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Chapter Five: Finding Space

After you have found a neighborhood that is appropriate for your work- or live/work space, you can either hunt for a space on your own, or use the services of a real estate agent. Be prepared! Finding a good space can be a long, tedious process, filled with frustration and dead ends. With persistence and a little research, however, you can find a space that best meets your needs.

Finding Space on Your Own

You can search for spaces in a number of ways. Walking around a neighborhood, looking for "For Rent" or "For Sale" signs, and talking to people is the most straightforward method. Asking friends and art contacts is also useful. Check out area and local neighborhood newspapers, especially The Stranger's Space section. Look for advertisements for space on billboards, and check online real estate sites. Residential properties are listed on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and commercial properties are listed on the Commercial Investment Multiple Listing Service (CIMLS). Additional online property resources include:www.realtor.com, www.owners.com, and Craigslist.

Many property owners and managers advertise specific types of spaces in professional and trade publications and at local art specific businesses. For example, if you are looking for a dance rehearsal space, try searching for dance-focused newspapers and periodicals, and look for postings in dance equipment stores and other related businesses. You can also contact arts-based businesses and organizations directly to ask if they know of any space opportunities. Also The Stranger and The Seattle Weekly often have postings for available space especially for individual artists. You may also try and network within the arts community at the Arts Leadership Lab, join their group on Facebook or Myspace. Additionally the City of Seattle Mayor's Office of Arts and Culture, and 4 Culture are both government organizations dedicated to arts funding and may have resources for finding space. Finally, non-profits such as the Shunpike and Historic Seattle may also have contacts or leads which may be helpful in your search for space.

Neighborhood organizations are often eager to help artists move to their communities, as artists usually bring life and excitement to their areas. Contact the neighborhood chambers of commerce, Neighborhood centers or area community development organizations for assistance. In addition, see the Neighborhood Prolife section of Chapter 15: Seattle's Neighborhoods for a list of Seattle community and neighborhood development organizations. Again, business owners and other organizations in a particular community may have information on available space in the area.

Another successful tactic involves printing business cards, postcards or flyers with your contact information and information regarding your intentions and plans for the space. While walking through neighborhoods, post these "classified ads" at area communal meeting places (coffee houses, bookstores, grocery stores, etc.) and neighborhood organizations. You can also advertise your needs and requirements on Craigslist, in neighborhood newspapers and other publications, as well as in trade-specific periodicals. Many individuals have found properties this way.

Various area businesses, developers and organizations provide work or live/work space for lease to artists. Space availability can fluctuate, so check listings frequently. An additional resource is Artspace www.artspace.org on their site you search for available properties in Seattle as well in other areas around the country.

Online Search

Many Websites enable you to view properties and conduct your own virtual space chase. The types of sites available are endless; some focus primarily on residential spaces, while others offer commercial spaces, new constructions or sale-by-owner properties. Many sites provide basic information about properties: size and age, tax rates, and neighborhood amenities, for examples. Some sites even allow you to set your own search criteria, while others offer pictures and "virtual tours."

Websites often contain contact information for local real estate offices, real estate industry articles, resources for moving or relocating, additional links to demographic statistics, mortgage calculators and financing information, links to other Websites that deal with leasing and purchasing, and other helpful space finder tools. Some sites will even allow you to set up a folder of your favorite properties, or notify you when a property fitting your profile becomes available. In addition to the comprehensive listing sites, you can cruise listings maintained by real estate companies. Major firms like Windermere, John L. Scott, Coldwell Banker, Century 21, ERA, or RE/MAX maintain an on-line database of properties offered by their satellite offices, so check these sites out as well.

Virtual real estate agents operate primarily as Web-based entities that automate and move much of the search-and-purchase process to the virtual realm. By sharing the workload with the buyer or lessee, these virtual firms operate at lower costs.

Property Listing Sites

Commercial Only Listing Sites

On-line Real Estate Agents and Offices

Finding Space with a Real Estate Agent

If you don't have the time, energy or resources to look for space on your own, your solution might be to work with a real estate agent -- a professional who deals with the buying, selling and leasing of real estate.

Besides doing legwork, agents enjoy access to additional resources and assist with space-planning, addressing zoning and building regulations, locating financing and addressing other real life issues associated with the leasing and purchasing of property. If they don't know the answers, they can usually help you in finding experts who do. For more information about hiring a real estate agent, review Chapter 4: Professional Services.

Working with an Agent

If you decide to use a real estate agent, realize that you can work with just one agent, or a team of them. Both choices have their pros and cons.

Working with many agents can be advantageous, in that one agent might know of properties the others do not, or might specialize in a particular type of property or area of the city. Although most agents use the same databases with the same listings of properties, many of them are specialists. Those who regularly sell residential spaces might not understand the commercial and industrial property market.

Searching for space is time-consuming, and requires a lot of work. You will probably get better results if you direct your time and energy toward carefully choosing an agent who understands your needs and space requirements.

Whatever route you choose, when you find a space, your agent will help you:

In General

  • Find other professionals key to your real estate transaction, such as an inspector, lawyer or lender. However, it's a good idea to have these professionals lined up before you start your search -- or at least have an idea of who you would like to work with, so that when you find a property, you don't have to search for professional assistance.

Purchase-only

  • Pull a Comparative Market Analysis Report (CMA), which will list information about the space you have in mind, as well as listed properties -- both sold and unsold - and their asking and selling prices. This information will assist you in writing an offer. See Chapter 16: When you Find a Property for more information.
  • Write an offer based on the CMA, and negotiate the price and terms of the offer.
  • Have your financing secured before you start looking for property. See Chapter 8: Buying Real Estate for more information on how to buy space.
  • Work with you to define the terms of the sale, including which appliances or equipment will remain with the property, repairs the current owner will make, when you will take possession, etc.

