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Exploring Commercial Property Investment in South Africa


Exploring Commercial Property Investment in South Africa

Category Investment

The Ultimate Guide To Commercial Property Investment: Tips And Strategies - South Africa

Commercial Property Investment - One fact stands out: If you get it right your returns can be sky-high!

Keep reading for success secrets!

Key Takeaways

  • Commercial property investment involves putting money into retail centers, offices, and warehouses. 
  • Knowing the market and picking the right location is key to success. It's important to do research with the help of an experienced real estate agent. 
  • The economy affects how much your return will be when businesses grow, they need more space, which increases your profits.
  • Investing in different types of properties like office buildings, industrial warehouses, or mixed-use developments offers various opportunities.
  • Management takes skills and effort, you have to deal with tenants, handle leases, and keep the building in good shape to make it profitable.


Retail centers, factories, warehouses, office buildings, and storage facilities.


These properties can be split into several kinds: retail stores for shopping, manufacturing sites for making goods, multiplex offices for workspaces, and depots for storing goods. Mixed-use developments mix living spaces with these business areas.

Banks often agree to lend a large part of the purchase price for these investments but want the money back quickly.

Differences between Commercial and Residential Property

Commercial property are for business activities, while houses or apartments serve as living spaces. This basic difference shapes everything from why you buy them to the returns you can expect.

For example, banks often lend less money for commercial transactions compared with residential ones and demand quicker repayment. This is because investing in office buildings or warehouses is seen as riskier than buying a home.

Residential investments usually start easier for most people. They are more familiar with houses and might even own one already. On the other hand, commercial ventures promise higher profits but come with their own set of challenges like bigger initial investments and understanding complex lease agreements.

So, it's common advice to gain experience with residential properties before jumping into the commercial side of the market.

Higher Returns

Investing means you can earn more money than with houses or apartments. In South Africa, the capex rate for commercial spaces is over 11%. This is a lot higher compared to 5-8% for homes where people live.

Because of this big difference, many investors choose shops and offices to grow their wealth.

Businesses usually pay more rent than individual renters do. So, owning a building where companies work can bring in more cash every month. This makes it a smart choice if you want to make more from your investments.

Plus, even during tough times like pandemics, these kinds of properties keep making money.

Economic Conditions Impact

Economic conditions greatly affect the property market. Good times make businesses grow, they then need more office space or retail locations. This demand can drive up rental income and property values.

But during tough times, like a recession, businesses might cut back or close. Then, vacant spaces increase, and your income might drop.

Investors should watch market trends and economic cycles closely. These factors influence their returns on investment. For example, a booming economy means higher demand for office buildings and industrial sites.

On the other hand, an economic downturn could lead to higher office vacancies and lower rents. Smart investors adjust their strategies based on these conditions to maintain a steady rental yield and appreciate their investments over time.


Investing in real estate can bring high returns, but it also comes with its own set of challenges. One major risk is dealing with empty spaces which means no money coming in.

Another concern is picking the right spot; a bad location can hurt your investment's success.

Vacancy Rates

Vacancy rates show how many commercial spaces are empty. Rising vacancy rates can mean less money for investors. The growth of online shopping, more co-working spaces, and pandemic effects have caused more offices to be empty.

In Gauteng, lots of B-grade office buildings are empty too. 

Empty offices can be a big risk for your investment. Doing market research helps you understand the local business scene and can tell you why some areas have more empty offices.

Knowing this helps avoid risks related to high vacancy rates in your property investments.

Market Research and Location

Doing your homework on the market and picking the right spot are key steps in investing in commercial property. Market research helps you understand trends, like which areas are getting more popular and what types of buildings renters prefer.

Use this info to choose a location that matches your investment goals. Look at places with growing employment since they often have a high demand for office and retail spaces.

Experts like Currie Group can guide you through this process in big cities such as Johannesburg, Pretoria, and Cape Town. They know all about different locations and can help find the best spots for your needs.

Plus, diversifying where you invest can protect you from risks tied to one area. This means not putting all your money into one city or type of building but spreading it out to stay safe.

Investment Goals and Time Horizon

Set clear investment objectives to guide your decisions, and consider what you aim to achieve - steady cash flow, capital growth, or a mix of both. Your goals will influence the type of properties you target and the financing options you explore.

Banks usually finance up to 75% of a purchase, with repayment expected in less than 10 years. This fact shapes how investors plan their investment horizon.

Decide on your time frame for holding onto your investment. A short-term horizon may mean flipping properties for quick gains while a long-term outlook could lean towards income and appreciation over time.

Each approach demands different strategies and impacts your risk tolerance and portfolio management. Choose wisely based on how soon you wish to see returns versus how much time you're willing to commit for potentially higher rewards.

Risk Tolerance

Knowing your risk tolerance is key in real estate investing. If you're okay with bigger risks, it might be the right investment for you. They offer bigger returns with a higher risk appetite. For those who prefer playing it safe, houses or apartments are better. 

Your choice shapes your investment path and how well you sleep at night.

Level of Expertise and Management Requirements

You need more knowledge and skills than you do for residential properties. This means understanding real estate investment trusts (REITs), tax benefits, and how capital gains tax works.

*Read more here about Capital Gains Tax*


You also have to manage the property well to keep it profitable. This includes dealing with tenants, handling leases, and maintaining buildings. Sometimes you might install solar panels or upgrade security systems to make the place better for tenants

Good management keeps tenants happy and helps avoid long vacancy periods that could cost you money.

