Understanding Mezzanine Debt in the Capital Stack: Achieving 12-20% Returns

May 28, 2024

Understanding Mezzanine Debt in the Capital Stack

Mezzanine debt is a vital part of the capital stack in commercial real estate. It bridges the gap between senior debt and equity. Investors and developers often use it to secure additional funding for their projects.

In the capital stack, mezzanine debt sits between senior debt and equity. This position gives it a unique blend of debt and equity characteristics. It offers higher returns than senior debt but comes with higher risks.

mezzanine debt

Investors are drawn to mezzanine debt for its potential high returns. Typically, these returns range from 12% to 20%. This makes it an attractive option for those looking to boost their income from real estate investments.

Mezzanine debt also provides flexibility. Borrowers can use it to fill funding gaps without giving up significant equity. This allows them to maintain more control over their projects.

The Role of Mezzanine Debt in the Capital Stack

The capital stack consists of several layers, each with its own risk and return profile. Here is a basic breakdown:

  • Senior Debt: The first layer, often provided by banks. It has the lowest risk and lowest return.
  • Mezzanine Debt: The middle layer, offering higher returns but with higher risk.
  • Equity: The top layer, with the highest risk and potential for the highest returns.
capital stack

Borrowers typically use mezzanine debt to cover the gap left by senior debt. For example, if a project costs $10 million, and senior debt covers $7 million, mezzanine debt might cover the remaining $3 million.

Risks and Rewards

While mezzanine debt offers high returns, it also comes with significant risks. If the project fails, mezzanine lenders are paid after senior debt holders. This means they could lose their investment if the project's value does not cover all debts.

investment risks

However, the potential rewards it a popular choice for those willing to take on more risk.


Understanding mezzanine debt is crucial for anyone involved in commercial real estate. It offers a unique blend of risk and reward, making it an attractive option for many investors. By filling the gap between senior debt and equity, mezzanine debt plays a key role in the capital stack.

Whether you are an investor or a developer, considering mezzanine debt can provide the funding flexibility and potential returns you need to succeed in your real estate projects.