Answering Our Brokerage Clients’ Most Commonly Asked Questions: What is the Difference Between an LOI, Lease Agreement, PSA, and an RFP?

April 29, 2024
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Welcome back to our blog series, where we answer our clients’ most pressing questions about commercial real estate. This post will demystify four important documents that are frequently used in commercial real estate transactions: the Letter of Intent (LOI), Lease Agreement, the Purchase and Sale Agreement (PSA), and the Request for Proposal (RFP). Understanding these documents and when to use them is crucial for navigating commercial property deals effectively.

Letter of Intent (LOI)

A Letter of Intent (LOI) is a preliminary document that outlines the basic terms and conditions of a potential commercial real estate transaction. It serves as a non-binding agreement between the buyer and seller or landlord and tenant, laying the groundwork for further negotiations and formal agreements. The LOI typically includes key terms such as:

  • Property Description: Details of the property involved in the transaction.
  • Purchase Price or Lease Terms: The proposed price for purchase or rental terms for a lease.
  • Due Diligence Period: The time frame allowed for the buyer or tenant to inspect the property and review pertinent documents.
  • Closing Date: The anticipated date for completing the transaction.
  • Contingencies: Any conditions that must be met for the deal to proceed.

Example: Let’s say you’re a tenant looking to lease a commercial space. You might use an LOI to propose renting a 5,000-square-foot office at a specified address, with a lease term of five years at $25 per square foot per year. The LOI could state that you would like the landlord to warranty all building systems for 10 days, a right to expand into a vacant adjacent suite, or how much covered parking you require. These are just a few of many examples. 

The LOI is essential because it helps both parties agree on the fundamental aspects of the deal before investing time and resources into drafting more detailed and binding contracts.

Purchase and Sale Agreement (PSA)

A Purchase and Sale Agreement (PSA) is a comprehensive and legally binding contract that finalizes the terms and conditions of a real estate transaction. It is the result of successful negotiations following the LOI and includes detailed provisions that protect the interests of both buyer and seller. Key elements of a PSA include:

  • Purchase Price: The agreed-upon price for the property.
  • Earnest Money Deposit: A deposit made by the buyer to demonstrate their intent to purchase the property. The deposit is typically held in escrow and may be credited towards the purchase price at closing or forfeited if the buyer defaults.
  • Property Description: Detailed description and legal address of the property.
  • Title and Survey: Provisions related to title insurance and property survey requirements.
  • Representations and Warranties: Statements of fact made by the seller regarding the condition and status of the property.
  • Closing Conditions: Specific conditions that must be met before the transaction can close, such as financing and inspection contingencies.
  • Default and Remedies: Terms outlining what happens if either party defaults on the agreement.

Example: Imagine you’re buying a commercial property. The PSA might detail that the property is a 25,000-square-foot warehouse located on a specific assessor’s parcel number. The purchase price is $7.5 million, with an earnest money deposit of $100,000 held in escrow. The PSA would include provisions that the seller provides a clean title and a recent survey, and it might state that the property must pass environmental inspections and that the buyer must secure financing within 60 days. Representations might include the seller guaranteeing that the property is free of hazardous materials and that all systems (electrical, plumbing, etc.) are in working order.

The PSA is crucial because it legally binds both parties to the agreed-upon terms and provides a clear roadmap for the transaction, including dispute resolution mechanisms.

Request for Proposal (RFP)

A Request for Proposal (RFP) is a document issued by a potential tenant or buyer to solicit detailed proposals from landlords or sellers. The RFP outlines the specific requirements and criteria that the tenant or buyer is looking for in a property. Key components of an RFP include:

  • Property Specifications: Detailed requirements for the property, such as size, location, amenities, and infrastructure.
  • Financial Terms: Budget constraints and preferred financial arrangements.
  • Timeline: Desired timeframe for occupancy or completion of the transaction.
  • Proposal Submission Guidelines: Instructions on how to submit proposals, including deadlines and required documentation.

