Monday, February 24, 2014

Finding the best place for your business

If you are a home-based business looking into a "brick and mortar" location or a small business that has grown out of their current space, finding and leasing a new commercial space may be a 2014 project on your plate. For any business owner not fluent in lease types and terminology, the process of researching spaces and navigating a lease may seem daunting. However, answering a handful of questions and knowing a few terms before beginning the process can provide focus and reduce apprehension.


What can you afford? Generally, rent should be less than 10 percent of projected annual gross revenues.

*Word of caution: Make sure you know what type of commercial lease will be signed. For example, a Triple Net Lease is also known as Net Net Net Lease or NNN Lease. This is a type of lease in which the tenant pays all or part of the taxes, insurance, and maintenance associated with use of the property. These fees are paid in addition to the tenant's regular monthly rent. Another common type of commercial lease is a Modified Gross lease which usually stipulates that the Owner or Landlord is responsible for the major expense items, but the tenant is responsible for their directly related expenses (i.e. electricity, phone/internet).

Of course this depends on the type of business you own. For office space, the average is 200-250 sf per employee. For retail space, the square footage is based on annual sales and market data of average "sales-per-square-foot". For industry space, position of equipment, processes, and inventory affect the square footage needed.

Where do you think your business will thrive? Location is key to any business. You want to be near complementary businesses that are making money, but not right next door to a competitor. Is the location easy for you and your employees to commute to or your clients to find?

Does your type of business require specific zoning designations? Exposure and signage - how many cars drive by a day?

How long do you want to stay in an area and how fast you think you will grow? Tying yourself to a 10 or even 5 year lease may not be the right choice for your new or growing business. Negotiate a shorter lease term.

Once you have an area and rental rate in mind, your broker can begin making appointments to walk-through suitable spaces. When visiting spaces, be mindful of the building, landscape, and parking lot's condition; evaluate the surrounding vicinity and always carry a checklist with important must-haves (i.e. internet ready, signage, parking spaces).

The Management Group can help you find the perfect space, and also be in your corner during negotiations and signing. To speak with a TMG broker about commercial space, call Carmen Villarma or Jennifer Riddle at (360) 397-0334.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Buyers, sellers, renters and real estate agents - Is Kumbaya possible?

What happens when a rented home is put up for sale? The chain of events happens rather quickly and often times priorities of the parties collide. Not all owners can afford to have their property vacant while on the market so enlisting the cooperation of the tenant is crucial. The first thing an owner or real estate agent should do is check with the management company. Ask about the terms of the lease and what the state statutes may say regarding a lease termination and the proper notice required to show the property.

Cooperation, communication and flexibility are key to having a transaction that can meet everyone’s goals. Once you’re aware of the notice period to show the property, it’s also helpful to be somewhat flexible with the tenant’s schedule. Everyone has lives- kids, pets, and jobs. Allowing the tenant some say in a schedule will help you gain access for other showings, inspectors, appraisers and contractors. Moving a family unexpectedly is costly, stressful and often not on a time frame under their control. In the end, the goal is to sell the house, have the tenant leave the property in good condition, and be able to assist them in finding a new home.

Washington Landlord Tenant Law

••Oregon Landlord Tenant Law••

Carmen Villarma, CPM

The Management Group
Property and HOA Management in Vancouver WA and Portland OR

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

More People Are Moving To Oregon Than Any Other State, Study Finds

Look out, California, there's a new West Coast hot spot on the map.

CNNMoney, just released that Oregon was the destination among people who moved from one state to another last year. The yearly review took into account 129,000 moves in the United States in 2013 and found more than 61 percent of all interstate relocations made in Oregon were for people coming to live in the state. So what's the draw? Housing costs? Business incentives? Or maybe just some room to breathe? Well, it's looking like all of the above.

"We're seeing continued migration to the Pacific Northwest as young professionals and retirees are drawn to amenities, including public transit, green space and the local arts and entertainment scene," said UCLA economist Michael Stoll.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Yet Another 5 Inexpensive Ways to Improve Rental Properties

Property owners and managers are competing for new residents at an advantageous time. Depending on the area, more people are looking for rental properties now than last year at this time.
One reason is that fewer people can qualify for mortgages. Thus, there are fewer qualified homebuyers.

