Buying Commercial Property - Mainstreet Blog

Buying Commercial Property - Mainstreet Blog

Written by: Adele Mineau

So, you’ve decided to buy a commercial property…

You have funds to invest but the stock market makes you nervous and you like the idea of investing in property that is tangible. You have made an appointment to speak with a Commercial Account Manager and they have asked for a slew of paperwork.

What might they ask for and why?

ID, Personal Net Worth Statement, 2-3yrs Personal Income Tax Returns with the latest Notice of Assessment will be requested. If you have a corporation they will also asked for Articles of Incorporation, Shareholder/Director Registers, and 2-3yrs financials with Notice of Assessment. Most of this information is easily explainable, they want to know who you are, what assets and liabilities you have, and how much you make annually. For the corporation it is necessary to know where the corporation is located, the structure of the corporation, and what the corporation can do. The Registers verify the shareholders (owners) and the directors (people who can make decisions for the Corporation). Most of this information can be forwarded via email directly from your accountant and lawyer.

When you already have a property in mind, your account manager will want to know more about the property. Depending on where you are in the process and what kind of commercial property you are looking at, an account manager could request an MLS listing, 2-3yrs financials for the property, existing leases, rent roll, a Purchase & Sale Agreement, a business plan, an ACI appraisal, an Environmental Report, and a Building Condition Assessment. It could seem like a lot, but it is important to remember the primary purpose of acquiring this information is to assist making your decision by having all the information that could influence the profitability of the investment. Some of this information is obvious, MLS listing outlines the sale information, financials provide a look into revenue & expenses, leases and rent roll can provide an idea of tenant mix and what expenses tenants are responsible for, and the Purchase & Sale Agreement provides the address, seller, buyer, purchase amount, conditions, and important dates.

Let’s discuss the remaining information as not everyone has needed to deal with this information before. A business plan provides an outline of ambitions, how they will be achieved, and a timeline for those achievements. For example, are you going to raise the rent? Is that reasonable according to the market? Will you raise them gradually?

An ACI appraisal is completed by an appraiser who is designated by the Appraisal Institute of Canada to appraise residential, commercial, industrial, institutional agricultural, land and special use property types. They are best qualified to provide an approximate value on a commercial property as they take into consideration comparables (sale prices of similar properties), income results (based on real or potential revenue considering expenses and the market), and cost approach (land cost plus cost to rebuild).

An appraisal answers the question “Are you offering too much?”

An Environmental Report Phase I provides a visual and historical inspection to identify any potential current or past environmental issues. If issues are found a Phase II is required. Phase II includes environmental testing, sampling, and analysis.

An Environmental Assessment answers the question “Are there any potential dangers or remedial costs from former uses of the property?”

A Building Condition Assessment describes the structural components (roof, walls, etc.), interior components (plumbing, electrical, etc.), and exterior components of the building, identifies any issues or deficiencies, and projected costs of remedying them. A Building Condition Assessment answers the question “What are the hidden costs of this property going forward?”

Remember, not all of this information will be requested for every application, but if it is requested, you will know why and the importance of the information it provides. Happy property hunting!

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