Load Factor in Commercial Real Estate


A load factor, also known as a loss factor, is a metric that compares the amount of space a tenant pays for in a commercial lease versus the amount of space they actually use. It’s calculated by dividing the rentable square feet by the usable square feet.

Key Takeaways:

  • Load factor compares the leased space to the usable space in a commercial lease.
  • Tenants typically pay for their percentage of a building’s common areas.
  • A high load factor may make it difficult to attract and retain tenants.

How it Works:

The load factor is calculated by dividing rentable square feet by usable square feet. 

For example, if a tenant pays for 12,000 square ft. of space, but only 10,000 square feet is usable, the load factor would be 1.2. 

This means the tenant is paying for 20% more space than they actually use.

The most common load factors in commercial real estate vary based on property type and leasing arrangement. 

For example, office buildings typically have load factors ranging from 1.2–1.5, while retail properties can range from 1.3–1.7.

Key Components:

A high load factor can be a concern for lenders when considering a commercial real estate financing decision. 

It may indicate difficulty in renting out the property, leading to decreased cash flow and increased vacancy rates. 

Lenders may require a higher down payment or interest rate for loans on properties with high load factors to compensate for the increased risk.


  • Tenant Attraction: A high load factor can help landlords attract and retain tenants as tenants may be more likely to pay for space that they can use.
  • Rental Income Maximization: Landlords can charge tenants for a larger amount of space than what they actually use, maximizing rental income.


  • Tenant Difficulty: A low load factor may make it difficult to attract and retain tenants as tenants don’t want to pay for space they can’t directly use.
  • Higher Costs: Tenants may have to pay for more space than they actually need, leading to higher costs.


Understanding load factors in commercial real estate is crucial for both landlords and tenants. 

While a high load factor may attract tenants and maximize rental income for landlords, it can also make it difficult to attract and retain tenants and lead to higher costs. 

Lenders may view high load factors as a risk, impacting financing decisions. Therefore, it’s important for all parties involved to carefully assess and consider load factors when leasing or financing commercial properties.

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