Guest writer: Michele Gambetta, Founder, ArtCondo
Whether you plan to rent or purchase a commercial studio, there are proven ways to find the best space. Knowing your needs is the first place to start.
Create a list of your studio “needs and wants” to get yourself oriented. Options include desired neighborhood, physical characteristics of the space, the building community, preferred type of possession (short term lease vs long term lease vs purchase) and price. Understand that your preferences may change as you see how they translate into cost and market availability.
After you understand what studio you want, start visiting properties! There are multiple searching methods, and all require different degrees of time and effort. Sometimes the extra work translates into a great deal, but sometimes it’s the only way to find a space at all.
How to Find Studio Spaces
- Speak with colleagues, friends, neighbors & family to let them know you are looking. Ask about empty spaces in their buildings, garages, backyards, etc. This is often the best way to get the best deal.
- Post “Looking for Studio” on your Facebook page and in Facebook groups.
- Look for availabilities on Craig’s List, artist networking sites and newsletters.
- Review flyers on posting boards in coffee shops, art schools, colleges, telephone poles, art stores, and artist buildings.
- Begin block-walking and driving around neighborhoods. Locate “for rent” and “for sale” signs and call both. Often the signs are old and will lead no-where, but there are many happy exceptions to this rule. Be sure to ask the person answering the phone if they know of anything else in the building or neighborhood, or space that might be available in the future.
- Speak with supers: your super, supers in other buildings, supers in the neighborhood. Building superintendents are “boots on the ground” and often have huge amount of neighborhood information. Feel free to buy them a coffee and make a long lasting connection.
- Review listings on sites like Fractured Atlas’ Space Finder.
- Reach out to a real estate agent. Agents have access to professional real estate sites that consumers can’t access, and they bring significant value aside from finding the actual property. Remember, the person advertising the property is typically not representing you. They do NOT have your interests in mind. Having an experienced real estate professional with a fiduciary responsibility to YOU can make a big difference. A good agent will bring knowledge of the market and how to value your space, negotiate the price, recommend other experienced professionals (if needed), and to help your offer be accepted. Ask friends for recommendations and interview a few real estate agents to find an agent you like and trust. Communicate clearly and often with them, create a timeline, and understand that finding a great space is a “process”.
Once you’ve found your dream space and amenable landlord/seller, review the contract with a real estate attorney before signing. Commercial leases are often very long and complicated, and depending upon sums involved and the “savvy” of landowner, hiring an attorney may be the smartest thing you do. You are entering a (long term) legal relationship with financial repercussions. Your responsibilities and financial exposure should be clearly understood.
Once the lease is signed, GO CELEBRATE!
Happy Studio Hunting!
ArtCondo is a Brooklyn-based real estate initiative created to help creative professionals purchase and develop buildings throughout the NYC area in partnership with neighborhood residents. We are working to help artists, non-profits and art-related businesses purchase commercial and live/work spaces. Additional information is available on our website www.ArtCondo.com.