Real Estate Investing Terms: Cash On Cash Return

When performing the Cash-on-Cash Return napkin test, I won’t further analyze anything that is below 12%. The target is 15% and higher but if we can still hit our $100/month cash-flow minimum, we’ll consider it with a lower CoCR.

real estate investing cash on cash return


Cash-on-Cash Return or CoCR

CoCR = annual cash flow before taxes divided by total cash invested

The best way I understand CoCR is like this. … For the scenarios below, let’s pretend I have $50,000 in my Pensacola bank account.  We’re going to make a lot of assumptions here, but remember this is just a napkin test.

Scenario 1: I pay $50,000 cash for a 2 bedroom/2 bath single family house that yields $700/month in rent and Cash Flows $300/month. Over the course of the year (assuming 100% occupancy) my Cash Flow is $3,600 (i.e. $300/month x 12 months). So I take that $3,600, divide it by the $50,000 I spent on purchasing the home and that yields a 7.2% Cash-on-Cash Return for this Pensacola house. Compared to the return I receive on my savings accounts, this is an improvement, but not what we’re looking for on a Pensacola real estate investment.

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Scenario 2: I pay the same $50,000 as a down payment on a $250,000 4-plex multifamily property (most Pensacola banks require 20% down on a rental property). This 4-plex is made up of 2 bedroom / 2 bath (just like our single family residence in Scenario 1). Each unit of our 4-plex brings in $150/month in cash-flow. Less cash flow than Scenario 1 to accommodate for the mortgage payment each month. Again, assuming 100% accuracy for the year, we now have $150/month x 12 months x 4 units = $7,200. Since we used the same $50,000 as a down payment, we divide $7,200 by that same $50,000, giving us a 14.4% Cash-on-Cash Return.

Actually, if this were a real world scenario, Scenario 2 is within range of passing the napkin test and would continue on through our Tripod of Investing Criteria It doesn’t hit the $200/month cash flow # just yet, but more due diligence will reveal if we can increase rents or add another source of revenue from the property to bring those #s up.

To compare, let’s say I just keep that same $50,000 in my Pensacola savings account. The current APR is <1% but sticking with easy math, let’s pretend it is 1%. My return on that “cash” is 1%, or, very horrible…only $500. Considering inflation rates, my return would actually be negative, but that topic is for another post.

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Cash-on-Cash Return (used in another way):

I recently changed insurance providers because of this one property and scenario. My insurance was coming up for renewal and thought, what the heck, let’s shop. Sure enough it was worth it. Once my, now new, insurance provider reviewed my policy and last home inspection, he came back with amazing news. If I installed Hurricane Clips on my roof, my premium would go down approx. $394/year. Cost to install the Hurricane Clips = $965, yielding a Cash-on-Cash Return of 40.8%. I’ll take it! More details of this scenario coming out in a future post. Stay tuned.

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How We Use Our Tripod of Adopted Investing Criteria

We consider appreciation extra icing and don’t acquire based on assumed appreciation, but we also don’t want to be put in a position to exit a property and be required to bring money to closing.


real estate investing pensacola fl

If you’ve been following us you know we have adopted a tripod of investing criteria we use to analyze ever potential acquisition. There are many criteria and tools used in real estate investing, but our current REI focus in the Pensacola area is buy & hold with an emphasis on cash flow. Since cash flow is the #1 goal, we start our analyzing there but each criteria I mention below must be met before we make an acquisition.

Prerequisite: Asset Must Rent @ 1-2% of Acquisition Costs
Also known as the 1 or 2% rule. I was introduced to this rule by the guys over @ and is the first hurdle any potential asset must leap for us to pursue any further. I try to analyze at least 3 Pensacola properties a day with this prerequisite. Takes approx. 15 minutes or less with this prereq and if it passes, we move onto Criteria #1: Cash Flow.

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The 1 or 2% rule is fairly straightforward – the asset must have a monthly rent of 1-2% of its potential acquisition costs. For example, using the 2% rule, if a potential asset has a total acquisition costs (purchase price, closing costs, capital expenses/repairs to make it livable) of $50,000, it must rent for $1,000/month. Knowing the rent values in our investment areas, makes this a quick prerequisite to jump through.

Criteria #1: Cash Flow is >=$100/Month Per Unit
I go into how we calculate cash flow on the Real Estate Investing Terms: Cash Flow post, but essentially you add up all your monthly expenses, subtract those expenses from gross rent. What you have left over is Cash Flow and our target here is $100/unit or in other words $100/door.

Criteria #2: Projected CoCR is >= 15%
Cash-on-Cash Return (CoCR) is a way we analyze Pensacola properties to see how they compare to one another, but also how well they compare against other non-real estate investment avenues (i.e. IRA/401k, stock market, etc.) In the post How We Used Our IRA to Invest in Real Estate, I talk about how previous IRA and current 401K provides a return of 8% on their money. While our criteria is 15%, anything over 12% we look at in more detail. I’m posting in detail how we calculate CoCR and I’ll link back here.

Criteria #3: Asset Acquired @ 20% Below Market Value

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This essentially means we make a lot of offers, low offers. My realtor team calls me Mr. Low Ball and I’m ok with that :). The primary reason we do this and especially right now, is preparing for a dip to happen. The Pensacola market has been on the upswing for a while now and many of the local experts are predicting a dip or slight correction in the next 3-5 years. As the market tends to shift, we will slide the % on this criteria. The biggest takeaway from this criteria is look for a deal!
We consider appreciation extra icing and don’t acquire based on assumed appreciation, but we also don’t want to be put in a position to exit a property and be required to bring money to closing.

Acquisitions are one thing, exits are another. We currently hold 2 criteria as our exit strategy and more to come on those later.

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