Understanding Interest Only Periods in Commercial Real Estate Investing

Terrydale Capital

May 3, 2024 6 Min read


In the dynamic world of commercial real estate investment, savvy investors are always on the lookout for financial strategies that can maximize returns while minimizing risk. One such strategy that often enters the conversation is the utilization of interest-only loans. In this blog post, we'll delve into what interest-only loans mean in the realm of commercial real estate, explore their pros and cons, and analyze their impact on investors.

What is an Interest-Only Loan?

An interest-only loan is a type of loan where the borrower is only required to pay the interest on the principal amount for a specified period, typically ranging from five to ten years. During this initial period, the borrower's payments do not go towards reducing the principal balance of the loan, meaning they are not building equity in the property.

Pros of Interest-Only Loan Periods:

1. Lower Initial Payments:

  • Interest-only payments are typically lower than those of traditional amortizing loans since they do not include principal repayment during the initial period. This can free up cash flow for investors to allocate towards other investments or property improvements.

2. Improved Cash Flow Management:

  • By minimizing monthly mortgage payments, investors have more flexibility in managing their cash flow. This can be particularly beneficial during the early stages of property ownership when rental income may be lower or when the property is undergoing renovations or lease-up periods.

3. Potential Tax Benefits:

  • In some cases, interest payments on commercial real estate loans may be tax-deductible, offering potential tax advantages for investors. However, investors should consult with a tax professional to understand the specific implications based on their individual circumstances.

Cons of Interest-Only Loan Periods:

1. Higher Total Interest Costs:

  • Since the principal balance remains unchanged during the interest-only period, investors end up paying more in total interest over the life of the loan compared to traditional amortizing loans.

2. Balloon Payment Risk:

  • At the end of the interest-only period, borrowers are typically required to begin repaying the principal or refinance the loan. This can result in significantly higher monthly payments or the need to secure new financing, potentially exposing investors to interest rate fluctuations or financing challenges.

3. Limited Equity Build-Up:

  • With interest-only loans, investors do not build equity in the property during the initial period, which means they have less ownership stake and fewer assets to leverage for future investments or to weather market downturns.

Impact on Commercial Real Estate Investors:

Interest-only loans can have a significant impact on commercial real estate investors, shaping their financial strategies and risk profiles:

  • Risk MitigationInterest-only loans can provide investors with short-term financial flexibility, allowing them to allocate resources strategically and manage risk during the early stages of property ownership or market fluctuations.
  • Enhanced Returns: By reducing initial mortgage payments, interest-only loans have the potential to enhance cash-on-cash returns for investors, especially when coupled with strong property performance and appreciation.
  • Capital Deployment: Interest-only loans enable investors to deploy capital more efficiently, potentially accelerating the pace of property acquisitions or allowing for additional investments in value-add opportunities or property improvements.


Interest-only loans represent a valuable tool in the toolkit of commercial real estate investors, offering both opportunities and challenges. While they can provide short-term financial flexibility and improve cash flow management, investors must carefully weigh the long-term implications, including higher total interest costs and potential balloon payment risks. Ultimately, the decision to utilize interest-only loans should align with investors' overall investment strategies, risk tolerance, and financial objectives.

As always it is important to maneuver the commercial real estate landscape with an experienced team by your side. At Terrydale Capital, we boast a broad span of lending connections offering interest only options for commercial real estate investors. When you need the most competitive financing options for your project, contact us today.

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