In today’s San Diego commercial leasing market, some business owners are taking advantage of increased bargaining power when negotiating lease terms. Others see an opportunity to purchase property as the commercial real estate market continues to decline in value. The primary advantage of buying commercial space over leasing is the generation of equity over time via market appreciation. There can be no doubt that there are some real bargains in San Diego today, and the potential for equity growth is strong. However, the decision to buy commercial property instead of leasing requires thoughtful consideration.
One of the most important considerations is the balancing of a growing business’ cash flow against the 20% down payment generally required for the purchase of commercial property. If a down payment depletes needed cash flow from a new or growing business, it’s likely not the time for a risky real estate investment. If a business has excess cash in its coffers for capital investment, there may never be a more obvious time than now to snap up a great value. Most businesses, however, are somewhere in the middle and will want to prepare a detailed evaluation of both options analyzing net present value cash flow (taking into account the anticipated appreciation of purchased property versus anticipated rental increases, interest rates, costs associated with lease expiration and other expenses over the term of the lease), the value of the respective locations to the business, growth considerations, cash flow needs and opportunity costs (potential economic gains from the alternative use of cash). Moreover, in many cases commercial properties have multiple units adding to the complexity of the decision. With multiple units comes the potential for additional income, but also additional responsibility and the risk of unleased space. These considerations are especially difficult for start up businesses which require greater flexibility. Start up businesses will want to attach greater weight to its cash flow needs.
The idea to purchase commercial property instead of lease is often an accident. Businesses stumble across property for sale as they search for suitable leasing space and see an opportunity they hadn’t previously considered. Whatever the reason, the benefits of ownership are appealing. It allows for complete control over the property, equity growth (especially in the long term), long-term customer relationships and permanent visibility in the community. The benefits are even greater in today’s real estate market where bargains are plentiful. Consult a commercial lease attorney and/or a commercial real estate professional for assistance.