Sunday, November 18, 2007

Real Estate Investing Returns Calculations

Calculating projected returns can be of paramount importance when deciding on whether or not to pull the trigger on any particular investment property whether it be here in Kansas City or elsewhere. After all, real estate investing is about securing a return. Without that return your money would do better to be somewhere else.


So before buying that next "income" property you need to know whether there will be any income. (That's why I get paid the big dollars.)
Of course how you calculate that return is completely up to you. Jeff Brown recently discussed his Einsteinian theory over at BawldGuy. See the post here. And a nice little Q&A session happened in the comments section so be sure to read those, as well.
Let me just say that I prefer to know what the equity return on any investment property will be before I buy it. What is equity return? Quite simply it's how much I am receiving in benefits divided by how much I have invested.

Remember the 4 Benefits of real estate investing?
  1. Cash flow before taxes.
  2. Principal reduction.
  3. Depreciation.
  4. Appreciation.

Let's take the calculation of these step by step.

#1 was cash flow before taxes. Simple enough. Just take the amount the property is actually bringing in and subtract the amount the investment property is actually costing you. What's left over is your cash flow before taxes.

#2 was principal reduction. Again, quite simple to figure out based on the loan you have taken out. If you took out an interest only loan (you're welcome, Jeff) then you won't have any. If you have taken out almost any other kind of loan you can just look at your amortization table and figure out how much principal reduction there should be in any given year for your rental home.

#3 is depreciation. Okay, I could do an entire post here. Or two. If you are breaking down your depreciation between land and building only then you depreciate the building over 27.5 years. Rather simple to calculate and all you have to do to figure out the number is to refer to a depreciation table as to when you put your rental property into service.

If you choose to accelerate your depreciation through cost segregation then you will need to do some more figuring. But it's really only a few more steps. Although, that may be over simplifying things.

#4 is appreciation. Wow! Have you ever tried to predict appreciation? How did that work out for you? Listen, you can guess at what it will be and be awfully darn sure of what it was. But when figuring out if an investment property will be a good buy RIGHT NOW you are going to want to buy a rental property that will make sense based on the previous 3 benefits of real estate investing. Then appreciation is icing on the cake! And you wouldn't buy a cake unless you knew it would have icing, right? (I know, there's pineapple upside down cake. But let's move on.)

Again, before buying your next Kansas City real estate investment property you need to know before you buy whether or not that was a good idea. Take the time to work through your calculations to see if the rental property will be a good buy or a drain on your current resources. After knowing you are making a good investment then you can go back to planning your retirement worth having.

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