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How to Buy an Office Building

Written by Allison Martin

Allison Martin is a personal finance enthusiast and a passionate entrepreneur. With over a decade of experience, Allison has made a name for herself as a syndicated financial writer. Her articles are published in leading publications, like, Bankrate, The Wall Street Journal, MSN Money, and Investopedia. When she’s not busy creating content, Allison travels nationwide, sharing her knowledge and expertise in financial literacy and entrepreneurship through interactive workshops and programs. She also works as a Certified Financial Education Instructor (CFEI) dedicated to helping people from all walks of life achieve financial freedom and success.

Updated January 16, 2024​

8 min. read​

Looking to purchase an office building? It is a significant investment that can also be a critical step for the growth of your business. If you’re considering making this move for your company, you likely understand that the process requires a bit of effort on your part.

You’ll need to set a budget, find the perfect location and understand the current market you’re looking to buy in. It’s equally important to assemble the right team of real estate professionals, select the perfect building, secure financing that works for you and negotiate the best deal on the purchase.

While this may all sound very overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be. This detailed guide breaks down each step of the buying process so you can move forward with confidence. It will also help you understand what to expect during each phase, from initial market research to the closing. That way, you’ll be well-equipped to make a sound investment decision for your growing company.

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Is Buying an Office Building a Good Investment?

Office buildings give business owners the opportunity to generate steady income and consistent returns on their investments. Investors are also attracted to office buildings because they potentially offer a source of long-term earnings.

Tenants in these spaces typically sign leases ranging from 3 to 5 years. And in some cases, the lease term can span 15 to 20 years. Plus, commercial properties are known to have greater annual returns than residential rentals.

When assessing the potential of an office building investment, it’s important to consider its location, size and current market conditions. Look for properties in areas with high demand for office spaces and potential for growth. The office building should also be situated near public transportation options, amenities, and a workforce that will help attract and retain tenants.

Also, confirm the building is suited for the types of businesses you hope to attract in terms of square footage, layout and amenities. It should meet any relevant zoning regulations and building codes to accommodate intended commercial uses.

Carefully evaluate supply and demand trends in the local rental market. Consider if vacancies are low with a waiting list or high with many available spaces. Stable occupancy and rental rates over time indicate a healthy market for the office building you purchase to generate a reliable source of income that enables you to turn a profit consistently over time.

How Profitable is Owning an Office Building?

Owning an office building can be a profitable venture if you make informed decisions and manage the property effectively. As an owner, you have the potential to generate a steady income from the tenants occupying the building, benefit from long-term lease agreements, and possibly experience capital appreciation on the commercial property over time.

There are several factors that can influence the profitability of an office building:

  • Location: A building in a prime downtown or business district location allows for higher but attractive rental rates compared to less appealing areas with fewer amenities and accessibility. Such a location is also more likely to maintain full occupancy even during economic downturns due to the concentration of businesses and foot traffic. Transit access, amenities, workforce and local infrastructure all factor into a location’s desirability for prospective tenants.
  • Property Grade: Class A properties in excellent condition with modern amenities can command the highest rents but come with higher operating costs. Class B and C properties in fair to good condition offer lower rates of return but target smaller budgets and are less expensive to maintain. Consider the appropriate grade to match your target tenants’ needs and budget.
  • Tenant Mix: A diversified tenant base across different industries helps minimize the risk of significant income loss if one industry slows down or a few tenants leave. Mixing small, medium and large tenants from stable industries also provides stability compared to relying on just one or two tenants.
  • Economic Factors: Both national and local economic conditions impact demand for office space and rental rates. During recessions, tenants may downsize or move to less expensive areas. Monitor employment, GDP, interest and inflation rates to understand regional market cycles and their effect on your property.
  • Property Management: Effective management of maintenance, repairs, leasing and tenant relations is the key to tenant retention. Prompt response to issues contributes to tenant satisfaction, reducing vacancies. Management also oversees building security, aesthetics, and amenities to attract and retain quality tenants in the long term.
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Things to Consider Before Buying an Office Building

When you’re looking into purchasing a commercial building for your business, there are several factors that you need to consider before starting your search.

Setting a Budget for Your Office Building Purchase

Before venturing into the world of commercial real estate, it’s vital to have a clear understanding of your financial capabilities. Be sure to consider the purchase price of the office building along with any maintenance and repair costs you could incur. Also, keep potential tax implications in mind. And if you’ll be renovating the space, factor those expenses into your budget as well.

It’s also a good idea to consult a financial advisor to help you set a realistic budget that aligns with your business goals and financial situation. That way, you won’t invest in an office building that erodes your company’s finances.

Choosing Your Ideal Location and Size

Location is key when purchasing a commercial building for your business. Consider the proximity to your target market, clients and suppliers. Also, think about the availability of public transportation and parking. Is it viable for your prospective tenants, or is the office building located in an area that likely won’t attract tenants due to accessibility issues?

The safety and reputation of the neighborhood are other factors to evaluate before buying an office building. Your tenants will want peace of mind knowing they’re operating their companies in a safe space. Any reservations regarding safety could mean lower occupancy rates for you.

And don’t forget to consider the potential for growth in the area. You want to acquire an office building in an area that’s positioned for growth to attract the right tenants and boost your bottom line.

The size of the office space should also be carefully considered. It should also meet your current needs and the needs of tenants who will occupy the space with you.

