Commercial property can be a lucrative asset with the ability to provide worthwhile yields compared to bonds and stock, while appreciating over its lifetime.
However, the bottom line in owning commercial property is to make money, but this can’t happen if you experience frequent vacancies and there are inexpensive fixes that can boost the property’s attractiveness to prospective tenants.
“You can schedule a complete building makeover at an enormous cost, but trying less budget-wrecking changes first may prove more sustainable for the mediumterm,” says Leon Breytenbach, Rawson Property Group commercial division national manager. An initial critical appraisal of the area around the building is the starting point, specifically considering the general appeal against others in the same vicinity.
This includes clean, well-maintained pavements and street appearance and sound conditions for fences, roofs and guttering. Upgrade the building’s signage as this is the first impression prospective tenants will have of the property. Breytenbach says a sign that is difficult to read, is hidden by bushes and other landscaping elements or is appeal of a property.
Canadian-based Fuhrmann Construction Group chief executive Peter Fuhrmann advises commercial property owners to keep their signage up-to-date by researching new materials, aesthetic principles, sizes and placement. He believes naming the property boosts charm, character and desirability, and potential names should take into account the building’s geography or historical aspects.
Breytenbach says freshly-painted buildings and fences add to the sense of wellbeing, while patios and recreation areas are more inviting when they include plants in pots and well-maintained beds. Planters with flowers at the entrance add a welcoming note.
“If the building is vacant, make the reception area appear bright by switching on interior lights and opening blinds for natural light to flow in. Ensure overhead lights are working and, weather permitting, open windows for fresh air,” he says.
Riaan Graham, sub-Saharan sales director for wireless networking company Ruckus Networks, says bundling wi-fi connectivity into commercial and industrial property rentals can provide another edge to an owner’s competitive advantages.
“Property developers are enthusiastic wi-fi adopters because its availability boosts property values and assists with quicker sales and rentals. Connectivity in commercial properties increases their demand and is becoming the cornerstone of the economy as it evolves into a fundamental property utility,” he says.
Fuhrmann says presenting a blank canvas allows prospective buyers or tenants to envision their business occupying the space, and decluttering the office space is essential. Added to that is a thorough clean of windows, floors, carpets, walls and warehousing space.
He advises owners to take heed of the environmental impact of any potential new commercial building. This means considering energy and water efficiencies, environmental footprint and investigating emerging commercial technologies like solar power, recycled building materials for upgrades and renovations and low flow water-saving plumbing fixtures.
Another critical element to boost property value is structural integrity. Fuhrmann says this is vital when the owner wants to sell the building. This means calling in a professional contractor and/or architect to inspect the property for degradation, general wear and tear, structural repairs and waterproofing and foundation issues, and offers the opportunity to introduce modern architectural design like an industrial feel.
“It may be surprising to discover how attention to details can attract tenants,” says Breytenbach.