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Commercial Office Condos - Are You the "Right Size?"

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Small businesses face competition every day and any edge that can be gained over the huge corporate entities must be taken advantage of in order to compete effectively.  For mature small businesses, there is a new way to gain a competitive edge that wasn’t even an option not very long ago.

Commercial condominiums have appeared on the real estate market recently and small businesses are taking advantage of the benefits. While this option isn’t viable for every small business, it can make a huge difference for those companies that can most benefit.

Young, immature small businesses need lots of leeway regarding office space as they grow and change.  Those companies will likely move through several leased office spaces before reaching their “right size” and being ready to stay in one location and one size facility for the long haul. These are organizations that should remain in the office leasing market for some years to come.

Those small businesses that have found their “right size” and know exactly what they want and need in office space for the coming years can greatly benefit from a commercial condo. The reason to let a company mature and adjust before investing in an office condo is that it may be difficult or even impossible to obtain another condo in the same building in which to expand as the company grows. Businesses that have remained one general size for some time are best suited to investing in commercial condos for office space.

Leasing has lots of downsides. The largest, of course, is the fact that the investor who owns the office space wants to generate a profit from his or her investment. After all, that’s what owning real estate for lease is all about. Other down points include limitations on use, remodeling, even restrictions on paint and carpet color in many cases.

Investing in a commercial condo for small business office space clearly takes the “middle man” – the landlord – out of the picture entirely. The small business obtains financing directly from a mortgage lender, just as is done when a private individual purchases a place to call home.  Small Business Administration guarantees also may be available to allow for a 10% down payment and favorable interest rates.  If you have bought a home, you already know how much less expensive it is to make mortgage payments on a home when compared to leasing a like residence from another owner. The very same is true of office condos.
 
The small business becomes responsible for all repairs on the interior of the commercial condo because there is no landlord to turn to should something break or stop working. A small prudent reserve for such situations is wise on the part of any business purchasing a building, whether a condo or more traditional office space.  In the case of leasing, the landlord is already charging an amount to hold toward repairs in the lease payment each month. Instead, the small business can invest the money in an interest bearing bank account for earn money on the reserve held for repairs.

The business is also responsible for payment of all taxes on the unit. Here again, the landlord of a leased office space has taken this sum into account when setting the monthly rental fee. It’s just a matter of managing your budget so that making tax payments on a timely basis will not create a hardship on the firm.

In the next post about commercial office condos, we will look into the condo association board of directors and how the small business can effectively deal with and participate in that area of commercial office condo ownership.

The Buying Process

Leasing vs Buying Comparison

Related Blog Post: Join the Emerging Trend of Office Condo Owners

 

Buying Office Space , Commercial Condo , Commercial Real Estate , Lease vs Buy , Office Building Sales , SBA Loan

Join the Emerging Trend of Office Condo Owners

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Office space is critical to operating any type of business and many small businesses simply can’t afford to purchase a building in which to operate. Renting is, of course, a great option, but there’s no equity build up in renting – except for the landlord. With an office condominium, a small business owner can purchase office space, build equity, and even sell the office space if and when desired.

The concept of commercial condos is a rather new one. It provides the owner with more power to change the interior space to make the interior setting most conducive to their particular business. They come in all sizes and classes of buildings. Because the commercial office condo is purchased, the business owner is not going to be hit by a lease change in rental rates. There are lots of benefits to the small business such as tax advantages and residual value.

Ownership to Lease Comparison

When leasing:

  • The lease renewal offers the landlord the chance to increase rents. Sure, rent could go down, but more often, it goes up and up over time unless the rental market is extremely soft.
  • At lease end, the small business owner must either accept the new lease terms or find a new location and bear the expenses involved in moving, as well as the business disruption.
  • Depending on lease language, a lease renewal might not be available if the landlord decides to sell the building.
  • Much of the interior of the business office is controlled by lease language, leaving few options for the business owner for customization.
  • Rent is a liability in the accounting process.

When buying a commercial condo:

  • If purchased on a fixed interest rate mortgage, the payments for the property will not change over time, allowing long-term budget and financial planning.
  • Some restrictions apply to use and interior change per the laws of the condominium association, but they are usually not nearly as limiting as when renting.
  • There is a fee paid for upkeep and maintenance of common areas, sometimes even including common lobby assistance.
  • The commercial condo becomes a business asset rather a liability.
  • The office condo ownership shares, in the case of partnerships, can be legally willed to the other partners so that the business can proceed without disruption.

