Is an environmental site assessment important?
Some lenders may require an environmental site assessment. As a purchaser, you may want to strongly consider going to some expense for one, especially if the business you are buying is a service station or manufacturing company. A Phase I report includes an inspection of the property and review of various records, without conducting any boring, drilling, or testing of soil and water samples. With a little forethought and planning, you could add language to your purchase contract so that you could get the results of the Phase I and then decide if the expense of a Phase II is warranted.
The biggest potential concerns to owning business property come from hazardous waste or environmental cleanup problems. Even if you, as the current owner, did not cause the problem, you may have the primary responsibility for fixing it. The mere fact that you once owned the property could subject you to future expenses of cleanup, which could be substantial.