Property Futures

Real Estate News, Reviews and Investment

Types of Investment Properties: Niche Commercial Properties

Article: advantages and disadvantages of investing in niche commercial property.

Niche commercial properties are rare or unusual properties that are used for commercial purposes. While they vary enormously, from primary schools to power stations, from an investor’s point of view they all have several key factors in common.

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To be classified as a niche commercial property, a building must either be purpose-built, historic or have some other reason why it would be difficult or impossible to convert it to another use. By comparison, however specialized a shop might be, it will typically only take a few days work by a shop fitting crew to transform it into one stocking a completely different product. Standard commercial units may switch from pet shop to hair salon to coffee bar without changing the basic fabric of the building.

Niche commercial properties cannot make that change easily, which means that should be business occupying them fail or their market disappear the owner may be left with a building which is hard to rent or sell. That said, many creative owners have found ways to diversify the customer base or revitalize properties – for example, converting unusual buildings into luxury flats has revitalized many former industrial areas and netted the developers a significant profit.

Examples of niche commercial properties

  • Sports facilities
    • Such as football stadiums, golf courses or race tracks
    • Such as theaters and cinemas
    • Such as power stations, oil rigs and train stations
    • Such as schools, prisons and hospitals
    • Such as islands, thermal springs and ski resorts
  • Large, purpose-built leisure buildings
  • Water parks and theme parks
  • Recording studios
  • Listed buildings
  • Museums and historic buildings
  • Purpose-built industrial buildings
  • Purpose-built institutions
  • Unusual geographic features

Advantages of investing in niche commercial property

  • May provide a higher return on investment
  • May have a strong or recession-proof market
    • For example, schools and medical facilities are always needed
  • May have lower tenant turnover
  • Often sold with sitting tenants

Disadvantages of investing in niche commercial property

  • Small tenant pool
    • May have long gaps between tenants
  • Slow moving market
    • Can take months or years to find the right property – or to sell one
  • Hard to convert or repurpose if market drops
  • May be hard to value
  • May be expensive
  • May be harder to finance or insure
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