Navigating Commercial Real Estate Loans: Fixed vs. Variable Interest Rates

Understanding the intricacies of commercial real estate loans is crucial for informed decision-making in the world of real estate investments. One key aspect that demands attention is the type of interest rate associated with the loan – whether fixed or variable. In this guide, we’ll delve into the differences between fixed and variable interest rates, their advantages, disadvantages, and how they impact commercial real estate financing.

Fixed Interest Rates vs. Variable Interest Rates

Fixed Interest Rates:

A fixed interest rate remains constant throughout the agreed loan term. Regardless of market fluctuations, borrowers pay the same interest rate from the beginning to the end of the loan.

Variable Interest Rates:

In contrast, a variable interest rate is tied to the current market interest rate. It fluctuates based on market conditions, potentially rising or falling during the loan term.

Considerations for Borrowers

1. Market Dynamics:

Choosing between fixed and variable interest rates depends on the current state of the market. Fixed rates offer stability, while variable rates can lead to potential savings but come with market risk.

2. Advantages and Disadvantages:

Fixed interest rates provide a constant payment throughout the loan term, shielding borrowers from market rate increases. However, they also mean missing out on potential savings if market rates decrease. Variable rates, on the other hand, can save money if rates fall but carry the risk of increasing payments if rates rise.

3. Refinancing Challenges:

Fixed-rate loans might pose challenges if the borrower aims to refinance during a period of lower market rates, as they may not secure a lower interest rate than the one they already have. Variable-rate loans, if market rates rise, could make refinancing difficult.

Tax Implications

CMBS Loans:

For loans like Commercial Mortgage-Backed Securities (CMBS), the tax implications vary. Interest-only loans can increase property cash flow and Debt Service Coverage Ratio (DSCR), allowing for a larger loan qualification. Variable-rate loans may offer short-term rate advantages but increase overall risks. Fixed-rate CMBS loans typically have no significant tax implications.

Industry Median Interest Rates

Benchmark Rates:

Commercial real estate loan interest rates typically hover around 3% above the effective federal funds rate. Different financing options tie rates to various indices, including the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR), Treasury yields, or the Wall Street Journal Prime.


When deciding between fixed and variable interest rates in commercial real estate, borrowers should weigh the current market status, desired loan terms, and risk tolerance. Understanding the tax implications, especially in the context of CMBS loans, adds another layer of complexity. Keeping abreast of industry median interest rates and benchmark indices ensures borrowers make well-informed decisions in a dynamic market. Whether it’s stability with a fixed rate or potential savings with a variable rate, the choice between the two depends on the unique circumstances and preferences of the borrower.