Understanding Tenant Operating Expense Reconciliation

Operating expense reconciliation is a common practice between tenants and landlords. Performing this type of reconciliation can help property owners better understand their tenant income and expenses so they can create more accurate annual budgets and better anticipate future costs.

Here’s a look at how Clarity Commercial helps our property owners with operating expense reconciliation.

Explaining Operating Expense Reconciliation

The first step in helping property owners with operating expense reconciliation is to explain just what it is and how it helps them. Operating expenses include utilities, property insurance, real estate taxes, maintenance, repairs, cleaning services, and other expenses. These expenses are passed on to tenants every year. The amount tenants pay is based on an estimate of what the property owner anticipates these expenses will be, based on past data.

Sometimes, the property owner’s estimate is spot-on. Other times expenses exceed the estimate. And happily, there are times when expenses come in lower than anticipated. Once the final numbers are in, property owners have the responsibility to share the results with tenants. Generally, if tenants underpaid, the property owner bills tenants for their share of the overage. If tenants overpaid, the landlord cuts them a check for the difference or issues a rent credit. How reconciliation is performed should be stipulated in the tenants’ lease agreements.

Why Reconciling Operating Expenses Is Important

Without going through the process of reconciliation, property owners would not have an accurate picture of their expenses or whether their current rent rates or lease agreements adequately cover expenses. Over time, the reconciliation process should provide an increasingly accurate picture of expenses (other than large, unforeseen costs). This can help a property owner better manage income and cash flow. If property owners habitually undercharge tenants for expenses, they may not have enough cash to cover expenses throughout the year. If they overcharge tenants, they may face cash flow issues in the next year after rent credits or checks have gone out.

Operating expense reconciliation is an important step in the property management process. The Clarity Commercial team performs reconciliations for our clients. For help with your own operating expenses or other tenant management challenges, get in touch with our team today

How Regular Site Inspections Can Help You Manage Expenses

We’ve all heard the saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This is especially true for commercial property management. Not only do regular site inspections help property owners avoid expensive emergency repairs, they can help property owners plan for capital improvements and other big-ticket investments. At Clarity Commercial, we perform regular site inspections of all of our clients’ properties to help them plan expenses and save money.

Regular Exterior Site Inspections

Exterior site inspections help property owners quickly address any emergent issues with the exteriors of their buildings, their parking lots, and their grounds. Clarity Commercial performs regular exterior site inspections. We understand that drive-by inspections are rarely effective, so our managers always get out of the car and walk around the building and parking lots to look for potential repairs or maintenance issues.
An exterior site inspection should include a close look at the building’s windows and siding to look for damaged or weathered trim, missing bricks, clogged gutters, and other issues. Managers should check the building’s doors and locks to ensure they are working properly. They should also pay attention to the condition of the walkways and driveway to make sure there are no trip and fall hazards. Lighting should be on and in good working order, too.

A quick look at the landscaping will identify whether the grass and flower beds are being maintained on an appropriate schedule. Long grass, weeds, or dead plants may prompt a call to the landscape company.

Regular Interior Site Inspections

Regular and frequent interior site inspections can keep surprises at bay. On our regular interior site inspections, the Clarity Commercial team will check the interior lighting to ensure hallways and tenant spaces are adequately lit. We will check doors to make sure they are working properly and inspect walls for dents, scrapes, and other damage.

An interior site inspection should also check the building’s heating, cooling, and air ventilation systems to ensure they are working properly. In many cases, we ask our HVAC partners to perform this specialized inspection. During our interior site inspection, we may also meet with tenants to ensure any maintenance and repair requests get handled promptly.

Regular site inspections are an integral part of the commercial property management process. The Clarity Commercial team learns a lot from the site inspections we perform. Sometimes, there are maintenance and repairs we can perform immediately, while other inspections uncover future maintenance and upgrade costs. Anticipating these costs help property owners plan for future investments and avoid paying for emergency repairs.

