CRE can sometimes be a “who-knows-who” industry.
With such a vast array of asset use cases, and a wide variety of markets, winning an investment can be difficult without the right connections.
Luckily, that is all changing.
Now, essentially anyone can hop on the computer to find prime investments of any scale in markets across the U.S.
But navigating the platforms themselves can be a search of its own.
This article covers the best resources for commercial real estate for sale searches, grading them on their strengths, then take some time to discuss why off-market deal-making can be much more lucrative.
Commercial Real Estate for Sale
Commercial real estate comes in a vast array of shapes and sizes—quite literally.
It is for that reason alone that there are so many different paths to discovering commercial real estate to invest in.
Introduce competition and things get tougher.
Most buyers will turn to commercial listings platforms at some point in their search, though the best option is likely to use a mix of resources.
First, we’ll take a look at platforms that let you search for all asset types, then work our way through a number of more specialized resources and why you might use those instead.
Platforms that cover all asset types in all market, also tend to have more depth within each of those markets.
These are the platforms that most will turn to—and can turn to—for just about any commercial property for sale search.
The biggest distinction you’ll see in this section, is the difference between landing a deal on-market versus off-market.
Searching off-market has gained a lot of popularity in recent years.
That’s because doing so:
- Allows investors to avoid broker fees and the competition of other buyers.
- Allows brokers to identify properties likely to sell ahead of time and reach out to the owners.
The off-market capabilities of the Reonomy Platform open up accessibility to nearly every commercial property on a national scale.
The platform lets users search any U.S. county off-market to discover favorable deals on any asset type above a single family home.
In other words—anything from a duplex to a skyscraper.
On the platform, you can search for assets based on type, location, building and lot characteristics, sales history, debt history, business tenants, who the owner name (LLC or individual), and much more.
In the same interface, you can then continue through to property and owner analysis, and decide whether the asset is something worth pursuing.
From there, simply use the platform to unlock the contact information of the true property owners and get in touch with them directly.
LoopNet is one of the nation’s most popular portals to search for commercial real estate for sale and lease.
The website claims to be “the leading provider of commercial MLS services, marketing and technology, with over 5 million monthly unique visitors.”
The website uses a subscription based model for both investors searching for deals and those looking to sell commercial property.
LoopNet features deals across asset classes, including office properties for sale, retail buildings for sale, and land for sale among others. Deal sizes tend to be larger than what you’d expect to find on other, asset-specific listing websites.
It’s not uncommon for deals to be in the $1+ million range, though occasionally more affordable properties are featured.
CREXi is another cover-all commercial real estate platform that features roughly 200 new commercial properties for sale daily.
One of the benefits of CREXi, as opposed to other cover-all platforms, is that it facilitates the entire transaction process for users.
“We are the first platform to take the entire commercial real estate transaction process online with a simple to use and intuitive interface,” explains found Mike DeGiorgio.
The website gives investors and brokers the ability to find, manage, and qualify leads.
They can market properties online with customizable emails, and communicate with interested parties through the in-app messaging feature.
The website also allows users to solicit, make, accept, counter and negotiate offers.
Ten-X is similar to CREXi in that it is another end-to-end commercial real estate website that facilitates the purchase and sale of commercial property across all property types and geographies.
It’s common to find office, multifamily, hotel, retail and industrial deals featured on Ten-X at any given point in time.
The major difference between Ten-X and CREXi is that Ten-X is an auction-based platform.
Users can buy commercial real estate for sale three ways:
- “Offer Select,” which provides buyers and sellers with the visibility and controls they need to exchange real estate as they would on the more traditional open market
- “Live Bids,” in which buyers and sellers use the website’s auction format to exchange real estate
- “Managed Bids,” which retains the auction format provided by Live Bid, with the addition of a call for offers during the initial property marketing period.
The latter format allows sellers to gauge buyer interest before putting the property up for auction.
Commercial Property for Sale
In this case, commercial property can be considered buildings or any other type of general commercial asset.
Office Buildings for Sale
There are several factors that investors typically look for when buying an office building, from the size of the building to location.
For instance, someone buying an office building for sale in Atlanta will likely want to know the size of the floor plates and whether the layout works if the space needs to be subdivided for smaller users.
