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How to Buy a Commercial Property That Is Not for Sale

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The obvious place to look for a commercial property is online listings. The vast majority of properties for sale are listed there. But what happens with those that are not even listed there?. Some of the most lucrative opportunities lie in properties that are not actively listed for sale. 

While the traditional approach involves scouring listings and attending open houses, savvy investors know that off-market deals can yield exceptional returns with less competition.

Even if the selling party often has no intention to sell at the outset, such off-market deals do happen. Though you may have to work fast and smart to get the deal done, you won’t have to compete with other buyers, so there’s less risk of paying an inflated price.

Key Takeaways:

  • Prime properties aren’t always on flashy websites. Network with brokers, attend industry events, and target specific neighborhoods to uncover them
  • Utilize commercial real estate databases to research property ownership and identify potential sellers who might be open to discreet offers.
  • Focus on a win-win scenario. Understand the seller’s motivations (retiring, changing business needs) and structure an offer that addresses them.
  • Finding and acquiring off-market properties takes time and persistence. Don’t get discouraged – keep searching and building relationships within the commercial real estate sphere.

Off-Market Commercial Property Deals 101

Off-market commercial properties refer to assets that are not actively marketed or listed for sale through traditional channels such as real estate agents, online platforms, or public listings. Instead, these properties are often privately held by owners who may be open to selling under the right circumstances but prefer to maintain confidentiality and control over the sales process.

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Owners of commercial properties may opt to keep their assets off the market for various reasons, including:

  • Desire for privacy and confidentiality
  • Avoidance of brokerage fees and commissions
  • Preference for direct negotiations and personalized terms
  • Strategic considerations related to timing and market conditions

Benefits and Drawbacks of Pursuing Off-Market Deals

Pursuing off-market commercial property deals offers several advantages, including:

  • Access to exclusive opportunities with less competition
  • Potential for negotiating favorable terms and pricing
  • Ability to build relationships with property owners and decision-makers
  • However, off-market deals also present challenges, such as limited visibility into available properties and the need for proactive outreach and relationship-building.

Strategies for Identifying Off-Market Opportunities

Identifying off-market commercial property opportunities requires a proactive approach and strategic execution. Here are some effective strategies to consider:

Building a Strong Network Within the Real Estate Industry

Networking remains one of the most powerful tools for uncovering off-market opportunities. Establishing relationships with real estate agents, brokers, attorneys, property managers, and other industry professionals can provide valuable insights and access to exclusive listings. 

Attend industry events, join professional organizations, and participate in networking groups to expand your connections and stay informed about potential off-market deals.

Leveraging Technology and Data Analytics

Technology and data analytics play a crucial role in identifying off-market opportunities. Utilize online platform, real estate databases, and data analysis tools to search for properties with specific criteria, analyze market trends, and track ownership information. 

Explore advanced search features, and leverage data-driven insights to uncover off-market properties that align with your investment objectives.

Engaging in Direct Outreach and Relationship-Building

Direct outreach to property owners can be a highly effective way to discover off-market opportunities. Develop a targeted approach by identifying properties of interest and researching the owners’ contact information through public records or online databases. 

Craft personalized messages that highlight your interest in the property and your ability to close deals quickly and discreetly. By establishing rapport and demonstrating your credibility as a serious buyer, you can open the door to potential off-market transactions.

Working with Real Estate Professionals and Brokers

Collaborating with experienced real estate professionals and brokers who specialize in off-market transactions can provide valuable assistance in your search for commercial properties. 

Leverage their industry expertise, market knowledge, and network connections to gain access to off-market listings and exclusive opportunities. Engage with reputable professionals who have a track record of success in facilitating off-market transactions and negotiating favorable terms on behalf of their clients.

Approaching Owners and Negotiating Off-Market Deals

Approaching property owners for off-market deals requires finesse, tact, and strategic negotiation skills. Here are some key strategies to consider when initiating contact and negotiating terms:

Crafting a Compelling Value Proposition

When reaching out to property owners, it’s essential to articulate a compelling value proposition that highlights the benefits of selling to you. Emphasize factors such as your track record as a reliable investor, your ability to close deals quickly and efficiently, and your willingness to offer competitive terms. 

Tailor your message to address the owner’s specific concerns and objectives, demonstrating how a potential transaction would be mutually beneficial.

Initiating Contact with Property Owners Discreetly and Respectfully

Approaching property owners for off-market deals requires a delicate balance between assertiveness and respect for their privacy. Consider reaching out through personalized letters, emails, or phone calls that convey professionalism and sincerity. 