If you haven’t had your commercial property inspected in a while, get in touch with the Clarity Commercial team. We can work with you to ensure your buildings are in good working order and help you manage your maintenance and repair expenses.

 

Upcoming IREM Property Manager Professional Development Events

Clarity Commercial AMO® is a proud, active member of the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) Minnesota. This year, IREM Minnesota offers commercial property managers a full slate of professional and personal development opportunities. Here’s a look at what’s coming up in the second quarter of 2022.

FIN 402 Budgeting, Cash Flow and Reporting for Investment Real Estate | April 4

Managing a portfolio of investment properties requires some financial know-how. In this IREM course, instructor Tom Elmer, CFO of Oakwood Partners, LLC, goes over basic accounting practices and budgeting for investment portfolios. Then, he’ll do a deep dive on cash flow analysis and how to use data for forecasting and modeling. You won’t want to miss it!

Enroll in the training on the IREM website.

The Development of Malcolm Yards—Tour | April 12

Join IREM MN for a happy hour and tour of the brand-new multiuse neighborhood in Prospect Park called Malcolm Yards. Formerly the Harris Machinery Building, Malcolm Yards features a food gallery, historic grain elevators, and Surly Brewing.

RSVP today on the IREM website.

ALM Barrel House Building Tour & Happy Hour | April 14

Why limit yourself to one happy hour a week? Join IREM MN for a tour and happy hour at the Barrel House, hosted by the Advancing Leaders of Minnesota committee. The event is free to attend, but you do have to register first.

RSVP today on the IREM website.

Save the Date for the 2022 Golf Tournament | June 6

IREM’s annual golf tournament is back and better than ever! Register yourself and your team for a day on the links at Mendakota Country Club. More information coming soon!

Get the details on the IREM website.

Clarity Commercial AMO® owner Mel Schultz, CPM, CCIM, CCAM, is an active IREM member. He is passionate about continuing education in the commercial real estate industry. For more information about IREM and how our participation in the organization helps you, contact Clarity Commercial AMO® today.

All About Cloud-Based Access Control

Commercial properties have experienced a lot of change these last few years. Tenants have moved out and new ones have moved in. Other tenants have dramatically changed how, when, and where their employees work. Visitors to retail shops, medical clinics, and other businesses have ebbed and flowed.

All of these changes have challenged landlords and tenants alike to find new access control solutions. It may seem like a minor concern, but having the right access control system can make your life as a landlord or tenant much easier. Conversely, using a system that no longer serves you and how you work can interrupt productivity and create frustration. Clarity Commercial is here to help you find the cloud-based access control system that fits your current needs.

What is access control?

Access control is the term for the systems, processes, and policies that physically secure your commercial space. Access control systems can be as simple as a lock and key. But increasingly, access control systems include much, much more.

In the wake of remote work and high tenant turnover, many companies are choosing to upgrade their access control from master key systems or electronic fobs to systems that can be monitored and managed remotely. These systems offer landlords flexibility in authorizing and revoking access as tenants come and go, and offer tenants the same flexibility when deciding whom to allow to access their space.

What is cloud-based access control?

Cloud-based access control systems allow landlords and tenants to monitor and manage access to their spaces remotely from an online dashboard. Many cloud-based systems have swapped physical keycards for Bluetooth-powered access provided by a cellphone app. For landlords, this a huge timesaver, as they no longer have to spend hours coordinating keycards with tenants or tracking down lost or stolen fobs. For tenants, these systems make access to their spaces a breeze.

Cloud-based access control systems also make it easy to manage authorized visitors. Access can be given or revoked instantly through the online dashboard. Many systems offer temporary passes for visitors, too, which makes it easy to grant access to maintenance and repair crews and other contractors.

How can Clarity Commercial help?

Clarity Commercial can help landlords and tenants choose the cloud-based access control system that fits their needs. Our expert property management team can even take access control management off your plate as needed.

For professional property management help from Minnesota’s best commercial property management team, get in touch with Clarity Commercial today.