The Condo Association

Commercial condos, like residential condos, are operated and governed by a Condominium Association made up of condominium owners. The members operate within a set of Bylaws adopted by them and which must meet certain legal requirements. If considering the purchase of a commercial condo, it is very important to read and understand the governing documents such as the associations’ Covenants, and Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs). These documents outline exactly what is permitted and restrict, as well as the rights and duties of the owners of the commercial condos in the buildings. They also outline what the association can be expected to be responsible for in return for the monthly condo maintenance fee paid by each office condo owner.

Conclusion

We’ll be looking at more aspects of commercial condos and how they can benefit the business owner in the next updates. This concept is a great way for business to stop paying rental fees and build equity in real property while providing workspace for their operations.

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Buying Office Space , Commercial Condo , Lease vs Buy , Office Building Sales , Office Space

Commercial Office Condos - A Primer

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In our office space Blog we have discussed a great deal in the past about how troubling of a time it is for the Commercial Real Estate market thanks to overly abundant unemployment and the recession.  With every challenge there is usually an opportunity.  In this case, a down markets is a great time to buy commercial real estate.  The old adage of buy low and sell high can be applied to this time period. Of course, it is always scary to get into an investment in a down market, but if you can do it now, you will undoubtable be near the bottom of the market with no where to go but up.

One of the best ways to get into commercial real estate is to buy property that your company can use. One of those ways is to buy a commercial condo. The SBA may even be able to help too with a loan guarantee that would allow you to only put 10% down. A great use of leverage.

Here is a primer from CommercialCondos.com to get you started in understanding the  concept.

"Many people understand what a residential condominium is because the concept has been around for generations. In order to understand commercial  condos (also called "non-residential" condos), we can apply many of the residential guidelines, but with the added benefit of potentially increasing profits for your business.

Following is a simple list of frequently-asked questions that will give you a quick and thorough education about commercial condos.

As a business owner who currently leases my workspace, how would I benefit from buying that space?

The most obvious benefit is that you'll own the property rather than rent it, so over time it will gain equity and become a valuable long-term asset. If you leased your 1000 square-foot work space for $30 per square foot for 10 years, you would spend $300,000 (excluding any annual increases) during that time, but all that equity would go to your landlord instead of you. If you'd purchased the space, each year you would be paying yourself and increasing your equity in the property. You could also have multiple tax benefits that you'd not be able to take as a tenant, such as mortgage interest, property tax deductions and deductions for repairs and depreciation. As an owner rather than a tenant, you'll have complete autonomy and freedom to create the exact space you need for your work. You can redesign and remodel to your heart's content.

What are some of the less obvious benefits?

If you're moving into a new location, a lease option (leasing now with an option to buy later) can lock in the purchase at today's price. And if you purchase more space than you need, you can rent out the remainder. Those rental units will pay for themselves while building equity for you.

How do I purchase a commercial condo?

Many business owners don't realize that while commercial banks are hesitant to make loans, the Small Business Administration (SBA) is actively offering up to 90% financing to established businesses for the purchase of office, industrial and retail space. There are many financing options available, but the financing can be complicated because the lender won't necessarily understand what type of property it's dealing with. Is it residential? Commercial? Retail? What kind of loan is it? That's why we suggest that you work with a trusted banker or broker who can bring in a team of experts (accountants, lawyers, architects, as needed) to help you find the best loan and the best property.

Will I have to pay property taxes?

Yes, because you are the owner of a piece of property. But like a home loan, the property taxes can be rolled into your monthly loan payment.

Some residential condo complexes have homeowners associations and dues to pay. Is this true with commercial condos?

Yes, there will be an HOA (homeowners association), and there will be monthly dues. But these dues pay for property maintenance, landscaping, insurance, professional management, and more. If you owned a house, you would also be paying for these things. One advantage of an HOA is that it guarantees that these maintenance issues will be addressed and that the property will be well cared for.

How are the common areas like parking lots, lobbies and walkways maintained?

Property maintenance will operate the same way it did when you were a renter. The developer, or owner of the property, will turn the management responsibilities over to the HOA and the board of directors (which is usually made up of individual owners like yourself). Usually a property management firm will be hired and paid from the HOA funds.

