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The Factors that Determine the Rent Rate of a Property


The process of setting the rental rate for a property is not as straightforward as one might think. It involves taking into account a multitude of variables that ultimately affect the final figure. Whether you're a tenant seeking a new lease, an investor looking for a new opportunity, or a developer looking to maximize returns, understanding the determinants of rental rates is crucial. Let's delve into the myriad factors that play a crucial role in the establishment of rental rates.


Physical Factors


Construction Costs


When a developer or initial landlord builds a property, they take on significant costs for materials, labor, and sometimes even interest on loans taken out to finance the project. They need to set a price that not only recovers these costs but also delivers a reasonable profit margin. This initial cost burden inevitably plays a significant role in the subsequent rental rates of the property. Key factors from construction costs include:


  • Materials: The cost of construction materials is an important consideration. High-quality materials generally increase the cost of construction but also enhance the longevity and appeal of the property, potentially boosting rental rates.


  • Labor: Labor costs are dependent on the local economy, the level of craftsmanship required, and the size of the project. The more specialized the labor, the higher the cost, which will be factored into the sale price and rent.


  • Financing: Developers and landlords often look to financing options, such as loans, to cover construction costs, and the interest on these loans adds to the overall cost of the project. Higher interest rates or longer repayment periods can increase the total construction cost, thereby influencing the property's final price and rental rates.


  • Profit Margin: Finally, a reasonable profit margin needs to be factored into the sale price to make the project economically viable. This margin can depend on market dynamics, risk assessment, and return on investment targets.


Building Condition


A property in pristine condition will command a higher rental rate than one that requires extensive repairs or updates. Costs associated with necessary renovations, refurbishments, or improvements directly impact the cost of rent when the property is ready to be leased. The better the condition of the property, the higher the potential rental rate can be. Key aspects of building condition include:


  • Maintenance and Repairs: If a property requires extensive repairs or maintenance, these costs are often passed onto tenants in the form of higher rent. This can include anything from repairing structural damage to upgrading outdated utilities.


  • Renovations and Improvements: The need for major renovations or improvements, such as adding energy-efficient systems or modernizing interior spaces, can increase the cost of the rent. These upgrades, however, can also increase the appeal of the property to potential tenants.


  • Age of the Property: The age of a property can affect its condition and, therefore, the rent. Older properties may require more upkeep, but they may also feature architectural characteristics that are desirable to certain tenants.




"Location, location, location" isn't just a cliché in real estate. Its impact on property value is significant. Access to major transportation routes, proximity to amenities, and neighborhood desirability all affect property value and, thus, rental rates. Factors like one-way versus two-way streets, signalized intersections, and availability of parking can all impact the rental rate. Additionally, frontage and visibility can make a drastic difference, especially for retail businesses. Key aspects of location include:


  • Transportation Access: Properties located near major highways, public transportation, or busy commercial centers are typically more desirable and can command higher rents due to the convenience they offer to tenants.


  • Proximity to Amenities: If a property is close to amenities like shopping centers, parks, good schools, or health facilities, it can increase the appeal of the property and, subsequently, the rental rate.


  • Neighborhood Desirability: The reputation and desirability of a neighborhood impact the rental rates. Factors such as safety, noise levels, and the general atmosphere can all affect how much tenants are willing to pay.


  • Accessibility and Visibility: For commercial properties, the ease of access and visibility can be significant. Properties on one-way streets or those with limited parking might see their desirability and rent reduced. In contrast, high visibility, signalized intersections, and ample parking can increase a property's appeal, particularly for retail businesses.


Taking into account these physical factors can provide a more comprehensive understanding of the many elements that determine the rental rate of a property. By being aware of these elements, landlords and tenants alike can make informed decisions in their real estate endeavors.