Start 2022 Off Strong with These Professional Development Events

Clarity Commercial is a proud, active member of the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) Minnesota. This year, IREM Minnesota offers commercial property managers a full slate of professional and personal development opportunities. Here’s a look at what’s coming up in the first quarter of 2022.

After two years of online events, IREM is now offering in-person learning opportunities across the Twin Cities. Locations for first-quarter events include the IREM Minnesota Chapter office in the Harrington Company in Minneapolis and the office building at 7700 France Avenue in Edina. Both are convenient locations for commercial property managers across the Twin Cities metro area.

ETH 800 Ethics for the Real Estate Manager | February 2

How you respond to ethical challenges can make or break your reputation as a commercial property manager. ETH 800 helps participants resolve ethical dilemmas and avoid conflicts of interest. The best thing about this course? It’s taught by our very own Mel Schultz! Participants may earn four hours of real estate CE.

Enroll in the training on the IREM Website.

A New Year: CRE Prospects in 2022 | February 8

CoStar economist Brandon Svec leads this 90-minute seminar on the state of the CRE market and where it’s headed in 2022. Not only will you get the inside scoop on the Minneapolis market, you’ll learn what’s happening in Chicago, the Midwest, and across the country. Don’t miss this insightful look into what’s ahead.

Enroll in the session on the IREM website.

Clarity Commercial owner Mel Schultz, CPM, CCIM, CCAM, is an active IREM member (and instructor!) and is passionate about continuing education in the commercial real estate industry. For more information about IREM and how our participation in the organization helps you, contact Clarity Commercial today.

Year-End Financial Reporting Tips for Commercial Properties

Part of maintaining a healthy commercial real estate portfolio is year-end financial reporting. While it may not be the most exciting part of your job as a property owner, it is an absolutely necessary one. At Clarity Commercial, we often provide financial reporting as a service to our clients. Here are a few of the reports we may look at to help our clients plan for the new year and beyond.

Run Your Year-End Balance Sheet

A year-end balance sheet is a very common financial report across all types of businesses. It provides an overview of your commercial property portfolio’s assets and liabilities in real dollar amounts. Consider your year-end balance sheet a snapshot of the health of your portfolio. It may not tell the complete financial story of your properties, but it will give you an idea of what happened over the last year so you can start planning for next year.

Compile Your Rent Roll Report

If you manage tenants, then you know how important your rent roll report is to the health of your books. It’s one of the core elements of good financial reporting for commercial properties. Your rent roll report will tell you your income from every tenant suite in every property you own. Some property owners prefer to run a separate rent roll report for each property in their portfolio, while others like to see their entire portfolio compiled in a single report.

A comprehensive rent roll includes the income coming in from a particular space as well as market or zoning, the type of property, the address, and square footage. It may also indicate tenant lease dates, prepaid or past-due rent, and other tenant income and expenses. Your rent roll report offers many valuable insights into the health of your portfolio, so be sure to take a look at it at year-end.

Check Your Lease Expiration Report

To keep tabs on which leases will be expiring in the new year, run a lease expiration report. It will show you when tenants’ leases are up so you can approach them about renewing or start your hunt for new tenants. The report also gives you an at-a-glance insight into how many square feet will expire each month and how much income that represents.

Review Your Expense Recovery Estimates

As you know, property improvements, maintenance, and repairs are unavoidable expenses for a commercial property owner. An expense recovery estimate report will help you track current expenses and predict when you will recoup those costs.

Financial reporting is an essential tool in maintaining a healthy and profitable commercial real estate portfolio. For assistance running and interpreting your financial reports so you can make better business decisions for your portfolio, get in touch with the Clarity Commercial team today

Selecting a Minnesota Commercial Snow Removal Company

Winter weather has arrived in Minnesota, and with it the guarantee of snow and ice for the next few months. Commercial snow removal companies are ready to kick into gear. If you haven’t contracted with a snow removal company yet, Clarity Commercial has a few tips on how to choose the right contractor for you. These are the things we consider when we select a commercial snow removal company for our property management clients.