Example: Suppose you’re a company seeking a new office space. Your RFP might specify that you need a 15,000-square-foot office within 10 miles of the airport, with parking for at least 50 vehicles, a full kitchen, and high-speed internet. You could set a timeline requiring occupancy within six months and provide guidelines for submission, asking for detailed proposals including floor plans, lease terms, and information about the building’s energy efficiency and hours of operation.

The RFP is a valuable tool because it enables the tenant or buyer to compare multiple proposals based on their specific needs and criteria, fostering a competitive environment. While in theory it should lead to better terms and conditions, with some landlord’s it’s better just to send an LOI to start negotiations and verify information. 

Lease Agreements

Lease Agreements are binding contracts between a landlord and tenant that outline the terms and conditions for renting a commercial property. These agreements detail the rights and responsibilities of both parties and typically include:

  • Lease Term: The duration of the lease, including start and end dates.
  • Rent and Payment Terms: The amount of rent, due dates, and acceptable payment methods.
  • Security Deposit: The amount required upfront as security for the landlord against potential damages or unpaid rent.
  • Maintenance and Repairs: Responsibilities for maintaining the property and making necessary repairs.
  • Use of Premises: Specific uses allowed for the property and any restrictions.
  • Termination Conditions: Conditions under which the lease can be terminated early by either party.
  • Renewal Options: Terms for renewing the lease at the end of the term.

Example: Consider you’re leasing a retail space. Your lease agreement might specify a five-year term starting January 1, 2025, with monthly rent of $5,000 due on the first of each month. The agreement could require a security deposit of $10,000, refundable at the end of the lease term if no damages occur. Maintenance responsibilities might be split, with the tenant responsible for interior upkeep and the landlord handling structural repairs. Use of the premises might be limited to your specific trade, with additional restrictions on alterations to the premises without landlord approval. The agreement might also include a termination clause allowing either party to end the lease with six months’ notice under specific conditions and provide an option to renew for an additional five years at a predetermined rate.

Lease Agreements are essential because they provide a clear framework for the landlord-tenant relationship, ensuring both parties understand their obligations and rights, which helps prevent disputes and misunderstandings.

Key Differences

To summarize the distinctions between these documents:

LOI: A preliminary, non-binding agreement that outlines the basic terms and conditions of a potential transaction. It is a tool that sets the stage for more detailed negotiations.

PSA: A legally binding contract that finalizes the terms of a real estate transaction. It includes detailed provisions and protects the interests of both parties.

RFP: A document that solicits detailed proposals from landlords or sellers, outlining the specific requirements and criteria of the tenant or buyer. It helps in comparing multiple offers to find the best match.

Lease Agreement: A binding contract that details the terms and conditions for renting a commercial property, ensuring clear understanding between landlord and tenant.


Understanding the differences between an LOI, PSA, RFP, and Lease Agreement is crucial for anyone involved in commercial real estate transactions. Each document serves a unique purpose and plays a critical role in the negotiation and execution of property deals. At MDL Group, we are here to guide you through every step of the process, ensuring that you have the knowledge and support needed to make informed decisions.

As the market leader in Las Vegas Commercial Property Management and Brokerage, we are committed to not just meeting, but to surpassing the expectations of our clients. One of the contributing factors to that success is transparency.

We believe in being open and honest with our clients and will never play the stereotypical  “broker game”—for example, telling you we have hidden buyers then having you drop the price later. To that end, we have compiled a list of our clients’ most commonly asked questions and will publish the answers as a series of blogs.

For more answers to your commercial real estate questions, please visit our LEARNING CENTER

The next blog in our series of “Answering Our Brokerage Clients’ Most Commonly Asked Questions” will be “How do Commercial Property Commissions work in Las Vegas for selling or leasing?”

Everything starts with a conversation. Please let us know how we can help! Contact MDL Group.

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