How To Buy A Rental Property Investment

rental property investment

Owning a real estate rental property investment is one of the most time-tested ways to build wealth and generate income.

Here are three things to consider when buying a rental property investment.

A Rental Property Investment Isn’t Your Home

Many beginning real estate investors make the mistake of buying a rental property investment the same way they would buy a home to live in themselves.

They focus more on the amenities-  lush backyard, high-end fixtures & appliances, and a swimming pool – than looking at the property as a business.    True, items like these will attract tenants.  But they will also be more expensive to maintain, repair, and replace when damaged beyond repair.

Experienced rental property real estate investors prefer to buy a basic home with minimal upgrades and amenities.  Doing this allows for a quicker turn between tenants and less expensive repairs when needed.

Go Where The Renters Are

An easy way to determine where to buy a rental property investment is to buy in areas where there are already apartments or smaller multi family dwellings.

While doing this might sound like common sense, it’s surprising how many beginning investors in real estate don’t do this.

Apartment building developers & property managers have already done the heavy lifting.  They’ve figured out where the renters are and what the market rents are for the area.  Rather than reinventing the wheel, savvy smaller rental real estate investors simply adapt to what the big players have already done.

Treat Your Rental Property Investment Like A Business

As a small real estate investor it’s very easy to get caught up in tenant drama.

Remember, the tenant is your customer and not your friend.  You’re providing a nice place for them to live.  In exchange you expect the monthly rent to be paid in full and on time, each and every month, and the property to be well kept.

Experienced real estate investors know that once they allow a tenant to pay the rent late it will quickly become the norm and not the exception.

How To Calculate A CAP Rate

calculate a cap rate

There are two pieces of information that real estate investors need in order to calculate  a CAP rate or Capitalization Rate:

  1. NOI or net operating income of the asset
  2. Sales price or current market value of the asset

CAP rates are useful for comparing the performance of a real estate investment to similar properties in the market, to calculate what a sales price should be based on the property’s NOI, and determining what the net operating income should be based on the CAP rate of a property that’s for sale.

The CAP rate calculation can be used for residential and multifamily property, commercial investments, and even land.

Formula To Calculate A CAP Rate

The formula used in a CAP rate calculation is pretty straightforward:

CAP Rate = NOI / Sales Price

Let’s say we have a small multi family rental property investment that is generating $100,000 in net operating income each year.  The owner decides to sell and lists the apartment building for sale for $2 million.

The CAP rate is: $100,000 NOI / $2,000,000 Sales price = 5% CAP rate

Why Is A CAP Rate Used?

In addition to comparing alternative real estate investments in the same market, the CAP rate formula can also be used for calculating what a sales price should be and in determining what a property’s net operating income should be based on CAP rates for similar properties.

For example, if our apartment building above is listed for sale with an asking price of $2.5 million and market CAP rates for similar properties are 5%, then the property’s NOI should be:

$2.5 million x 5% = $125,000 per year

Based on the capitalization rate calculation the property is over priced compared to its peers.  Now, maybe there’s a good reason for this or maybe not.  That’s up to the buyer and seller to determine.

What Is A Good CAP Rate?

CAP rates for specific asset classes vary from market to market and sometimes even from neighborhood to neighborhood.

A good CAP rate for one investor will be a not so good CAP rate for another investor.  That’s one reason why it’s dangerous to call a CAP rate good or bad in and of itself.

But capitalization rates are useful for quickly comparing one real estate investment to another, and also return on investment for specific asset classes from one market to another.