Define your requirements prior to beginning your search for a commercial property
The most challenging, and most important, part of the search process is defining the requirements for the property you want to buy. The exact search criteria for any commercial owner-user can be extremely varied. However, the broad categories are:
- Location features: The requirements for where your property will be located, including:
- Traffic counts
- Site features, including parking
- Zoning, taxes and municipal fees
- Proximity to customers, competitors, employees, owners and local amenities
- Structural features: The requirements for the physical aspects of your property will include:
- Style and construction
- Installed or available utilities
- Financial: The financial criteria for your purchase will include:
- Type of financing
- Availability of owner financing
If you are working with a real estate broker such as Tellus Real Estate Solutions, they will likely have a detailed questionnaire that can help you to identify the specific criteria that are important to you.
Search for and identify properties that fit your criteria
Once you have identified at least a basic set of criteria, the next most important thing is actually identifying possible properties and taking a look at them. This can be more challenging than you might think. Unlike residential real estate where properties for sale are prominently marketed via the local Multiple Listing Service (MLS) or, in some cases, the local newspaper, information about many commercial properties for sale or lease is not readily available to the general public. Many sellers will enter into a contract with a broker such as Tellus Real Estate Solutions to list their property. In the Puget Sound market, these properties are typically listed in the database of the Commercial Brokers Association (CBA). A few might only be listed in the residential MLS (NWMLS). Brokers with memberships in these organizations, such as Tellus Real Estate Solutions, provide search engines on their website for clients to utilize and connect directly to the listing services.
It is also common for property owners to contact a few local real estate brokers, or simply share with their favorite broker, that they might be interested in selling if a buyer is interested in buying. In this case, it is important to network with local commercial real estate brokers to find out if they know of appropriate properties that might be available. You might call, email or send direct mail to a specific broker such as Tellus Real Estate Solutions to inquire about available properties. There are also various organizations and events that provide networking opportunities for brokers, including real estate classes and luncheons, Certified Commercial Real Estate Member (CCIM) chapters, Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) chapters, Chambers of Commerce, etc.
In some cases there may not even be an appropriate property that the owner has indicated an interest in selling. For those instances, you or your broker may need to proactively contact owners of properties that meet your criteria and see if they are interested in selling. Cold-calling and direct mail, along with email and internet, are core components of this type of broad search. Networking with local property owners in their “arena” can also be an important aspect of the process such as attending local Chamber of Commerce meetings or other civic organization meetings.
Once you have determined your requirements, confirmed your search criteria and decided on the commercial properties that fit your criteria, you’ll need to actually take a closer look at each property. If your criteria are clear and correct, this step might just seem like a formality However, taking the time to view some properties will help you to clarify your list of criteria by adding or changing items should you find that your initial criteria is incomplete or inaccurate.