Understand the Services the Commercial Snow Removal Company Offers

The first thing you need to gain clarity on are the types of services a commercial snow removal company offers. Not all snow removal services are the same. Some are large operations with a fleet of trucks and dozens of employees. Others are owner-operator endeavors with a truck with a plow, a snowblower, and a shovel. Both are good options depending on your needs.

As you interview different snow removal professionals, ask if they are able to perform every service your property requires. Confirm that they are equipped to plow your parking lot, driveway, and sidewalks, as needed. Inquire about their deicing services for your surfaces, too. Double-check that the company will promptly and repeatedly come out to salt your sidewalks and walkways, as you could be held liable for a visitor or employee’s slip and fall accident if you leave these areas untreated.

Negotiate a Snow Removal Contract and Set Expectations

Once you’ve settled on a commercial snow removal company for your property, it is time to negotiate the contract and set your expectations. Your snow removal contract should stipulate required services as well as when you can expect the company to show up at your property. It should outline how soon after a storm snow removal will occur as well as any preventative measures the company will take to prevent icy surfaces before a storm hits. Your contract should also include what happens to the removed snow. Will the company push it to a certain area of your property or haul it away? Confirm how you will get in touch with the snow removal company if an issue arises or you have an acute need for snow and ice removal.

Confirm the Snow Removal Company Is Insured

This last point is often overlooked. Many property owners assume the contractors they work with are insured. Since failing to remove snow and ice can leave you open to risk, you need to confirm that the commercial snow removal company you are considered is properly insured for snow removal services. Any reputable company will be happy to share this information with you.

Old Man Winter is already knocking on Minnesota’s door. For help finding commercial snow removal services for your property, contact the professionals at Clarity Commercial today

Commercial Real Estate Management Continuing Ed Opportunities with IREM

The Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) Minnesota is finishing 2021 strong with several professional development opportunities for commercial property managers, including its flagship certification and accreditation courses. The Clarity Commercial team hopes to see you at an upcoming event!

Online – Overview of IREM Certified Sustainable Property Program | November 3

Sustainable properties are well-managed properties. Get your property certified sustainable and open up a whole new market of tenants. This hour-long, interactive seminar will discuss the benefits of becoming a certified property and wasting fewer resources across all operations.

Enroll in the virtual training on the IREM Website.

Online – ARM Accreditation | Ongoing

Just starting out in your residential property management career? The Accredited Residential Manager (ARM) accreditation is designed just for you. Learn all about budgeting, leasing, maintenance, risk management, and resident relations and retention while you gain real-world experience at your current management job.

Enroll on the IREM website.

Online – ACoM Accreditation | Ongoing

If you’re new to commercial property management, then you want to pursue your Accredited Commercial Manager (ACoM) accreditation. As an ACoM, you’ll master the fundamentals of commercial property management while becoming more confident as a lease negotiator and manager of onsite management and maintenance staff. You’ll also learn how to use a financial analysis, build a budget, and forecast your portfolio’s financial outlook.

Enroll on the IREM website.

Online – CPM Certification | Ongoing

Will 2022 be the year you finally become a Certified Property Manager (CPM)? CPM certification has certainly helped the Clarity Commercial team become more effective property managers. Take the first step and enroll on the IREM Minnesota website. Instruction occurs online and, in some cases, in the classroom.

Enroll on the IREM website.

Clarity Commercial owner Mel Schultz, CPM, CCIM, CCAM, is an active member of IREM and is passionate about continuing education in the commercial real estate industry. For more information about IREM and how our participation in the

5 Common Leasehold Improvements

Typically, the next step after signing a commercial lease is starting work on leasehold improvements, also known as tenant improvements or tenant buildouts. These changes help tenants customize their new space to their particular business needs.

Any structural or cosmetic changes to the interior of a space are considered leasehold improvements. Exterior changes, additions, or changes to a building’s HVAC, fire protection, or security systems are usually not considered leasehold improvements. Landlords or tenants can pay for leasehold improvements.

Here is a general overview of common leasehold improvements for commercial properties.

