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  • Writer's pictureColin Dubel

What is a Master Lease?

A master lease in commercial real estate is a lease agreement that allows the tenant to lease a property from the owner and then sublease the property to other tenants. The master lease is typically a long-term agreement, with the tenant responsible for paying rent, managing the property, and maintaining it in good condition. The sublease agreements are typically shorter-term and may allow for more flexibility for the subtenants.


From a lender's perspective, a master lease can be viewed as both a positive and negative factor. On the positive side, the master lease provides a steady stream of income for the owner and potentially reduces the owner's risk, as the tenant is responsible for managing the property and finding subtenants. This steady income can make the property more attractive to lenders, who may be more willing to lend at more favorable terms.


However, a master lease can also create additional risk for the lender. For example, if the tenant defaults on the master lease, it can lead to default on the sublease agreements as well, potentially leading to a decline in rental income. Lenders will typically underwrite the master lease carefully, looking at the terms of the lease, the tenant's creditworthiness, and the likelihood of finding subtenants in case of default.


From an investor's point of view, there are several advantages to using a master lease. One advantage is that it allows the investor to acquire a property with a pre-existing tenant, which can save time and money compared to finding new tenants. Additionally, the investor may be able to negotiate more favorable terms with the owner of the property, as the owner may be more willing to offer incentives to the tenant to continue leasing the property.


However, there are also several disadvantages to using a master lease. For example, the investor may have less control over the property, as the tenant is responsible for managing it. Additionally, the investor may be limited in terms of the types of tenants that can be subleased to, as the master lease may contain restrictions on the use of the property.

In summary, a master lease can be an attractive option for investors looking to acquire commercial real estate with a pre-existing tenant. However, investors should carefully consider the terms of the master lease and weigh the advantages and disadvantages before deciding whether to pursue this option. Lenders will also carefully review the master lease when underwriting the property, and investors should be aware of the potential impact on financing terms and conditions.


If you have any questions about this article or would like to discuss a scenario of your own with our team, please feel free to contact Colin Dubel at colin@harborwestcommercial.com or 949-735-6415.

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