Hire an exclusive agent. You are far better off with someone looking out for you, someone who is in the office market day in and day out.
Make sure your agent does nothing but sell and lease office space in your area. It won’t cost you anything! The commission is already factored into the rent and almost all office projects have a listing broker. Just like you wouldn’t want a podiatrist working on your heart, pick a specialist for your office facility.
Be realistic and flexible in your objectives. Rents have gone up a lot in the past six months, vacancy is down to single-digits, and in most regions there are few available spaces. Determine what is most important: rent, location, size of space, type of building, access to transit, growth potential, layout, views, length of term, or what?
Be prepared to present you and your business in the best possible way. Have your business plan, details on principals, background on the company, your source of venture capital, your previous successes all in a presentable format. I usually suggest to my e-commerce clients to have a half-dozen packages bound and ready because it might take 2-3 attempted leases to secure on location. Don’t expect the landlord to check out your information on your web site. Hard copies are best!
If you can secure an office and buy existing in-place furniture, so much the better if the layout is somewhat close. Normal workstations (i.e., 8′ x8′) can cost $4,500 each new and $1,500-1,800 each used, and can usually be bought for $500-1,500 each when left behind in the space. The cost to set up a station might cost $300 a station.
Telcom wiring (phone and data) might run $3-7/sq. ft. depending on necessary upgrades, how high a level you want to install.
For e-commerce start-ups without a healthy profitability history, anticipate a landlord request for security deposit/LOC (Letter of Credit) from 6 to 24 months work of lease payments.
Being fully prepared for the first great space that comes along saves you from learning the hard way, losing four locations and doing what needs to be done to get location #5. Your tenant rep broker can bring a world of value and experience to help you in this process.