Real Estate Terminology

Commercial real estate is full of jargon and acronyms. Feel free to use this as a resource to answer any and all questions pertaining to the commercial leasing and commercial investment side of the commercial real estate business. We like to educate our clients on all things commercial real estate in Denver and the entire Front Range. Speaking the same language allows us all to move through the real estate process swiftly! And if this glossary brings up any questions please contact us, we’d love to have the conversation.


Anchor Tenant: A large national or regional retailer that serves as a primary draw for a shopping center; a store strategically located in a retail property in order to enhance, bring attention to, or increase traffic at the property. Sometimes called a “destination” tenant, usually these tenants lease at least 25,000 SF.

Availability Rate: The ratio of available space to total rentable space, calculated by dividing the total available square feet by the total rentable square feet.

Available Space: The total amount of space that is currently being marketed as available for lease in a given time period. It includes any space that is available, regardless of whether the space is vacant, occupied, available for sublease, or available at a future date.


Buyer: The individual, group, company, or entity that has purchased a commercial real estate asset.


Cap Rate: Short for capitalization rate. The Cap Rate is a calculation that reflects the relationship between one year’s net operating income and the current market value of a particular property. The Cap Rate is calculated by dividing the annual net operating income by the sales price (or asking sales price).

Community Center: A shopping center development that has a total square footage between 100,000 – 350,000 SF. Generally will have 2-3 large anchored tenants, but not department store anchors. Community Center typically offers a wider range of apparel and other soft goods than the Neighborhood Center. Among the more common anchors are supermarkets and super drugstores. Community Center tenants sometime contain retailers selling such items as apparel, home improvement/furnishings, toys, electronics or sporting goods. The center is usually configured as a strip, in a straight line, or an “L” or “U” shape.

Construction Starts: Buildings that began construction during a specific period of time. (See also: Deliveries)


Deliveries: Buildings that complete construction during a specified period of time. In order for space to be considered delivered, a certificate of occupancy must have been issued for the property.

Delivery Date: The date a building completes construction and receives a certificate of occupancy.

Developer: The company, entity or individual that transforms raw land to improved property by use of labor, capital and entrepreneurial efforts.

Direct Space: Space that is being offered for lease directly from the landlord or owner of a building, as opposed to space being offered in a building by another tenant (or broker of a tenant) trying to sublet a space that has already been leased.


Existing Inventory: The square footage of buildings that have received a certificate of occupancy and are able to be occupied by tenants. It does not include space in buildings that are either planned, under construction or under renovation.


Freestanding Retail: Single tenant building with a retail tenant. Examples include video stores, fast food restaurant, etc.

Full Service Rental Rate: Rental rates that include all operating expenses such as utilities, electricity, janitorial services, taxes and insurance.


General Retail: Typically are single tenant freestanding general- purpose commercial buildings with parking. Many single retail buildings fall into this use code, especially when they don’t meet any of the more detailed use code descriptions.

Growth in Inventory: The change in size of the existing square footage in a given area over a given period of time, generally due to the construction of new buildings.


Landlord Rep: (Landlord Representative) In a typical lease transaction between an owner/landlord and tenant, the broker that represents the interests of the owner/landlord is referred to as the Landlord Rep.

Leased Space: All the space that has a financial lease obligation. It includes all leased space, regardless of whether the space is currently occupied by a tenant. Leased space also includes space being offered for sublease.

Leasing Activity: The volume of square footage that is committed to and signed under a lease obligation for a specific building or market in a given period of time. It includes direct leases, subleases and renewals of existing leases. It also includes any pre-leasing activity in planned, under construction, or under renovation buildings.

Lifestyle Center: An up scale, specialty retail, main street concept shopping center. An open center, usually without anchors, about 300,000 SF GLA or larger, located near affluent neighborhoods, includes upscale retail, trendy restaurants and entertainment retail. Nicely landscaped with convenient parking located close to the stores.


Mall: The combined retail center types of Lifestyle Center, Regional Mall and Super Regional Mall.

