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These 2 young entrepreneurs needed a better bank, so they built one

These 2 young entrepreneurs needed a better bank, so they built one Updated: Nov. 15, 2021, 9:32 a.m. | Published: Nov. 14, 2021, 8:15 a.m. PROFIT Bank co-founders at NJIT VentureLink building Co-founders of PROFIT Bank, Vin Montes, left, and Frantz Romain, right, stand in the company's new office space in the VentureLink building at NJIT in Newark on Monday, November 8, 2021.Julian Leshay | For NJ Advance M 173 shares By George E. Jordan | For NJ Advance Media When two New Jersey entrepreneurs and computer engineers looked back over the early part of their careers, they decided the biggest obstacle to the success of their small businesses was basic bookkeeping. Profit and loss statements, tracking cancelled checks, receipts and other papers to qualify for bank loans and prepare annual tax returns were all worrisome details. They wished they had a helping hand. So Vin Montes, 41, and Frantz Romain, 30, launched PROFIT Business Bank, an all-in-one online bank that targets upstart minority-owned businesses. It offers checking accounts that include bookkeeping software, debit cards, free financial advice and eventually business loans. “We want to build something disruptive. We want to give them the best service that they deserve,” said Romain, who lives in Union City. “This is a growing demographic and they are not being served well by the current banks.” The pair launched the bank in September and it currently employs six full-time web engineers and a compliance officer. PROFIT’s founders said they plan to add accountants as its client base grows. The bank is based in Manhattan. “Everyone says they want to help minority businesses,” said Montes, who lives in Newark, “But they’re not really helping. There are some free services that the businesses are probably paying for. ... We’re literally rolling up our sleeves and doing something about it. We have free services that impact their bottom line.” PROFIT Bank co-founders at NJIT VentureLink building Frantz Romain, CTO and co-founder of PROFIT Bank, sits in the company's new office space in the VentureLink building at NJIT in Newark on Monday, November 8, 2021.Julian Leshay | For NJ Advance M PROFIT, whose backers include Barclays, TechStars and Active Capital, plans to go to market this month to raise $2 million from angel investors. The bank is part of a wave of online financial institutions with a technical backbone known as fintech, which have grown increasingly popular among minority-owned businesses since the start of the pandemic. Fintechs were far more successful in processing Paycheck Protection Program aid to minority-owned businesses than traditional banks, according to a recent National Bureau of Economic Research report. It found 12% of minority-owned businesses were more likely to receive PPP loans from a fintech lender than a traditional bank. As a result, fintechs have been credited with helping even the playing field for minority-owned businesses that historically had strained relationships with traditional banks, especially when it came to securing capital and qualifying for loans. Rutgers Business School Professor Lyneir Richardson, executive director of a program for urban entrepreneurs, said PROFIT’s free bookkeeping was a “value-added service that makes access to capital easier” because businesses have the paperwork to apply for e-loans. “Fintech takes a lot of bias out of the decision-making,” he said. “Anything that can make access to capital easier is a welcome development.” Richardson said minority business formation is up 40% nationally in the past year, but many of the new entrepreneurs face economic, market, sociocultural and institutional barriers. He said only a handful of new Black-owned businesses survive the start-up stage, even though 20% of Black Americans start businesses at some point in their lifetime. Adenah Bayoh, a member of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s small business advisory council, said fintech’s fast algorithmic lending decisions that eliminate human bias is forcing traditional banks to change their lending practices. PROFIT Bank co-founders at NJIT VentureLink building Vin Montes, CEO and co-founder of PROFIT Bank, sits in the company's new office space in the VentureLink building at NJIT in Newark on Monday, November 8, 2021.Julian Leshay | For NJ Advance M Black and Latino business owners are half as likely to be approved for bank loans than whites, according to a 2020 Federal Reserve study. Separately, Forbes found that 37.9% of Black businesses reported being discouraged from applying for a business loan, compared to 12.7% of white-owned businesses. “Anything right now that is disruptive to traditional banking is welcome,” said Bayoh, a major New Jersey IHOP franchisee and commercial real estate investor. “If we’re going to change the banking system, we have to look at a different way of doing banking.” Fintech’s approach comes with drawbacks, however. And in the postmortem of the PPP, policymakers at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and other financial regulators are looking closely at the ways fintech lenders doled out money during the pandemic. Romain, a 2016 graduate of NJIT, and Montes, an Air Force veteran and 2017 graduate of Fairleigh Dickerson University, got the idea for PROFIT while working as software engineers at United Parcel Service. Montes, a former medical student, started an energy drink company in 2006 called Nerd Focus. He said he dropped out of medical school to run the company, which grew to 24 full-time employees and $2 million in annual sales at 3,000 retail locations. Montes said he sold Nerd Focus for a profit last year, but he lost “lots of money initially” because he lacked strong bookkeeping and financial advice. “Nobody in my family had an accounting or a finance background. It was really hard,” he said. PROFIT’s online app includes a real-time profit and loss statement, a text message system that stores images of receipts to debit transactions as well as traditional checking account reconciliation. The profit and loss statement includes a projection of profit margin for the business’ industry sector. “We’re going to have real accountants managing these businesses. If they have a question, they can call the account manager for advice,” said Romain. “We’re literally managing their profit loss statement.” By monitoring their clients’ profit and loss statements, PROFIT plans to then recommend grants, loans and other programs to help the upstart business. “It just makes it easy for the business owner,” Montes said. “I can look at my account, I can see my profit loss statement. The bank can see all this coming in and now it’s all there in all in one solution.”

