Whether you’re an owner looking to sell by yourself, or an agent looking to find buyers on behalf of an owner, there are now a few different routes you can take when selling commercial real estate.
Those closing the fastest, most favorable deals are:
(1) Those that are really effective marketers, and/or (2) those that have a direct, reliable pathway to contacting potential buyers.
Here, we’ll show you how both of those things are very much within your reach.
Selling Commercial Real Estate
When selling a commercial property of any kind, as a broker or owner, your options include:
- Using your existing network of relationships to find those looking to buy.
- Marketing your property on a commercial or FSBO listings website.
- Analyzing off market data to identify likely buyers and connect with them directly.
The newest and fastest growing of the options above is to search for buyers off market.
The idea of off market transactions is nothing new—but in recent years, access to off market data has evolved well-beyond public records, becoming a great resource for both investors and brokers selling CRE.
Longer-standing, more traditional options still remain very popular, as well.
At the least, you should be combining these different methods to ensure that you can find fitting buyers on a repeatable basis.
How to Sell Commercial Real Estate
While off market research can help you unlock new depths of opportunity, traditional network-based, marketing-heavy techniques still very much attract buyers.
Traditional approaches include working with a commercial agent or advertising your property on a listings website.
Work with a Commercial Real Estate Broker
If you are a broker and want to learn about winning deals off market, you might want to jump past this section.
Most commercial property owners choose to work with a broker due to the complexity of commercial real estate transactions, and the time needed to carry out a deal.
There are, however, many more benefits to engaging the services of an agent that make paying the sale commission well worth it.
Ensuring a Favorable Return on Your Property
An experienced broker will help you price your property right for the current market conditions, saving you tons of research time.
Brokerage firms keep up with current industry and economic trends, as well as any significant recent sales in their area of operation.
They will use sales comps analysis to determine a fair but realistic listing price for your building while allowing enough room for negotiations with potential buyers.
Seasoned brokers have a well established professional network of other brokers, investors, and other parties that may be interested in purchasing your commercial real estate right away.
Rather than relying only on traditional marketing strategies, they will be able to present your property directly to these individuals, thus significantly increasing your chances of finding a qualified buyer in a timely manner.
Commercial real estate brokers can help with a lot more than just marketing your property for sale, too.
Communicating with Potential Buyers
Your listing broker will also save you a great deal of time and effort by becoming the main point of contact for any inquiries, tour requests, and potential offers from interested parties.
They will also coordinate and host all property tours and “open house” events.
Your agent can even suggest what renovations and staging tips may be needed to make your property more attractive to investors.
Negotiating with Potential Buyers
Last but not least, they will lead the eventual negotiation back-and-forth, as well as the actual closing.
The broker you hire will get paid for their services in the form of a commission after the sale of the property is complete.
The commission is typically a percentage of the final sale price, usually around 6%.
If the buyer also has an agent in the transaction, then the commission gets split between the two participating brokers according to a separate agreement between them.
If you decide to work with a broker to sell your commercial real estate, you should do some due diligence to ensure you hire the right individual.
Just like with any other professional, you should check their references, speak with some past customers, and ensure they are dedicated to helping you get the best deal for your property.
List Your Property for Sale
Hiring a broker and using a listing service to advertise your commercial real estate for sale are not mutually exclusive options.
As a matter of fact, unless a broker has an immense network of connections, they’ll typically list your property on several listing platforms as a part of their marketing efforts.
The number of listing services for both commercial and residential real estate have increased dramatically since the early days of the Internet.
Additionally, there are many niche sites that focus on specific markets or types of commercial property such as gas stations, self storage, or vacant land.
Featuring your commercial real estate property on these platforms can dramatically increase your chances of finding a qualified buyer.
LoopNet alone generates over 700,000 daily property views from users located anywhere in the United States and even around the world.
These online listing services have become the number one source for finding available real estate listings for investors, tenant rep brokers and even corporate real estate professionals.
Most of the notable platforms we mentioned above will allow you to create a basic listing for your commercial property free of charge.
If you would like to use some of the advanced listing features or have your listing advertised to visitors, you may have to purchase a paid membership or pay some type of fee.
It’s also best to list your commercial real estate property for sale on multiple platforms.
While experienced real estate professionals are familiar with most of these listing services, they typically favor and frequent only a couple for their everyday property searches.
How to Sell Commercial Real Estate by Owner
While definitely a less common practice in the commercial real estate industry, selling by owner is also an option.
Some owners have ample experience with commercial properties and feel confident in completing the transaction without an agent.
Others simply want to maximize their proceeds by avoiding the broker commission.
If you choose to sell your commercial real estate assets on your own, you may find the tips for marketing your property and finding potential buyers in this section useful.
First, it is worth noting that you can add your commercial property for sale in the listing platforms we discussed earlier on your own. They are not limited in any way to only licensed realtors.
Even if you have to purchase a subscription or pay a fee, the global exposure of your listing to potential investors and brokers will be well worth it.
Additionally, there are several web sites that feature exclusively for sale by owner listings.
Craigslist, for example, has a special category for real estate for sale, and has sub-sites for virtually every major city in the United States.
Believe it or not, though not widely popular, you can even list your commercial property for sale on eBay.
Another way to sell a commercial property (if you’re an owner or broker) is to identify buyers off market and reach out to them proactively.
How to Find Buyers Off Market
Searching off market lets you go beyond your marketing efforts to carry out your own research and learn about potential buyers.
Many professionals do this with local public property records.
Public records research, however, is usually reactive research, where you have a potential buyer in mind, then turn to public records to understand them and their portfolio on a deeper level.
With access to nationwide off market data on the Reonomy Platform, you can carry out proactive research to discover completely new contacts likely to buy a commercial property.
There’s a few ways to do that.
1. Real Estate Comps
Reonomy has a database of more than 20 million sales transactions informing commercial comps across the country. Finding them is pretty simple.
Say you’re a broker looking to find a buyer for 1944 C St, San Diego, CA 92102.
The property is a 6-unit multifamily building in Central San Diego with a lot area of 5,000 square feet, and a building area of roughly 2,700 square feet.
To find other similar properties, start by entering the address in the search bar, and click once it appears in the dropdown:
You’ll be taken to a profile for that individual property.
Then, by clicking the “View Comparables” icon, you’ll be given a list of similar assets.
In this case, clicking the button gives you a list of nearly 300 commercial assets, based on a collection of filters that are automatically added by Reonomy.
That’s almost 300 property owners that may be interested in buying another property similar to their own.
You can continue to dig through these properties individually to better understand owners and their motives, see if they have cash on-hand, and so on.
2. Find Recent Buyers and Sellers
Speaking of cash-on-hand, a great way to sell commercial real estate off market is to find recent buyers and sellers of similar assets.
You can start a property search with location, asset type, and building and lot filters, or simply run a comps search using your subject property (as demonstrated above).
Then, by filtering results by “most recent sale date,” you’ll only see properties that have been sold in the recent past.
You can even update this filter after searching for comps.
After that, you can dive into the ownership of any individual property, including the names and contact information of LLC owners.
Recent buyers may be currently active in the market, looking to expand their portfolio even further.
Recent sellers will have cash on-hand from their recent sale, and therefore may be willing to reinvest that capital in a new property.
A bit more about what you can find off market:
Alls that’s left to do would be to call property owners directly and start a conversation.
You can use what you’ve learned in researching their properties to inform your talking points and quickly strike a deal.