How Hard Is Your Investment Working

Assessing Return on Equity

When to sell an investment property depends on many factors, including: the likelihood of future appreciation, the cash flow it produces, the ease or difficulty of managing the property, and the property’s fit in an investor’s overall investment portfolio.

A real estate investor should not overlook a simple measure to determine how hard their invested dollars are working: the property’s Return on Equity.

By analyzing return on equity, a real estate investor can compare a particular property with other potential investments in an effort to maximize the return on their investment equity.

Example: A small quad (4 units) was purchased several years ago on very favorable terms. It produces a nice cash flow that resulted in an extraordinary 20% return the first year. Even with the following assumptions, which would produce a high return on equity, the return falls to less than 5% after 7 years.

    • 10% down payment
    • 90% Loan-to-Value (LTV), 7% fixed mortgage over 30 years
    • Appreciation at an average of 4% per year
    • Annual net income increasing by 2% per year
Year Value Debt (7%)EquityEquity as % of ValueAnnual Net IncomeReturn on Equity
1300,000270,00030,00010.0%6,00020.0%
2312,000267,02044,98014.4%6,12013.6%
3324,480264,06260,41818.6%6,24210.3%
4337,459260,89076,56922.6%6,3678.3%
5350,957257,48993,46826.6%6,4946.9%
6364,995253,842111,15330.4%6,6245.9%
7379,595249,931129,66434.1%6,7565.2%
8394,779245,737149,04237.7%6,8914.6%
9410,570241,241169,32941.2%7,0284.1%
10426,993236,419190,57444.6%7,1683.7%
11444,073231,249212,82447.9%7,3113.4%
12461,836225,705236,13151.1%7,4573.1%
13480,309219,760260,54954.2%7,6062.9%
14499,522213,385286,13757.2%7,7582.7%
15519,502206,550312,95260.2%7,9132.5%
16540,282192,220348,06264.4%8,0712.3%
17561,894191,361370,53365.9%8,2322.2%
18584,370182,934401,43668.6%8,3962.0%
19607,744173,897433,84771.3%8,5631.9%
20632,054164,207467,84774.0%8,7341.8%

As evidenced in the chart above, the investor in this example has a return on equity that starts diminishing significantly after about 7 years of ownership. In order to continue obtaining a much better return on invested equity, an investor should consider exchanging this one investment property after 5-7 years and acquiring multiple replacement investment properties. Later, the investor will benefit again by exchanging these investment properties and exchanging into more (or larger) properties with leverage that will continue to produce a higher return on their equity.


About Dana Ash-McGinty 66 Articles
Dana Ash-McGinty is the Principal Broker of Ash McGinty, a Washington, DC Real Estate Brokerage. This real estate maven has 15+ years experience in residential, commercial and land sales in addition to multi-state residential renovation, re-zoning, and condo conversion projects. A sought after real estate authority, she has been featured on CNN and in various real estate and financial publications. Dana is married to the highly esteemed Dr. Dana W. McGinty, a Washington, DC based internal medicine physician. They are often referred to as "The Danas".

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