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Industrial Market, 1% Vacancy Rate

U.S. industrial property is so in demand that real estate developers and brokers say it’s often best to leave a building vacant and hold out on signing a lease because rents are skyrocketing so much and so fast. “What’s fundamentally changed is actually now vacancy is not necessarily a bad thing,” said Jason Tolliver, executive managing director of logistics and industrial services for Cushman & Wakefield. That was one of the takeaways from several panels on Thursday at NAIOP I.CON East, the nation’s largest gathering of industrial real estate professionals. The conference is being held this week in Jersey City, New Jersey, after an 18-month hiatus because of the pandemic. The event, which continues on Friday, has drawn over 1,000 attendees, NAIOP President and CEO Thomas Bisacquino said. The trade group delayed the conference from its usual date in May, according to Bisacquino, who said the group had been concerned about the potential turnout. But it exceeded expectations, topping 2019’s attendance of about 900 people. The brokers, landlords and other real estate professionals involved in the logistics market had good reason to gather, trade war stories and even celebrate: The industrial sector keeps busting records in terms of low vacancy rates and rising rents, driven by e-commerce's need for space. During Thursday’s panels, there was also discussion about the headwinds the logistics market faces, such as the impact of supply-chain bottlenecks, the soaring costs of building materials and land, and the impact of rising inflation. But despite those challenges, the consensus was that demand in the sector still wasn’t going to cool down anytime soon. The industrial market in North Jersey has been particularly strong, with record-low vacancy rates. These properties are in Bridgewater. (Cushman & Wakefield) The topic of vacancies came up at several of the sessions, with panelists saying something that seems counterintuitive: For speculative properties, built without having a tenant lined up, it makes sense in today’s market to wait until the last possible moment for a landlord to get a lease signed, to have a building remain “unencumbered” by an agreement. In fact, they said a vacant logistics building in some cases may be more valuable than one leased at below-market rates. Landlords Shun Long Leases Any landlords or developers signing leases with tenants for distribution centers that are under construction and won’t be completed until a year later, for example, may miss out on charging the sometimes double-digit increases in rents that have occurred during that time, according to brokers. With demand in some industrial markets so strong, sometimes exceeding supply, a landlord can wait to close a deal without much risk, according to several panelists. “A vacant building today in most markets is better than a leased building,” said Peter Schultz, executive vice president at First Industrial Realty Trust. With industrial rents rising as much as 20% in a quarter in some markets, and some vacancy rates at 2%, some feel it’s best not to lock down a tenant too early, according to John Morris, CBRE’s Americas leader for industrial, logistics and retail. That’s led some landlords to say, “I’m just going to wait until I’ve painted [the newly built warehouse], and I’ll take calls" then from prospective tenants, Morris said, sometimes waiting until just three to five months out on a project’s completion. “I think that’s pretty new in some of the bigger markets,” Morris said. Echoing the CBRE executive’s comments, Nick Pell, president and chief investment officer for Link Logistics, the industrial real estate arm of investment giant Blackstone Group, said when it comes to preleasing, it pays to wait things out every month. Speculative industrial projects used to raise concerns from investors about their low occupancy, according to both Schultz and Devin Barnwell, senior vice president and global head of portfolio management for logistics real estate at Brookfield Asset Management. Investment Surge Now, investors are clamoring for more speculative development, and Schultz said his real estate investment trust has almost doubled down on that kind of investment across the country. “We’ve really put our foot down on the pedal,” he said. The demand for Class A industrial properties in North Jersey is so strong that the vacancy rate is 1% or less, according to Jeffrey Milanaik, a partner for the Northeast region of Bridge Development. In that kind of environment, coupled with rising rents, he lamented a lease he did with a tenant for one of his big projects. “I made a huge mistake,” Milanaik said. “I signed a 10-year lease.” Other panelists are choosing not to enter into long-term leases so they don’t miss out on big rent increases a market may be seeing during the term of those agreements. “In some markets, we’re not going to sign long-term leases,” Schultz said. Milanaik is a long-term veteran of the industrial market who has marveled at the explosion in demand it’s seen. “Personally, I had to wait about 28 years for it to happen. … Fast forward to today, the market is on fire,” he said.

