Yesterday’s post, The $7million Real-Estate Question(s), was aimed at the first-time investor, perhaps stuck on making their first real-estate investment (not home) purchase decision by the – perhaps too many – factors that they would need to consider.
In essence, what I said is: in a commodity market, buy the commodity at commodity prices … and wait!
Wait for what?
Ideally, forever … but, at least until the values have improved.
But, what kind of real-estate are commodities?
Houses and apartments in most areas are commodities; small multi-units (duplex / triplex / quadraplex) can be, too. Anywhere where there are lots of them near each other …
… preferably lots for sale, and fewer vacant [AJC: Too many vacancies can show an area that’s declining in population and/or jobs (with job growth being, by far, the most important of the two) … we don’t want that!].
Also, for residential property (that you don’t intend to live in) you really need to go for an area that will/can appreciate as it can be very difficult – if not impossible – to get them to cashflow-positive on a reasonable deposit (say, 10% – $20%).
Even so, my first two $7million Questions showed you the right type of market to buy in … which is, right now!
But, when evaluating more complex real-estate transactions, such as: commercial apartments (6 and above); offices and factories of all sizes … surely the The $7million Real-Estate Questions are not enough?
And, surely you are right …
These types of properties are sold as ‘businesses’ in that they have:
a. Income (or rent)
b. Expenses (or outgoings)
c. Taxes (unfortunately)
d. Profit/Loss (or Net Operating Income)
I will run you through how to analyse some of these types of property in future posts; for now, I want to tell you one way to assess these types of Investors’ Real-Estate that is NOT as important as you may be lead to believe, and another way that is MUCH MORE IMPORTANT.
Because commercial property runs at a profit (or loss) and has an Income Statement, people tend to buy (and sell) these types of rel-estate on the basis of their financial statements alone …
… and, not on the sale of comparable buildings around!
This is critical to understand – as it is totally opposite for the types of residential real-estate that most of us are used to.
The second thing to realize is that these buildings sell on a variety of bases, but usually the ‘expert’ real-estate acquirer will assess the Net Operating Income during Due Diligence and buy for a multiple of that … there is usually a multiplier [AJC: that the real-estate books that you read will all say is around 10 … but, these days in many of the hotter markets in the US and overseas, it will be as high as 12 to 16 – or even more when things get crazy].
This is called a Capitalization Rate or simply Cap. Rate.
This is just another way of saying that when you buy the building, it will return 10% of the Purchase Price (for a cap. rate of 10) by way of Net Operating Income (which should improve as you increase rents).
A larger Cap. Rate when you talk “times” (or smaller when you express it as a %) is BAD for purchasing (but, great for selling if you can increase the rents a lot!); here’s why:
A 12 times Cap. Rate means that a $1,000,000 property will only return (NOI or Profit) a little over 8%
A 16 times Cap. Rate means that a $1,000,000 property will only return (NOI or Profit) a little over 6%
So, a serious investor will pull out all the numbers, take a look at the Cap. Rate and make a decision whether to buy (obviously, there will be a lot of other factors … this will drive the financial decision).
How will they typically make that decision?
Well, they’ll compare the % return to what the cost of funds are … if they can make enough to cover the mortgage … then they’re in. So, with a Cap. Rate of 8% and Mortgage Interest rates at, say, 7%, it’s slim … but, they’re in front!
Cap. Rates are really useful, when you can a property for, say, $1,000,000 – add $50,000 of renovations that allow you to increase rents by 10% … all of a sudden, your property is now worth $1,100,000 – a 100% Return on your $50k rehab. investment!
But the Cap. Rate alone doesn’t give you the true picture for the original purchase decision … there’s a MUCH better way to look at the financial decision … first, here’s why:
A. Your investment in real-estate is only the deposit – typically 25% (plus Closing Costs) on commercial
B. The Bank’s investment in real-estate is the mortgage – typically 75%
But, you get the ‘return’ or the Net Operating Income on the entire building …
Because of this wonderful benefit of buy-and-hold, income-producing real-estate, the ‘right’way to value an investment is by it’s return on what YOU put in: it’s called your Cash-on-Cash Return.
So if you put in 25% deposit on a $1,000,000 building with a Cap. Rate that’s returning 1% over the mortgage rate, then you are getting:
1. 8% return for the 25% that you put in, plus
2. A ‘free’ 1% for each matching 25% that the Bank puts in – since they put in the other 75% that’s another 3% effective return.
All of a sudden that ‘small’ 8% return that seems only a little above the bank’s interest rate of 7% swells into a real 11% Return on your money [AJC: most investors will look for a return on their money (in real-estate) in the 10% – 20% range; this requirement will increase as Mortgage Interest Rates increase] … and, we haven’t even counted on any appreciation, yet (!):
i) As Rents increase, so does your return because YOU don’t have to put in any more money … inflation does all the work for you!
Example: if interest rates remain the same (and, they will because you DID fix them, right?), but the rents go up a mere 4% per year over costs (and, they will because you DID put a ratchet clause in the lease, right?), in just three years the building’s 8% return will swell to 9% …
… and your cash-on-cash return will jump to 9% + (3 x 2%) = 15% – try getting thatin CD’s, Bonds or Stock Funds!
ii) As the building appreciates, so does your future return, even though you can’t cash on this right now (unless you refinance, of course).
Example: If cap rates don’t change (that, unfortunately, is up to the market), the 4% increase in rents will ALSO increase the value of the property by 4%. Which sounds great, until you realize that you only put up 25% of that …
… so, YOUR return increases by 16% – try doing that with Stocks!
Now, how does a 30% return (half now, half when you sell) sound to you? And, what happens if you hold for a little longer?
You do the math!