5 Red Flags Every Veterinary Practice Owner Should Know When Picking a Real Estate Agent

commercial real estate with For Sale sign
Jun 24, 2021 at 1:09 pm
Jeremy Burroughs

A commercial real estate transaction can either catapult or cripple your business. Real estate is one of the highest expenses for a veterinary practice, so a real estate negotiation needs to be handled by an expert. One small mistake on a lease or purchase can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Protect yourself and your practice by identifying these five warning signs that you might be picking the wrong real estate agent.

#1: The agent only shows you one property at a time

As a veterinary practice owner, your time is extremely valuable. You should be looking at multiple properties and evaluating them simultaneously. This gives you leverage in your negotiations, back-up plans in the event your first choice doesn’t work out, and a snapshot of the market in a competitive environment. Every landlord is different in their willingness to earn your business. It’s critical to have multiple options—whenever possible—so you don’t miss a good deal.

#2: The agent is on the flyer of the space you’re looking at

You are entitled to representation. If the agent you are working with has a listing agreement with the landlord, their fiduciary responsibility is to maximize that landlord’s profit. They cannot represent the landlord and adequately represent your interests as well. Avoid conflicts of interest by signing an agreement with an agent who specializes in buyer/tenant representation.

Two people shaking hands after commercial real estate transaction

#3: The agent is asking you questions about your practice that are obvious to anyone who knows the veterinary industry

“What do you want to offer?”

“How long of a term do you want?”

“How long does your construction typically take?”

Questions like these demonstrate the agent’s lack of knowledge about your industry or the needs of your practice. Veterinary practices have specific electrical and mechanical needs that need to be addressed upfront or they could be very costly. Also, if they don’t understand your practice or the veterinary industry, they can’t sell the landlord on your value as a tenant.

#4: Reputable professionals in your industry can’t vouch for their experience

Building a veterinary practice is a collaborative process between your equipment specialist, contractor, architect, lender, and real estate agent. If your agent is not in sync with those professionals, it can turn your project into a nightmare.

#5: The agent has listings in your desired market

If the agent has listings in the market you are looking in, they have a conflict of interest in representing you as a tenant or buyer and should be eliminated as an option to represent you. That agent is financially incentivized to push you toward their listings. Also, they have existing working relationships with landlords in your market. If negotiations get tough, does your agent’s loyalty lie with the landlord or you? You might miss the ideal property because it is listed by your agent’s biggest competitor.

Just like veterinary professionals can specialize, so can real estate agents. The real estate agent who handles your transaction will impact the trajectory of your practice for the next 20 years in either a negative or positive way. Choose wisely!

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Sarah Rumple is an award-winning veterinary writer and editor. Serving the veterinary industry since 2011, her writing covers everything from practice management topics for veterinary professionals to pet health and behavior topics for pet owners. Sarah’s clients include veterinary publications, organizations, nonprofit associations, media companies, individual veterinarians/practices, corporate groups, and others. Sarah is owner and chief creative officer of Rumpus Writing and Editing LLC, which she began in 2016. She and her team write more than 30 blog posts for their various clients every month. Learn more about Sarah or contact her at

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