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Commercial Real Estate – A Good Time to Sell?

The sale of a commercial property differs significantly from the private sale of a property. A commercial property is subject to different standards, a separate valuation, and different tax laws than a private sale. 
So if you are considering selling your commercial property, you ought to know what to expect and what to keep in mind. 

Especially now, thanks to the corona pandemic, commercial properties need to be revalued. Whether it is a good time to sell depends on many different factors and some general points ought to be clarified in advance.

What is a commercial property? 

A commercial property is a property not intended or partially intended for private use, and must primarily be used for commercial, self-employed, or freelance work. Buildings used for public purposes and by government agencies are also considered to be commercial, meaning that all buildings belonging to public authorities, public institutions, and companies are also commercial properties.

What are the different types of commercial properties? 

Commercial properties refer to a wide variety of building types. Depending on what sort of business the property belonged to and what it was used for, a commercial property can be anything from a warehouse to an entire shopping center. Each type of commercial property will attract a different target group and the right time to sell can also be determined by the existing demand for a certain type.
In the following table we list some of the common types of commercial properties.

Type of commercial property                                     Example

 trade                                                                               supermarket, shopping center, retail shop
 production                                                                     cold storage facility, storage facility, distribution center
 office                                                                               building with primarily office spaces
 logistics                                                                          warehouse
 leisure                                                                             fitness center, indoor swimming pool, leisure park, holiday park
 business park                                                                park Property with mixed use - office space, storage space, service areas
 specialised business                                                    train station, gas station, winery, night club, farm

The submarket analysis – What is the commercial property suitable for? 

Once the type of commercial property has been defined, the target group is automatically narrowed down. A cold storage facility will have a specific target group, while an office space will probably appeal to a completely different one.

In order to define your commercial property, you need to know for which purposes it is suitable. And in order to do this, the commercial property must be evaluated. In real estate terminology, this is referred to as the “submarket analysis”.
First, the submarket to which the commercial property belongs is determined, laying the foundation for the later sales price. Each submarket has different market prices and gross rent multipliers (GRM). If the commercial property can also easily be used for another submarket or a different purpose, the analysis becomes somewhat more complicated.

Furthermore, commercial properties are not valued according to their pure material value, but according to their earnings value. 

Commercial real estate agent – Getting help with the sale

You can get help with selling your commercial property. Commercial real estate agents are specialized in this area and have the necessary expertise. They help not only with the submarket analysis, but also with the determining the earnings value.

If you decide to get help from a commercial real estate agent, they should ideally already have knowledge of your submarket. Knowledge of the sector is essential for them to be able to give you the best possible advice when selling.

Which documents are required for the sale?

When you are selling a property, a description of the property is always advantageous, regardless of whether it is a private or commercial property. However, in order to sell a commercial property the list of necessary documents is considerably longer. 
We have compiled a checklist for you.

- property description
- current statement from the land registration
- approved development plan
- construction plans (1:100 scale)
- floor or site plan
- Energy Performance Certificate
- calculation of the floor space 
- calculation of the cubic area
- statement from the register of building obligations
- building specifications (incl. necessary renovations)
- statement of operating costs
- proof of renovations / restorations (invoices), if applicable
- commercial leases including statements for extra expenses (from the last three years), if applicable 

Tax regulations in the sale of commercial real estate

When selling a commercial property, the seller is subject not only to income tax but also to trade tax. However, the trade tax is not always due. 
If the seller never occupied the commercial property and it is resold less than ten years after the purchase, the income tax is levied.
However, if the commercial property is part of the business assets, the speculation period is invalid and taxes must be paid on the profit, even after the period has expired.

If more than three commercial properties are sold within a five-year period, the sales are considered to be real estate trading, subject to trade tax. This is specified in the Drei-Objekt-Grenze (three-object limit).

If the sale is a termination of business, the seller could receive income tax benefits. 

- A tax allowance of € 45,000, after the age of 55 or due to permanent occupational disability (§ 16, paras. 4 EStG (the Income Tax Act)).
- The application of a special tax rate if the capital gain is considered to be an extraordinary form of income (§ 34, paras. 2, no. 1 EStG).
- The partial income method is applied when shares in corporations held as business assets are sold. In this case, however, there may not be any simultaneous preferential treatment as extraordinary income.
With Immome you will receive a non-binding offer to sell your property within 24 hours. This also applies to commercial real estate.

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