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The Words Are the Same but the Meaning Isn’t

June 4, 2015

Yesterday, I drove past a building with obvious vacancies.  I haven’t thought much about that building for many years and then remembered when I tried to rent space there.

Peter and I had a 2000-square-foot office and were looking for about 3500 feet.  That building was just completed and the landlord said he had exactly what we needed and that he would build the walls to suit us.  We spent a lot of time with him and then with his interior designer laying out what we needed.  In the meantime, the landlord showed us the very large parking lot and super-sized storage space in the basement we would have access to (for a reasonable charge.)  The landlord also pointed out the spacious and importantly prestigious building entrance and hallways.

We spent a lot of time on this and at some point we realized the new space wasn’t much bigger than the space we would be leaving.  Every time we asked the landlord if he was sure it was 3500 square feet, he said it was.  Well, it just didn’t work.  We brought in our own designer and he told us the usable space was about 2500 square feet.  The 3500 included the common areas, hallways, bathrooms, open space and other non-office areas.  We would be paying for 3500 feet but would really only get 2500.  We left in disgust and told the landlord he was a liar.  He knew what we wanted and tried to convince us he was giving it to us.

The parking lot and other “advantages” were diversionary tactics that caused us to invest time in his building supposedly making it harder for us to walk away.

The landlord was telling us he was giving us what we wanted, but was framing it in the language that determined the amount of the monthly rent and not the size of the actual usable space.  We spoke the same words, but the meanings were completely different.

A takeaway is to be clear about what you need and insist on understanding what you are getting in terms you fully identify with.  Not just with office space but with everything you are buying or investing in.

One Comment leave one →
  1. 6hawthorne permalink
    June 7, 2015 3:52 am


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