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When should I start looking for a space?
That depends on a few factors like space size, office leasing market condition, layout and other requirements of the desired space.  The smaller the size, the less time it requires.  The higher the vacancy rate in the type of space you are looking for, the less time it takes to find the one meets your size/price requirements.  If you just need an open space, it usually takes less time to finish than a space of the same size with offices, conference room, pantry, storage and reception, etc.  If you have special phone/data communication  requiements, you need to build in a few weeks of time for that before you can move in.  Example:  if you need under 2,000 square feet of open space with Verizon DSL for your internent connection, in the current market,  you need to start 4-5 months before you need to move into the space.  If your needs is a little complicated, please call us and we will give you a free estimate.

If Someone is looking to work with a commercial real estate agent to find a place for his business.   How does he know if his broker is suitable for him?
If you are looking for 1000sf space for you model agency in Chelsea, the super agent who has the experience to sell GM building or the one who negotiated a 200,000sf lease for Bank of America probably is not going to be the right agent for you.  Why?  Let's share with you a bit about how a productive agent works:  Everyday, the agent comes to the office and prioritizes his clients based on the space requirements.  You need to find someone who is excited to service you and you are one of his top clients.

You can tell if you are his top clients by two key indicators:
Number one indicator is responsiveness.  Your agent returns your calls and emails promptly.  If you need to make a proposal, he executes quickly.  If you need to make a change in your search criteria, he adjusts his work accordingly.

Number two indicator is understanding.  There is the understanding of your specified requirements which is simple.  He also needs to "get" you and your business.  For example, if you are looking for a fashion showroom, you might want to be in the fashion district.   A good agent only takes you to nice showroom buildings not the type that has lots of manufacturing tenants.  He also knows which building within that fashion district that the building ownership is more receptive and accommodating to you based on the type of showroom your plan to open.  

Most of our agents have lived and worked in New York City for a long time.  One of the reasons we enjoy helping tenants is that we are all passionate and talented in matching the right space with the right people/business.