Opening a brick-and-mortar location for your small business, whether it’s your first time or fifth time, can be daunting. Read these reminders for things to know and look out for before you sign on a property.

Opening a brick-and-mortar location for your small business, whether it’s your first time or fifth time, can be daunting. Read these reminders for things to know and look out for before you sign on a property.

Are you thinking about buying or renting commercial space for your small business? It’s an exciting step forward in your growth! Before the excitement (or the stress) gets to you, take the time to do your research. Investing in commercial property can get confusing and potentially expensive.

Know Your Lease Inside and Out

Take as much time as you need to review and read through any commercial real estate lease you’re considering. If a landlord is pushing you to sign right away, this is a red flag that you really should pay attention to the fine print.

Landlords and real estate agents may try to trick you into paying more than just rent. Be aware of shiny Tenant Improvement (TI) packages for improvements and physical upgrades that passes on the actual cost onto you over time. Ask about fees and costs for Common Area Maintenance (CAM) that you would be responsible for regarding hallways, parking lots, lobbies, and other shared spaces.

Learn real estate terms ahead of time and be prepared to get a second opinion from your business advisor.

Most importantly, know that you have the power to negotiate. You may not end up getting the space, but you should never buy commercial real estate that will cripple your small business with hidden fees and terms.

Visit the Property In-Person

Just as you would never buy a house or rent an apartment before you visit the place, you should know exactly what your commercial space looks and feels like before you sign the lease.

Your customers and employees may not have any parking close to your location, the real estate agent may be fudging the real square footage (don’t pay for unusable space, take your own measurements!), listing photos may have been altered, you might have a really noisy business neighbor, and many other factors that you should know before you buy.

Plan For the Future

When you are looking to for commercial real estate, you’re probably thinking about your immediate business growth needs. However, it is also important to plan for the future of your business and of the property you want to lease or buy.

One thing you should consider is if you sell your small business. If the business is assigned a new owner, will your lease transfer to the new owner? If your landlord has the right to terminate the lease in this event, that might hurt the business and your chance for a profitable sale. For brick-and-mortar small businesses, often your location is a big part of your success.

Another thing to know is liability and insurance for natural disasters and acts of vandalism. We wrote a comprehensive blog post about how to prepare and protect your small business in the event of an emergency, and it’s important to be clear what your responsibility as a tenant or new property owner is.

Make Sure You Have Enough Capital

Renting or buying commercial real estate can be much more expensive than small business owners initially think. Unexpected costs can add up fast, and it is important to maintain a positive cash flow for the success of your business. If you think you need a loan to cover the cost of expanding your business, Opportunity Fund can help.


For information about Opportunity Fund’s small business loans, please contact us at 866-299-8173 or  For questions about your existing loan or other customer service questions, please contact us at 866-299-8173 or

Opportunity Fund is tackling economic inequality so that hard work and perseverance means a shot at getting ahead, not just struggling to get by. Our programs are supported by a community of donors and investors whose contributions help to fund small businesses, support college students, and build stronger families and vibrant neighborhoods. Since 1994, the team has deployed $600 million and helped 20,000 families earn, save and invest in their own futures. Opportunity Fund has earned a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator, for our commitment to accountability and transparency.

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