Five tips for office space seekers in tight Vancouver market

This article originally appeared on the Vancouver Sun website.

Five tips for office space seekers in tight Vancouver market
Local leasing specialist says compromise and starting your search early are the keys to finding space in the downtown market.

It has never been more difficult for tenants to find an office space in downtown Vancouver.

Consistent demand, spurred exceptionally by the tech sector, combined with a lack of new supply has pushed vacancy in the downtown peninsula to 2.2 per cent as of the third quarter of this year, said Ross Moore, a tenant specialist and managing broker with Cresa in Vancouver.

At this time last year, the rate was at 3.9 per cent.

“There are varying degrees of difficulty,” he said, explaining that small tenants, or companies seeking space of roughly 2,000 square feet for eight people or so, can find space easily, so long as they don’t have many other specific requirements.

But, for businesses in need of 25,000 square feet or larger in the downtown core, it becomes very tough, he said.

Contiguous floors, signage, views, proximity to SkyTrain. Requests like those will squeeze prospective tenants right out of luck.

Only five years ago tenants had more options and more flexibility to make requests on landlords. Moore said that feels like “the old days” now.

“Five years ago, it was what I will call a normal market,” he said.

Hope, though, is not lost. Moore recently shared five tips for prospective office tenants who want or need to find a space in downtown Vancouver.

1. Be prepared for sticker shock

The demand for space is high and supply is limited, which means that prices are up. “Way up,” Moore said.

2. Be willing to compromise

Do you want nice views? High buildout quality? Size? Elevator exposure? Parking? Signage? Immediate occupancy or delayed occupancy? A location near transit? Showers and bike lockers? You’ll likely have to strike a few of these elements from your list, Moore said.

A strict list of demands won’t get you very far in this market,” Moore said. “Be prepared to compromise, because you will have to compromise.” Determine beforehand what are “must haves” and what are “nice to haves.”

3. Start looking now

If you’re interested in finding a new space, then start your search as soon as possible. Time is your friend, Moore said. The more time you have, the more options and better terms you’ll have the chance of discovering.

4. Engage a leasing adviser

While Moore admits this tip might seem a bit self-serving, it remains good advice, he said. A leasing broker will have insight into which spaces are not officially listed but will soon be coming to the market. That could give you an inside edge to negotiate early with the landlord.

5. Don’t get frustrated

There is always a solution, especially for tenants who follow tip No. 2 (flexibility). “With a little perseverance and compromise, even in today’s market, a solution can almost always be found,” Moore said.

EVAN DUGGAN Updated: November 20, 2019