3 Real Estate Investing Calculations You Must Know

by Dave Peniuk

As part of our 31 Real Estate Investing Videos series I put together this short little video on 3 real estate investing calculations you gotta know!! These are calculations I see plenty of realtors, real estate investors and media reporters getting wrong…  and yet, they are critical to know and understand.

In case you haven’t signed up for our series (WHY HAVEN’T YOU?!! – It’s 31 FREE videos jam packed with some of our best tips & resources!) … or you missed this video …  here it is:

What are some of the real e state investing calculations YOU use? Let us know in the comments below!


Filed under Real Estate Investing Video Tips

14 responses to “3 Real Estate Investing Calculations You Must Know

  1. Nice video! It’s very simply put and easy to understand. It’s interesting when some investors and also sometimes real estate agents use potential gross income (instead of “gross income” aka the actual amount of gross income received) in their calculations. This can really turn a deal upside down if calculating on potential gross income since it’s not based on an actual figure. Also, I find some who don’t account for vacancy rates (or underrate them) and/or maintenance costs. These are all factors to consider when doing calculations – I find it best to be more realistic and practical rather than basing numbers on a “hunch” or a feeling when making calculations. Very informative video, good information here. Looking forward to checking out more of your videos, thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks for your comments mobilehomegurl!

      I could not agree more with your comment regarding Potential Gross Income vs. Actual (or Current) Gross Income. It is often a HUGE difference! I see so many investors thinking they are buying a good deal because the Potential Income is twice what the actual income is…thinking it will be “easy” to just raise the rents to market level and they will be flooded with cash. The fact is, it is often much much more difficult to move the Actual Income to realize the suggested Potential Income. And Real Estate Agents are often guilty of showing (and emphasizing) the Pro-Forma Analysis (which is based on the Potential, not the current or actual income).
      The savvy investors see thru this and can work on the actual numbers and determine if the Potential Income is realizable or not. THAT’s where the money is made!
      p.s. I like Terminology Tuesday blog posts! : )

      • Sure, you’re welcome – nice to meet you! I can definitely relate, it’s most times the “Pro-Forma” analysis that agents provide to prospective buyers with many income properties that are marketed. And, yes there are many investors who remain hopeful and use potential income (based on a feeling and their gut) to evaluate properties. It’s really interesting. Some I have even heard say, they know these #s will work even (though they have based it on potential income).

        Looking forward to reading more, you and Julie are great!

        p.s. Glad you like Terminology Tuesday, figured it would be helpful – thanks for reading!

  2. Great video Dave. I definitely learned something from this.

  3. Glad you liked it Eric B. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Another calculation I use quite a bit is DCR – Debt Coverage ratio.

    Operating Expenses/Principal+Interest = DCR

    Although having GRM above 9-11 would usually indicate a DCR of 1.1 and above, it is relative to mortgage rates. It helps me decide whether to add it to the portfolio.

  5. Thanks Quentin! Yes, a DCR is another great formula/calculation to be aware of and know.

    Unless I misunderstood what you noted, the Debt Coverage Ratio is calculated as:
    Net Operating Income / Debt Payment

    So, if your NOI = $50,000 per year and
    Debt Payment = $40,000 per year
    DCR = 1.25

    Generally, as you noted, a DCR of 1.1 and above is a pretty good buy. Once you get into 1.25 and up, then you have some serious positive cashflow!

    Thanks for stopping in and reminding us of the DCR Quentin!


  6. I like the simplicity of these formulas. As a wholesaler it’s good to run these calculations on all properties to see who your potential buyers might be.

    One question…

    Where do you get the operating expenses from? Is this something that the current owner supplies? And if so can you trust those numbers? Ok that was actually 3 questions.

  7. Good question(s) Scott!

    If the property is listed, you’ll be able to obtain some of the Op Exp. from the Listing Realtor – taxes for instance are usually on the listing sheet or the Agent will have them. Things like Insurance (you’ll want to have a good Ins. Broker to help you with that), Heat/Hydro/Electricity bills etc. you’ll need to ask the Seller and/or the Agent for those. We usually ask for copies of the past 3-6 months to give us a ballpark for those bills.

    As for Property Management, we suggest if you don’t already have a PM in that area, you make some calls to find out A – if they will Manage a property such as the one you are looking at, and B – what their fees are.

    Maintenance is always a tough one to estimate, but this comes with experience. If it’s a brand new home or less than 5 years old, it’s likely to be 5% or less of the Rental income. As it gets older OR if it hasn’t been maintained well, you’re probably better off pushing that to 10% of rental income. This also depends on whether it’s a single, duplex, triplex, etc. The more units there are, the higher the percentage.

    Hope that helps Scott!


  8. The formulas are really easy to pick up. Thank you for this, this is realy helpful to me! CHeers! keep posting.

  9. iAn W.

    Great video Dave, it is one of the most useful videos that I watch. With the help of this video I learn how to calculate NOI (Net operating Income), Cap Rate (Capitalization Rate) and GRM (Gross Rent Multiplier). Giving an example on each calculation also helps a lot to understand it a lot easier. I am planning to be a real estate investor and for now I’m just getting more information about it that may serve as my resources. I also watch this video about an Australian investor talks about US property investment. That also helps me a lot. This video discusses more information about real estate investment. It also gives some tips where to invest and what are the things you need to consider before investing. I hope this can also help others who are planning to invest. Feel free to check the video here.

  10. Thanks for the videos, they ae really usefull and simple to understand

  11. Chris

    I just read on your website how you were discouraging someone from investing in Windsor. Saskatchewan you say…we moved from Vancouver to SK in 2007 just before the crash and properties were reasonable, considering the insane crime rates and winters. Look we bought a restaurant and house on an acre for 11000. And we have built a successful business despite the recession. And housing prices have gone up since we moved here, which is great cause we cannot wait to leave. In the small town we are in you might as well sit you kid in front of a tv as they will receive a better education than at any school in this area. The reason I left this comment in this article is because when you do the calculations on investment properties it is hard to beat Windsor. Where else will you buy a property for 50000 that will generate 18000/y in rent? Not in Vancouver 🙂

    • Thanks for your comments Chris. You make a point about how the numbers work much better (at least on paper) in Windsor vs. somewhere like Vancouver. The challenge with investing is that you shouldn’t just look at the numbers. You should also look at the market you are investing in (is it a strong, stable market that is desirable for people to keep wanting to move there) AND the bigger, more important thing to look at is does that market make SENSE for you to buy there. Will owning investment property in that market serve you and your goals or will it take away from them. In other words, if you live in, lets say Saskatchewan, and decide to invest in Windsor (cuz the numbers look so good), how are you going to buy great properties, build a strong team, oversee your portfolio and make sure it’s being managed the best way possible and attracting the best tenants possible? It won’t be easy. You will either have to fly there several times a year (and flying ain’t free!) or basically fully trust your team to do a great job of managing your properties. If you like handing over your assets to be managed by someone else in a faraway place, more power to you! But, for me, I like more control of my assets. Cuz no one will take better care of them (and my money) better than I will.

      For me personally, the numbers are important but buying the kinds of properties in a location that suits my personality and my goals in life are most important to me.

      Thanks for your thoughts Chris!


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