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Our glossary of industry terms is one of the most visited sections of our site. We work continually to keep it current and are always adding new terms. In addition, if you ever can't find an industry word you are looking for, let us know. We'll research it and add it for you.

  • Call date

    Periodic or continuous rights given to the lender to cause payment of the total principal balance prior to the maturity date.

  • Capital appreciation

    The change in market value of a property or portfolio adjusted for capital improvements and partial sales.

  • Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM)

    Used to help price risky securities (i.e., any securities other than risk-free, or Treasury securities), the Capital Asset Pricing Model is a statistical model that describes the relationship between risk and expected return.

    Capital Asset Pricing Model


  • Capital expenditures

    Investment of cash or the creation of a liability to acquire or improve an asset, as distinguished from cash outflows for expense items that are considered part of normal operations.

  • Capital gain

    The amount by which the net proceeds from the sale of a capital item exceeds the book value of the asset.

  • Capital improvements

    Expenditures that arrest deterioration of property or add new improvements and appreciably prolong its life.

  • Capital markets

    Public and private markets where businesses or individuals can raise or borrow capital.

  • Capitalization

    The total dollar value of various securities issued by a company.

  • Capitalization rate

    The rate at which net operating income is discounted to determine the value of a property. It is the net operating income divided by the sales price or value of a property expressed as a percentage.

  • Carrying charges

    Costs incidental to property ownership that must be absorbed by the landlord during the initial lease-up of a building and thereafter during periods of vacancy.

  • Cash flow

    The revenue remaining after all cash expenses are paid.

  • Cash-on-cash yield

    The relationship, expressed as a percentage, between the net cash flow of a property and the average amount of invested capital during an operating year.

  • Certificate of occupancy

    A document presented by a local government agency or building department certifying that a building and/or the leased area has been satisfactorily inspected and is in a condition suitable for occupancy.

  • Chapter 11

    That portion of the federal bankruptcy code that deals with business reorganizations.

  • Chapter 7

    That portion of the federal bankruptcy code that deals with business liquidations.

  • Circulation factor

    Interior space required for internal office circulation not accounted for in the net square footage.

  • Class "A"

    A real estate rating generally assigned to properties that will generate the highest rents per square foot due to their high quality and/or superior location.

  • Class "B"

    Good assets that most tenants would find desirable but lack attributes that would permit owners to charge top dollar.

  • Class "C"

    Buildings that offer few amenities but are otherwise in physically acceptable condition and provide cost-effective space to tenants who are not particularly image-conscious.

  • Clear-span facility

    A building, most often a warehouse or parking garage, with vertical columns on the outside edges of the structure and a clear span between columns.

  • Closed-end fund

    A commingled fund that has a targeted range of investor capital and a finite life.

  • Closing

    A period of time, usually less than seven days, after a registration statement is effective and the offering commences, giving the underwriters time to receive payment for the securities.

  • CMBS (commercial mortgage-backed securities)

    Securities backed by loans on commercial real estate.

  • CMO (collateralized mortgage obligation)

    Debt obligations that are collateralized by and have payments linked to a pool of mortgages.

  • Co-investment

    Co-investment occurs when two or more pension funds or groups of funds share ownership of a real estate investment. In co-investment vehicles, relative ownership is always based on the amount of capital contributed. It also refers to an arrangement in which an investment manager or adviser co-invests its own capital alongside the investor.

  • Co-investment program

    An investment partnership or insurance company separate account that enables two or more pension funds to co-invest their capital in a single property or portfolio of properties. The primary appeal for investors is to achieve greater diversification or invest in larger properties typically outside the reach of small- to mid-sized tax-exempt funds, with a greater measure of control than is afforded in typical commingled fund offerings.

  • Collateral

    Asset(s) pledged to a lender to secure repayment of a loan in case of default.

  • Commercial real estate


    Buildings or land intended to generate a profit for investors, either from rental income or capital gain. Types of commercial real estate include office buildings, retail properties, industrial properties, apartments and hotels, as well as specialty niche property categories such as healthcare, student housing, senior housing, self-storage, data centers and farmland. 

  • Commingled fund

    A pooled fund vehicle that enables qualified employee benefit plans to commingle their capital for the purpose of achieving professional management, greater diversification or investment positions in larger properties.

  • Commodity Pool Operator (CPO)

    A CPO is an individual or organization which operates a commodity pool and solicits funds for that commodity pool. A commodity pool is an enterprise in which funds contributed by a number of persons are combined for the purpose of trading futures contracts, options on futures, or retail off-exchange  or to invest in another commodity pool.

  • Common area

    For lease purposes, the areas of a building and its site that are available for the non-exclusive use of all its tenants, e.g., lobbies, corridors, etc.

  • Common area maintenance

    Rent charged to the tenant in addition to the base rent to maintain the common areas. Examples include snow removal, outdoor lighting, parking lot sweeping, insurance, property taxes, etc.