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Time to expand your office space??????????

Signs It’s Time to Expand Your Office Space 2 weeks ago 1 The inevitability of being a successful business owner is outgrowing your current office space. Keeping your business in a space that is overcrowded can slow business growth, productivity and reduce your profits, which is why it’s important to know when to make the transition to a larger space. Here are 4 signs that it’s time for your business to move to a larger office space: 1. Your office space is crowded If your office space begins to feel too crammed, it’s an indication that you may need to consider moving to a bigger premises. Shared desks, full filing cabinets, storage closets, and a lack of personal space between employees is a sign that your current office space is too small to accommodate your workforce. Another sign of an overcrowded office space is a lack of parking space. If your employees are competing for parking every morning, it means there are too many people and not enough space. This will result in decreased productivity and can also put off potential clients or employees. 2. Your business’ office space is outdated An outdated office space could indicate that your business has been on the premises for too long. It may also mean that the building you occupy is no longer able to accommodate your business’ needs. Furthermore, outdated office spaces can give people the perception that you aren’t performing well, which can be a deterrent for attracting new clients. You may find that a new, spacious and modern office will offer you better utilities and an aesthetic that creates a positive impression about your business. 3. You no longer have storage space for your inventory You’ve tried decluttering your storage space, but there still isn’t enough space to store all your inventory. Although you could consider purchasing or renting storage units, the additional cost can be better spent on a new space. Storage units also can be inconvenient and require your employees to make many trips to retrieve items. Many times they are located far away from your office space. The solution would be to find a larger space that easily accommodates all your stock. 4. Your business needs are no longer compatible with the commercial property As businesses progress, the need for new equipment, technology, and workforce are necessary to run operations smoothly. Sometimes this means customizing office space, but this isn’t always possible in buildings with limited remodeling options. It’s important to factor in your 5 to 10 year plan when looking for a new office space. Your business should be in a space that allows for expansion and growth for many years to come. The 4 signs above should give you insight into when it’s best to consider expanding your office space.

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New Law That Effects Real Estate Brokers/agents

Another law will require real estate brokers and salespeople to develop property-condition disclosure statements to indicate the presence of lead plumbing in residential properties. The law takes effect immediately.

