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Good times, good tenants?

It may be a slow recovery, but we are certainly in the growth mode. With that comes an increase in leasing.  Coming off a difficult economy means the review of your prospective tenant’s credit is even more important.  Here are some key items to consider:

  • Can they pay the rent?
    • Look at the whole company, not just their financial statement
      • How long have they been in business?  How many employees?  What is the experience of management?
      • Do they have a diversified customer base or count on one or two for most of their revenue?
      • Do they have a unique product? Any patent protection?  What are their competitive advantages or disadvantages?
    • Evaluating the financial side
      • Information sources
        • Audited statements are best.  From there, the order goes CPA reviewed, CPA prepared, then internally prepared. Tax returns are OK for small companies.
        • Does the company have a bond rating?  Check Standard & Poor’s or Moody’s .
        • Ask for business plans and/or forecasts.  If they don’t have them, ask more questions.
        • Get references such as bankers, vendors, or accountants.
      • Review company financials
        • Look at the company’s net worth, total debt and debt-service burden, cash flow, and profitability trend.  Do they produce enough operating cash flow to easily pay the new rent?
        • Are there any conflicts of interest such as loans, sales, or leases to/from shareholders?
        • Credit, what are the limits and capacity?
      • Consider enhancements if their credit is weak
        • Can they put up a letter of credit?
        • Can they post a larger deposit?
        • Consider having the tenant pay for their own tenant improvements.
      • Of course, all of the above needs to be considered depending on how large of a space the tenant is taking in relation to the entire building.
  • Will they be compatible with the other tenants?
    • Will their operations be a nuisance to neighboring tenants?  Things to consider are smells (hair salons), noise (night clubs, machine shops), and volume of visitors (social service offices).
    • Will their occupancy be an enhancement or detraction to the quality of your building?
      • Nature of business (bank vs. rehab clinic)
      • Respectful of others (you don’t want good tenants getting upset and leaving)
  • Will they take care of their space and common areas?
    • Visit their current space.  Is it in good condition or does it look abused?
  • How will they be to deal with?  Do they seem antagonistic or easy to work with?

Of course, the above just skims the surface of a full due-diligence review of a prospective tenant.  If it’s a large investment-grade tenant like Boeing, its easy.  However, in most cases it takes a more careful review to ensure your next tenant is one you want.