“Searching for office space in London must be very similar to house hunting,” declared a new client to me recently, during our first conversation about their requirements. Very often, prospective business tenants make that mistaken assumption. And yet there is one critical difference between the two activities.
Many businesses approach us with little or no experience in finding office space. Even some established, successful businesses have little idea how the London office market works.
However most of us have – at one time or another – either bought or rented a house and are very familiar with the process.
As ever, a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing! It’s tempting for the uninitiated to believe that finding an office is much like house hunting. Let’s follow that assumption to it’s logical conclusion: if you’ve managed to buy or rent a house in the past, then you’re more or less equipped to find and acquire an office for your business. But you’d be wrong…
Acquiring office space is far more difficult that house hunting. Why?
When you begin house hunting, along with searching online on Rightmove, Zoopla or similar, and maybe browsing the local freebie paper’s property supplement, one of your first tasks will be identifying a handful of local residential estate agents in the area you’ve targeted – agents who specialise in that area. 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. Even if they don’t have anything suitable at that time, you can be sure they will let you know as soon as new houses that match your requirements come on to the market.
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, to the local newspaper supplement and to their website. They will probably also submit your property to a larger property website 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. It’s a familiar process and relatively straightforward. So much for house hunting or selling your home. What about office space?
The killer difference: the location of the office agents
There are roughly 500 commercial agents covering the 18 Central London business districts. Any one of these agent can – and often does – deal with any office space in any of these business districts, regardless of the agent’s actual location. For example, an agent in Holborn , for example, may well be the only agent acting for the owner of available space in St. James’s or Victoria.
There is fundamentally no connection between the location of the available office space and the location of the agent. That is the key difference between the commercial and residential markets
Continuing our comparison with house hunting: you’ve decided which area of London is right for your office (and if you need help making that decision, have a look at my blog post about how to choose the right office location). You now need to find out about all of the suitable, available options in your chosen business district. To make informed choices, 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 commercial agents in Central London! Not very appealing? Not at all realistic.
Compared to house hunting, trying to find office space in London on your own is like looking for a needle in a haystack!
How to square the circle: how to find the right office in the right place
You could attempt to apply the house hunting approach: 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. Decisions based on this approach are ill-informed; you could be missing out on office space that is better, more cost effective or just more suited to your business, because you’re not aware that it exists! We don’t recommend this approach.
A better approach: instruct an 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 and 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.
Please don’t make the mistake of treating your office search as a house hunting exercise. If you need help finding a London office, just tell us what you are looking for and we will do our level best to help.