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3rd Quarter Office report

ECONOMY: Modest Recovery Continues for the New Jersey Economy The Northern New Jersey unemployment rate continued to trend downward over the last quarter, falling another 200 basis points (bps) to 6.5%. Total employment for the state increased by 5.5% in the past year, fueled by eight straight quarters of job growth. Since this time last year, the private sector added 195,300 jobs, including 52,900 over the last three months. In that time, office-using industries have recorded modest gains, up 5.0% annually. SUPPLY & PRICING: Dispositions Continued to Outpace Demand as Occupancies Trended Lower in Q3 While Northern New Jersey’s vacancy rate climbed another 40 bps since midyear to 22.0%, the quarterly increase was much more modest than previous quarters. Some large vacancies in Jersey City, Nutley, and Morris County came online throughout the third quarter, accounting for much of the occupancy loss recorded. However, sublease vacancies remained flat since the previous quarter as some tenants have pulled back spaces from the market. Some vacant office product is anticipated to be repurposed in markets such as Parsippany, Bergen County, and Essex County, which should help stabilize the elevated vacancy levels. Meanwhile, asking rents on average have remained steady over the last quarter, although they have edged higher by 1.9% in the last year. Asking rents in Morris County have yielded the strongest rent growth (+2.0%) over the last 12 months as higher-priced office space has flooded the marketplace. DEMAND: YTD Leasing Activity Steady But Below Pre-pandemic Levels Year-to-date new leasing volume reached 2.6 million square feet (msf), nominally below the total recorded last year at this time. Third quarter demand was highlighted by Cigna’s 196,700square-foot (-sf) relocation from Franklin Lakes to Morris Plains. Four new transactions greater than 20,000 sf were inked during the quarter while another four renewals in that size range were completed, including Samsung’s 84,213-sf extension on Challenger Road in Ridgefield Park. More than 1.9 msf of renewals were completed since the start of 2021, 11.8% higher than one year prior. As touring activity has been on the rise this year along with some large transactions in the immediate pipeline, fourth quarter demand totals in areas such as Bergen County, the Hudson Waterfront, and parts of Morris County are projected to climb precipitously. The return of state incentives have already paid off as retailer Party City received just under $10 million to move its headquarters and bring more than 350 new jobs to Woodcliff Lake.

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Manhattan Office Leasing Rises

October was a banner month for Manhattan’s office market, where 2.7 million square feet of space was leased—the highest amount recorded since January 2020 and 10.8% higher than in September, according to Colliers data. With two months left in the year, the 19.03 million square feet of space leased this year has already exceeded the full total for 2020, when 18.97 million square feet was taken. The volume of available space on the market exceeded the space that was leased by about 900,000 square feet, however, thanks to the addition of 1.46 million square feet under construction at Brookfield Properties’ 2 Manhattan West. About 25 million more square feet of office space is expected to hit the market by 2024, making it the largest block of space to come online in a three-year period since the 1980s. “Two Manhattan West entering the availability rate this month and causing a significant bump in overall supply is just evidence that as much as demand has been increasing, there is still the challenge of all of this space coming on the market and needing demand to surpass that supply,” Colliers research director Frank Wallach said. The Manhattan availability rate overall rose to 17% last month from 16.8% in September and 12.9% in October 2020. Midtown was the only office market where availability decreased, falling from 17.1% in September to 16.9% last month. “There is continued pressure on demand to not only remain healthy but [to] continuously increase in order to counter this increasing supply of space entering the market,” Wallach said. If leasing continues at the current pace, Manhattan will hit about 23 million square feet for the year, he added, but that is still about half of the 43 million square feet leased in 2019. Despite the robust demand for space, asking rents in October reached $73.66, down from $76.20 a year ago, the data shows. In Midtown South, however, prices are higher than pre-pandemic levels—$76.71 last month compared with $72.26 in October 2020—because of the expensive prices at 2 Manhattan West. The largest deals driving activity last month were NBCUniversal’s 340,000-square-foot lease extension at 1221 Sixth Ave., law firm Venable’s new 157,808-square-foot lease at 151 W. 42nd St. and Verizon’s new 142,938 square-foot marketing office at 155 Delancey St.

