How To Invest In Commercial Real Estate

By David Krug David Krug is the CEO & President of Bankovia. He's a lifelong expat who has lived in the Philippines, Mexico, Thailand, and Colombia. When he's not reading about cryptocurrencies, he's researching the latest personal finance software. 7 minute read

How To Invest In Commercial Real Estate? A step-by-step guide for first-time commercial real estate investors. In the early stages of investing in real estate, single-family homes and modest apartment complexes are common. Investors who have been successful in residential real estate may want to go on to commercial real estate in order to increase their profits even more.

The basics of commercial real estate investing may be learned by anybody, including those with no prior experience investing. As a first-time investor, this article will help you understand the ins and outs of commercial real estate.

About Commercial Real Estate

Property utilized for commercial purposes is referred to as “commercial real estate” (CRE). Commercial real estate is often construed to include just properties inhabited by enterprises. However, the term “CRE” encompasses not only commercial real estate, but also land and bigger residential rental buildings. Commercial real estate includes the following sorts of properties:

  • Office space
  • Warehouses and other industrial spaces or buildings
  • Retail spaces, storefronts, and shopping centers
  • Medical buildings, healthcare facilities, and hospitals
  • Storage facilities
  • Apartment buildings (5+ units)
  • Restaurants
  • Hotels and resorts

How commercial leases work

There must be a lease agreement between a business and the owner of the building in which it operates. It’s possible for a business owner to take over a building and then lease it back to his or her firm, in some instances. This creates an arms-length transaction to enable the owner to pay for the building while keeping the two businesses distinct in the event one is sold or issued.

When purchasing a facility for your own business, many individuals choose to lease it out to other businesses as well. Regardless of the circumstances, a lease is normally signed by a tenant in order to set out the monthly rent, who pays for what, and the length of the agreement. Commercial leases may be divided into three main categories:

  • Gross rent. Property taxes, utilities, and upkeep are all borne by landlords, who collect rent from their tenants.
  • Lease at cost. CAM (common area maintenance) and property taxes, insurance, and other such expenditures are the responsibility of the tenant in addition to the rent. There are single, double, triple, and absolute triple net leases available in this category.
  • Gross/Net Lease with a new adjustment. When setting monthly rent under this lease arrangement, tenants and landlords have more leeway to bargain over running expenditures. Even if agreed-upon expenditures rise or fall over time, the monthly rent remains the same.

One of the most typical business leases is a triple-net lease. The landlord receives rent from the tenant, who is also responsible for the building’s upkeep and maintenance costs. Taxes, insurance, upkeep, and other costs associated with the building’s operation are all included in this category. If there is a mortgage, the landlord’s sole costs are taxes and interest.

The tenant’s square footage is factored into the monthly rate. The yearly price per square foot is specified and negotiated. Because the yearly price per square foot divided by 12 equals monthly rent, This means that for 3,500 square feet of office space with a gross rent of $34.68 per square foot, the tenant would pay $10,000 per month in rent. Ten thousand and one hundred and fifteen

In some cases, the cost of common spaces may also be included in the rent. All of the building’s occupants have access to the building’s public restrooms, kitchens, and elevators (or those on the same floor).

Methods of Commercial Real Estate Investing

There are two basic ways to invest money in commercial real estate: direct and indirect. Owning a building outright, either as a sole proprietor or as part of a corporation, is known as a direct investment. Investing in real estate through a REIT or real estate crowdfunding is an example of indirect investment.

Direct real estate investment


  • Limitless latitude in selecting a home to buy
  • Take advantage of the tax advantages available to you.


  • The investment is not a passive one.
  • Requires a substantial amount of money
  • An investment that is difficult to purchase or sell because of its illiquidity.

Property managers and investors who wish to handle the day-to-day operations of the venture themselves might consider direct real estate investing. Investors who seek the tax advantages of property depreciation tend to be wealthy individuals.

Investors may want to understand how to invest $10,000 in a crowdfunded transaction first before making a larger investment. Then, use that information to figure out how to invest $20,000. You may get closer to your investing goals while learning the process from experienced investors by gradually increasing your investments.

Indirect real estate investment


  • Smaller sums of money can be used to get things started.
  • The properties are handled in a passive manner.
  • Your investment portfolio will be instantly diversified.
  • Liquidity is frequently a feature of investments.


