Mention property investment and your first thought might be the residential market. However, commercial property investment is growing in popularity among investors interested in solid returns.

Buying residential property in London is still a good option – rental demand is high, you can decide to live in the property in future if you wish, and homes in key London locations will always be desirable.

However, at a time of uncertainty over Brexit, investing in residential property is not without risks. Many buy-to-let investors encountered problems when the 2008 recession struck.  And although rental properties can be lucrative investments, changes to stamp duty and taxation have made them less attractive than they once were.

Commercial property accounts for 13% of the value of all buildings across the UK and is worth almost £900bn, according to the British Property Federation.

Made up of a diverse range of property types, the sector includes office space and retail establishments – from high street shops to large out-of-town complexes. It also refers to factories, industrial units and warehouses as well as leisure establishments, such as restaurants, pubs, hotels and gyms – and even car parking.

Investing in commercial property for sale is a good option as it comes with a number of benefits:

It can be a solid investment

Commercial property has traditionally been seen as a sound investment. The initial cost of the building, and of refurbishing it ready for tenants, will probably be much higher than a residential buy-to-let property.

However, the overall returns are likely to be much higher too. And because you’ll be dealing with a company rather than individual tenants, many common issues associated with renting out residential property won’t apply.

While commercial property can involve a large, costly commitment, it is possible to invest through funds such as unit trusts, or investment trusts. These funds may own shares in property companies or own properties directly. They will pay you a return based on increasing value and rental income.

This type of property investment offers more security, relative to the returns, than the stock market or residential property, as income is guaranteed at a set level for a certain period of time.

Commercial property is also an alternative option to a pension, because individuals with a Self-Invested Personal Pension (SIPP) can buy commercial property – residential property is excluded.

Commercial properties come with long leases

The typical London office lease is between 10 and 15 years, or approximately eight years elsewhere in the UK. This is much longer than a buy-to-let landlord might expect for a residential property, which generally have leases of six months to a year.

Also, while residential leases have statutory protections in place for tenants, commercial leases are contractual. Commerical landlords have more protection under the law if the tenant fails to pay rent on time, or if they break any other contractual obligations.

3 Stamp duty may be cheaper

In most cases, the stamp duty on residential properties is higher than that on commercial properties, particularly where homes costing more than £1 million are concerned. If you are a buy-to-let landlord you will also pay an additional 3% levy on top of the normal stamp duty charge.

4 You can refurbish and reap rewards

One way into the commercial property market is to refurbish old buildings in areas where demand for well-designed, quality office accommodation is high. This may mean looking at cities outside London. You’ll need to research the market carefully and set a realistic budget that ensures the investment works for you. But a good refurbishment could mean you’ll reap the benefits with a highly desirable property.

5 You might have fewer repair and maintenance demands

When you own a residential property, you are responsible for the repairs yourself. However, with commercial property the tenants are normally responsible for maintenance under the terms of your lease. This can mean enormous savings in time and money, making commercial property a good option if you’re searching for a stable investment with minimal input.

Understand the market

For anyone serious about investing in commercial property, it’s important to understand the market in the UK. To find out more about commercial property for sale or to rent in Wimbledoncontact us – we’d be happy to help.

About the author

Nicolas Holmes

Nick joined Robert Holmes to inject fresh ideas and help grow the New Homes department of Robert Holmes as well as helping to inject technology into the business and to grow its client base. Together with one of the Directors Nick is in charge of all Development opportunities that Robert Holmes deals with along with sales. Aged 40, he provides succession together with the two existing directors. Nick has always been focused on building client relationships and sales. He built up his own gallery in Chelsea, where he had a loyal following of customers and artists.

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