Are Vacant Office Spaces A Lucrative Investment Post COVID-19?

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Since the inception of COVID-19 in 2020, thousands of businesses across the nation have tremendously suffered which forced many of them to temporarily shut down just several weeks into the pandemic. Up and coming cities like Charlotte, NC, following the shutdown, now face the prevailing question as to how much of an office space is needed if it's even being used?

Leasing Landscape

According to Holden Brayboy, a research manager at CBRE, stated that last quarter, 57% of all office leases signed in Charlotte were either relocations or new deals. Specifically, fifteen leases were signed in the third quarter for more than 10,000 square feet. Most companies are giving their employees an option as to whether or not they'd like to go back into the office. About 77% of companies here in Charlotte, as reported by the Urban Land Institute & PricewaterhouseCoopers, stated most of their employees worked from home during the pandemic.

Many of those same companies believe that it'll come down to about 55% post shutdown. What does this mean for the overall availability of office spaces? Smaller companies here in Charlotte are moving in droves to establish subleasing deals with the current tenants of these office spaces. In Q4 of 2021, it's projected that one million square feet worth of space will become available on the sublease market. In just Q2 alone, more than 677,000 square feet of sublease space have graced the market. The subleasing market will be expected to more than double within the next six months which could result in an increase of various small business ventures. One major venture that could come from this opportunity is event hosting.

Event Hosting

As restrictions fell off, the numerous scheduling of events ensued. Anywhere from wedding receptions to business conferences have created a demand for an entity to sublease these spaces. If you deem this particular opportunity to be lucrative, here's a few elements to consider before you get started:

1. Location - You want to look for areas within the city (in this case Charlotte) that have a high economic growth potential. You want to make sure that it's also not a far commute for most people within the city, especially if you plan for this space to eventually become a hub for events.

2. Cost-Efficiency - Since you're "subleasing an office space, you may get it at more of a discount here than you would in other cities along the Northeast territory", according to Chase Monroe, Carolina's market director and Charlotte's brokerage lead at JLL. This is generally true for subleasing office spaces because you're just re-renting a portion of that tenant's existing contract for the property.

3. Marketing - Most people that occupied these office spaces had very little guidance in promoting them so they had no choice but to close down. When you approach a landlord about your plan to use their space for events, they'll probably give a hesitant response because they haven't realized how lucrative event hosting could be in those spaces. This is where your sales and negotiation skills come in handy.

The Step-by-Step Process

    ● Find a space at an ideal location with the size being anywhere between 1,500-3,000square feet.

    ● Acquire any permits necessary for the events that you plan to host.

    ● Remodel the basic amenities such as the countertops, stove (if any), bathrooms, wall paint, etc.

    ● Create a financial plan/schedule of how often you'll host events at your location from month to month.

    ● Contact the landlord of that property and negotiate the terms of what you plan to do with that space along with  the rent amount then pay them your first and last month's security deposit upon approval.

    ● Hire assistants to monitor the activity that takes place at these events along with a set up and tear down/cleaning crew.

    ● Create an event such as a baby shower, birthday party, book signings, seminars, etc. with 50-100 people.

    ● Ensure that adequate parking exists in your area especially if you run into a space within a plaza setting.

    ● Host events frequently to earn residual cash!

Whether you're in an up and coming city or a current financially thriving city, your opportunities are endless when it comes to subleasing office spaces. If you think big enough and you plan to get into the event planning business, you could potentially create a franchise from this and right now is the time to do it!

Since many businesses and locations specifically in Charlotte have opened back up, the majority of people are ready to do activities outside of their home. So acquiring an office space property and turning it into your own event planning empire couldn't be a more prosperous move.

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