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Surveying the Current Market Scenario

Understanding the current market landscape is also essential to making a smart commercial real estate investment. Keep an eye on these factors:

  • Market trends: Are office buildings in high demand in your chosen area? Are prices likely to go up or down in the near future?
  • Inventory levels: Is there a scarcity or abundance of available commercial properties in the location you’re interested in?
  • Competition: Research other businesses in the area and the office spaces they occupy. This will give you valuable insight into the local market and help you make a more informed decision.

How to Buy an Office Building

Ready to move forward? Here’s how to easily navigate the purchase process from start to finish.

Assembling a Real Estate Team

To buy an office building, you’ll need a team of professionals to help streamline the process. Your team should consist of experienced commercial real estate brokers, lawyers and a property inspector. They will help you find the right commercial property, assess the property’s value and evaluate the building’s condition before you sign on the dotted line.

A good broker will have extensive knowledge of commercial properties for sale in your target area and can help you narrow your search. They will also negotiate on your behalf. A commercial real estate lawyer is critical to reviewing contracts and handling the closing process. A property inspector will thoroughly examine the building to identify any issues that could affect costs or usage. Hence, having the right team in your corner is important to navigate this complex process smoothly.

Choosing the Office Building

When looking for an office space, keep in mind the type of property and location that best suits your business needs. Don’t forget to research the local economy, job growth and infrastructure. And don’t overlook the needs of office workers, as they’ll be your primary tenants.

Look for a property that provides enough space for your current and future needs. Consider amenities like parking, accessibility, and common areas that foster collaboration.

As previously mentioned, location is also key. Choose an area with good transportation access and a workforce to attract clients and employees. Market research on rent prices, vacancy rates and property values can help you determine the optimal areas to consider.

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Financing the Purchase

You have several options for financing a commercial property, such as traditional bank loans, SBA loans or private lenders. To choose the best option, compare interest rates, repayment terms and qualification requirements. Be prepared, though, as lenders typically require a larger down payment for commercial spaces compared to residential properties.

Most commercial loans require 20 to 30 percent down and are amortized over 5 to 10 years. Rates tend to be higher than residential mortgages. Getting pre-qualified will show lenders you’re serious and give you an idea of your budget.

Making an Offer and Closing the Deal

Once you find the perfect office building, it’s time to work with your team to craft a competitive purchase offer. Your real estate broker will provide a market comparison analysis to help you determine a fair offering price.

You’ll want to submit an offer that is lower than the asking price to allow room for negotiation. Provide any contingencies, such as financing or inspection approval. Your lawyer will then review the purchase contract terms in depth to protect your interests regarding inspections, repairs, contingencies and other legal obligations. They will handle negotiations directly with the seller’s representative. Expect to go through several counteroffers as you work toward an agreed price and terms.

Ultimately, having your team’s expertise behind you will help you get the best possible deal.

Closing the Deal

When the negotiations are complete and the contract is signed, you’ll proceed to the closing phase. Your team will organize and review the closing documents, including the deed, title and settlement statement.

Before the deal can close, you’ll pay the required fees, such as attorney, inspection and loan fees. Your team will schedule an official closing meeting where you’ll sign the remaining documents. After all, documents are signed and funds are wired, you’ll receive the keys to your new commercial space and the title.

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The Bottom Line: How to Buy an Office Building

Purchasing an office building as a commercial real estate investment is a major undertaking that requires thorough planning and preparation. This process may differ from other types of properties like industrial properties or residential real estate. So, it’s important to understand what the process entails, conduct a cost-benefit analysis and build the right team of professionals to assist you along the way.

While the investment of an office building requires significant capital and ongoing management, it can ultimately provide stable cash flow, tax benefits, and long-term value appreciation if acquired strategically. With the right due diligence and team support, this type of commercial real estate purchase can be a worthwhile investment for growing small businesses.

If you are interested in purchasing an office building, consider ROK Financial. They provide a variety of business loans to help you get the funds you need to start and grow your business. Their term loans can be used specifically for large investments in your business, such as expansion projects or real estate purchases. You can get the funds at competitive rates, with the flexibility to apply for additional funds as necessary. Plus, their business lending advisor team can help you navigate the loan application process and complete the loan on your behalf.

If you want to talk to one of ROK Financial’s business advisors, fill out this simple contact form, and someone will contact you to discuss your loan options, depending on your specific business circumstances.

Frequently Asked Questions

What risks should I be aware of when buying an office building?

An office building could be a good investment for your company, but there are risks to consider. These include:
Vacancy risk: If you are unable to find tenants quickly to fill vacant space, it can impact your cash flow and profitability. Carefully research market occupancy rates.
Tenant default risk: If a major tenant defaults on their lease or files for bankruptcy, it can cause a significant loss of rental income until a new tenant is found.
Credit risk: Thoroughly vet potential tenants’ financial strength and ability to pay rent on time each month. Consider tenant credit ratings or security deposits.
Interest rate risk: Rising interest rates after purchasing can increase financing costs significantly over time. Fixed-rate loans mitigate this risk.
Liquidity risk: Commercial real estate investments are relatively illiquid compared to other assets. It may take time to find a qualified buyer if you need to sell.
Environmental risk: Unexpected environmental issues like hazardous materials could require costly remediation work. Thorough inspections are important.
Location risk: Economic or neighborhood changes over time could negatively impact the property value or rent demand. Monitor market trends closely.
Property maintenance risks: Unforeseen repairs from issues like leaks, HVAC failures or code upgrades can strain cash flow if reserves are inadequate.
You can mitigate many of these inherent risks of commercial real estate investing by doing your due diligence and working with a team of experienced advisors.

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