Comparing Defeasance Costs and Prepayment Penalties: What You Need to Know

Apr 20, 2024


When it comes to commercial real estate financing, there are various factors to consider before making any decisions. Two important aspects that borrowers often encounter are defeasance costs and prepayment penalties. Understanding the differences between these two can help you make an informed choice that aligns with your financial goals. In this blog post, we will compare defeasance costs and prepayment penalties, highlighting what you need to know about each.

Defeasance Costs

Defeasance costs are associated with the process of releasing a property from the lien of a mortgage. This typically occurs when a borrower wants to sell a property or refinance it before the loan term ends. Defeasance costs are calculated based on the present value of the remaining loan payments and can be quite substantial.

defeasance costs

One key benefit of defeasance is that it allows borrowers to avoid paying a prepayment penalty. Instead, the borrower replaces the mortgage with a portfolio of government securities that generate cash flows equivalent to the remaining loan payments. While defeasance costs can be high, they offer borrowers flexibility and the ability to take advantage of favorable market conditions.

Prepayment Penalties

Prepayment penalties, on the other hand, are charges imposed by lenders when borrowers pay off a loan before its maturity date. These penalties are designed to compensate lenders for the loss of interest income they would have earned had the loan been paid off as scheduled.

prepayment penalties

Prepayment penalties can vary depending on the terms of the loan agreement and the specific lender. They are typically calculated as a percentage of the outstanding loan balance or a specified number of months' worth of interest. It's important to carefully review your loan agreement to understand the prepayment penalty terms before making any decisions.

Comparing Defeasance Costs and Prepayment Penalties


Defeasance offers borrowers more flexibility compared to prepayment penalties. With defeasance, borrowers can sell or refinance their property without incurring a penalty, as long as they replace the mortgage with a portfolio of government securities. This flexibility can be advantageous, especially in a dynamic real estate market.



While both defeasance costs and prepayment penalties involve financial implications, the costs associated with each differ. Defeasance costs are typically higher due to the calculations involved in replacing the mortgage with government securities. Prepayment penalties, on the other hand, are usually a fixed percentage or a specified number of months' worth of interest.


Market Conditions

When considering defeasance costs or prepayment penalties, it's crucial to assess current market conditions. If interest rates are low, it may be more financially advantageous to pay a prepayment penalty and refinance at a lower rate. Conversely, if interest rates are high, defeasance costs may be a more viable option.

market conditions


Comparing defeasance costs and prepayment penalties is essential for borrowers in the commercial real estate industry. Understanding the differences, including the flexibility, costs, and market conditions, will help you make an informed decision based on your specific circumstances. Whether you choose defeasance or accept a prepayment penalty, it's crucial to carefully evaluate the financial implications and consult with professionals who can guide you through the process.