Someone buying an office building for sale in Chicago may want to know whether the property is located in the downtown, near public transit, or has visibility from major highways.
Yet the single most important metric that most investors will want to consider when buying an office building is the tenant mix.
- Is the space leased to one major office user, or multiple smaller users?
- What is the credit-worthiness of those tenants?
Investors typically want to see the space leased to a credit-worthy tenant with robust reserves and a long lease history compared to multiple startup companies that could be bought out or go under with little notice.
A few of the most popular websites/companies to use to find commercial property for sale in the office segment include:
CBRE is a global real estate brokerage company that has offices in major metropolitan areas across the U.S.
The company brokers deals in markets from NYC to Austin, from Los Angeles to Boston.
Their website features office buildings for sale, but CBRE brokers will often have inside knowledge about off-market properties that have yet to become publicly available.
Another global firm, JLL is a full-service real estate advisory and brokerage firm that represents some of the largest office transactions in the U.S. each year.
The company works with owners, tenants and investors in the local, national and global markets – making the firm a good resource for investors looking to sell office property to an international market.
When we refer to “mixed-use” projects, we’re referring to commercial property that has at least two asset uses incorporated into the same building.
For instance, a mixed-use property could be a multifamily property with ground floor retail, or an office building with retail and restaurants on the ground floor.
These are the most common mixed-use projects, though mixed-use can also include office combined with industrial or R&D (sometimes referred to as “flex space”).
Investment criteria for mixed-use properties for sale really depends on the asset types included within the building.
For instance, a mixed-use project with an office component will care about the tenant mix (and creditworthiness of the tenants) the same way a traditional office investor would.
Investors looking at a project with a retail component will care about things like traffic counts and parking availability.
Here are a few of the most popular websites that brokers and investors can use to find mixed-use properties for sale:
Founded in 2014, OpenListings.com is a relative newcomer to the marketplace.
Unlike some websites that are tailored specifically to investors, this website targets potential owner-occupants looking to buy mixed-use projects as a means of offsetting their personal mortgage cost.
The income from the other property uses helps to offset their mortgage costs, and as a result, makes homeownership more affordable.
When considering retail property for sale, an investor will typically look at several investment criteria including the location of the property, availability of parking, traffic counts, and proximity to other retailers.
For instance, it’s a big misconception that opening one type of retail store near its competitors is bad for business.
In fact, the exact opposite has been proven to be true—there’s an agglomeration effect.
Locating in close proximity to your competitors can actually drive business to your stores as consumers are more likely to drive to the area to shop around at all stores when looking for a specific product.
Tenant mix is especially important in retail centers with multiple occupants.
These facilities usually contain an anchor tenant (a major tenant that drives ongoing, consistent business such as a grocery store or home improvement store).
Investors will want to know who the anchor tenant is and the length remaining on that lease. It is important for investors to look at all leases in place, particularly when buying retail property for sale.
That’s because some leases will contain things like a co-tenancy clause, which usually stipulates that a sub-anchor (smaller than the primary anchor) can terminate their lease if the primary anchor “goes dark” (goes out of business).
There are no single, centralized databases focused exclusively on selling retail property for sale.
However, there are several websites and companies that feature retail properties, among other asset classes, and several more that specialize in specific types of retail for sale.
- LoopNet has retail listings of all kinds, with deals featured from coast to coast.
- Marcus & Millichap specializes in NNN lease retail properties, like a standalone pharmacy or a fast food chain pad site.
- Deerfield Partners specializes in selling drug stores.
- BusinessesForSale.com is a good resource for those looking to purchase laundromats for sale. Simply type “laundromat” into the search bar to investigate laundromats for sale in any geography.
- Gas Stations USA, as the name implies, helps investors find gas stations for sale. Most of the properties featured on this website are located in Florida.
- NRC Realty & Capital Advisors features a range of commercial property for sale, but most of their listings are gas stations for sale.
- SRS Real Estate Partners is a retail broker and advisory firm but often features retail properties for sale, including single-tenant investment properties, multi-tenant investment properties, and vacant/owner user properties.
Multi Family Properties for Sale
Multi family properties for sale are one of the most popular asset classes among commercial real estate investors.
