Tenant-Only Representation: A Novel Idea

As our clients and friends know, Tenant Realty Advisors acts as fiduciary advisors or representatives for the interests of occupiers of office and industrial space. After founding TRA in 2000, our firm still has no direct competition. No other Boise area brokerage firm follows our business model of strictly and exclusively working for the tenants. Rather, the other firms walk on both sides of the street. But we just aren’t comfortable in such situations with the inherent conflicts of interest. We can only wear one hat at a time.

But as creative and forward thinking as we think we are, did the concept of representing only tenants start with us?

Well, no. The concept began in New York City, led by Julien Studley. Studley had an interesting background. He arrived in New York City at the age of sixteen after a time in Cuba. Prior to that his family had fled their native Belgium ahead of invading Nazi troops at the beginning of World War II. Mr. Studley later served his adopted country in the US Army during the Korean War.

In 1954 he started his own brokerage firm and in 1963, recognizing an unmet need, he and a partner published the Studley Report. It was unique and groundbreaking because it was a monthly survey of available office space with addresses, size, and most importantly, what the landlord and owners were asking for rent. Before the report was available, tenants were operating entirely in the dark. They had no way of knowing how their rent compared to their neighbor’s or to nearby office buildings. The landlords and leasing brokers knew but the tenants remained in the dark.

Today, with so much information on any subject out there, it is hard to imagine such an imbalance.

In those days before Studley published his report, it was the norm for a leasing broker to attempt to represent both the landlord and the tenant. This is still encountered by unsuspecting tenants/occupiers today. In commercial real estate parlance this is called “dual agency”. Many states’ real estate departments require that a licensed real estate broker attempting “dual agency” disclose to all parties his/her intent and obtain their written permission to do so. Dual agency has inherent limitations on what the agent in the middle can and cannot do. Basically, it can be accurately described as neither party receiving full representation.

Now in 2023, sixty years after Julien Studley recognized the need for the tenant/occupiers of office and industrial space to have an unbiased advisor informing them of all options and how they compare to the market, Tenant Realty Advisors is proud to follow his business model.

We like Landlords, we just don’t represent them.