Determining the Optimal Capital Stack for Your Real Estate Project

Jun 13, 2024

Understanding the Capital Stack

When planning a real estate project, understanding the capital stack is crucial. The capital stack refers to the layers of financing used to fund a project. Each layer has its own risk and return profile. Knowing these layers helps you make informed decisions.

The capital stack typically includes four main components: equity, preferred equity, mezzanine debt, and senior debt. Each component plays a different role in the financing structure.


Equity is the base layer of the capital stack. This is the money invested by the project owners. Equity investors take the highest risk because they are the last to be paid. However, they also stand to gain the most if the project is successful.

Equity can come from personal savings, friends and family, or external investors. It is essential to determine how much equity you need and where it will come from.

Preferred Equity

Preferred equity sits above common equity in the capital stack. It offers investors a fixed return before common equity holders receive any profits. This type of equity is less risky than common equity but still carries some risk.

Preferred equity can be a good option if you want to attract investors who are looking for a balance between risk and return.

investment meeting

Mezzanine debt can be an effective way to raise capital without giving up too much control of your project.

Senior Debt

Senior debt is the least risky component of the capital stack. It is secured by the property and has the first claim on the project's cash flow. Because of its lower risk, senior debt usually has the lowest interest rates.

Banks and other financial institutions typically provide senior debt. It is an essential component for most real estate projects.

Balancing Risk and Return

Determining the optimal capital stack involves balancing risk and return. Each layer of the capital stack has a different risk profile. By combining these layers, you can create a financing structure that meets your project's needs.

Consider your risk tolerance and financial goals when deciding on the capital stack. A well-balanced capital stack can help you achieve your objectives while managing risk effectively.

Consulting with Experts

Creating the optimal capital stack is not always straightforward. It requires a deep understanding of finance and real estate. Consulting with experts can help you navigate this complex process.

Experienced commercial mortgage brokers can provide valuable insights and help you structure your capital stack. They can also connect you with potential investors and lenders.


Determining the optimal capital stack for your real estate project is a critical step. By understanding the different components and their roles, you can make informed decisions. Balancing risk and return is key to creating a successful financing structure.

Consulting with experts can further enhance your ability to structure the capital stack effectively. With the right approach, you can secure the necessary funding and bring your real estate project to life.