Real Estate Market Factors


Market Overviews and Trends


The health of the overall real estate market and its prevailing trends also contribute to the rental rates of a property. The rental rates are often compared with similar properties in the same market and submarket, which can vary greatly even within a small geographical radius. Trends at the city, state, and national levels, such as economic health or urban development plans, can also influence rental rates. Important aspects to consider include:


  • Market Comparisons: Rental rates are often compared with those of similar properties in the same market and submarket. These comparative metrics are instrumental in determining the rental rates for a specific property. Therefore, an understanding of rental rates for similar properties within a geographical location is crucial.


  • Economic Health: The overall economic health at the city, state, and national levels can directly impact rental rates. A robust economy typically correlates with higher rental rates due to increased demand, while economic downturns can decrease rental rates due to lower demand.


  • Urban Development Plans: Future city plans can also play a role in rental rates. For example, if there are plans to improve infrastructure, build new amenities, or revitalize a neighborhood, it can increase property values and rental rates in anticipation of these improvements.


Currently Available and Competing Buildings


The availability of similar properties in the market plays a pivotal role in determining rental rates. If there's an oversupply of similar properties, it can depress rental rates, whereas limited availability can drive them up. Comparisons are also made with properties that were recently sold or are currently on the market, giving an indication of what the going rate is for similar properties. These can include factors such as:


  • Local Supply and Demand: An oversupply of similar properties can depress rental rates as landlords compete for tenants. Conversely, limited availability can drive rental rates up as competition among tenants increases.

  • Recent Sales and Current Listings: Rental rates can also be determined based on the sales prices of recently sold properties and the rental rates of currently available properties. This can give landlords a sense of the "going rate" for similar properties, helping them price their rentals competitively.


Traffic Counts


For commercial properties, traffic counts — the number of vehicles or pedestrians that pass by a property — can directly impact rental rates. High traffic counts translate to higher visibility, which can lead to more customers for businesses operating on the property, making it more valuable. These are typically examined in two main categories:


  • Visibility: A property with a high traffic count can command higher rental rates due to increased visibility. More vehicles or pedestrians passing by a property increases the chances of attracting customers, making such locations more appealing to retail businesses.


  • Accessibility: Properties that are easy to access due to high traffic counts can be more desirable, increasing their rental rates. However, extreme traffic congestion can deter potential tenants, underlining the need for a balance.


Interest Rates


Last but not least, interest rates play a significant role in determining rental rates. Many investors in commercial real estate use leverage, making them sensitive to changes in interest rates. When rates are low, it becomes cheaper to borrow money, fueling investment in property, which can push property values and rents up. Conversely, when rates rise, the cost of financing goes up, reducing demand for property and potentially causing rental rates to fall. The primary factors that need to be considered are:


  • Cost of Borrowing: When interest rates are low, it becomes cheaper for investors to borrow money. This can fuel investment in property, pushing property values and rental rates up. Conversely, when interest rates rise, the cost of borrowing increases. This can reduce demand for property, causing a potential decline in rental rates.


  • Investor Behavior: The behavior of investors in response to interest rate changes can also impact rental rates. For example, when interest rates fall, investors might be more willing to pay higher prices for properties, which can lead to higher rental rates.


The factors that determine the rental rates of a property are multifold, ranging from the physical characteristics of the property to market trends and prevailing interest rates. A thorough understanding of these elements can provide valuable insights for all players in the real estate market, leading to more informed decisions and optimized outcomes.



Marc Altieri >

Vice President of Leasing & Investments

Marc Altieri started at SimonCRE in 2021 as the Vice President of Leasing and Investments and is responsible for communications with tenants throughout the development process, coordination with brokers and buyers, and ensuring comprehensive due diligence leads to timely and accurate transactions. 


Other Posts by Marc: 

Tips for Increasing Occupancy in Retail Centers

Digging up the Best Corners: Buying a Retail Center

Understanding Other Important Lease Terms in a Multi-Tenant Property

Interest Rates Economic Trends Commercial Real Estate Development Leases Property Values Tenant Retail retail lease Commercial Real Estate Investing Market Conditions Landlords Lease Terms Rental Rates Rent

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