As Myanmar opens up politically and economically, more businesses are beginning to enter the market, in need of office space from which to operate. Hugo Slade, founder of Yangon real estate agency in Yangon Slade Property Services, gives his top five tips for finding the perfect space for you and your business.
1. What style of office suits your business?
Yangon benefits from a great variety of real estate styles, from villas to sky-scrapers and everything in between. Does your business work best in a modern, open-plan office space, or would the individual offices provided by converted houses better suit your operational style? Does architectural character trump having the latest mod-cons? This is a particularly important question now that more and more of Yangon’s heritage properties are being converted into office space.
2. Which is the best location for you and your clients?
Yangon traditionally saw legal, financial and other corporate firms congregating in Downtown, with NGOs and smaller firms based in midtown locations such as Golden Valley. However in the last year we have seen a shift, with many new office buildings being developed all over the city. As traffic continues to be a big problem in Downtown, many companies are moving into these alternative locations. As a tenant, you need to consider your priorities. Does the prominence of Downtown still matter to your business’s visibility and prestige, or would a quieter location be more practical? More remote locations can often be much cheaper, but would your clients be able to travel to you easily if you base yourself away from the major transport links?
3. Space and time
How long do you see your business needing this particular office space? Are you entering the Yangon market speculatively to begin with, with the options of withdrawal or (if things go well) expansion at the end of a trial period? If so, the usual one or more years’ rental contract for a set amount of space might not be practical for your company. One of Yangon’s many serviced office properties may be an ideal solution in such a case, as they offer short term lets and the ability to rent space on a per-desk basis. Another solution for companies dipping a toe into the Yangon market is to rent a live-work unit, which can double as both an apartment for the in-country representative and as a small office for the early days of the business, saving on the cost of taking two separate spaces.
4. Bells and whistles
Besides basic office space, what extra facilities would be useful for your business? Will you be needing meeting rooms on a daily basis, or would a building which offers communal meeting space on an hourly basis be more cost-effective for you? Is car parking a big issue for your clients and employees, or could you do without it? Will you need pantry facilities or break out rooms for your staff’s comfort? Little extras like these can have a huge impact on the over all rent a company pays, so it makes sense to decide what is and what isn’t important to your business before you begin an office search.
5. Payment terms and lease lengths
Landlords often offer lower rents, or additional free services (e.g. fit-out works, car parking, air conditioning out of office hours) if a tenant is willing to sign a lease for multiple years, or pay for a year or more’s rent upfront. Therefore consider your cashflow situation and figure out what you can do to put yourself in the strongest bargaining position.
All of these factors play a big part in dictating the type of office space your business will end up occupying. With high quality advice and support from Slade Property Services, you can weigh up your business needs, and confidently assess all the options with a full appreciation of their strengths and weaknesses. Finding an office can be a daunting task in the Yangon real estate market, but SPS will put all its resources at your disposal to source the best space for you and your business.
Verity Ramsden is a Chartered Surveyor with over 5 years of real estate industry experience in the UK and Myanmar. She joined SPS in February 2015 and heads up the Valuation and Advisory Department, providing clients with real estate consultancy on assets in Yangon, Mandalay, NayPyi Taw and beyond.
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