as the result of California Bank & Trust’s request that we consider providing such service for their 120+ sites across the state. After competing with other larger firms, it was determined that Hughes Marino was the best fit – and we’ve been providing CB&T with high-quality lease administration and lease audit services in addition to tenant representation and construction management services for years.)
A good broker can be an invaluable partner for decades. Treat the engagement process as if you were hiring your next CFO. At Hughes Marino, we urge every tenant to thoroughly research and interview multiple brokerages and individual brokers before deciding who you will trust to advocate fiercely and exclusively on your behalf.
Jason Hughes is chairman, CEO, and owner of Hughes Marino, an award-winning commercial real estate company with offices in San Diego, Orange County, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Silicon Valley and Seattle. A pioneer in the field of tenant representation, Jason has exclusively represented tenants and buyers for more than 25 years. He writes about topics in commercial real estate from a tenant’s perspective on his blog, Downtown Dirt. Contact Jason at 1-844-NO-CONFLICT or firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.