Why evaluating CAP and ROI are so important in deals

Knowing what property to acquire remains one of the more difficult decisions for any investor. The good landlord looks at the financial numbers and tries to make decisions based on facts, and attempts to keep emotions in check.

The common way to evaluate different investment properties is through comparing CAP rates. CAP rates are determined by factoring all of the investment’s expenses (but not finance) and calculate that against the projected revenue. Too often, property management, repairs, maintenance and vacancy expenses are left out in determining a proper CAP figure.

But CAP shouldn’t tell the whole story in evaluating properties. An in-depth analysis should consider projected appreciation which will lead to a superior return on investment (ROI). Suppose you are offered two investment opportunities. One is located in Windsor Ont. and offers a true CAP rate of 8 per cent and another in Toronto that offers a CAP of less than 6 per cent. If CAP is the only component to consider, it is a no brainer. You buy the Windsor property.

I'm sure you've heard the expression that past returns are no guarantee for future success. That is certainly true. But, it can be an indication. You also look at an area and see the growth within it to help estimate potential future growth. Based on your research, you conservatively estimate that the Windsor property will grow at one to two per cent over the next five years.

Meanwhile, the Toronto property should appreciate at four to five per cent over that same period.

Now calculate the projected ROI over those next five years. Ensure to include the numbers used to calculate the CAP rates, but add in the mortgage pay down and the projected appreciation and you will likely find that the lower CAP rate property, with the better appreciation, winds up on top.

The other factor to consider is risk. If I'm going to take on a riskier venture, I want a better ROI. There is nothing wrong with a solid ROI on a low risk venture. If you acquire a well-maintained building in a desirable neighbourhood, one might be willing to sacrifice some ROI to add that property to their portfolio. However, if one is willing to acquire a property that will include higher risk ventures, such as dealing with environmental issues, tear down and rebuild, complete renovations etc., then one should be looking for an ROI that can support that risk.

No one can tell you what an acceptable return on investment should be for any venture for you. A low risk individual who is accustomed to investing in GIC’s will not require the same return on a deal as a person who is more willing to gamble with his money.

My advice is not to wait around for the home run deal. Find a cash flow generating property in fair to good condition, located in a market that you have researched and understand to be a desirable area to invest and buy it. You can certainly use numbers to convince yourself not to take action in any deal, but, in my experience, the investors that do the best are those that take action.

Investor and Realtor focused on cash flow generating properties in southern Ontario. Besides adding properties for his own portfolio within Oshawa, Cobourg and Orillia, Michael is building a joint venture team for these markets. As a realtor, with ReMax Jazz Brokerage, he uses those investor mindset skills to make a valued member of his clients' power teams. You can reach Michael at durhamhome@rogers.com and follow him on twitter @durhamhome or on his website http://www.durhamhome.ca/

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