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Buying commercial real estate - from offices to warehouses

Whether you want to open your own café or store, need office space or want to buy a warehouse: Commercial real estate is needed in many variations. When you buy commercial property, there are different aspects to consider, which depend on the intended use of the property. Of particular importance is the location and the condition of the building. If you carefully consider what is important to you in advance, you increase your chances of obtaining the right commercial property promptly and on the ideal terms.

What is a commercial property?

Commercial real estate is characterized by the fact that it is not intended to be used for residential purposes, but exclusively or predominantly for commercial purposes. This includes warehouses and commercial halls, industrial areas, store areas as well as office and restaurant buildings. The decisive factor is the commercial, i.e. economic, use, the sole purpose of which is to support the generation of a profit. There is a great variety in commercial real estate. In addition, it is also possible to own a mixed-use property, such as if you operate a retail business but also occupy a portion of the building. Accordingly, any property that is used for more than 50% commercial purposes can be considered commercial real estate. This distinction is important when it comes to valuing the property, because while residential properties are valued using the asset value method, commercial properties are valued using the capitalized earnings value method. Here, the valuation basis is not the market value and the production costs of a building, but the potential future income generation.

Advantages for buyers

Purchasing commercial real estate can be advantageous for certain buyers. For example, when renting out a commercial unit, you as the owner are not bound by the rent index and can therefore freely choose the rent. Another advantage is that the costs for maintenance measures can be passed on to the tenant in the case of a commercial property, whereas this is not possible in the case of a residential property. In addition, commercial real estate is usually leased on a fixed-term basis, unlike residential real estate. This creates more flexibility for owners, but it can also have a negative effect, as the inflow of rent is not necessarily guaranteed in the long term. Another disadvantage is that termination without notice due to own need is not permitted in the case of commercial space.

For owner-occupiers and investors

Whether it would be worthwhile to buy commercial real estate depends on what you intend to use it for. Real estate is either owner-occupied - for example, if you are a company operator, retailer or otherwise engaged in commercial activities and need a space to carry out those activities - or purchased as an investment property. Another decisive factor is financing. This should be well calculated in advance. For this purpose, it is advisable to check exactly which renovation and refurbishment measures are required to operate the property. An expert who takes a close look at the condition of the property can be helpful here. If at the end of the examination of all these criteria there is a positive result, you can start looking for your commercial property.


The tax requirements for the purchase of a commercial unit are much more complex than for the purchase of residential real estate. It is therefore highly advisable to seek tax advice. Also, check whether and to what extent public law restrictions exist for the property. This is important for the approval of the use of commercial premises under building law. If it is only permitted to use the commercial space for certain purposes, but the buyer intends to use it for other purposes, it is possible to record this in writing in the contract. In case of doubt, interested parties should obtain precise information from a tax advisor or a notary. In addition, various aspects must be taken into account when making the decision. These include the possible need for official permits, the existing infrastructure and any planned construction work on the property itself or on surrounding streets and buildings. Of central importance is the location. For example, those wishing to operate a medical practice tend to look for a centrally located property, if an office building is to be set up, a stable Internet connection is important, while warehouses and factories should be located in an environment where noise pollution is not a problem.

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