When looking for a commercial property, there are several things to consider. First impressions are everything, so take time to think about what your property should say about your company. It also provides a base from which you can conduct your business. You will need to think about your specific requirements and where you may be able to compromise.
Choosing a location
Location is an incredibly important factor. For retail premises, you will need to be near your customers. You cannot always rely on natural footfall, especially if you are selling specialist products. Customers need to be able to find you and get to you easily. This means that local transport links are vital (the same goes for companies that deliver a lot of their goods - being near major roads is a must). You should also think about the way your staff get to work - are there good commuting routes or does the property have reasonably priced parking available nearby or on site?
When considering a particular area, ask the local businesses what they think of the neighbourhood, as well as its advantages and disadvantages.
Arranging your finances
Interest payments on commercial properties are tax deductible and owning a property means you will be safe from rent increases. If your property rises in value, your business will benefit from capital gains. However, leasing commercial property has its advantages - You'll avoid interest rate rises, you'll have more flexibility should your circumstances change and you can save on initial outlay.
You will need a deposit of around 20-30% in order to purchase a commercial property. You will probably need to commit to a mortgage term of at least 15 years. Most mortgage repayments are a similar rate to rental prices. When renting, read carefully through the lease to see what financial commitments are involved on top of the rent.
Making changes to a property
Should you find a property that is slightly larger than your needs, but meets all your other requirements, you can consider sub-letting part of the building to another party. This is dependent on your landlord/lender's agreement to do so, but could decrease your property payments.
If you need to adapt a property to suit your business needs, it is easier to do so when you own the property. However, when considering a rental property, don't forget to ask if you can tweak it for your requirements. Commercial properties are covered by the Town and Country Planning (Uses Classes) Order 1987, which categorises business uses.