businessman and buildings


What do many massage therapists have in common? They are tenants who lease space from a commercial landlord.

Working exclusively for tenants since 1993, we can speak from experience. Agents/brokers are deal driven, not detail driven.

Whatever rent you pay per square foot may matter less to an agent than whether the deal actually gets done. After all, agents/brokers are only paid by the landlord if a lease agreement gets signed and the deal closes. People who take a commission for work performed are salespeople – they are NOT advisers.

Commission? Just ask. 


Massage therapy tenants are entitled to know if the agent is being paid a commission and how much. All you have to do is ask.

In most cases, the agent’s commission will be five or six percent of the base or minimum rent (not operating costs). If you are leasing 1,500 square feet (times) $28.00 per square foot (times) 5 years (times) 6 percent, the agent’s commission would be $12,600.

If you are not inclined to take advice from a car salesman who makes a $200 commission when selling you a car, how much more guarded should you be in real estate when the commission is thousands of dollars?



During site selection, avoid letting one agent show you around town. Don’t let an outsider show you another agent’s listings.

If you want to look at space for lease in a particular building, contact the listing agent whose name appears on that building’s “For Lease” sign. A tenant may know an agent whom they feel comfortable with and let that agent show them other buildings listed for lease by other agents.

This creates commission-splitting and may make you less valuable than another tenant who may be dealing directly with the listing agent. It’s never a good idea for the landlord’s agent to know what you are thinking in terms of properties that you’ve shortlisted. Some agents won’t care which property you lease, as long as you do the deal through them.

Tenant Rep


Finally, you may have heard the term, “Tenant Rep.” This is a fancy name agents take on when they want you to believe they are working for the tenant while they are collecting a commission from the landlord.

In fact, the term “Tenant Rep” is so misused that even seasoned tenants with multiple locations are fooled by this seemingly idealistic solution to their problems.

Please don’t misunderstand: The real estate agent is not trying to hurt the tenant but instead is trying to help the landlord. Remember that tenants mistakenly think that lawyers can help them; however, the legality of the lease is rarely in question.

A professional lease consultant (who the tenant is paying) is the far better option for effectively negotiating the lease terms and getting you the best lease deal possible.


Dale Willerton and Jeff Grandfield – The Lease Coach are Commercial Lease Consultants who work exclusively for tenants. Dale and Jeff are professional speakers and co-authors of Negotiating Commercial Leases & Renewals For Dummies (Wiley, 2013). Call 1-800-738-9202, e-mail or visit