Selling commercial property requires prep work

Monday, September 19, 2005
Getting your commercial property to sell can be a daunting task.

Getting commercial property ready to sell involves more behind-the-scenes work than an outward effort to make the property attractive, say developers who specialize in commercial real estate.

Thomas M. Meyer of Thomas L. Meyer Real Estate Company said a business owner who wants to sell must make sure his paperwork as well as his property is immaculate.

"A lot of businesses work with an agent on a confidential level because they don't want to disrupt their customer base," Meyer said.

Business owners who want to sell will have ready a financial statement that shows revenue and expenditures for the last two or three years, Meyer said, along with information documenting the business' projected growth. They will also include an inventory of business assets and equipment.

If a businessman is selling the business but not the property, then he will have a statement outlining the lease arrangements and whether or not they are assignable, Meyer added.

Unless a business has already left the building, it is rare to see a "for sale" sign in front of commercial property. To have one there might drive away current customers and make the business less attractive.

And like people who want to sell a house, a business owner needs to make the business as outwardly attractive as possible. Tom Kelsey of Lorimont Place Ltd., said any business on the market should have as much curb appeal as possible. A building that is well maintained, clean and attractive will make a good impression on a potential buyer.

"It has to look as nice as possible," Kelsey said.

With commercial property as well as residential, the key to making any structure attractive is location.

"It has to be easy for customers to find," Kelsey said.

Someone looking for a spot to put a business is going to look for a location that suits the kind of business he is in, Kelsey said, something with adequate parking and accessibility for customers. That may mean starting with buying property and erecting a new building or revamping an existing one.

"It's always more expensive to buy property and build something brand new on it," Kelsey said. "Finding an existing building and modifying it for use is, especially for a new business, the way most start out. That's been our experience."

Franchises and national companies may buy property and build to a certain specification, but an independent business owner will, sometimes by necessity, look for an existing building.

"Everybody wants to get something as economically as they can," Kelsey said. "Sometimes economics are more of a factor for the 'mom and pop' business than for the national business."

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