Types of Commercial Real Estate

In the world of investing, they come in different shapes and sizes. From office spaces to factories and retail centers, each has its unique appeal to investors.

Office Buildings

Office buildings in Johannesburg are changing because more people work from home or take turns working at the office. But, smart building technology is making these properties more attractive.

Investing in these buildings can lead to high returns if you pick the right location and manage it well. Smart tech also means you can charge higher rent. Plus, you might get tax breaks for using energy-saving technologies.

Industrial Properties

Industrial properties include places like factories, warehouses, and distribution centers. They're key for businesses that make products, store goods, and move them from place to place.

A recent survey showed that industrial properties are doing very well despite the rising interest rate and load-shedding problems. This means a lot of people are looking at this asset class as an investment.

Investing in industrial real estate can be a smart move. These properties often bring in a higher return than offices or retail spaces because they're essential for many businesses' operations.

Before you invest, think about how the property will be used and what kind of businesses will want it. Look for locations that have easy access to roads and transportation routes. Work with experienced property brokers who can advise you. 

Mixed-use Developments

It combines living spaces and places to shop or work in one area. This setup has become more popular recently. Investors like you find these properties inviting because they offer a mix of residential and business units for rent or sale.

These buildings help create lively communities where people can live, work, and play without traveling far. They often feature apartments above stores or offices. This blend attracts a wide range of tenants, boosting your potential for high returns on investment.

Waterfall City is a great success story and has won multiple awards. 


Commercial vs. Residential Property Investment

Are you intrigued by the world of real estate investing? The choice between commercial and residential property investment is a critical one. Let's break down the key factors to help you make an informed decision.

  • Return on Investment (ROI): Commercial properties often have larger income potential, offering a potentially higher return on investment. However, residential investments can provide more predictable returns.
  • Financing: Securing a commercial property investment loan can be more complex than residential financing. Lenders might require a larger down payment and stricter credit score requirements. Explore different types of property financing options, including business property loans, to make the best choice.
  • Zoning Regulations: Before jumping in, research local zoning regulations to ensure your desired use is legal. This is crucial since commercial property for sale might have strict rules compared to apartment buildings for sale.
  • Municipal Services: Commercial properties often incur higher costs for municipal services like water, electricity, and waste management. Factor these into your potential return on investment calculations.
  • Mixed-use Buildings: A growing trend, mixed-use buildings are a compelling investment option. These properties combine commercial and residential spaces, leading to potentially greater income potential.
  • Commercial Tenants vs. Residential Tenants: Commercial tenants often sign longer, more stable leases, but finding the right tenant base can be a challenge. Residential rentals might face shorter leases, but turnover can be easier to manage. Consider the type of tenant interaction you prefer.
  • Property Management: Many investors choose to partner with a property management company, especially for commercial rentals. This can take administrative burdens off your hands, but it will impact your overall return on investment.

Finding the Best Commercial Property Investment

When searching for the ideal commercial property, consider:

  • Location: Is the property located in a growing area with strong economic indicators?
  • Property Type: Are you looking for office space, retail, industrial, hospitality, or mixed-use buildings?
  • Condition: Factor potential renovation costs into your budget.

Remember: Real estate investing, whether commercial or residential, carries inherent risks. Consult with financial advisors and real estate professionals to ensure you make fully informed decisions.


You've learned the basics, from what makes these investments unique to how they can bring in more money. Remember, while there are higher rewards, don't forget about the risks like empty spaces or choosing a bad location.

Think about what you want out of your investment and how much risk you're willing to take. There are many types of properties out there - offices, factories, storage, apartment buildings, and retail centers.

Pick the one that fits your goals best. With smart choices and a good plan, you can make it a success.


What is commercial property investment?

It involves purchasing office buildings, retail spaces, or warehouses to generate rental income or capital appreciation.

How can I invest in commercial property in South Africa?

It can be done by acquiring properties through purchase or lease and leveraging commercial property finance options available in the market.

What are the different types of property suitable for investment?

Property investment opportunities include residential properties, industrial, apartment buildings, and office space among others, each offering unique benefits and risks.

How can tenants affect my rental income as a property investor?

Tenants play a crucial role in determining the rental income you can generate from your properties. Good tenants who pay on time and take care of the property can positively impact your returns.

What is property diversification and why is it important?

Property diversification involves spreading your investments across different property types and locations to reduce risk and increase potential returns. It is essential for building a well-rounded investment.

How does managing a property portfolio differ from individual property ownership?

It involves overseeing multiple properties at once, handling tenant relationships, maintenance issues, and financial aspects to ensure each property contributes to your overall investment goals.

What factors should I consider before making an investment decision in commercial real estate?

Before investing in commercial real estate, factors such as property market trends, potential returns, location, zone considerations, and commercial leases should be thoroughly evaluated.

Can residential and commercial be part of the same investment portfolio?

Yes, It is a great way to spread the risk of your investment across different asset classes. 




Author Currie Group
Published 23 Apr 2024 / Views -
Disclaimer:  While every effort will be made to ensure that the information contained within the Currie Group website is accurate and up to date, Currie Group makes no warranty, representation or undertaking whether expressed or implied, nor do we assume any legal liability, whether direct or indirect, or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information. Prospective purchasers and tenants should make their own enquiries to verify the information contained herein.