Jul 26, 2010
This blog often deals with subjects that border on the abstract when it comes to the nuts and bolts of real estate investing. I recently viewed a spreadsheet used by a full-time real estate investor, one also used by many of this investor's acquaintances in the same line of work. This post is devoted to me explaining what factors they are using in their spreadsheet to calculate returns.
I will be focusing on a spreadsheet for the so-called "buy and hold" strategy -- buy, rent out, and hold indefinitely. We do not assume the property will be sold any time soon but, of course, capital appreciation comes in to calculating total return. So lets get into it.
(Note, I do not have permission to share this spreadsheet directly, however I will summarise how its calculations are performed as well as what inputs are used.)
The first input into the spreadsheet is purchase price. We add into this closing costs and taxes, as well as any renovations that need to be performed before occupancy:
Total Price = Purchase Price + Closing Costs + Renovations
The major source of revenue for a property is rent. Here we use the anticipated annual rent from the property. There may be additional income sources, including: parking, vending, storage, interest income (e.g. on capital reserve), laundry, et cetera.
Operating expenses are the ongoing costs of maintaining the property. These would include property taxes, insurance, vacancy loss, advertising, repairs, management, strata fees, etc.
A big operating expense that is often overlooked by much of the analysis I see online is the so-called "capital cost allowance" which is effectively building up a reserve for capital replacement. This is, in the extreme, building up a reserve for building replacement but also includes large or small renovations that inevitably occur as the building ages.
After determining our purchase price and costs, revenues, and operating expenses, we can calculate a few common values used by investors to determine their return. These are listed below:
Net Operating Income (NOI) = Revenue - Operating Expenses
Cap Rate = NOI/(Purchase Price) *
Gross Rent Multiiple (GRM) = (Purchase Price)/Revenue
* Note one can substitute Purchase Price with Total Price.
None of these calculations take into account financing. They are straight calculations on the investment's operations. They are also based on current, not future, operations; rent or operating expense increases are not calculated. GRM is analogous to the "price to rent ratio" that local commenters like to refer to. (A price to monthly rent ratio R would be equal to GRM*12.)
Debt Service and Financing
Financing is simply where the money to purchase the property comes from. It is either from the investor directly or through borrowing from a lending institution. Total debt servicing is an expense. Debt servicing costs are highly dependent on the interest rate. For longer term calculations, this interest rate may need to be modified to account for higher or lower rolled over financing costs.
Closing costs is the amount of cash required to complete the purchase, equal to Total Cost - Debt. A typical amount for closing costs would be, say, 25% of Total Cost, though other ratios are of course possible.
Like most property, there will be some capital appreciation, usually expressed as an expected average percentage gain year-over-year.
Calculations after Financing and Appreciation
In a nutshell, a total return is comprised of: cash generation, debt repayment, and appreciation. After 1 year:
Cash on Cash Return (COC) = NOI/(Closing Costs)
Equity = (Purchase Price)*(1+Appreciation) + Cash - Debt
Return on Equity (ROE) = NOI/(Equity)
Total Return on Investment = Equity/Closing Costs - 1
NOI is annualised.
Stuff Not Done
As mentioned, there are things that are not calculated. Rental and expense increases, as well as debt repayment schedules are not calculated. There is a good reasons for this, in this particular case. The philosophy is that if the return after the first year is not positive, it generates no income for the investor. This is not sustainable without a large pool of cash to finance the shortfall -- these particular investors want to produce income.
Above are some of the formulas used by full-time residential property investors to calculate an investment's return. You can plug any property you see for sale on the market into these formulas into and come up with some typical figures, then play around with the financing costs and appreciation (both these have high sensitivity when it comes to calculating return). I'll go through a simple example next time.
These investors own property locally and are actively looking to invest in property in the current market. If you want to know who is looking to buy, it helps to understand what calculations and analysis they perform to determine a property's value and under what conditions they would buy.