  • Comparables

    Used to determine the fair market lease rate or asking price, based on other properties with similar characteristics.

  • Concessions

    Cash or cash equivalents expended by the landlord in the form of rental abatement, additional tenant finish allowance, moving expenses or other monies expended to influence or persuade a tenant to sign a lease.

  • Condemnation

    The process of taking private property, without the consent of the owner, by a governmental agency for public use through the power of eminent domain.

  • Conduit

    An alliance between mortgage originators and an unaffiliated organization that acts as a funding source by regularly purchasing loans, usually with a goal of pooling and securitizing them.

  • Construction loan

    Interim financing during the developmental phase of a property.

  • Construction management

    The act of ensuring the various stages of the construction process are completed in a timely and seamless fashion.

  • Consultant

    Any company or individual that provides the following services to institutional investors: definition of real estate investment policy; adviser/manager recommendations; analysis of existing real estate portfolios; monitoring of and reporting on property asset, commingled fund and portfolio performance; and review of specified property and portfolio investment opportunities. Consultants are distinguished from investment advisers or investment managers in that a consultant does not source or execute transactions and does not directly manage assets.

  • Consumer price index (CPI)

    Measures inflation in relation to the change in the price of goods and services purchased by a specified population during a base period of time. The CPI is commonly used to increase the base rent periodically as a means of protecting the landlord's rental stream against inflation or to provide a cushion for operating expense increases for a landlord unwilling to undertake the record-keeping necessary for operating expense escalations.

  • Contiguous space

    Multiple suites/spaces within the same building and on the same floor that can be combined and rented to a single tenant, or a block of space located on multiple adjoining floors in a building.

  • Contract documents

    The complete set of design plans and specifications for the construction of a building.

  • Contract rent

    The rental obligation, expressed in dollars, as specified in a lease. Also known as face rent.

  • Convertible debt

    A mortgage position that gives the lender the option to convert to a partial or full ownership position in a property within a specified time period.

  • Convertible preferred stock

    Preferred stock that is convertible to common stock under certain formulas and conditions specified by the issuer of the stock.

  • Conveyance

    Most commonly refers to the transfer of title to property between parties by deed. The term may also include most of the instruments with which an interest in real estate is created, mortgaged or assigned.

  • Core

    Typically includes the four major property types — specifically office, retail, industrial and multifamily. Core assets are high-quality, multi-tenanted properties typically located in major metropolitan areas and built within the past five years or recently renovated. They are substantially leased (90 percent or better) with higher-credit tenants and well-structured, long-term leases with the majority fairly early in the term of the lease. Core investments are unleveraged or very low leveraged and generate good, stable income that, together with potential appreciation, is expected to generate total returns in the 8 percent to 10 percent range. (Note: In today’s low-yield environment, many investors are willing to accept core property returns below 8 percent.)

  • Core properties

    The major property types - specifically office, retail, industrial and multifamily. Core assets tend to be built within the past five years or recently renovated. They are substantially leased (90 percent or better) with higher-credit tenants and well-structured long-term leases with the majority fairly early in the term of the lease. Core assets generate good, stable income that, together with potential appreciation, is expected to generate total returns in the 10 percent to 12 percent range.

  • Core-plus

    These investments possess similar attributes to core properties — providing moderate risk and moderate returns — but these assets offer an opportunity for modest value enhancement, typically through improved tenancy/occupancy or minor property improvements. This strategy might employ leverage in the range of 30 to 50 percent with return expectations of 9 percent to 12 percent. 

  • Cost-approach improvement value

    The current cost to construct a reproduction of, or replacement for, the existing structure less an estimate for accrued depreciation.

  • Cost-approach land value

    The estimated value of the fee simple interest in the land as if vacant and available for development to its highest and best use.

  • Cost-of-sale percentage

    An estimate of the costs to sell an investment representing brokerage commissions, closing costs, fees and other necessary disposition expenses.

  • Coupon

    The nominal interest rate charged to the borrower on a promissory note or mortgage.

  • Covenant

    A written agreement inserted into deeds or other legal instruments stipulating performance or non-performance of certain acts, or use or non-use of a property and/or land.

  • Credit enhancement

    The credit support needed in addition to the mortgage collateral to achieve a desired credit rating on mortgage-backed securities. The forms of credit enhancement most often employed are subordination, over-collateralization, reserve funds, corporate guarantees and letters of credit.

  • Cross-collateralization

    A grouping of mortgages or properties that serves to jointly secure one debt obligation.

  • Cross-defaulting

    Allows the trustee to call all loans in a group into default when any single loan is in default.

  • Cumulative discount rate

    Expressed as a percentage of base rent, it is the interest rate used in finding present values that takes into account all landlord lease concessions.

  • Current occupancy

    The current leased portion of a building or property expressed as a percentage of its total area or units.

  • Current yield

    For CMBS, the coupon divided by the price.