William Huston, AIF®, AIFA®

The Pros and Cons of Investing in Commercial Real Estate

William Huston, AIF®, AIFA®

William Huston, AIF®, AIFA®

The Pros and Cons of Investing in Commercial Real Estate

commercial real estate property

Real estate, be it commercial or residential property can be a great avenue for investors seeking to diversify their portfolios and earn extra income.

For many people, investing in the commercial real estate industry has become increasingly popular in recent years due to the long-term income and appreciation. However, like any investment, it is not without its share of risks and challenges.

Whether you're a seasoned investor or just getting into the investment space, understanding the advantages and disadvantages of commercial real estate investment is crucial to making informed decisions and maximizing your chances of success. So, let's dive in and explore the opportunities and risks that come with investing in commercial real estate.

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If done right, commercial real estate investing can be a profitable venture, offering the potential for significant returns on investment.

Ila Corcoran

To get started on your journey, get in touch with Ila , the SVP, Real Estate Operations at Bay Street Capital Holdings, a qualified real estate agent and Realtor here.

Key Takeaways
  • Commercial real estate refers to properties or buildings that are primarily used for business purposes rather than residential purposes
  • There are different types of commercial real estate that include office buildings, industrial properties, retail spaces, multifamily properties, mixed-use developments and healthcare facilities
  • Investing in commercial real estate can be an avenue for investors seeking to earn extra income and diversify their portfolios

The contents of this article are for educational purposes only. They are not intended to be a source of professional financial advice. You will find experts on financial planning, financial management, and real estate here. More on disclaimers here.

What Is Commercial Real Estate?

hybrid office space

Commercial real estate refers to buildings or properties that are primarily used for business purposes rather than residential purposes.

Commercial properties include office buildings, retail spaces, industrial warehouses, hotels and multifamily apartment complexes with five or more units. The main objective of commercial real estate is to generate income through rental or lease agreements with businesses or individuals.

Unlike residential real estate, which is primarily focused on providing housing, commercial real estate focuses on facilitating commercial activities. It plays a vital role in supporting businesses and driving economic growth by providing spaces for offices, stores, factories and other commercial operations.

Types of Commercial Real Estate

factory space

Commercial real estate encompasses a diverse range of property types that cater to various business needs. Here are some of the most common types of commercial real estate:

Office Buildings

These are properties designed for conducting business activities and housing corporate offices. They can vary in size and class, ranging from high-rise skyscrapers in urban centers to smaller suburban office parks.

Industrial Properties

Industrial real estate includes warehouses, distribution centers, manufacturing facilities and industrial parks. These properties cater to businesses involved in storage, production and logistics operations.

Retail Spaces

Retail properties are used for selling goods and services to consumers. They include shopping malls, strip malls, standalone retail stores and storefronts located on busy streets or in commercial complexes.

Multifamily Properties

Commercial real estate also includes multifamily properties that have five or more units. These apartment complexes are typically owned and operated as investment properties, generating rental income.

Mixed-Use Developments

Mixed-use properties combine multiple types of commercial real estate within a single development. They often include a mix of residential, retail, office and entertainment spaces, creating a vibrant and self-contained community.

Healthcare Facilities

This category includes hospitals, medical office buildings, clinics and other properties related to healthcare services. These properties cater to healthcare providers and can range from small medical offices to large hospital campuses.

Commercial Real Estate Investment Strategies

In commercial real estate, there are two broad strategies that can be used when investing in commercial properties.

Direct Investment

Direct investment in commercial real estate involves purchasing and owning commercial real estate properties directly. It offers investors full control over the property and decision-making, allowing for customization and alignment with investment goals.

Direct investment has the potential for higher returns, offers tax benefits and enables active involvement in property management. However, as a commercial real estate owner, you require a significant upfront capital investment, market knowledge and be aware of the inherent risks that are involved.

Commercial real estate owners should conduct thorough research, do their due diligence and seek professional advice from a qualified financial advisor or real estate professional to navigate the complexities of direct investment and maximize their chances of success.

