Tired of paying rent? With just 10% down, you can buy your own building with SBA 504 loan

Success Story
January 3, 2019

After paying rent for six years to house his thriving graphic design and printing business, California-based entrepreneur Brandon Stapper had a lightbulb moment: Why not be my own office landlord?

Stapper, now 33, looked into buying his own building so he could invest in his future. And he made that happen with the help of an SBA 504 real estate loan — fixed-rate financing that requires only 10 percent down.

“I was sick of paying down the mortgage for someone else,” said Stapper, chief executive of 858 Graphics as well as Nonstop Signs and Graphics. “I wanted to find an office building to buy and move my company into and start paying down my own mortgage and see upside on appreciation.”    

From custom-sticker machine to mulling building purchase

Stapper, a San Diego native, has always known he wanted to own a business. At 20, he tried out a few business ideas. One was to purchase a $400 custom-sticker machine on Ebay with the goal of designing and selling custom decals to businesses.

That service propelled him toward the broader market of website design services, which he later expanded nationwide. In 2006, he and a business partner founded 858 Graphics, a one-stop shop design and print company in San Diego. It offers wide-format printing, trade-show printing, vehicle wraps, banners and stickers. Most of their sales are generated by way of smart, nimble web-marketing tactics.

Stapper’s previous business location was far from ideal. He had leased two locations in a small office park on opposite sides of a parking lot. This meant the sales and management teams were in one building and the printing and sign manufacturing folks were in the other, which made for a disjointed work experience.

While the locations totaled 10,000 square feet, the company had a lot of unusable space and the layouts were inefficient. In addition to these downsides, Stapper had been paying rent for the last six years. That was money he could’ve bought in his own office building.

SBA 504 loan: Just 10% on $1.1 million building

With a lease-renewal deadline coming up, he knew what he needed to do. He began to explore buying commercial real estate, specifically a building that could house sales, management and production all under one roof.

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CEO Brandon Stapper

He first approached several conventional banks for financing. Unfortunately, this became a fruitless search.

That’s when Chase bank introduced Stapper to CDC Small Business Finance — a leading U.S. small business lender that has more flexibility to lend compared to a traditional bank. Also a nonprofit, CDC has provided more than $18.4 billion in funding to 11,000-plus borrowers, leading to more than 180,000 jobs created or preserved.

Stapper found success with CDC. He was pre-approved to buy a 6,000-square-foot building just outside of downtown San Diego, with an SBA 504 real estate loan. With this type of loan, he only had to put down 10 percent of the $1.1 million building purchase and had the security of a fixed interest rate.

Buying your own building vs paying a landlord

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Employees at 858 Graphics, whose building is near downtown San Diego.

The purchase proved to be a financial boon for his business. In addition to building equity, he kept his mortgage payments on par with what he was paying in rent.

“The loan process was much easier than I’d expected,” Stapper said. And since the purchase in 2013, “our building has increased roughly 30 percent in value, which is awesome,” he added

Merri Adams, a senior loan officer at CDC Small Business Finance, provided Stapper with the financing. The SBA 504 loan, she says, offers a host of benefits including a low down payment requirement and a fixed rate.

“Over the past 5 years, not only has the property significantly appreciated, but rather than pay rent to a landlord, the business owners have built equity by paying a mortgage instead,” said Adams, who with fellow loan officer Mike Sarthou covers the San Diego County region for CDC Small Business Finance.

“The low fixed rate translates into stable monthly payments that do not increase over time, driving increased profitability and stability for 858 Graphics overall,” Adams added.

SBA 504 loan process: ‘quick and easy’

Stapper recalls feeling “extremely excited” upon learning his SBA 504 loan had been funded.

Throughout the loan process, he found the staff at CDC Small Business Finance to be “extremely friendly” and the loan process “quick and easy.”

Since receiving the loan, Stapper’s team has grown from 15 to 25. His business has long had a charitable bent to their operations. Each year, they donate $50,000 worth of printing to nonprofits in San Diego.  

Stapper says he’s derived great joy from seeing his team members grow and get promoted to new positions. Currently, Stapper is working on building up another business, Nonstop Signs and Graphics, which also produces promotional marketing products.

Jobs created/preserved: 25

Thinking about buying your own building or other commercial real estate? CDC Small Business Finance can expertly guide you through this process.

We are the No. 1 SBA 504 real estate lender in the nation, with a team of SBA 504 loan officers who know all the ins and outs of securing SBA 504 financing, which requires just 10 percent down.

Let’s talk! Reach us at loaninfo@cdcloans.com or (619) 243-8625.

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