1. Interior Structural Changes

It is common for new tenants to make structural changes within the footprint of the space they lease. Call centers may require cubicles, a law office may need to create a lobby, and a veterinary clinic may need to create exam rooms and lab space.

2. Addition of IT, Electrical, or Lighting Systems

Adding phone lines, internet and ethernet ports, and new lighting are considered leasehold improvements, too. Transforming a retail space into an office space or a medical clinic into a retail store will require significant changes to how a space is powered and lit.

3. Updated Wall Surfaces and Flooring

Updates to wall surfaces and flooring are also considered leasehold improvements. Adding drywall, painting, wallpaper, and other wall treatments are often necessary in reinventing a leased space for new use. So are changes to flooring. Carpeting may not be the best choice for a spa, and tile may not be appropriate for an office.

4. New Shelving and Countertops

Along the same lines, tenants may require new countertops and shelving systems to update their space. Adding shelving for a retail store may be a major investment, while countertop updates can make a huge difference in the look of a store, clinic, or office.

5. Installed Equipment

Permanently installed equipment, such as shampoo chairs at a salon or wash tubs at a pet grooming shop, also count as leasehold improvements. These type of tenant improvements cannot be easily removed at the end of the lease but are essential to the operation of the tenant’s business.

Leasehold improvements are part of the commercial lease process. Clarity Commercial can help landlords negotiate tenant buildouts with prospective applicants, including how the improvements will be paid for and by whom.

For professional guidance through the tenant improvement process, get in touch with the Clarity Commercial team today.

Two Clarity Commercial Property Managers Celebrate Significant Career Milestones with IREM

Addie Kubitz
Taylor Sonnenfeld

Minneapolis, MN (July 22, 2021) – Clarity Commercial is celebrating significant career milestones for two of the company’s up-and-coming property managers. Taylor Sonnenfeld was selected for IREM’s Next Gen CPM® Leaders program. Addie Kubitz was selected as one of IREM’s 30 Under 30 property managers and earned the organization’s ACoM certification.

Over the next 12 months, Taylor Sonnenfeld will join 18 other young property managers from across the country in the 2021-2022 Next Gen CPM® Leaders cohort. Together, the cohort will participate in a fast-tracked CPM certification program designed to rapidly develop talented property managers and create a professional community for the industry’s rising stars.

Ms. Sonnenfeld joined the Clarity Commercial team in June 2019. She started her career in 2014 managing and leasing residential properties in downtown Minneapolis. Today, she manages more than 100,000 square feet of office, retail, restaurant, and medical space for Clarity Commercial clients.

IREM’s 30 Under 30 has selected Addie Kubitz as a 2021 recipient. The purpose of the 30 Under 30 program is to acknowledge the next generation of real estate management leaders who have made a significant impact on the industry and their communities. Ms. Kubitz demonstrated her contribution to the profession through her career success, professional leadership, and community involvement.

At UW-Stout, Ms. Kubitz was an active student member of IREM. She served as the UW-Stout IREM co-president for two years, where she engaged students with IREM on local and national levels. Currently, she serves as the co-chair of the IREM Minnesota social media committee. She was awarded the IREM Foundation scholarship in 2020.

Ms. Kubitz joined Clarity Commercial in September 2020. As a Property Manager, she oversees six commercial condo associations throughout the Twin Cities suburbs. She earned IREM’s ACoM designation in Spring 2021.

Ms. Sonnenfeld and Ms. Kubitz will be recognized for their achievements on the IREM website and at the IREM Global Summit in Las Vegas in October.

To learn more about the accomplishments of Ms. Sonnenfeld and Ms. Kubitz or for professional real estate management assistance, contact Clarity Commercial Chief Manager Mel Schultz at 952-259-1222 or visit myclaritycommercial.com.

ABOUT CLARITY COMMERCIAL

Based in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, Clarity Commercial manages a diverse range of multistory office buildings, warehouse facilities, commercial condominiums, retail, and industrial properties across the Twin Cities metro area.

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