Time to read: 6 minutes

“Searching for office space in London must be very similar to house hunting”, declared a new client to me recently. All too often, prospective business tenants make this mistaken assumption. However, the residential and office markets work in very different ways. And there is one critical difference between the two.

I will explain why the two markets are different, why it’s much harder to find office space and what you should do to find that perfect office.

The easy part: deciding what sort of office you need and where it should be.
The difficult part: finding that perfect office on the exact basis that you want it.

The house hunting process

When you begin house hunting, you’ll probably start with a search on Rightmove, Zoopla or similar. You’ll also identify the local estate agents in the area you’ve targeted – agents who specialise in that area. Any house available in your chosen area will be on the market through one of the local agents. You’ll look at their websites, maybe in their shop windows if you’re passing. If any houses stand out, you’ll speak to someone from each estate agent to get particulars and to arrange some viewings. Job done – quickly and effectively.

What you’ve done is to capture details of anything available in that location. One of those houses might just be the one. Even if the agents don’t have anything suitable at that time, you can be sure they will let you know as soon as a new house that matches your requirements comes onto the market. Inevitably, one of that group of local agents will be hired to sell the house.

What about selling your home?

If the boot is on the other foot and you’re selling your home, you’ll approach some local agents to see what houses they have on their books already. If any of them are similar to your property, they are probably going to be equipped to sell yours as well. Once you’ve whittled down your short list of agents, you’ll instruct one of them to market and sell your house. They will no doubt add your house to their shop window and to their website. They will probably also submit your property to a larger property website (Zoopla, Rightmove etc) to increase coverage further.

Whether you are buying or selling, you will need a local specialist, whose premises are located in your target area to help you achieve your goal. If you’ve ever bought or sold a home, it’s a familiar process and relatively straightforward.

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Why is finding office space different to house hunting?

Note the word that kept coming up in the previous section: LOCAL

The critical difference between the residential and office market is the location of the office agents. They don’t do LOCAL!

There is no connection between the location of the available office space and the location of the letting agent. That is the key difference between the commercial and residential markets.

There are roughly 500 companies of commercial property agents covering the 18 Central London business districts. Any one of these agents can – and often does – deal with any office space in any of these business districts, regardless of the agent’s own business location. For example, an agent based in Holborn may well be the only agent acting for the owner of office space in Victoria or St. James’s.

Fundamentally there is no connection between the location of the available office space and the location of the letting agent. That is the key difference between the commercial and residential markets.

How does this impact your office search?

Continuing the comparison with house hunting, imagine you’ve decided what type of office you need and which area of London is right for your business; the easy bit. (If you need help making that decision, have a look at my blog post about how to choose the right office location in 5 easy steps).

There is no equivalent to Rightmove or Zoopla in the office market. To get the full picture, you need to connect with the letting agents individually.

You now need to find out about ALL of the potentially suitable available options in your chosen business district. To make a fully informed choice, instead of the handful of local agents you’ll talk to when house hunting, you’ll need to make contact – and stay in contact with – all 500 or so commercial agents in Central London!

Not very appealing? Not at all realistic.

Clearly you need to know all of the available options in order to make an informed choice. You may have found something that fits the bill, but you don’t want miss another even better option. Worse still, imagine missing one that’s similar, but less expensive than the space that you’re considering.

Critically, there is also no equivalent to Rightmove or Zoopla in the office market. To get the full picture, you need to need to connect with the letting agents individually.

Need help with your office search?

  • Jamie Robotkin
  • Ian Kitchener
  • Michael Fraser
or call +44 20 7484 9266

Your service has saved me so much time and I’m sure money too…finding suitable space and fit for our brand. You got our brief from the get go.

Ian Hawkes,
Magus Wealth
More client reviews
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Squaring the circle: how to find the right office in the right place

Self-evidently, trying to find office space in London on your own is bordering on impossible; utterly different to house hunting. It is simply unrealistic to make contact with – and stay in touch with – 500+ commercial agents!

You have two options:

Option 1: Apply the house hunting approach as best you can.

Randomly pick a handful of agents and hope for the best.But the downsides are obvious. You’d be choosing agents at random and you would not be getting access to the full range of available options in your chosen location. Ill-informed decisions are dangerous. You could be missing out on office space that is better, more cost effective or just more suited to your business – simply because you’re not aware that it exists!

We don’t recommend this approach.

Option 2: A better approach: instruct a market-active agent to find office space on your behalf

At Find a London Office we represent prospective tenants. They hire us to find office space on their behalf.

And why do they do that? Because we have access to every available Central London office on the market – as well as some that aren’t on the market yet, but soon will be. We are connected to all 500 commercial agents in London. We know exactly what properties they have on their books at any one time. We can quickly and effectively bring all the current available information together and present the full range of options that match your brief. Because we have comprehensive knowledge of what is available, you can rest assured that you will be making a properly informed decision when you settle on your preferred office.

The right office, in the right place and at the right price.

And to save you time, we arrange the visits to see them at a time to suit you.

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Some final thoughts

Please don’t make the mistake of treating your office search as a house hunting exercise. If you were unwell, you’d go to see your GP, for tax advice you’d talk to your accountant. It makes perfect sense to speak to an office agent…about offices!

If you need help finding a London office, simply tell us what you are looking for and we will do our level best to assist you..

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