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Commercial real estate leasing with an IT twist

Business owners in Maryland and around the country often find it difficult to identify suitable properties to rent when they need more space or wish to open additional locations. In many cases, they have to contact multiple leasing agencies to get an idea of what is available or trawl through online databases with no guarantee that the information they are looking at is current. However, two Manhattan-based startup companies are hoping to revolutionize the commercial leasing sector, and one of them was recently acquired by a major real estate investment and services firm.

When SquareFoot was launched in 2011, the goal of the company was to develop an online commercial real estate leasing portal that would give both brokers and tenants a single virtual location to conduct all of their business. After securing a $2 million injection of capital, SquareFoot's founders were ready to venture out and claim their share of a $30 billion dollar market. The company's platform allows prospective tenants and brokers to schedule viewings and tours, exchange information and stay in contact with one another throughout the entire rental process.

Floored goes one step further by adding a virtual reality element to the concept of online commercial property leasing. Prospective tenants are rarely able to grasp the true potential of a property by simply looking at photographs and floor plans, but Floored adds an extra dimension by using sophisticated imaging technology to create three-dimensional virtual tours. Los Angeles-based CBRE Group announced on Jan. 3 that it had entered into an agreement to acquire Floored.

Once a prospective tenant has found the ideal property, the hard work begins in earnest. Negotiating a complex commercial lease can be a painstaking and frustrating process. However, attorneys with experience of such transactions could help landlords and tenants avoid common pitfalls by anticipating roadblocks and drafting lease agreements that protect the interests of all of the parties involved.

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