How Long Does Finding Office Space in NYC Typically Take?

17 December, 2019 / Alan Rosinsky
A business professional plans office relocation in NYC, contemplating move timelines.

Picture this: your landlord calls incessantly, urging you to accept their latest lease renewal offer. However, your lease is up in less than three months. Moreover, you’re not thrilled about the rent increase. Relocating to a more upscale building seems enticing. Still, you’re unsure if you can secure a new space within that tight 90-day window. Faced with potential holdover penalties, you’re left wondering – how long does finding office space in New York City, negotiating, and moving really take?

Embarking on a search for Manhattan office space can be a complex journey filled with unanticipated detours and roadblocks. Imagine finding your dream space, only to face obstacles in negotiations that send you back to square one. Unfortunately, it happens more often than you realize.

This article readies you for every situation, offering crucial guidance to streamline the process and demystify the average timeline for finding your ideal NYC office space.

STEP #1: Understanding Your Needs: 1-2 Weeks

Before starting your commercial real estate journey, identify essential needs like square footage, layout, building type, and location. Then, involve partners, colleagues, and investors in the decision-making, fostering a collaborative consensus. This initial step takes only one to two weeks and should pave the way for a smooth pursuit of office space.

Once you do this, it’s time to find a tenant broker to help spearhead a more focused search.

STEP #2: Finding a Reputable Tenant Rep: 1-2 Weeks

Selecting a reputable commercial real estate broker representing your interests as a tenant is vital to your office space search. Allocate a week or two for researching and interviewing potential brokers, ensuring you partner with someone possessing a deep understanding of the NYC market and a proven track record of success.

To make the most of your search, seek a broker who offers expertise, listens to your specific needs, and genuinely invests in finding the perfect office for you. The right tenant representative will streamline your search, advocate for your best interests during negotiations, and help you navigate potential pitfalls.

Picture a savvy company teaming up with a skilled tenant rep, securing a prime location and favorable lease terms while saving time and money. Then, imagine a contrasting scenario where a company without a tenant rep or one partnering with a conflicted realtor unknowingly signs a lease with unfavorable terms and misses out on valuable concessions such as rent abatements and build-out allowances. As a result, the latter could end up stuck in a burdensome lease.

STEP #3: Touring Potential Office Spaces: 1-4 Weeks

After teaming up with a tenant rep, embark on the exciting journey of visiting prospective office spaces. Depending on your criteria, this process can last one to four weeks. Picture yourself walking through a sleek, modern office while mentally arranging your team’s workstations.

Touring potential spaces is a great way to learn about the market. You’ll uncover pricing, availability, and unique landlord terms. This exciting process may even lead you to adjust your expectations, guiding you toward the perfect choice.

For example, envision a fledgling startup needing a flexible, creative space. Their first tour introduces them to more traditional office-intensive spaces. Although not ideal, this experience helps clarify the startup’s priorities, guiding them toward a more suitable open-concept workspace during subsequent visits.

In contrast, a well-established law firm seeking a more conservative environment might opt for a prestigious address with a refined interior, reaffirming their choice during the touring phase.

Remember that each property tour provides useful insights. Open communication with your tenant rep is essential for optimizing the search. You’ll pinpoint the ideal space by sharing your thoughts and concerns while balancing functionality, aesthetics, and budget. You should be able to tour a sufficient number of spaces in 1-4 weeks to reach a decision.

STEP #4: Negotiating Business Terms: 1-8 Weeks

After identifying the perfect office space, the next step involves negotiating business terms. This process can last one to eight weeks. During this critical phase, closely collaborate 6 your realtor to achieve the best results. Remember that you need to agree on business terms before the landlord issues you a lease. Your broker will work with you to reach an agreement on the business terms for the lease. Then your attorney will have the primary role in negotiating lease language.

Imagine two companies vying for an upscale space in Manhattan’s bustling business district. First, Company A, backed by a seasoned tenant rep, meticulously examines lease terms, negotiating rent reductions and rent abatements, an early termination clause, and a tenant improvement allowance for customizing the space. As a result, they secure a deal that propels their business forward, fostering growth and stability.

On the other hand, Company B hastily signs a lease without the guidance of a tenant rep and without properly negotiating business terms. Soon, they find themselves burdened by high rent, stringent lease conditions, and a space that doesn’t suit their evolving needs.

STEP #5: Finalizing Lease Language: 1-4 Weeks

After securing favorable business terms, it’s time to iron out the lease language. This process generally spans one to four weeks. During this phase, you’ll join forces with a lawyer well-versed in commercial real estate, ensuring the lease precisely mirrors the agreed-upon conditions.

Imagine a growing tech startup excited to find its perfect office in a trendy NYC area. First, they should partner with a lawyer skilled in commercial real estate law. With their expertise, the lawyer carefully examines the lease, pinpointing any clauses like subletting restrictions, signage rights, or the Good Guy Guarantee. Next, they fine-tune the lease wording, creating an agreement that supports the startup’s goals and protects its future.

Conversely, when a business neglects this crucial step, it may stumble upon a lease riddled with hidden traps. A  setting the stage for future conflicts, surprise costs, or operational roadblocks. All too often, tenants overlook the importance of hiring attorneys specializing in commercial lease evaluations. As a result, significant lease concerns remain unaddressed. They may turn to residential real estate attorneys lacking lease expertise or commercial attorneys from nowhere near NYC and inexperienced in handling complex 30-page+ NYC leases.

This is a very important step that should take 1-4 weeks.

STEP #6: Architectural Planning and Construction: 1 Week to 6 Months

The duration of architectural planning, permitting, and construction can vary significantly based on the complexity of your desired build-out. For instance, if your new office space only requires a fresh coat of paint and new carpeting, you can expect this phase to last just one or two weeks. However, the timeline could stretch to six months if your space calls for extensive renovations or specialized build-outs, such as those necessary for a medical practice.

Picture a marketing agency finding the perfect office, requiring minor adjustments to fit its brand. Then, with a committed landlord and in-house construction team, they install new floor treatments, repaint walls, and settle in within two weeks. Conversely, a dental clinic needing specialized infrastructure for its equipment may face a lengthier construction process due to technical complexities.

Remember that landlords with in-house construction teams typically finish projects faster than those relying on external contractors. To prevent delays, share your timeline expectations with your broker, ensuring they guide you to properties that align with your desired schedule. Build-outs can take one week to 6 months.

The Key Takeaway

The time it takes to find and secure office space in NYC varies, ranging from 3-4 weeks to 9-12 months. Factors like the complexity of your needs, negotiations, build-outs, and space size significantly impact the timeline. Remember that larger spaces take longer to build. You will likely get into a 500 SF space (a few weeks) much faster than a 10,000 SF space (several months).

To ensure a seamless experience, allocate ample time for planning, anticipate potential roadblocks, and work closely with your tenant rep. Embrace the challenges of searching for office space in Manhattan with confidence. With planning, collaboration, and guidance from an experienced broker, you’ll find that office space to help your business thrive.


Check out the video below for more insights on optimizing your search for a new office in NYC or beyond. Alan Rosinsky, Principal Broker at Metro Manhattan, shares his valuable expertise on the subject.

Looking to establish your business in a prime Manhattan location and lease space in a modern building equipped with cutting-edge amenities? Contact us, and we’ll show you premium office spaces situated in the heart of New York City. To discover available options, call Metro Manhattan Office Space at (212) 444-2241 or email us at [email protected].

Accessibility Tools