Canadian Pizza Magazine

Buying versus leasing commercial space

Jeff Grandfield   

Features Business and Operations Catering & Expansion buying lease coach leasing real estate

Securing a trophy location can make your pizzeria far more conspicuous, but these locations do not sell or lease cheaply. Photo: Fotolia

The most common reason tenants lease space instead of buying a location is supply and demand: 95 per cent of all commercial space is for lease and not for sale.

If you are in the enviable position of being able to purchase property, there are several opportunities available to you: a business condo where you occupy the one unit, a strata title unit, small strip plazas or centres where you’re now a landlord to other tenants as well, or standalone buildings on a small parcel of land.

Major factors that impact this decision for the average tenant are the long-term commitment of purchasing a building and the ability to obtain the financing.

For those pizzeria tenants able to purchase property, here are a few key pros and cons to consider.


Paying a mortgage is better than paying rent. Lease payments are forever, but your mortgage will eventually be paid off. Often, your mortgage payment may be very close to your rent obligation.

In most cases, you will gain equity in your property. Over the course of time, your property may double – or even triple – in value. This increase in value is in addition to the value of your business contained within the property.

You’re in charge. You don’t have to deal with the hassles of a landlord or property manager.

There may be some sacrifice on location, because many of the prime locations may not be available for purchase.

If you’re vacating an existing location, you may be leaving a great opportunity for a competitor to move into your location.

Being in charge is a con as well as a pro. When you purchase property, you’re the one responsible for all repairs and maintenance a landlord would normally handle.

Making the decision
When making the decision to purchase or lease commercial space, don’t decide to buy simply for the sake of owning real estate. Only consider purchasing a space or property if you would be prepared to lease that same location anyway.

Also, remember to think outside of the box. What we mean here is consider all opportunities – both conventional and unconventional. We live in an “anything goes” or “whatever works” society and that philosophy often applies to business locations as well. For example, a major restaurant chain located near The Lease Coach office went under and the freestanding building was quickly snapped up by a group of orthodontists for their new office. A big-box store can move and be replaced by a sporting goods anchor store. A chiropractor may move in where a fitness facility failed. And so on.

There are both conventional and unconventional opportunities for every business industry. Perhaps a trophy location will make sense for your business? This is a specific unit that outshines all the other spaces for lease or purchase in a property because of its prominence and visibility. Trophy locations do not sell or lease cheaply; however, for some pizzeria owners, having a trophy location can make their business far more conspicuous.

But do all pizzeria owners need to be located in the same type of building? Of course not. You need to evaluate every type of building or property that is available because its unique qualities can represent the 20 per cent advantage you need to be successful over your competitors.

Dale Willerton and Jeff Grandfield – The Lease Coach are Commercial Lease Consultants who work exclusively for tenants. Dale and Jeff are professional speakers and co-authors of “Negotiating Commercial Leases & Renewals For Dummies” (Wiley, 2013). Got a leasing question? Need help with your new lease or renewal? Call 1-800-738-9202, e-mail or visit For a copy of the free CD, “Leasing Do’s & Don’ts for Pizzeria Tenants,” e-mail your request to

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