That’s because even the most novice investors can comprehend the concept of investing in multi family property: buy the property, rent it out, collect rents, pay for routine maintenance, and collect the remaining cash flow (ok, so it’s not THAT simple, but you get the idea!).
When considering multi family investment property, there are a few characteristics that investors will want to consider.
- Location – where is the property located? Are there major employers or universities nearby? What’s driving the local economy?
- Property Size – how big is the property? What will it require in terms of maintenance?
- Rents – what are market area rents, and can you rent the units for enough to cover your cost basis (and then some)?
Apartment complexes usually require a big up front investment, but the aggregation of multiple units can make these a great investment for those looking to benefit from economies of scale.
Here are a few tools for finding apartment complexes for sale:
- Cushman & Wakefield brokers some of the largest apartment transactions in the nation each year. The website has a robust platform for finding multi family properties for sale and is easy for users to navigate.
- Eastdil Secured is unique in that it is a real estate investment banking company by trade, but has also moved into the arena of selling apartment complexes on behalf of some of the nation’s largest investors.
- Rosewood Realty specializes in selling apartment complexes for sale in NYC.
- Madison Partners is one of the most prominent brokerage companies selling apartment complexes for sale in the Los Angeles area.
- Berkadia was founded in 2009 as a joint venture between Berkshire Hathaway and Leucadia National Corporation. Berkadia has carved out a niche for itself by selling multi family real estate in cities like Austin, Chicago and Phoenix.
Duplexes and triplexes for sale are a great way for novice investors to dip their feet into commercial real estate.
The first-time investor may want to owner-occupy a duplex or triplex to learn the basics of property management.
This is also a great way to secure the best financing, as owner-occupants usually benefit from the lowest interest rates.
Here are a few ways to find duplex and triplex properties for sale:
- Zillow is one of the largest residential real estate platforms in the country. Search results can be refined to include only duplex and triplex homes for sale.
- Redfin.com is another residential real estate platform that can easily be searched for duplex and triplex homes for sale across the country.
- Trulia is a good resource for duplex and triplex homes for sale, particularly in major market areas like Miami, Los Angeles, and Dallas. Trulia is often used by owners to list their rentals for sale, which provides local comps for investors looking to purchase duplex and triplex homes.
Mobile Home Parks
Mobile home parks are a unique subclass of multi family real estate for sale.
The benefit of buying a mobile home park is that you’re essentially investing in the underlying land value and the infrastructure – not the actual homes parked on site. Instead, the maintenance of the home falls to the individual owner of the mobile home.
Popular websites for finding mobile home parks for sale include:
- MobileHomeParkStore.com has mobile home parks for sale in markets across the U.S., including mobile home park foreclosures and mobile home parks for sale by owner. The website also has a robust “Resources” section for those interested in learning more about how and/or why to buy a mobile home park for sale.
- Elevation Capital Group helps investors diversify their portfolios by helping them find manufactured home communities and self-storage facilities for sale.
Industrial Property for Sale
As Amazon, Walmart, Target and other companies race to provide shipping to customers in two days or less, the demand for industrial property has skyrocketed.
These e-commerce companies tend to use a hub and spoke model that requires large warehouse and other industrial facilities in major metro areas, with smaller facilities in “spoke” market that makes shipping to customers from the “spoke” location even faster.
When investing in industrial property, there are usually a few important considerations for investors, including ceiling heights (the higher the ceilings, the more stacking that’s possible when storing goods), floor weights (to accommodate heavy machinery), and number of loading docks.
Here are a few of the most popular resources for finding warehouses for sale.
Warehouse for Sale
- LoopNet is a popular resource for those looking to purchase warehouses for sale. The website has warehouse listings, recent sales comparables, and contact information for brokers specializing in warehouse sales.
- Catylist is a commercial real estate platform with listings in over 40 markets across the U.S. Several of the properties featured on the platform are warehouse and distribution commercial properties for sale.
- CityFeet is a commercial real estate platform that leans heavily toward commercial property for sale in the New York City area. The website is a great tool for those looking to purchase warehouses, R&D/flex space and other industrial real estate for sale in NYC.
Land for Sale
For those looking to buy and hold for long-term appreciate (perhaps a development is planned in the nearby area that will drive up the price of local land).