What does the board of directors do, and how involved will I need to be?

The board makes day-to-day decisions about caring for the property. For example, the parking lot may need to be re-paved, or the sprinkler system may need to be upgraded. The board prioritizes these various needs, seeks bids from vendors and makes sure the work is completed. As an owner, you may choose to serve on the board or not. It's not required."

If you are interested in finding out more, request assistance finding commercial real estate for sale from our top local buyer representatives.

Also check out our lease vs buy and financing alternatives articles.

 

Buying Office Space , Commercial Real Estate , Investment Real Estate , Office Building Sales , Office Space Negotiations , SBA Loan

Is it Better to Lease or Buy Your Business Space?

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Your business location should be tailor-made to fit with your company budget, spacing requirements and ease of operation. For some business owners, leasing affords a sense of freedom and relieves the financial burden of a down payment, yet may be too restrictive for some kinds of operations. The decision to buy a piece of commercial property offers its own set of risks and rewards, and should be considered carefully before entering into a mortgage contract.

Leasing Commercial Space

1. Cost Effective

Leasing a commercial space will usually require a one to two month move-in deposit, making the rental space a cost efficient way to do business. New business owners may be strapped for cash, and by leasing, rather than purchasing, your storefront or office is cost effective to set up shop with minimal funding.

2. Flexibility

Leasing a commercial space gives the entrepreneur plenty of room to grow, downsize or change locations. Although once you sign a lease, you are locked into a fixed amount of time to make the lease payments, the terms may be only a matter of months to be released and start over in another location.

3. Freedom

Setting up shop without the burden of a mortgage to pay allows a sense of financial freedom. Albeit, a purchased piece of commercial property could be leased or sold to another, there could be months before the owner receives any income from the property. A hefty mortgage may also interfere with business profits and may demand downsizing of personnel.

4. Maintenance

A leased office or shop has a landlord to lean on, taking away tedious responsibilities with the plumbing, electricity and security. In a leasing situation, any repairs or legal liabilities are left in the hands of the building management team.

5. Subletting

In some situations, you may sublet your leased office space to another. However, this must be cleared in writing from the management office, and careful attention given to their rules and regulations for renting out the space.

Buying Commercial Space

1. Secured Location

Buying a piece of commercial property adds assurance that the space is secured and cannot be given to someone else. In a leasing situation, when the lease expires, the renewal process may not have the same initial terms, thus proving unfavorable to renew. However, when you purchase, your prime location is secured.

2. Equity

As with a residential piece of property, a commercial owner may take out cash against the mortgage. In an emergency financial crisis, having a mortgage to borrow from lends a sense of security and provision of funds. Most commercial purchases will require 20 to 25 percent down on the purchase price, giving instant equity to the business owner.

3. Remodeling

When you have bought a property, it is your to do with as you wish. Remolding, expansion and reconfiguration are yours for the taking. The ownership allows the business structure to be molded around the enterprise for a perfect fit and usage of space.

4. Tax Deductions

The interest on a commercial loan is tax deductible, with allowances for deducting any depreciation.

5. Lease Your Excess Space

If you own the property, you may lease your excess space without any restrictions from a third party over your head.

Article Source: Is it Better To Buy Or Lease Commercial Space For My Business

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For a more detailed analysis see Lease vs Buy office space on OfficeFinder.com

Buying Office Space , Lease Negotiations , Lease vs Buy , Office Building Sales , Office Relocation , Office Space

Now is the Time to Act?

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According to a recent article in the North Bay Business Journal, now is the time to act to take advantage of the bottom of the market:

"The title of the recent Sonoma State University economic outlook conference “The Time is Now” couldn't have more meaning than it does with the current office real estate market. We are at the bottom of the market, and now is the time to take advantage of the current opportunities before it’s too late."

I wish it were true, but as far as I can tell we have a ways to go before the actual bottom is reached in the North Bay or anywhere else. Now, that does not mean that now is not a good time to negotiate a great office deal.  Landlords are hungry and hurting and some fabulous lease of purchase deals are available to those willing to dive in. Until the unemploymet rate starts to drop, the bottom is still in the future, probably within a year or maybe even two.

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Buying Office Space , Commercial Real Estate , Office Building Sales , Office Relocation , Office Space , Office Space Negotiations , Office Vacancy Rate , San Francisco Office Space