An unrealized holding gain is an increase in the value of an asset that a business or individual continues to hold. This gain has not yet been reported as a realized gain on the entity's income statement. Once the asset has been sold, the gain is considered to be realized. For example, an investor owns property that originally cost $500,000. The market value of the property has since increased to $800,000, resulting in a $300,000 unrealized holding gain.
Assets are frequently held even after a gain in their value has occurred, either in expectation of a further gain, or because the owner does not want to pay taxes on the gain.