It’s never too late to review the basics! Read on for a quick list of 8 fundamental real estate terms and their explanations…

Absorption

Absorption is the way commercial real estate investors gauge tenant demand and is measured in square footage.  Total absorption is the total new square footage leased by tenants.  For example, if a building had 20,000 square feet of new leases in 2013, its total absorption is simply 20,000.  The more relevant metric to view is net absorption which is the total new square footage leased minus the total square footage of tenants that no longer occupy their suites in a given time period.  If a building had 20,000 square feet of new leases in 2013 and 5,000 square feet of tenants leaving, its positive net absorption is simply 15,000 square feet.  Absorption can be measured by building or by entire markets.

Capitalization Rate (Cap Rate)

The cap rate is the percentage of funds you paid for the building that comes back to you annually (not taking financing into consideration).  As an example, if you purchased a building for $1,000,000 that returned $60,000 annually, your cap rate is simply 6%.  The calculation is $ NOI ÷ $ Price = Cap Rate %

Cash-on-Cash Return

The cash-on-cash return is the percentage of funds you invested in the building that comes back to you annually after making financing payments. Your cash-on-cash return is often higher than your cap rate if favorable financing is put in place.

Contract Rent

Contract rent is the current rent being paid by the tenant according to their lease.  Contract rents are measured by square footage in commercial real estate.  For example, if an office tenant is paying $21,000 a year for 1,000 square feet of space, their contract rent is $21.00 per square foot per year.  Contract rents may also be quoted monthly.

Market Rent

Market rent is the rental rate that a specific location could achieve if it were available to lease today.  Like the contract rent, market rent is quoted per square foot.  Investors compare market rent to contract rent to see if there is an opportunity to increase rental rates once a suite becomes available.

Net Operating Income (NOI)

The net operating income is the total rental income from all of the tenants, parking revenue, and other revenues minus operating expenses (taxes, insurance, management, maintenance, utilities).  The net operating income is one of the first metrics and investor will review/verify because the cash return to investors is paid from the net operating income.  Net operating income does not take into consideration financing nor does it include capital improvement costs.

Occupancy

Occupancy is the percentage of occupied suites in a commercial real estate property or market.  For example, if a 100,000 square foot building is leased and occupied by 95,000 square feet of tenants, the building’s occupancy is simply 95%.  Occupancy can be measured in buildings and in entire markets.

Vacancy

Vacancy is the percentage of unoccupied suites in a commercial real estate property or market.  For example, if a 100,000 square foot building is leased and occupied by 95,000 square feet of tenants, the building’s vacancy is 5%.  Like occupancy, vacancy can be measured in buildings and in entire markets.

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