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Industrial prices going thru the roof!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Industrial/warehouse prices going way higher!!!!!!

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NYC companies not moving to NJ as of yet for the most part

Move from NYC to NJ

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Is your office building healthy?

In a typical year you will take two million breaths in your office. This, however, is not a typical year. The pandemic spawned by the novel coronavirus has forced a global reckoning with the awesome power of infectious diseases to grind economies to a halt. The forced lockdowns and retreat into home isolation has also given us a heightened awareness of the role our surroundings play in our health and wellbeing. COPYRIGHT © 2020 HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL PUBLISHING CORPORATION. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 2 While no one could have predicted the exact nature of the outbreak that is now upending our lives, many of us working in public health have been urgently advocating for organizations to invest in healthier buildings for some time. History tells us that buildings play a central role in the spread of disease. From measles to SARS to influenza and the common cold, the scientific literature is full of examples. But, as much as buildings can spread disease, if operated smartly, they can also help us fight against it. Amidst the chaos, one thing is clear: We will all go back to work with new expectations about the buildings where we live, learn, work, and play. Buildings that Fight Disease and Promote Health For our book, Healthy Buildings: How Indoor Spaces Drive Performance and Productivity, the two of us have spent the last three years speaking to executives across the business spectrum who oversee real-estate portfolios that cover several billion square feet and contain millions of employees. We aimed to better understand how to drive healthy building science into practice. Locked in a global battle for talent, the business leaders we spoke with were eager to find new ways to attract, retain, and enhance the performance of their employees. Few of them realized that their buildings could play a vital role in the health of their business. In response to Covid-19, that’s rapidly changing. CEOs from companies large and small have come out of the woodwork to engage with us on how to design, operate, and manage better buildings. Calls are also coming in from groups that run medical offices and dental clinics, hotels, schools, airports, and theaters, as well as mid-size law firms and small businesses in both small towns and major metropolitan areas. The question on the mind of every business and organizational leader is this: When the time comes, how do I re-populate my buildings and restart my business? Re-Populating Your Buildings As you prepare for the return of your employees, remember that the scientific models on the spread and containment of SARS-CoV-2 indicate this is a problem we will be dealing with for at least 12 months. Likely approaches to controlling the spread and damage from the virus include a combination of widescale testing, and periodic isolation and quarantine. Some cities and regions will begin re-populating their buildings over the next few weeks, and some will likely be hit with repeated cycles of social distancing. In either case, as employees return to offices, there is a framework companies can deploy to keep people safe without crippling their businesses and our economy. First, we all have to understand — and communicate to employees — that there is no such thing as zero risk. The goal is to minimize risk, and we can get there using a layered defense approach by applying what is known in public health as the hierarchy of controls. COPYRIGHT © 2020 HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL PUBLISHING CORPORATION. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 3 The hierarchy of controls is how the field of occupational health thinks about protecting workers from any hazard — biological, chemical, or otherwise. There are five types of controls, moving from the most e†ective at the bottom to least e†ective at the top

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Major Morristown Deal

MORRISTOWN, N.J. — Accounting firm Deloitte has preleased a 110,000-square-foot office space at M Station, an office redevelopment project in Morristown. SJP Properties and Scotto Properties plan to convert the Midtown Shopping Center strip in downtown Morristown into two office buildings totaling 400,000 square feet. Deloitte’s lease is contingent on SJP and Scotto receiving full municipal approvals for the project. The company plans to relocate from its previous office in Parsippany and will occupy floors two through six of M Station East. The building will also include 10,000 square feet of ground floor retail. M Station West is planned to be seven stories and approximately 253,000 square feet, which will include approximately 230,000 square feet of office space and 23,000 square feet of retail space. David Stefancic, Lexis Livengood, Ben Brenner and Josh Cohen of Cushman & Wakefield represented Deloitte in the lease negotiations. Robert Donnelly, Robert Donnelly Jr. and Brian Decillis of Cushman & Wakefield represented SJP and Scotto. Gensler designed the project.

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