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Unrealized Loss


Unrealized loss refers to the decrease in the value of an investment that is not yet sold, hence, it’s “unrealized”. It represents potential loss as the actual value is only determined when the investment is sold. Despite not being actualized, unrealized losses can impact an entity’s balance sheet and net asset value.


The phonetics for the keyword “Unrealized Loss” would be: un-ree-uh-liezd laws

Key Takeaways

<html><body><ol> <li>Unrealized Loss refers to a decrease in value on a paper, meaning the loss has occurred in theory, but the asset or investment has not yet been sold to realize the loss.</li> <li>Unrealized Loss can apply to various investments like stocks, bonds, real estate, or other forms of assets. It effectively reflects the potential loss an investor would suffer if they were to sell the asset at the current market price.</li> <li>Until the asset is sold, Unrealized Loss remains a ‘paper loss’. Hence, it does not impact an investor’s actual capital or cash balance. However, it does impact the total value or net worth of the investor’s assets and investments.</li></ol></body></html>


Unrealized loss is a crucial concept in business and finance as it represents a reduction in an investment’s value that has not yet been cashed in. Investments are subject to fluctuations in the market, which can either increase (unrealized gain) or decrease their value. Unrealized loss occurs when the current market price is less than the price the investor paid, but they have not yet sold off the investment. It’s essential as it provides investors and businesses with invaluable insight regarding the performance of their investments. Although it might seem problematic initially, an unrealized loss only translates into an actual loss if the asset is sold for a price lower than the initial cost.


Unrealized loss is a key financial concept that offers insight into the potential negative impact of investment decisions. The primary purpose of tracking unrealized loss is to get a clear view of what the financial outcome would be if assets were sold under the current market conditions. Unrealized losses, also referred to as “paper losses” are theoretical losses in the value of an investment caused by a decrease in the market price of the asset, but they have not yet resulted in actual financial loss because the asset has not been sold. It provides a current estimate of what an investor stands to lose, enabling possible proactive strategic measures and decision making in a volatile market.The use of unrealized loss is especially salient when handling an investment portfolio. It helps an investor to define whether to keep or sell the asset by estimating potential losses. When the market value of a specific investment decreases below its purchase price, the unrealized loss helps to identify this. However, it also emphasizes that losses will not turn real unless the investment is sold. Therefore, it allows investors to make decisions based on the prospective future performance of the asset, rather than committing to a loss. In other words, the use of unrealized loss can guide strategic investment decisions by illuminating potential losses, thus preventing hasty selling in response to temporary market declines.


Unrealized loss, also known as a paper loss, happens when the current price of a financial asset is lower than the price an investor paid for it, but the investor has not yet sold the asset. Here are three real-world examples:1. Stocks: Suppose you purchased 100 shares of Company X at $50 per share, for a total investment of $5000. If the current market price drops to $45, the value of your shares becomes $4500. Your unrealized loss in this situation is $500 ($5000 – $4500) because you haven’t sold the shares. If the stock price recovers before you sell, the unrealized loss could potentially be eliminated.2. Real Estate: Let’s say you bought a property for $300,000 and due to changes in the market, the value of the property decreases to $275,000. If you do not sell the property at the decreased value, you have an unrealized loss of $25,000.3. Bonds: If you buy a bond for $2000 and due to interest rate fluctuations, the bond’s current market value drops to $1800, your unrealized loss is $200. This loss remains unrealized unless you decide to sell the bond at the lower price.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is an unrealized loss?

An unrealized loss is a decrease in the value of an investment that has not yet been sold. Therefore, the loss only exists on paper, and no actual money has been lost.

Can an unrealized loss impact my financial statement?

Yes, unrealized losses are taken into account when assessing the overall value of your portfolio, and can have an impact on your business’ financial statement.

How is an unrealized loss calculated?

An unrealized loss is calculated by subtracting the current market value of a security from its purchase price.

When does an unrealized loss become a realized loss?

An unrealized loss becomes a realized loss once the asset is sold at a price lower than the initial purchasing price.

Do unrealized losses affect tax liabilities?

No, unrealized losses do not affect tax liabilities unless the asset is sold and the loss is realized.

Does an unrealized loss mean I should sell my investment?

Not necessarily. It’s important to consider the long-term performance and potential of the investment. Selling should be based on a comprehensive understanding of the investment and market trends rather than short-term changes in value.

Can an unrealized loss turn into an unrealized gain?

Yes, if the market value of the investment increases above the original purchase price, the investment could turn from an unrealized loss into an unrealized gain.

What is the opposite of unrealized loss?

The opposite of unrealized loss is an unrealized gain, which occurs when the current market value is higher than the purchase price, but the asset has not yet been sold.

Related Finance Terms

  • Mark-to-Market
  • Capital Loss
  • Asset Depreciation
  • Investment Portfolio
  • Balance Sheet

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