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When looking for prime commercial real estate, what should you consider before hiring a broker?

Real estate is probably the largest single financial commitment an organization makes, says Thomas Fulcher, executive vice president at Studley, a commercial real estate firm. So it's important to find a broker with your best interests at heart.

Associations Now: Why hire a commercial real estate broker?

Fulcher: I think not having one is kind of like going to a murder trial without your lawyer.

The whole market around commercial real estate is complicated, and the level of knowledge needed to know that you're getting a good price and that you're getting the appropriate deal requires a level of expertise that someone coming in from the cold wouldn't have.

What should you look for in a broker?

Someone you can trust, someone who knows the market, and someone who is an effective communicator.

You need someone who can understand what your needs are and then can communicate them effectively to people on the other side—to the different landlords. And you need them to be able to communicate with your board.

What potential conflicts of interest can arise between a client and a real estate broker?

The way broker compensation works, the more space you take, the more money a broker makes, so you want someone who will look after your interests.

You also don't want to have your broker representing both sides of the transaction. If you've got someone who's representing the landlord as well, you are probably always concerned about whose best interest they are looking out for.