Market: Geographic boundaries that serve to delineate core areas that are competitive with each other and constitute a generally accepted primary competitive set of areas. Markets are building-type specific, and are non-overlapping contiguous geographic designations having a cumulative sum that matches the boundaries of the entire Region (See also: Region). Markets can be further subdivided into Submarkets. (See also: Submarkets)

Multi-Tenant: Buildings that house more than one tenant at a given time. Usually, multi-tenant buildings were designed and built to accommodate many different floor plans and designs for different tenant needs. (See also: Tenancy).


Neighborhood Center: Provides for the sales of convenience goods (food, drugs, etc.) and personal services (laundry, dry cleaning, etc.) for day-to-day living needs of the immediate neighborhood with a supermarket being the principal tenant. In theory, the typical GLA is 50,000 square feet. In practice, the GLA may range from 30,000 to 100,000 square feet.

Net Absorption: The net change in occupied space over a given period of time. Unless otherwise noted Net Absorption includes direct and sublease space.

New Space: Sometimes called first generation space, refers to space that has never been occupied and/or leased by a tenant.


Occupied Space: Space that is physically occupied by a tenant. It does not include leased space that is not currently occupied by a tenant.

Outlet Center: Usually located in a rural or occasionally in a tourist location, an Outlet Center consists of manufacturer’s outlet stores selling their own brands at a discount.50,000–500,000SF. An Outlet Center does not have to be anchored. A strip configuration is most common, although some are enclosed malls and others can be arranged in a village cluster.

Owner: The company, entity, or individual that holds title on a given building or property.


Planned/Proposed: The status of a building that has been announced for future development but not yet started construction.

Power Center: The center typically consists of several freestanding (unconnected) anchors and only a minimum amount of small specialty tenants. 250,000–600,000SF. A Power Center is dominated by several large anchors, including discount department stores, off- price stores, warehouse clubs, or "category killers," i.e., stores that offer tremendous selection in a particular merchandise category at low prices.

Preleased Space: The amount of space in a building that has been leased prior to its construction completion date, or certificate of occupancy date.

Price/SF: Calculated by dividing the price of a building (either sales price or asking sales price) by the Rentable Building Area (RBA).


Quoted Rental Rate: The asking rate per square foot for a particular building or unit of space by a broker or property owner. Quoted rental rates may differ from the actual rates paid by tenants following the negotiation of all terms and conditions in a specific lease.


RBA: Abbreviation for Rentable Building Area. (See also: Rentable Building Area)

Region: Core areas containing a large population nucleus, that together with adjacent communities have a high degree of economic and social integration. Regions are further divided into market areas, called Markets. (See also: Markets)

Regional Mall: Provides shopping goods, general merchandise, apparel, and furniture, and home furnishings in full depth and variety. It is built around the full-line department store with a minimum GLA of 100,000 square feet, as the major drawing power. For even greater comparative shopping, two, three, or more department stores may be included. In theory a regional center has a GLA of 400,000 square feet, and may range from 300,000 to more than 1,000,000 square feet. Regional centers in excess of 750,000 square feet GLA with three or more department stores are considered Super Regional. (See also: Super Regional Mall).

Relet Space: Sometimes called second generation or direct space, refers to existing space that has previously been occupied by another tenant.

Rentable Building Area: (RBA) The total square footage of a building that can be occupied by, or assigned to a tenant for the purpose of determining a tenant’s rental obligation. Generally RBA includes a percentage of common areas including all hallways, main lobbies, bathrooms, and telephone closets.

Rental Rates: The annual costs of occupancy for a particular space quoted on a per square foot basis.


Sales Price: The total dollar amount paid for a particular property at a particular point in time.

Sales Volume: The sum of sales prices for a given group of buildings in a given time period.

Seller: The individual, group, company, or entity that sells a particular commercial real estate asset.

SF: Abbreviation for Square Feet.