We are also hearing anecdotally that many areas are still experiencing higher-than-normal vacancy rates.

So to compete effectively and economically, property managers are “turning up their imaginations” to make their properties more desirable. Here are five ideas to consider:
  1. Remove old or tattered window coverings and replace them with inexpensive Venetian-style blinds. Choose neutral colors and models that are easy to replace.
  2. Install portable “odor-eating” air purifiers. If your rental units smell clean, prospective residents will notice. You can also buy some inexpensive plug-in room deodorizers and create the ambiance you think pleases the nose.
  3. Replace the knobs and handles in the kitchen cabinets if possible. Any qualitative touches you can add to your kitchens including sufficient lighting will make your rental feel more like home.
  4. Yes, as we mentioned before, consider putting up a new shower curtain and rod in the bathroom. If you want to go a step further, add a bigger, nicer mirror as well. They are not expensive, and many times, the bigger the mirror, the bigger the bathroom looks.
  5. Make sure the inside of the refrigerator is extra clean and smells great. You can add to the appeal by placing some fresh-baked cookies inside the refrigerator. Offer one to your prospect, and they will remember how kind and thoughtful you were.
Property managers would be wise to leave a lasting impression on everyone who comes to look at a vacant property. One way is to have an attractive, color flyer or brochure with a list of all the advantages of being a resident at the property you manage.

Don’t be afraid to add creative touches. Something as inexpensive as placing a couple of flowering indoor plants on the kitchen counters may brighten the interior and indirectly remind the prospective resident that your property is livable and cozy.

As property managers, we have to be careful when sizing up potential residents. If we also remember to be friendly and courteous, we will brighten their day and leave a positive memory about your property.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Guns in the Workplace A Loaded Question

In the state of Washington and Oregon, along with 35 other states, a person may legally open-carry, in any place it is legal, a loaded handgun, as long as there is no "intent to intimidate another or alarm for the safety of other persons". Also, in Washington and Oregon anyone who applies and meets the criteria will be granted a concealed carry permit, with no training required.

Normally, it is only when I see someone, other than a police officer, with a gun strapped to their belt, that I consider my state's gun laws. However, as an employer in both Washington and Oregon, the topic of "open-carry" and "concealed-carry" has been raised.  It is a debate that is bigger than a simple "allowed or not allowed" response.

Employees who want to carry a gun, openly or concealed, into the workplace or while on duty may feel it is their state-given right to do so. They may express that their weapon is for self-defense and they need it for protection. Senator Mark Green of Tennessee has similar views, saying, "The only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."

Employers, on the other hand, must examine the question of liability that can come from an employee being armed on the job. If the employee accidentally or purposefully causes harm to or threatens another employee, would these mental or physical injuries be covered as job-related workers' compensation claims? Does allowing employees to have near, immediate access to firearms, at work, create an unnecessary element of risk? According to a National Council for Occupational Safety and Health report, there were 458 workplace homicides in 2011. Of these, 358 were linked to guns.

Does the employer's right to provide a safe work environment for employees and visitors trump an individual's right to possess a firearm? Today, many large employers have written policies that specifically address weapons in the workplace, and, not surprisingly, it depends on the area of the country as to the rigidity of these policies. Other employers are deciding to create "Workplace Violence Prevention" policies that ban guns and weapons of any kind on worksites, as well as bullying, harassment, and threatening comments in or out of the office.

We are in the process of creating a written policy addressing weapons in the workplace.  Quite honestly, even 10 years ago I would have thought it was a "no brainer" as in no weapons at work.

I've considered not having a policy in place at all to avoid the controversy, however, legal counsel advised that we establish a policy.  TMG has nearly a 100 employees and I believe they are probably evenly split on this debate.  I personally take this issue and its potential consequences very seriously as I know other employers do.

Carmen Villarma