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Valuing retail lease options through time: Volatility spread between different types of retailers

Jussi Vimpari (Department of Built Environment, Aalto University, Espoo, Finland)
Seppo Junnila (Department of Built Environment, Aalto University, Espoo, Finland)

Journal of Property Investment & Finance

ISSN: 1463-578X

Article publication date: 3 July 2017




Retail properties are a perfect example of a property class where revenues determine the rent for the property owners. Estimating the value of new retail developments is challenging, as the initial revenues can have a significant variance from the long-term revenue levels. Owners and tenants try to manage this problem by introducing different kind of options, such as overage rent and extension rights, to the lease contracts. The purpose of this paper is to value these options through time for different types of retailers, using real-life data with a method that can be easily applied in practice.


This paper builds upon the existing papers on real option studies but has a strong practical focus, which has been identified as a challenge in the field. The paper presents simple mathematical equations for valuing overage rent and extension options. The equations capture the value related to uncertainty (volatility) that is missed by standard valuation practices.


The results indicate that overage and extension options can represent a significant proportion of retail lease contract’s value and their value is heavily time-dependent. The option values differ greatly between tenants, as the volatilities can have a large spread across tenants. The paper suggests that the applicability of option pricing theory and calculus should not be considered as an insurmountable barrier any more, rather a greater challenge for the practical adaptability of the method can be the availability of real-life data that is a common problem in real option analysis.

Practical implications

The value of extension and overage options varies greatly between tenants. In general, the property owner can try balance the positive effects from the overage rents to the negative effects of tenant extensions. However, this study tries to highlight that, as usual, using the “law of averages” can result into poor valuation in this context as well. Even the data used in this study provide valuable findings for the property owner as an analytical deduction can be made that certain types of tenants have higher volatilities and this should be acknowledged when valuing options within lease contracts.


Previous literature in this topic often takes the input data for the option valuation as granted rather than trying to identify the real-life data available for the calculation. This is a common problem in real options valuation and it seems to be one of the reasons why option valuation has not been used widely in practice. This study has used real-life data to assess the problem and more importantly assessed the data across different types of tenants. The volatility spread between different types of tenants has not been discussed previously, even though it has a significant importance when using option pricing in practice.



LocalTapiola Real Estate Asset Management Ltd has funded this project and provided information for the case study. KTI provided data for the revenues.


Vimpari, J. and Junnila, S. (2017), "Valuing retail lease options through time: Volatility spread between different types of retailers", Journal of Property Investment & Finance, Vol. 35 No. 4, pp. 369-381.



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