Indirect/ Passive Investment

Indirect or passive investment is an alternative strategy that allows investors to participate in the commercial real estate market without directly owning and managing properties.

This approach typically involves investing in real estate investment trusts (REITs), real estate funds or syndications. Indirect investment offers several advantages including diversification, professional management and liquidity.

It allows investors to access a broader range of properties and markets, reducing the risks associated with single-property investments. Additionally, passive investors can benefit from professional expertise and economies of scale provided by the fund or syndication.

However, passive investment may limit control and decision-making power, and returns can be influenced by the performance of the fund or syndication. Investors should carefully evaluate the track record, fees and investment strategy of the fund or syndication before committing capital. Passive investment in commercial real estate can be a suitable option for those seeking exposure to the market while relying on professional management and broader diversification.

Pros & Cons of Commercial Real Estate investing

First, let's consider its pros:


These include:

Potential for Higher Income

Commercial properties generally offer higher rental income compared to residential properties. Businesses are willing to pay higher rents for prime commercial locations, providing commercial real estate investors with a reliable and potentially significant cash flow.

Long-Term Leases

10 years or more. Longer lease durations provide stability and reduce the risk of vacancies, ensuring a steady income stream.

Appreciation and Potential for Capital Gain

Commercial real estate has the potential for appreciation over time. As demand increases or the property undergoes improvements, its value may rise, allowing investors to earn capital gains upon sale.

Portfolio Diversification

Investing in commercial real estate allows investors to diversify their portfolios beyond traditional stocks and bonds. Commercial properties have a low correlation with other asset classes, which can help mitigate risks and stabilize overall investment returns.

Tax Advantages

Commercial real estate offers various tax benefits. Investors can deduct expenses such as property taxes, mortgage interest, depreciation and maintenance costs, reducing their taxable income.


These include:

Higher Initial Investment and Financing Challenges

Commercial properties typically require a higher upfront investment compared to residential properties. Financing can be more complex, and lenders often require larger down payments and stricter underwriting criteria.

Market Risk and Volatility

The commercial real estate market is subject to economic fluctuations and market cycles. Changes in supply and demand, interest rates and overall economic conditions can impact property values and rental rates.

Tenant Risks

Commercial properties rely on tenants to generate rental income. There is a risk of tenant turnover, lease defaults or vacancies, which can disrupt cash flow and require additional effort and expenses to find new tenants.

Operational and Management Responsibilities

Commercial properties often require active management, especially larger properties or those with multiple tenants. Property maintenance, lease negotiations and addressing tenant concerns can be time-consuming and require expertise.

Limited Liquidity

Compared to other investment options, commercial real estate can be less liquid. Selling a commercial property may take time and effort, especially during unfavorable market conditions.


Investing in commercial real estate offers countless opportunities to investors to diversify their portfolios and earn extra income. Whether you choose to invest directly or indirectly, it is crucial to weigh the pros and cons carefully.

By understanding the dynamics of the market and aligning your investment strategy with your goals and risk tolerance, you can make informed decisions and maximize the potential rewards of investing in commercial real estate. Be sure to consult a financial advisor and real estate professional before making any investing in commercial real estate.

Bay Street Capital Holdings

Bay Street Capital Holdings

Bay Street Capital Holdings is an independent Black-owned investment advisory and wealth management firm that is based in Palo Alto, CA. The firm manages portfolios with the goal of maintaining and increasing total assets and income with a high priority on managing total risk and volatility.

Bay Street was founded by William Huston after 13 years of supporting the United States' largest retirement plan ($650B) Thrift Savings Plan. In 2021, he was recognized as Investopedia’s Top 100 Financial Advisors. Bay Street was also selected as a finalist out of over 900 firms across the US in the category of Asset Manager for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). In California, only two black-owned firms out of nineteen firms received this recognition.

Bay Street was founded to advocate for diverse and emerging fund managers and entrepreneurs.









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