Lease Only

  • The agent will help you find properties and assist you with negotiating the terms and conditions of the lease.

Be careful of agents who:

  • Do not listen to your needs.
  • Consistently show you properties that do not meet your requirements -- an indication that they do not understand your space needs.
  • Consistently show you properties listed only with their home real estate office or a colleague. While the agent might be personally familiar with these properties, you might end up missing out on properties that better suit your needs. You want an agent who goes the extra mile.
  • Pressure you into accepting a deal that makes you uncomfortable. If you are not comfortable about a deal, then you need to decide whether to proceed or back off.
  • Is not familiar with the community that interests you, because they will not be able to provide valuable information regarding neighborhood life and character.
  • Is not familiar with the type of space you are looking for. Even the best-intentioned agent may have difficulty meeting your space requirements if s/he is simply unfamiliar with the type of space you desire. In these situations, you'll need to allow the agent a learning curve, or simply find one who specializes in the type of space you want.
  • Immediately requires you to sign a buyer contract before spending time talking to you to assess your needs.

If you find a space you're interested in before you find an agent, you might have to commit to dual agency. Washington State law stipulates that if you do not have an agent at the time you view a property, then the agent who shows you the space can legally represent both you and the seller in the real estate transaction. However, the agent must disclose in writing that s/he is working as a dual agent.

If you are uncomfortable with a dual agency arrangement, seek other real estate representation, or be prepared to handle the transaction on your own. Proceed without representation only if you feel confident that you can personally handle the transaction with your attorney's help. For more information about dual agency, see Dual Agency in Chapter 4: Professional Services

Resources

American Association of Commercial Real Estate (ACRE)
A nonprofit professional association that promotes working relationships and professionalism within the Sacramento commercial real estate community.

American Land Title Association
(ALTA)
National trade association and voice of the abstract and title insurance industry. ALTA members search, review,and insure land titles to protect home buyers and mortgage lenders who invest in real estate. ALTA is headquartered in Washington, DC.

American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association
(AREUEA)
Built in the need of more information and analysis in real estate development, planning, and economics.

American Real Estate Society
(ARES)
Dedicated to producing and disseminating knowledge related to real estate decision-making and the functioning of real estate markets.

Association of Foreign Investors in Real Estate
(AFIRE)
The only nonprofit association for the foreign real estate investment community.

Building Owners and Managers Association
(BOMA)
The BOMA International Foundation is dedicated to advancing real estate performance and public understanding of the commercial real estate industry through research, education and the dissemination of information.

Building Owners and Managers Institute
(BOMI)
Nonprofit education institute dedicated to educating professionals who operate, manage and maintain properties, and facilities.

Commercial Forum

Provides a searchable of database of commercial properties. Including information on real estate professionals, cost of space and types of space available (mixed-use property, vacant land, office property, etc.).

Cyberhomes.com

Connects to many of the Multiple List Serves (MLS) from around the country that are maintained and used by local realtors.

eHome.com

Consists of online real estate offices and companies.

ForSaleByOwner.com

Lists property for sale by owners. Also offers additional information about neighborhoods such as school report cards, crime statistics, etc.

Home Advisor

Provides information and resources about purchasing a home, as well as a searchable database of properties and design tips on decorating your space.

Homebuilder.com

Provides information and resources on purchasing newly built and manufactured residential properties, as well as resources for finding a builder.

Homefox.com

Links to real estate offices and companies.

Homes.com

Offers listings of residential property and lots/land for sale. Also offers a utility sign-up and insurance finder, as well as information and resources about an area's real estate market.

MIPIM International Property Market

The leading international real estate forum, with information for buyers, governments, etc.

National Association of Real Estate Investment Managers
(NAREIM)
Professional organization dedicated to providing knowledge and insight in the rapidly changing real estate industry.

National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts
(NAREIT)
The representative voice for U.S. REITs and publicly traded real estate companies worldwide.

National Association of Realtors
(NAR)
A searchable database of area realtors and properties (residential and commercial) available for lease and/or purchase, and links to various realtors and real estate supporting organizations.

National Auctioneers Association
(NAA)
Offers auction and auctioneer searches relating to housing and space.

National Multi Housing Council
(NMHC)
A national association representing the interests of the nation's larger and more prominent apartment firms.

National Property Management Association
(NPMA)
The leading membership association for personal property and fixed-asset professionals.

National Real Estate Investors Association
(NaREIA)
A federation made up of U.S. local associations and investment clubs that represents local investor associations, property owner associations, apartment associations, and landlord associations on a national scale.

NewHomeNetwork.com

Links to online real estate offices and companies.

Owners.com

Lists links to sites with real estate and other property for sale by owners.

Real Estate Investors Association
(REIA)
REIA's membership encompasses real estate investors and professionals.

Real Estate Research Institute
(RERI)
Nonprofit organization created to stimulate high quality research on real estate investment performance and market fundamentals that will elevate the quality of real estate decision-making.

Realtor.com
Online search engine providing a database of primarily residential properties and additional information about the home buying process, relocation, neighborhood comparisons, etc.

REALTORS Land Institute
(RLI)
Focuses on the sale of land and other land transactions.

Society of Industrial and Office Realtors
(SIOR)
The SIOR Educational Foundation's mission is to promote, sponsor and support education research initiatives that advance professionalism in the commercial real estate industry.

Urban Land Institute
(ULI)
Provides reasonable leadership in the use of land to enhance the total environment.

ZipRealty.com

Links to real estate offices and companies.



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