Episode 007

Deconstructing Commercial Real Estate Leasing with Walt Batansky of Avocat Group

“[Landlords] are there to extract as much money as they can from a business...no one really advocates for the tenant except guys like us.”
Walt Batansky
Avocat Group
The commercial real estate industry is dominated by a handful of major brokers, entrenched with legal and logistical support, whose sole purpose is to protect the interests of property owners. Walt Batansky, CFO of the Avocat Group, balances the scales with its own team of specialists and advisors who help small to mid-sized business tenants negotiate better leases.

“These [landlords] have teams of really smart brokers, asset managers, attorneys – all there to maximize on the return,” Batansky said. “They’re all there to extract as much money as they can from the business, so their whole strategy is built up to do that. No one really advocates for the tenant except guys like us.”Batansky noted that while real estate is often the second largest expense that a company has behind labor costs, many seasoned CEOs and CFOs have a hard time negotiating the terms of their commercial leasing agreements. 

The reason is often attributed to a lack of experience, due to the fact that these executives negotiate fewer leases far less often than commercial landlords. As a result, tenants find themselves cornered into less-than-favorable agreements with landlords who have more experience, the result of a “landlord representation-dominated industry,” according to Batansky. Batansky and the Avocat Group seeks to educate clientele by helping executives evaluate the best- and worst-case scenarios for their company’s leasing agreements. From there, the firm helps protect clientele through consultation and advising, offering solutions that are beneficial to a client’s company.

The Avocat Group focuses on strict engagement around the tenant, providing strategic planning options and solutions to help lessees get and maintain the most flexibility within their commercial lease.“Even though we compete in the same space as the really big landlord representatives, it’s like McDonalds and Bern’s Steakhouse – McDonalds sells a lot more beef but the quality is not any better,” Batansky said. “We’re trying to be the Bern’s Steakhouse and get to know the client and give them the custom solution.”
The Avocat Group is developing a new mobile application for commercial tenants to help businesses better understand their leasing agreements and plan for unforeseen surprises by landlords. The app, Leasing Better, is based the firm’s methodology of the same name. It incorporates data analytics from over 600 companies and over 2800 leasing transactions to provide triggers and reminders to guide tenants through critical phases of the leasing process. 

Inspired the WebMD app, Leasing Better helps tenants with tips and reminders to prevent a lapses in payments, among other features.“There are lots of [firms] who can do a [leasing] transaction well, but the strategic planning and knowing your options and being able to walk through the process is the primary challenge tenants face,” Batansky said.According to Batansky, the app is still in beta but it is expected to ship this summer.

The Avocat Group services clientele worldwide with over 30 years experience in commercial real estate leasing. They operate out of 16 local and four regional offices across the United States. More information about the Avocat Group is available at https://avocatgroup.com/

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