Respect the owner’s preferences regarding communication channels and confidentiality, and be mindful of their time constraints and priorities. Position yourself as a trusted advisor who can offer valuable solutions and opportunities.

Negotiating Terms and Conditions That Align with Your Investment Goals

Negotiating off-market deals involves navigating a complex landscape of terms, conditions, and contingencies. Be prepared to engage in meaningful discussions with property owners about pricing, financing options, due diligence timelines, and closing arrangements. 

Approach negotiations with a clear understanding of your investment goals, risk tolerance, and deal-breakers, and be flexible and creative in exploring mutually acceptable solutions. Seek guidance from experienced real estate professionals or legal advisors to ensure that your interests are protected and that the transaction proceeds smoothly.

Conducting Due Diligence and Closing the Deal

Once you’ve successfully negotiated the terms of an off-market commercial property deal, the next crucial step is to conduct thorough due diligence and finalize the transaction. Here’s a comprehensive guide to navigating the due diligence process and closing the deal:

Performing Thorough Financial Analysis and Property Evaluation

Before committing to the purchase of an off-market commercial property, it’s essential to conduct comprehensive financial analysis and property evaluation. Review the property’s financial statements, rental income history, and operating expenses to assess its income potential and investment viability. 

Evaluate market comparables, vacancy rates, and projected cash flows to determine the property’s fair market value and potential return on investment. Engage qualified professionals, such as appraisers, inspectors, and financial analysts, to provide expert insights and validate your investment assumptions.

Securing Financing and Conducting Legal Reviews

Securing financing is a critical aspect of closing an off-market commercial property deal. Explore various financing options, including traditional mortgages, commercial loans, and private equity investments, to determine the most suitable financing structure for your investment strategy and financial objectives. 

Work closely with lenders, financial institutions, and legal advisors to navigate the loan application process, negotiate favorable terms, and ensure compliance with regulatory requirements. Conduct thorough legal reviews of all transaction documents, including purchase agreements, title reports, and closing disclosures, to identify potential risks and liabilities and mitigate legal challenges.

Negotiating Purchase Agreements and Finalizing the Transaction

Negotiating purchase agreements is the final stage in closing an off-market commercial property deal. Collaborate closely with property owners, sellers, and legal representatives to finalize the terms and conditions of the purchase agreement, including purchase price, closing date, escrow arrangements, and contingencies. 

Address any outstanding issues or concerns raised during the due diligence process and ensure that all parties are in alignment with the agreed-upon terms. Execute the necessary legal documents, obtain required approvals and signatures, and coordinate the transfer of ownership with title companies and escrow agents to complete the transaction successfully.


Nigeria has more than 30 million Commercial properties. The online commercial real estate properties listing websites barely advertise about 1% of the properties that are on sale.

This leaves a whopping majority of the properties under the Off-Market Commercial Real Estate Properties list and that’s why one cannot make the best decision about choosing the right kind of commercial investment property without considering the large majority of Off-Market Commercial Real Estate Properties.

By adopting a disciplined and strategic approach, investors can capitalize on off-market opportunities to build wealth, diversify their portfolios, and achieve their investment objectives in the dynamic world of commercial real estate. 


Is it possible to buy a commercial property that is not currently for sale in Nigeria?

Yes, it is possible to buy a commercial property that is not currently listed for sale in Nigeria through off-market transactions or direct negotiations with property owners. Off-market transactions involve properties that are not publicly advertised but may be available for sale to qualified buyers. To pursue such opportunities, you can work with real estate agents, property developers, or engage in networking within the industry to identify potential sellers or properties that match your criteria.

What steps can I take to approach the owner of a commercial property that is not for sale?

Approaching the owner of a commercial property that is not for sale requires a strategic approach and effective communication. Start by conducting research to identify the owner of the property through public records or online databases. Once you have identified the owner, reach out with a personalized letter or direct contact to express your interest in purchasing the property. Clearly outline your intentions, offer to discuss terms, and emphasize the benefits of selling to you. 

How can I make my offer attractive to the owner of a commercial property that is not for sale?

To make your offer attractive to the owner of a commercial property that is not for sale, consider offering favorable terms, such as a competitive purchase price, flexible closing timeline, or willingness to accommodate the owner’s specific needs or preferences. Highlight any advantages of selling to you, such as your ability to provide a quick and hassle-free transaction, secure financing, or demonstrate financial credibility. 

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