How to Avoid Common Commercial Real Estate Investing Mistakes

Investing in commercial real estate presents a compelling opportunity to make money, often outpacing or matching stock market returns with less volatility. Like all investments, commercial real estate carries its own set of risks. The key to navigating this landscape successfully is recognizing common mistakes and devising strategies to avoid them.

Mistake #1: Overlooking due diligence in commercial real estate investing

Conducting rigorous due diligence is a foundational pillar of commercial real estate investing. This is the investigative phase before committing to a contract and actually acquiring the property.

It’s tempting for some investors to skim through or even skip this step, especially when they’re eager to close a deal quickly. However, rushing through due diligence can lead to unanticipated issues and complications down the road, turning what seemed like a promising investment into a potential headache.

To navigate this process effectively, we recommend assembling a team of commercial real estate experts to assist you in examining every detail of the potential investment. This includes an in-depth analysis of current lease agreements and financial records, a comprehensive physical inspection of the property to determine any necessary repairs or renovations, and a check to ensure the property complies with all relevant federal, state, and local regulations. Additionally, conducting a property assessment and understanding the local real estate landscape can guide your decision on the property’s investment viability.

Taking the time to scrutinize every detail early will safeguard your investment and pave the way for future success.

Mistake #2: Not researching the local market

One of the most understated components of a successful commercial real estate investment is an in-depth understanding of the local market. Without this knowledge, investors run the risk of getting into ventures that don’t align with current market realities or future prospects.

Before diving into a commercial real estate venture, be sure to have a solid grasp on current market dynamics. Investigate current rates for price-per-square-foot, cap rates, and occupancy. Is the local economy on an upward trajectory? Are there any impending construction projects or changes in zoning?

Informed decision-making is vital; failure to consult the right market indicators and trends can lead to overpriced acquisitions or properties that don’t meet your investment goals.

Knowing an area’s past and predicted future is also valuable in determining the viability of a property. These insights can help investors gauge whether a property is likely to appreciate in value or if market shifts might affect its profitability.

A common oversight among investors is neglecting the significance of a property’s location. When buying commercial property, consider its attractiveness to potential tenants. The property should cater to the essential needs of its intended occupants, offering amenities such as ample parking and proximity to transportation hubs. Factors like accessibility and zoning are important to consider, as well.

Mistake #3: Failing to know the numbers

Knowing the financials of a property is crucial when considering a commercial real estate investment. Overoptimistic returns or underestimating costs can significantly jeopardize your investment’s sustainability.

Some commercial properties, even if they seem affordable at first glance, can have additional costs. They might need extra money spent on repairs or updates to get them ready for leasing. Therefore, it’s essential to understand all the costs, both apparent and hidden, to make a smart and lasting investment in commercial real estate.

Additionally, before sealing the deal, sellers will typically provide financial data, including rental income, current occupancy rates, expenses, and more. You, as the investor, should scrutinize this information, as neglecting any details might lead to financial burdens you weren’t prepared for.

It’s also crucial to factor in utility expenses, property management costs, potential renovations, and unforeseen expenses. Set aside a budget for ongoing expenses like property taxes, insurance, and initial setup costs as well. Always keep a reserve fund ready to tackle unexpected financial challenges.

Mistake #4: Choosing the wrong property type

Commercial real estate is diverse, with key categories being Office, Industrial, Retail, and Multifamily. Each of these property types presents its own set of unique challenges and advantages. For example, while multifamily properties might offer higher returns, they require more maintenance and management. On the other hand, industrial properties usually require less maintenance but might not offer the best financial growth over time.

For a successful venture, it’s crucial to understand each property type and which is the most suitable for your needs and goals. A poor decision can result in low returns, mismanagement, or undesirable outcomes.

To avoid choosing the wrong property type to invest in, clearly define your personal and financial objectives. Evaluate the benefits and drawbacks of each property to identify the best fit for your goals and circumstances. It’s also a good idea to seek insight from real estate brokers, developers, and other experts in the field to understand which property type best aligns with you. Having clarity on long-term financial goals will also help mitigate risks.

Mistake #5: Underestimating renovation or repair costs

One common mistake is to underestimate the cost of renovations and repairs. This oversight can severely impact your investment, tipping the balance from profitable to problematic.

During due diligence, identify what repairs or renovations the property may need. While it’s easy to get caught up in the broader financials, the condition of the property itself holds equal value. Bring in reputable contractors who have a history of accurate and honest estimations. Their expertise will provide you with precise figures, allowing you to integrate these potential costs into your overall assessment of the investment’s value and potential ROI.

Even after the initial purchase and due diligence phase, a commercial property will require routine maintenance, and this should be factored into your ongoing expenses. Every property owner should also be prepared for unexpected challenges. Significant problems such as water damage, deteriorating infrastructure, or electrical malfunctions can happen, and you want to be available to address these issues.

By establishing and maintaining a financial safety net or reserve fund, you can ensure that unanticipated expenses don’t jeopardize the property’s profitability. Being financially prepared and vigilant about potential repair and renovation costs will keep your investment sound and stable.

Mistake #6: Doing it alone

No matter how knowledgeable you may be, there’s always value in seeking additional expertise. Engage with seasoned professionals who you can collaborate with and who can guide you through your investment journey.

Commercial real estate brokers can help you find properties that resonate with your financial and personal goals. Financial advisors can craft an investment plan for you, and a proficient property management team can ensure every part of your commercial investment runs smoothly. From tenant communication to accurate financial reports, these experts are equipped to handle every facet of property oversight.

Tax specialists and real estate attorneys ensure that the process, from acquisition to management, is not only seamless but also tailored to tap into available tax incentives and stay compliant with regulations.

The key to a successful investment is to recognize the value of this collaborative approach and embrace it wholeheartedly.


Investing in commercial real estate can be a smart way to grow your wealth. But, just like any other investment, it comes with potential pitfalls.

The good news? With the right knowledge and approach, these mistakes can be avoided. By being aware and making informed decisions, you can navigate the challenges and make the most out of your investments.

If you’re looking for more guidance, call SCGWest today. We have the expertise and the connections to help guide you on a successful investment journey.

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