Thought Leadership |

Five Benefits of Sale-leasebacks Over Traditional Debt Financing

With interest rates rising, sale-leasebacks may be a more attractive option for corporate owners

By: W. P. Carey Editorial Team

In today’s economic environment, having access to capital is crucial in order to maintain ongoing operations and invest in growth. However, with interest rates rising, traditional debt financing is becoming less attractive for companies, leading some CFOs to investigate alternative sources of capital. For companies that own real estate, one method worth exploring is the sale-leaseback – where a company sells its real estate to an investor for cash and simultaneously enters into a long-term lease. 

For companies considering a sale-leaseback, here are five key benefits of this alternative capital solution: 

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Convert an illiquid asset into working capital
The primary benefit of a sale-leaseback is the ability to immediately convert an illiquid asset into liquid capital to meet both short- and long-term needs, such as paying off debt, purchasing new equipment or investing in growth initiatives. From an accounting perspective, sale-leasebacks can also help boost a company’s balance sheet by putting them in a better cash position and improving their debt-to-equity ratio, enabling them to secure more attractive debt financing in the future should they need it. 


Unlock 100% of the property's value
Sale-leasebacks enable companies to extract 100% fair market value for their real estate, compared to about 80% or less for a mortgage loan. With real estate valuations at all-time highs due to increased investor competition and high demand for assets, sale-leasebacks will likely yield more cash than traditional financing, enabling corporate sellers to maximize proceeds and invest more capital back into their business. 


Benefit from long-term financing
With traditional debt, companies typically have to refinance after three, five or ten years which can create interest rate and risk exposure to future economic downturns. Through sale-leasebacks, sellers sign a long-term lease – often 20 to 30 years – and lock in an attractive long-term rental rate that creates security and predictability for a company. The ability to lock in an attractive long-term rental rate today is especially advantageous in the current rising rate environment. 


Maintain operational control and flexibility
Compared to other types of financing, sale-leasebacks offer sellers more control over the structure and terms of the deal. Sale-leaseback financing typically does not include restrictive debt covenants or balloon payments and can include flexibility for future growth, such as capital for an expansion. When structured as a triple-net lease, the seller maintains full operational control of the property, avoiding disruption to the day-to-day operation of the business. 

Gain a long-term capital partner
One of the most overlooked benefits of a sale-leaseback is the potential to gain a long-term partner with the capital to support future real estate needs including, expansions, build-to-suits of new commercial properties, renovations, green energy installations and more. Long-term real estate investors like WPC are committed to owning the property for the duration of the lease and beyond, and are willing to invest capital into the building well after the lease is signed to ensure the property is meeting the tenant’s long-term needs. 


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