Choosing the Right Commercial Property Investment

When it comes to commercial real estate investing, there are several options to consider, each with its own set of advantages and risks. Unlike residential properties, the commercial market offers a diverse range of opportunities. As an investor, it's crucial to understand the unique characteristics and potential challenges of each property type before making an investment decision.

The three main categories of commercial properties are industrial, retail, and office spaces. Your investment goals and preferences will play a significant role in determining which type of property aligns best with your objectives.

1. Industrial Properties

Investing in industrial properties, such as factories, warehouses, storage facilities, and manufacturing plants, can provide a defensive balance to your portfolio. With the continuous growth of the e-commerce market, the demand for these properties remains strong.

While not the most glamorous option, industrial real estate has historically proven to be a reliable performer. Many industrial properties operate under net leases, where tenants are responsible for covering expenses like property taxes, insurance, utilities, and maintenance costs.

When evaluating industrial properties, consider the following factors:

  • Location: Proximity to major transportation hubs, such as freeways, ports, and airports.
  • Building Access: Availability of features like roller doors, adequate roof height, and ease of truck maneuvering.
  • Fire Protection: Electrical capacity, ventilation, floor load capacity, and hazardous material disposal facilities.
  • Adaptability: Flexibility to accommodate future tenants' needs, including the potential for office and showroom spaces.

2. Retail Properties

Retail properties, such as shopping centers, medical facilities, service-based businesses, and general retail spaces, are often the first to come to mind when considering commercial investments. While online shopping has impacted larger malls, local shopping strips remain essential services.

Many retail properties operate under net leases, where tenants cover a portion or all of the operating expenses. Larger retail centres may charge a flat rate plus a percentage of annual sales.

Key factors influencing the success of retail properties include:

  • Local demographics and median income levels
  • Traffic volume and site configuration
  • Residential and commercial density in the area
  • Tenant mix and synergy

It's essential to ensure retail leases comply with the relevant state or territory legislation.

3. Office Spaces

Office spaces are typically classified as commercial properties when more than 75% of the interior is designed and finished as office space. These properties are primarily used as workspaces rather than production or sales facilities.

Office leases generally range from three to five years, with tenants responsible for all outgoing expenses. However, in larger office buildings, landlords may cover expenses through gross leases.

While large investment trusts or syndicates often purchase larger office buildings, smaller investors can explore opportunities like individual office suites or co-working spaces at more affordable prices.

When evaluating office properties, consider factors such as:

  • Building aesthetics and accessibility (e.g., wheelchair-friendly)
  • Parking availability and proximity to public transportation
  • Proximity to amenities
  • Floor plan size and configuration
  • Adaptability to future technology requirements

Job sector growth, economic conditions, and the emergence of new industries heavily influence the demand for office space. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the shift towards more flexible working arrangements and the evolving use of office spaces.

Making an Informed Decision

Ultimately, the choice of which commercial property type to invest in depends on your specific goals and investment strategy. Office, retail, and industrial properties each offer unique opportunities and challenges.

By thoroughly researching and understanding the market dynamics, investors can make informed decisions about where to allocate their resources. Careful consideration of your objectives and a deep understanding of each property type's characteristics will help you navigate the commercial real estate investment landscape successfully.

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