Tips for Shopping for a Commercial Investment Property

Dec 13, 2021

It goes without saying that the COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed the outlook for many commercial spaces. Whether it be corporate offices advising their employees to work remotely, hotels struggling to fill occupancy, or apartment complexes faced with a flood of tenants unable to pay, the bustling commercial space is not what it was at the start of 2020.

With that said, with every great challenge comes great opportunity, so if you are in the market for a commercial investment property, consider the following pieces of advice to help you maximize your return on investment for a commercial space.

Make Energy Efficiency the Number One Priority

At the turn of the century, it may have seemed like San Francisco was the only place in America that took the time to think about the planet when making decisions.

Fast forward to 2020, and the rest of the country has joined the Bay Area in thinking about the future before putting its fingerprint on a particular area.

Simply put, energy pits are going the way of the dodo bird, as modern consumers are willing to pay a premium for those products and services that offer “green” features. Therefore, if you are looking at a restaurant, hotel, or apartment complex, you will win over a lot of business by highlighting factors such as energy-efficient appliances, use of recycled materials, and/or a commitment to using renewable energy.

What’s more, from a corporate office perspective, becoming net-zero energy efficient is vital to your survival. In the era of remote work, businesses are able to save significantly on the costs of operating an in-person work space. Therefore, if you maintain a business model that has an in-person element, it is essential that you keep utility costs to a minimum to keep your profit margins healthy enough to compete with your competitors that are doing everything remotely.

When looking at commercial investment properties, give extra consideration to buildings that offer a combination of the following features that improve energy efficiency:

Large, oversize windows and glass walls to allow for the flow of natural light

Tilt up wall framing that capitalizes on the high thermal mass of insulated concrete forms

Low flow sinks and water faucets

Nonporous floors and desk surfaces to minimize cleaning resources

Recycled and/or repurposed furniture and decor

Learn from the Pandemic

At some point, society will emerge on the bright side of COVID-19. However, many of the best practices that have taken root to protect society are likely to persist long after the virus is not so intimidating and mysterious.

Therefore, when shopping for commercial investment properties, look into features that can make the space versatile and customizable. Modern office partitions allow for private meeting rooms and isolated work spaces to help ensure social distancing while still allowing for an open office design that promotes the flow of natural light. These office wall partitions can be reconfigured to make light-friendly walls, hallways, and restaurant booths, making them a desirable feature in any commercial space, pandemic or not.

Try to Imitate a Home Environment

The pandemic only expedited the gradual shift to remote opportunities that had already been taking hold in society. After all, work-from-home, grocery delivery, and automated banking services did not show up at the onset of the pandemic–the pandemic only proliferated their use.

As a result, commercial spaces will be in a bit of a “competition” with at-home options in the quest to stay relevant as people become more accustomed to doing things from a distance. Therefore, give extra consideration to commercial investment properties that have some at-home features, if you will, that will appeal to a society that is getting used to remote options. Some ideas include:

Exterior grilles and decorative screens that provide a barrier from distracting sidewalk debris and bustle

Acoustic ceiling cloud panels to help insulate the noise in a busy corporate environment

Customizable office and work areas so moden employees do not feel imprisoned by stiff, pre-assigned cubicles


The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the face of commercial properties in many ways. While the challenges are undeniable, the savvy investor can use this moment to capitalize on this shift. By choosing spaces that are environmentally sustainable, customizable to adapt to sudden changes in the workplace, and that offer and improve on the benefits of remote business, owners of commercial property can come out ahead in this challenging time.

Written by: Matt Lee

E-mail: [email protected]

Matt Lee is the owner of the Innovative Building Materials blog and a content writer for the building materials industry. He is focused on helping fellow homeowners, contractors, and architects discover materials and methods of construction that save money, improve energy efficiency, and increase property value.

Written by: Hans Hansson

[email protected]

Hans Hansson is President of Starboard Commercial Real Estate. Hans has been an active broker for over 35 years in the San Francisco Bay Area and specializes in office leasing and investments. If you have any questions or comments please email [email protected] or call him at (415) 765-6897. You may also check out his website,