Shopping Center: The combined retail center types of Community Center, Neighborhood Center and Strip Center.

Single-Tenant: Buildings that are occupied, or intended to be occupied by a single tenant. (See also: Build-to-suit and Tenancy)

Specialty Center: The combined retail center types of Airport Retail, Outlet Center and Theme/Festival Center.

Sports & Entertainment: A facility suited for recreational activities, including: Amusement Facility, Aquatic Facility/Swimming Pool, Bowling Alley, Casino/Gaming Facility, Equestrian Center/Stable, Fitness, Court and Spa Facility, Golf Related, Racetrack, Skating Rink, Ski Resort, Sports Arena/Stadium, and Theatre/Performing Art Facility.

Strip Center: A strip center is an attached row of stores or service outlets managed as a coherent retail entity, with on-site parking usually located in front of the stores. Open canopies may connect the storefronts, but a strip center does not have enclosed walkways linking the stores. A strip center may be configured in a straight line, or have an "L" or "U" shape.

Sublease Space: Space that has been leased by a tenant and is being offered for lease back to the market by the tenant with the lease obligation. Sublease space is sometimes referred to as sublet space.

Submarkets: Specific geographic boundaries that serve to delineate a core group of buildings that are competitive with each other and constitute a generally accepted primary competitive set, or peer group. Submarkets are building type specific (office, industrial, retail, etc.),with distinct boundaries dependent on different factors relevant to each building type. Submarkets are non-overlapping, contiguous geographic designations having a cumulative sum that matches the boundaries of the Market they are located within (See also: Market).

Super Regional Mall: Similar to a regional mall, but because of its larger size, a super regional mall has more anchors, a deeper selection of merchandise, and draws from a larger population base. As with regional malls, the typical configuration is as an enclosed mall, frequently with multiple levels (See also: Regional Mall).


Tenancy: A term used to indicate whether or not a building is occupied by multiple tenants (See also: Multi-tenant) or a single tenant. (See also: Single-tenant)

Tenant Rep: Tenant Rep stands for Tenant Representative. In a typical lease transaction between an owner/landlord and tenant, the broker that represents the interests of the tenant is referred to as a Tenant Rep.

Theme/Festival Center: These centers typically employ a unifying theme that is carried out by the individual shops in their architectural design and, to an extent, in their merchandise. Sometimes the biggest appeal of these centers is to tourists; they can be anchored by restaurants and entertainment facilities. These centers, generally located in urban areas, tend to be adapted from older, sometimes historic, buildings, and can be part of mixed-use projects. 80,000 –250,000 SF.


Under Construction: Buildings in a state of construction, up until they receive their certificate of occupancy. In order for CoStar to consider a building under construction, the site must have a concrete foundation in place. Abbreviated UC.


Vacancy Rate: A measurement expressed as a percentage of the total amount of physically vacant space divided by the total amount of existing inventory. Under construction space generally is not included in vacancy calculations.

Vacant Space: Space that is not currently occupied by a tenant, regardless of any lease obligation that may be on the space. Vacant space could be space that is either available or not available. For example, sublease space that is currently being paid for by a tenant but not occupied by that tenant, would be considered vacant space. Likewise, space that has been leased but not yet occupied because of finish work being done, would also be considered vacant space.


Weighted Average Rental Rate: Rental rates that are calculated by factoring in, or weighting, the square footage associated with each particular rental rate. This has the effect of causing rental rates on larger spaces to affect the average more than that of smaller spaces. The weighted average rental rate is calculated by taking the ratio of the square footage associated with the rental rate on each individual available space to the square footage associated with rental rates on all available spaces, multiplying the rental rate by that ratio, and then adding together all the resulting numbers. Unless specifically specified otherwise, rental rate averages include both Direct and Sublet available spaces.


Year Built: The year in which a building completed construction and was issued a certificate of occupancy.

YTD: Abbreviation for Year-to-Date. Describes statistics that are cumulative from the beginning of a calendar year through whatever time period is being studied.

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