It’s also a great investment for those looking to purchase land for sale and then redevelop for higher and better use.
This is common among investors of all kinds, including those interested in developing single family home subdivisions.
Here are a few resources for those interested in purchasing land for sale:
Vacant Land for Sale
Investors looking for vacant land for sale will want to consider a number of metrics, including the acreage of the property and whether that will accommodate the end use the investor intends for the property.
For instance, a two-acre site might be the minimum needed to build a 100-unit apartment building.
Investors should also look at the infrastructure to the site and whether this will need to be improved before building on the site.
- Homes.com is most often used by those looking to purchase single family homes, but many people don’t realize that the website can also be leveraged to find vacant land for sale.
- Land Leader features various land deals for sale, from vacant land to farms, ranches and more. Another benefit of the site is that the company helps connect investors with the best land brokers in their respective locations. This is a great entry point for investors looking to find a specialized broker to assist them with the purchase of vacant land for sale.
- LotNetwork.com is one of the premier websites that offers vacant land for sale, including small acres that can be redeveloped for housing.
Farm Land for Sale
- Land and Farm specializes in farmland, ranches, and commercial and residential properties for sale that have significant land associated with the built structure.
- LandBrokerMLS is one of the top resources for investors looking to purchase farm land for sale that is publicly listed on the MLS database. Properties include historic ranch properties for sale, small farms for sale, and significant acreage that could be transformed for modern-day cultivation.
- LandWatch has an array of vacant land for sale, including hunting land, farms and ranches, timberland, and international land for sale. LandWatch also provides details about upcoming auctions for those looking to potentially score a bargain on vacant land for sale.
Commercial Land for Sale
Land and Farm devotes a special section of its website to commercial land for sale. This includes land suitable for office development, for orchards and other organic farms, and oil and mineral excavation.
LoopNet can also be utilized to find commercial land for sale.
Listings featured on the site are designed with the investor in mind, so they include pertinent information such as the ability to subdivide the land, cap rates and rezoning opportunities.
Commercial Real Estate for Sale by Owner
There are also often deals for sale by owner that can produce fantastic returns for investors willing to take the time to uncover these opportunities.
Commercial real estate for sale by owner, otherwise known as FBSO, can be found using the websites below:
- Craigslist is a platform commonly used by the masses for multiple reasons, including buying and selling real estate. Commercial real estate FSBO is not necessarily common on Craigslist, but it does happen from time to time. To search for deals, choose your target geography and then type in select keywords to narrow your search, such as “investment” and “FSBO”.
- Buildings by Owner has commercial properties both for sale by owner as well as for lease by owner. The opportunities range from mixed-use properties to flex space, warehouse, and industrial properties.
- FindMyRoof is a popular platform used by owners looking to sell or lease their commercial properties. The website allows users to place ads for free, which often draws owners who are on the fence about listing their property for sale. This is a great way to connect with potential sellers looking to test the waters; a strong offer can lead to a deal that may otherwise never have occurred!
- VirtualFSBO.com is an online marketplace that has been around since 1999. The platform is most often used for sellers looking to sell residential properties, but there is a page that features commercial real estate for sale by owner. The listings here are an aggregation of listings from other platforms, so you’ll be redirected to the original source of the listing.
Distressed Commercial Real Estate for Sale
Distressed commercial real estate refers to properties that are typically facing some sort of financial pressure.
For instance, maybe the owner has failed to pay the mortgage and they are at risk of losing the property to foreclosure. When a property becomes “distressed,” it can serve as an indication of a motivated seller looking to unload their property and avoid foreclosure (or perhaps worse, like bankruptcy).
Here are a few ways to find distressed commercial real estate for sale:
- Auction.com is one of the nation’s most prominent platforms for investors looking to purchase distressed commercial real estate. The website can be searched specifically for “investment” properties, which tend to lean commercial in nature.
- HappyInvestor calls itself “The Internet’s #1 Site for Real Estate Investors” with a specific focus on connecting investors with distressed commercial property that’s listed for up to 50% off market rate prices.
- Distressed Properties Sale is a website that specializes in connecting buyers with bank-owned or short-sale properties, as well as properties set to go to auction. The website has a separate section for commercial properties classified as “fixer uppers”