Navigating Prepayment Penalties in Commercial Real Estate Investing

Terrydale Capital

May 16, 2024 6 Min read


Prepayment penalties are a significant aspect of commercial real estate financing that investors must understand. These penalties can affect the overall financial strategy and investment returns. In this blog, we will explore what prepayment penalties are, how they impact commercial real estate investors, and the various types of prepayment penalties.

What Are Prepayment Penalties?

Prepayment penalties are fees that a borrower must pay if they decide to repay their loan before the scheduled maturity date. Lenders impose these penalties to mitigate the risk of lost interest income that would have been earned if the borrower had adhered to the original loan term. Prepayment penalties ensure that lenders can secure a minimum return on their investment, even if the loan is repaid early.

How Prepayment Penalties Affect Commercial Real Estate Investors

Prepayment penalties can have a substantial impact on commercial real estate investors in several ways:

  1. Financial Planning and Cash Flow: Investors need to carefully plan their finances considering potential prepayment penalties. These penalties can be significant and affect the investor's cash flow and profitability.
  2. Refinancing Decisions: When interest rates drop, investors might consider refinancing to take advantage of lower rates. However, prepayment penalties can make refinancing less attractive or even infeasible.
  3. Sale of Property: If an investor decides to sell the property before the loan matures, the prepayment penalty can reduce the net proceeds from the sale, affecting the overall return on investment.
  4. Investment Strategy Flexibility: Prepayment penalties can limit the investor's flexibility to restructure debt or manage their portfolio. This constraint can be a significant consideration when planning long-term investment strategies.

Types of Commercial Real Estate Prepayment Penalties

There are several types of prepayment penalties in commercial real estate, each with its own calculation method and implications:

  1. Percentage of Loan Balance: This type of penalty is calculated as a percentage of the remaining loan balance at the time of prepayment. For example, a 5% penalty on a $1 million loan would result in a $50,000 fee.
  2. Yield MaintenanceYield maintenance penalties aim to compensate the lender for the interest income they would have earned had the loan not been prepaid. The penalty is calculated based on the difference between the loan's interest rate and the current market rate for the remaining loan term, discounted to present value.
  3. Defeasance: In defeasance, instead of paying a cash penalty, the borrower substitutes the original loan with government securities that generate enough income to cover the remaining loan payments. This method is often more complex and involves higher transaction costs, but it allows the borrower to release the collateral property from the mortgage lien.
  4. Lockout Period: Some loans include a lockout period during which prepayment is entirely prohibited. After this period, a prepayment penalty may apply if the borrower repays the loan early.
  5. Step-Down Prepayment Penalties: These penalties decrease over time. For example, the penalty might be 5% in the first year, 4% in the second year, and so on, eventually reaching 0% after a certain period. This structure provides some flexibility for the borrower while still protecting the lender’s interests.


Prepayment penalties are a crucial consideration in commercial real estate financing. Understanding the different types of prepayment penalties and how they impact financial planning, refinancing decisions, property sales, and overall investment strategy is essential for investors. 

At Terrydale Capital, our team not only can help investors understand the implications of prepayment penalties in loan transactions, we can go to bat for our clients and successfully negotiate for reduced penalties, step-down penalties or even expunging the penalties altogether. By using our wide array of lender connections and combined industry expertise, we are primed to guide our clients to investment success. Contact us today!

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