Congratulations! You’re finally ready to buy your first commercial property. You’ve chosen a superstar buyer representative that specializes in your sector of commercial real estate, zeroed in on the perfect location, and checked the zoning to make sure your business is a permitted use in the area. Your broker told you that finding a property could take 6 hours, 6 days, or 6 months so rule number one is be prepared. Rule number two is patience. There are dozens of steps along the way to move-in day, so let’s focus on one that will make your future property ownership more manageable and may help with renegotiating the purchase price: hiring the right building inspector.

If you chose a seasoned commercial broker, she is sure to have a contact list filled with trusted service providers to enlist a qualified commercial building inspector. You can also reach out to business associates who have recently bought a building. A good rule of thumb when hiring any professional is to interview three qualified candidates. 

The time to enlist a building inspector is right after both parties have signed the purchase contract and opened escrow.  Once the inspector is selected, depending on market demand for services, they can usually perform the inspection within a week or two. Technology allows them to run the report within 24 hours. It’s important to review their findings prior to the expiration of your due diligence period, while your earnest monies are still refundable. 

Below are some property inspection tips to keep in mind when buying a commercial building:

    1. Select a property inspector that specializes in the type of building that you plan to purchase. You don’t want to choose a firm that has only focused on single family homes, commercial inspections are different. They should have experience with commercial buildings that are similar to the one you are purchasing i.e., office, industrial, retail, or restaurant.
    2. Check the credentials of the inspector and determine who will actually be doing the work. For instance, one with a PE designation is a licensed professional engineer. It’s also beneficial to work with an inspector who belongs to the Certified Commercial Property Inspectors Association, Their website includes a list of building inspectors in your area.
    3. Look at reviews and testimonials for the companies you’re considering. I always feel a bit suspicious when there are no Google reviews. Ask for references and take the time to reach out to their recent clients that are similar to you.
    4. Find a provider that can inspect your property “roof to foundation”.  They will focus on the condition of the parking lot, electrical, HVAC, plumbing, roofing, and structural condition. You need to understand when these were installed, and how long before they will need to be replaced.
    5. Perform the inspection during the due diligence period defined in the purchase contract. This way if you find problems with the property that the owner will not repair, you can ask for a credit at the close of escrow. Worst-case scenario, if the seller won’t budge, you can cancel escrow. Since this is prior to the expiration of your inspection period, you are usually entitled to a full refund of your earnest monies.

“We’ve inspected quite a few commercial properties for Davis Commercial AZ over the years.  We can always count on Andrea and her team to have the property ready for inspection,” said Marty Lenich, owner of Inspect-It 1st, a property inspection company located in Scottsdale, AZ. “When access and basic communication with the parties to the transaction is completed in advance, the inspection always runs smoothly and we can complete our review/report, providing a high value property inspection for our client(s) in a timely manner.”

The entire process may take from 2-6 hours depending on the size of the property and how many are on the inspection team. As a broker, we always like to attend on behalf of our client, you, so that we understand the building strengths and weaknesses.  As a buyer, it’s a good idea to be there when the inspector is going through the overview at the end. This way you can ask questions and discuss possible solutions. Allow thirty minutes for the wrap up summary. 

The final step in this process is to evaluate the information provided from the inspection. The best building inspectors will include what needs to be repaired and an approximate cost of each renovation. This itemized cost repair estimate is a handy negotiating tool with the seller. The inspector, along with your broker, will help you decide whether it makes sense to move forward with this property, or move on to the next opportunity. Then – voila! – you are one step closer to building ownership.

About Andrea Davis, CRE

Davis Commercial AZ is committed to helping our clients realize their commercial real estate vision. With more than 25 years of experience, we ensure a premier standard of services. Our dedication to our clients is at the center of everything we do. In just five years, we closed more than $280 million in client transactions, half of which transpired during the pandemic. We pride ourselves on working on your behalf to secure all possible incentives in this marketplace. Formerly known as Andrea Davis CRE, Davis Commercial AZ is owned by Andrea Davis, CCIM, a respected industry leader whose breadth of knowledge stretches from developers to landlords to buyer/tenant representation and investments. Davis has won numerous awards and Ranking Arizona regularly places Davis Commercial AZ in the top 10 category for Office Brokerage. As a regular educational blogger for the BrokerList, Twitter’s top commercial influencers acknowledges Davis as a commercial real estate thought leader. Her book, SimpLEASEity™, neutralizes leasing fears and is the first in a series of commercial real estate guidebooks. Her next book, Simply Own It, the American Dream, is scheduled to be released this year. For more information visit 

About Martin Lenich

Martin Lenich, ACI, PE is the owner of Inspect-It 1st, Greater Phoenix Metro, a licensed/insured property inspection company founded in 2003 and serving all of Arizona. Their team specializes in commercial and multifamily properties and rapidly delivers detailed reports and statements of probable costs often within 1 – 2 days of the field inspection.  Visit their website to learn more about their unique approach and see testimonials from clients.  For more information, call Marty directly at 602-318-7480.