  • Do not have a say in which homes are purchased for investment.
  • Without your input, decisions are made.
  • Ordinary income tax rates apply to REIT profits.

Indirect real estate investing is best suited for those looking for a steady stream of income and a way to automatically broaden their investment portfolio. Smaller investors or those who wish to begin investing with a modest portion of their portfolio can also benefit from the indirect investment.

As a bonus, the indirect investment may make it possible for you to put your money into places with thriving commercial real estate markets but where you don’t now reside. Cities like New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles are all examples.

CRE jargon you should be familiar with

Real estate investing requires an understanding of commercial real estate industry terminology. Make sure you’re familiar with the following terminology so you can participate in the discussion and make smarter investment choices:

  • Net operating income (NOI) is the difference between gross rental revenue and costs.
  • Annual cash flow divided by the amount of money you’ve put in the property is known as a “cash on cash return.”
  • Cap rate. Net operating income (NOI) divided by the building’s acquisition price.
  • DCR. Net operating income (NOI) divided by yearly debt payments
    regulations dictate what sort of building may be developed in a region and what type of company can be established.
  • Classification of a building. Quality and location are represented by grades A through D, with A being the best.
  • In this context, “build-to-suit” refers to property that is tailored to the precise requirements of the buyer.
  • In a triple-net lease, in addition to rent, the tenant is responsible for paying all of the building’s typical running costs, including taxes, insurance, and upkeep.
  • The expenditures of maintaining the building’s common areas, such as hallways and elevators. Typically, these expenditures are divided among tenants based on the amount of square footage they are renting.
  • Total rental space divided by the amount of parking spots in a certain structure. The number of parking spots each renter will have is often stipulated in the lease. This is a regular occurrence in commercial establishments.

It is beneficial to participate in real estate investment forums in order to become more familiar with CRE terminology and concepts. Understanding the nuances of these phrases and concepts is easier to achieve by reading the contributions of others in the community. There will also be opportunities to learn about new opportunities, network with other investors, and receive feedback on your projects during the conference.

Alternatively, you may read books, listen to podcasts, and take courses on real estate investment. Each person learns in a unique way. Insights into the brains of other real estate investors can help you refine your plan through the use of these resources

You should have CRE individuals in your social circle.

Having the proper people on your side is an important part of being a successful commercial real estate investor. These team members take care of particular responsibilities, offer helpful advice, and ensure that your company is in compliance with all federal, state, and local laws and regulations. ‘

  • Commercial real estate agent. An agent from a commercial real estate business can assist you in finding properties that meet your investment criteria and keep you informed of local market changes that might affect your investment. Your building’s occupants may be found with the assistance of some agents.
  • An experienced property management business will take care of everything from tenant relations to lease negotiations to collecting rent.
  • In order for investors to acquire a building or to borrow money against their equity, lenders and mortgage brokers assist them. When your loan matures, the lender may also assist you in refinancing to lower your rate or renewing for a new period.
  • There are several types of insurance policies available to protect you and your property.
  • When you acquire the building, when tenants move out, and as needed throughout a tenant’s lease, you need a contractor or handyman to undertake rehab or repairs.
  • If you ever find yourself in a sticky position, having an attorney on your side can be invaluable.

Should you buy commercial real estate?

You may diversify your assets and revenue sources by investing in commercial real estate. This type of commercial real estate investment is best suited to those with more capital and who don’t mind placing their money in just one location.

If you’re a novice investor or have a tiny portfolio, you may start investing as little as $500 into commercial real estate using new investment apps, REITs, and ETFs. When considering commercial real estate investment, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Purchasing a business facility may necessitate a bigger upfront expenditure. ETFs and investment applications, on the other hand, may be more accessible to new investors with less capital.
  • Due to a lack of finance and expertise, there is less rivalry for commercial real estate sites.
  • Long-term leases in a business property reduce turnover and increase consistency of income.
  • Based on your renters, rather than what a neighboring property just sold for.
  • Due to the fact that renters are responsible for the upkeep of the property, landlords benefit from the convenience of triple-net leases.
  • When it comes to lease terms and evictions, commercial real estate has greater leeway than residential property.
  • It’s common for larger and more intricate structures to necessitate the assistance of an expert.

In the field of commercial real estate brokerage, CBRE is a leader. Many CRE reports are available to assist investors to keep up with the current industry developments.

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