Every great story begins with a dream.
Once upon a time; it was the best of times, it was the worst of times...
How does your story begin?
You made a decision years ago that you wanted to help people. Help people by improving the quality of their lives through their dental health.
What happened after that decision was to select a path to achieve that goal. You carefully considered the schools, their location, their reputation, how were they going to prepare you to achieve your goal? Surely you did not take the selection process lightly, you asked friends, you asked alumni, you visited the school, you Google searched to find out everything you could before you started down that path.
Congratulations, after all your hard work, all the hours, all the money, all of the loans, all the focus, you graduated! Now it's time to start helping people. What was the next step? Go out and find a way to pay off that massive school debt. Most likely you followed the same path to find that job as you did when you selected your school. You asked friends, you asked alumni, your visited the practice, you Google searched to find out as much as you could before you took that job.
You've spent a few years as an associate in the practice, that school debt is very slowly being erased from the liabilities side of your Personal Financial Statement. So after talking to your friends, talking to the alumni, Google searching...you make the decision to branch out on your own.
The problem is, the methods you have used to reach this point will not suffice in this important step. Next to the decision of which school you selected, this is the most important decision you will make in your professional career. Let me state that again, this is the most important and expensive decision you will make in your professional career.
Why? Because you are starting from scratch, taking that leap of faith that when you put up your sign and open those doors, you will build that practice into something that will provide for your family, and the families of those under your employ, and oh yeah, finally pay off those school loans. It is scary to step into the unknown but as you look around, others have taken this leap and they seem to be doing okay. There must be a way to do this that will help you achieve my dreams. Right? There is and thousands of others have taken that same first step but you are going to do it right.
At this point, you can ask your friends, accountant, banker, son's soccer coach, pretty much anyone who may have opened or knew someone who opened an office before. Here's why that is not the best first move.
Your first move should be to a licensed real estate agent who specializes in the field of dental offices. They know the market and the market rates you can expect to pay. They can guide you down this path.
Let me give you an example. You identify that the good people of Anytown USA could benefit from your skills to improve their lives. So you decide that you want to open a practice in Anytown USA. It's a great town, family friendly, good weather, good business environment, at least that your internet research tells you. You know that you will need to move your family to somewhere near Anytown. So you check the web pages to locate a house, but you have so many questions. Is it in a good neighborhood, is it safe, will your children be in a good school district, what is the traffic,...? You decide to find a local agent so you search Google. You discover that ABC Realty has been in Anytown for more than 30 years and they have testimonials from satisfied clients. So you pick up the phone or email them and connect with one of their agents who will consult with you regarding your possible move. They will ask questions like: how old are your children, how many bedrooms, baths, pool/no pool, backyard, gated community, golf course, distance from your potential office, etc.? They will set out to find you properties that fit your criteria. Eventually, you will narrow down the search to a manageable number and you will take your family to visit Anytown and tour these houses. You will settle on a few that you really like and that agent will use their market knowledge to get you the best terms and conditions, price, allowances, givebacks, etc. so that you are able to present the best offer to the Seller's agent. They will use their market knowledge to your benefit.
The real estate agent has a fiduciary duty to get you the best terms and conditions in any lease or purchase. They work for you, but they don't get paid by you. Huh??? They work for me but I don't pay them...so how do they get paid? Surely they have a mortgage and health care costs, and like to take their families to Disney. How can they do that if they work for me for free? It is true, we do have bills that need to be paid and we are not running a charity. The fee/commission that a real estate agent earns is paid by the owner/seller of the property. It is the same way that residential real estate is done. When you buy that house in Anytown, the seller of the house pays a commission to both the Sellers and the Buyers broker. Well how do I know you are getting me the best deal you can when you get paid more from the owner/seller if I pay them more? The simple answer is ethics and fiduciary responsibility. An ethical agent will treat their clients money as their own and will negotiate to get the best terms and conditions irregardless of the possible commission. 100 times out of 100 times I will gladly trade a few more dollars of commission for a satisfied client who will refer me and the company I work for to all of their friends and colleagues. My fiduciary duty, ethics, real estate license and providing for my family are not items I am willing to trade for a few more dollars.
At some point, you will need to talk to a banker to finance your dream but your accountant/financial planner is probably a better first step. They are there to help you plan and prepare for your future, to meet your long term goals and investment strategy. They can review your Personal Financial Statement to see if you are prepared to make the move now or if more planning is needed. There will never be the perfect time, but there will be the right time. When you are financially prepared, every bank will want your business, not just the one who holds your school loans and credit card.
A question about real estate agents. My child plays baseball and the coach's spouse is a Realtor. Can I use them for my dream project? Realtors are fantastic people and you have every right to work with whomever you want on your dream project. Keep in mind that professionals specialize. Would you hire your college classmate who is an environmental law attorney or patent attorney to create your employment contracts? They have a law degree so they know the law, but do they know the special clauses and terms that are specific to personnel contract law? Real estate agents specialize as well. There are residential agents, time share specialists, apartment managers, still others are commercial agents. All real estate agents have state mandated training and continuing education so we are all licensed to assist the public but each field of real estate is different from the other. The field of commercial real estate professionals with a primary focus on the dental environment is very small. I am comfortable staying in my lane, so if you asked me to sell your house, I would refer you to someone who specializes in the intricacies of the housing market, perhaps the spouse of your child's baseball coach.
The road to the realization of your dream is littered with potholes and pitfalls. Mistakes and errors that others have made. Nobody can be prepared for every possible situation, the COVID-19 pandemic is a prime example, but an experienced real estate agent will help you to avoid falling into the traps that others encountered. This may be your first venture into the real estate world but we have probably seen it before. We can offer guidance and answer questions that you have.
If you have questions, contact me, I'll be glad to answer them for you.
I would be honored to help you achieve that dream.