Commercial real estate vacancy is a key indicator of property market efficiency, economic performance and urban resilience. However, there has been little conceptual reflection into the abstract notion of vacancy beyond binary distinctions of natural and structural vacancy. Although useful simplifying meta-concepts, neither accounts for the internal complexity and imperfection that permeates real commercial property markets. Consequently, the objective of this article is to outline a conceptual framework that describes vacancy across the commercial real estate building life-cycle – from initial construction to final demolition and redevelopment. The originality of the research rests in its utility as the first known holistic examination of commercial real estate vacancy beyond that of an abstract economic factor, while its value is explicit in the conceptual typology which can be used by researchers interested in market imperfections and consequent interventions.