For many businesses moving to the US and considering either Buying or Leasing a property, to be effective at selecting an agent and finding the right property you
will need to understand how the agency relationships work, the market stratification by size and agency, and the local terminology.
Firstly on the agency relationship, both the Buyer or Leasee, and Seller or Lessor, will have agency representation by a real estate agent, however, the Seller or Lessor will agree one agency fee or commission and that will be split between the Buyers or Leasee’s agent and the Seller or Lessors agent. So when you are looking for a property you first of all want to find yourself a good real estate agent to represent you, and they will work for you without a fee until you have competed your transaction. There are times when one agent will represent both the Buyer or Leasee and the Seller or Lessor, however these are more common when the Buyer or Leasee is familiar with the process and if you are new to the market place, it is not recommended as the Sellers or Lessors agent will have a longer standing relationship with them.
The market is stratified by size – the big brand international real estate brokerage firms manage the larger commercial estates, shopping malls, the office and industrial parks, the smaller, locally specialized firms typically represent retail units in a high street, niche office, creative and tech space as well as the smaller industrial parks. In any location the niche spaces in prime locations are often dominated by smaller firms.
The disadvantages of choosing to work with a smaller firm today, versus twenty years ago, are no longer relevant with the advent of internet based listings on Loopnet, and CoStar, and in many respects you can expect better market knowledge and higher quality service from the smaller firms. The big brand firms in the US typically will not have an experienced member of the team for a job where the commission is less than $250,000, and will allocate the search to a junior whereas the smaller niche firm with the lower overhead will allocate a senior team member and as such you will receive a superior service with your representation.
My recommendation would be to start with a partner in a niche firm and if you need to go bigger they can make an introduction for you to a larger firm. My firm, HD Realty Partners is a niche practice in Los Angeles specialized in brining expat business into the states, feel free to email me direct on [email protected] if you are looking for an introduction into a specific area of the US.