Buying guide

Buying a commercial property, whether for your own occupation or as an investment, is not always easy. Particularly in the current market, where there is a lack of stock available. If you're new to the process then see our handy guide below which takes you through step by step, or if you're a dab hand then make sure you register your details with us so we can ensure you hear first about new properties on the market. 

Braintree is fortunate to have been allocated a number of large sites earmarked for commercial development over the coming years. Eastlink, a proposed regional employment park, is probably well known to many, and will consist of 700,000 sqft of space – most likely for a mix of office, warehouse and industrial space – similar to Skyline 120.  Seybourne Estates have recently acquired a site adjacent to Skyline 120 where a proposed development of speculative warehouse, industrial and trade counter units is due to be constructed. A substantial mixed use development known as Braintree North West is currently going through public consultation. Initial plans show a large area set aside for both residential and employment uses, as well as mixed use buildings located towards the entrance from Panfield Lane. We are also in the very early stages of talking to developers about another 9 acre site in Braintree which we anticipate will provide industrial and warehouse units in a wide range of sizes.  

Buying Process

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Buyers - what should you ask?

Whether you are considering buying your first or tenth commercial unit, here are some wise questions to ask the agent showing you around so nothing crops up further down the transaction…

1. What is the rateable value?

Like we pay council tax for our residential homes, business rates are payable for commercial properties. Each property has a rateable value, which can be found by contacting the local council or visiting the https://www.gov.uk/correct-your-business-rates website. You can then work out the business rates by multiplying the rateable value with the multiplier for that year. Business rate relief can be available for some companies and properties, so it is worth speaking to the local council.

2. Proposed use – is a change of use required?

You need to know that your proposed use is in line with the current planning consent on the property. In some instances a change of use will automatically be allowed but in other cases a new application will be required. We can advise accordingly.

3. Is there a Service charge?

Generally speaking, a service charge is payable when your unit is part of a larger business or industrial park. A service charge typically covers maintenance of the external communal areas including landscaping, and cleaning of communal areas. It is worth finding out what the charge covers and how it is payable.

4. Is there any allocated parking?

Whilst this will typically be advertised, the parking area will need to be included on the land registry plan showing your available spaces. If there is no or limited parking with the unit, it would be worth exploring other options that may be available such as permit parking, or speaking with local companies.

5. How long has the property been on the market?

It is important to remember that in commercial property, there will likely be a period of time that the unit is empty. However, if a property has been on the market for over 12 months, the seller may be more inclined to offer incentives for buyers such as a reduction in the price for a quick sale. However, as the market picks up and competition for property increases, incentives may not be easily achieved.

6. Do I need to pay stamp duty?

Stamp duty is payable on Commercial property, the following table will help you work out what stamp duty you will need to pay. 

For example, if you purchased a property for £275,000, the stamp duty land tax you owe will be calculated as follows:

  • 3% of £275,000 = £8250
  • Total SDLT: £8250

7. Is VAT payable?

A property owner can opt for a building to be elected for VAT, so it it worth establishing whether VAT is payable at an early stage. This is particularly important if the purchaser is not VAT registered. 

8. How quickly can I move in?

Once you have made an offer that the sellers accepts, the agent involved will draw up some Heads of Terms outlining the agreement. Once approved by both parties (this usually only takes a few days), solicitors can be instructed and the sellers solicitors will prepare the draft contract. Depending on the complexity of the agreement, this is the stage that will normally take from 4-8 weeks. Keeping on top of the process and checking for updates can sometimes help to speed up the process.