Down the street from their restaurant, a developer had refurbished an abandoned gas station with plans to rent space to Starbucks. However, the developer couldn't get Starbucks in after the 2008 financial crisis and the recession. The Dwelleys noticed that the price on the property dropped from $1.2 million before the recession to less than $700,000 in 2010. They decided to bid.
The restaurant owners clinched the deal at $690,000 and scraped together everything they had for the 10 percent down payment. JPMorgan Chase financed the deal. Now the restaurant has two bathrooms, both accessible to the disabled.
Commercial property prices have become very attractive, says Walter Page, a director of research at PPR, a division of CoStar Group, a commercial real estate data company.
"There is an abnormal amount of opportunity now - if people want to buy, or fix and renovate, now is the time," Page says.
These loans made up just 10 percent of the overall $50 billion commercial real estate that was sold in 2011. But it's playing a part in helping stabilize prices, which rose 14 percent in 2011.
The Las Vegas dentist, Cozine, kept 3,400 of the 6,600 square feet for his own office and rented the rest to a pharmacy, which is providing him extra savings. He believes that property prices will start rising again at some point.
"I look at my office as a retirement nest egg," Cozine says.
Small Talk columnist Joyce Rosenberg will return next week.
Pallavi Gogoi, AP's banking reporter, can be reached at http://twitter.com/pgogoi
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