Top 5 Commercial Real Estate Phrases That Make You Sound Smart

Like most other occupations, the commercial real estate industry has its own unique slang and phrases that agents use when discussing deals and properties.

Having previously worked in several different industries that have their own lexicon, including restaurants, I am personally a huge fan of using the power of words to create worlds in both minds and reality.

Keep reading to find out the top 5 commercial real estate phrases that agents are saying when doing business.

Whether you work in the business or not, you’ll find these commercial real estate phrases are not only useful, but will help you quickly understand and discern the information you should know if you get involved in a commercial realty transaction.

1. “Corner of Main and Main”

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This commercial real estate phrase is used to describe a property situated in the most important or highly visible and trafficked location, for example the main central business district of a city or the major intersection in a major retail area.

A commercial property on the corner of Main and Main will typically garner the highest price per square foot due to its high visibility and large amounts of potential revenue that can be generated from having a place of business situated on that property.

Example on how this commercial real estate phrase is used:

“I’m working with a retail tenant interested in expanding into a location at the corner of Main and Main.”

2. “Upside”

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When a commercial real estate property can be redeveloped and managed into something more beneficial than its current usage, it can be labeled as having “upside”.

If you think about it, this can be applied to ANY piece of commercial real estate.

However, agents love to use this commercial real estate phrase to describe particularly challenging properties, such as a dilapidated warehouse or a parcel of vacant land that requires a lot of environmental remediation work.

Example on how this commercial real estate phrase is used:

“The building needs a new roof, new HVAC, and there are toxic environmental issues on the land. However, it still has a tremendous upside since there is a new residential development nearing completion just up the road.”

3. “Dirt”

The land upon which structures are built is commonly referred to as “dirt” among commercial real estate professionals.

When thinking about a potential commercial real estate property, one can easily become preoccupied with a structure and its features.

However, in the grand scale of all things, a commercially-zoned property is merely just a lot of dirt on the ground. And it’s upon this dirt that useful buildings and growth opportunities for expansion are built.

Example on how this commercial real estate phrase is used:

“I have 25+ acres of dirt for sale that’s zoned for both residential and agricultural use.”

4. “Feet” or “foot”

Short for square footage, which is the commonly used measurement for structures in real estate.

When evaluating a commercial property, one of the first things you should know is the total square footage and how much space it currently occupies. Since commercial agents talk square footage amongst each other and with clients all day long, many times one can just mention the number of square feet and drop the “square” since that’s already assumed.

Example on how this commercial real estate phrase is used:

“The office is available for lease at $10 a foot, plus utilities.”

5. “Hair on it”

This is probably my all-time favorite commercial real estate phrase.

It means that a potential commercial real estate deal may have some complications and challenges to overcome before it is closed. These can range from things like environmental cleanup issues to unpaid taxes that must be addressed for the transaction to close.

Probably every commercial realty deal has some sort of “hair” on it, and the more complex it is, the more hair it will have.

In fact, it is very rare for any commercial transaction regardless of dollar amount to close without some sort of negotiation and realignment to achieve the highest and best use of the property.

And that’s exactly why it’s a smart business decision to always work with a commercial realty advisor who has the in-depth knowledge and experience to assist owners in addressing any “hair” on a deal to ensure they get a fair outcome from the transaction.

Why risk making a poor decision that costs you a lot of money, lost time, and energy when you can work with a professional whose responsibility it is to ensure you are making a smart decision regarding your commercial real estate investment and business.

Example on how this commercial real estate phrase is used:

“The deal has some hair on it due to the fact the current zoning doesn’t allow for industrial usage, but my commercial realty advisor says we can apply for a special use permit with the town by showing them how the project will create many new jobs and generate more tax revenue for the area.”


Simply knowing the language that commercial real estate agents are using everyday to conduct business will put you head and shoulders above the realm of comprehension most people have when it comes to commercial investing and development.

When you hear these commercial real estate phrases and begin using them yourself on a regular basis, you will align your vibration with the frequency of that which you can see in your mind’s eye (e.g. a successful commercial transaction).

While just using these commercial real estate phrases will make it sound like you know what you’re talking about, there is no substitute for actually doing the same things other successful commercial realty advisors and investors are doing on a daily basis to grow their business.

These include critically important actions like prospecting for new leads and choosing the right commercial real estate property management company to grow your revenue and generate infinite opportunities for new possibilities in commercial development that ultimately benefit all of humanity.

James K. Kim About James K. Kim

James K. Kim (Jim) is a commercial real estate advisor with Pyramid Brokerage Company of Albany, Inc. in the Capital Region of New York, specializing in helping business owners expand into new locations or sell/lease a commercial retail, office, industrial, or investment property.

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