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Apartment Investing – A Look at Five Year Investment Returns

by Ted Karsch on August 12, 2008 · 14 comments


Let’s take a look at some of the actual returns for a small apartment building investment over a period of five years. Whenever you are making projections into the future concerning investment returns it is always necessary to make some assumptions. In this case we will keep our assumptions very conservative and well in line with historical averages.

Also, I will be using as an example an eight unit apartment building with a purchase price of $300,000.00. I want to use a smaller property with smaller numbers because I believe that just about anyone, who properly prepares him or her self with the proper education and preparation beforehand can realistically purchase, manage and profit from an apartment building this size. There are many methods for securing the money for a down payment that I discuss in my course but I don’t have the time right now to list and explain them all.

The purchase price for our eight unit apartment building is $300,000.00. We are using a bank loan for 75% of the purchase price and we are making a down payment in the amount of $75,000.00. The Net Operating Income of the building is $27,750.00. Our annual mortgage payment on the property is $19,952.76 based on our 25 year bank loan with a fixed interest rate of 7.5%. After paying our mortgage payment the building’s cash flow is $7,798.00. This cash flow gives us a cash-on-cash return of 10.4%. (the cash flow of $7,798.00 divided by the down payment of $75,000.00.)

Let’s take a look at what happens to your returns after five years. We will assume that the building’s income has grown by 3% a year. We will also assume that the expenses have increased 3%. The fixed rate mortgage payment remains the same for the life of the loan.

The Net Operating Income has increased from $27,750.00 to $32,169.86.

The new Cash Flow for year five is:

The new Net Operating Income of $32,169.86


The mortgage payment of $19,952.76


= $12.244.00 Cash Flow at Year Five

The cash-on-cash return has increased from 10.4% in the first year to 16.3% in the fifth year.

In the mean time the actual value of the building has increased by 3% each year to $347,782.00. And increase of $47,782.00 after five years

In addition, the mortgage balance has amortized. The principle amount of the 25 year fixed rate loan has decreased by $20,106.76. The remaining loan balance is now $204,893.24.00.

Putting aside the income returns seen from the Cash Flow every month for 60 months and just looking at the appreciation and loan amortization you have a total return of $47,782.00 + $20,106.76 or $67,888.76. That is a whopping 90.5% cash-on-cash return for a period of five years.

These kinds of returns for many investors who are stuck in the stock market might seem too good to be true. But, remember that we only used one real assumption and that was a growth rate of 3% which is well within historical average norms.

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

steve jenings August 13, 2008 at 2:39 am

I like the article, useful calculations, thanks very helpful.


Alice Spencer August 13, 2008 at 2:41 am

Are there any sites that offer similar calculations for property deals?


Joey Martini August 13, 2008 at 4:03 am

Nice plan you have put together here, yes this is the problem with real estate it takes time for it to increase, but the profits are crazy. I think it’s much better then putting your money in the bank, and I don’t think that there is that much risk in real estate.


David Kendall August 13, 2008 at 3:47 pm

I don’t know where you are – but in my area there is no way to purchase an eight unit building for $300,000. Can you point me to where such properties are available?


Mike August 15, 2008 at 8:25 am

I’m confused, what about taxes, insurance, other expenses? Do you factor these into your calculation?


Ted Karsch August 15, 2008 at 8:34 am

Great question. Taxes, insurance and other maintenance expenses are subtracted from the Gross Income to give us the Net Operating Income, which is the figure we are working with above.


Matt August 16, 2008 at 11:02 am

Great article thanks for posting –
One question based on this statement:

“We will assume that the building’s income has grown by 3% a year. We will also assume that the expenses have increased 3%.”

If the expenses also increased by 3% how did the NOI jump to $32,169.86 ?


Brock August 18, 2008 at 7:11 am

Matt, 3% of the expenses is less than 3% of the rent. You’ll see a net gain with the numbers given.

I was confused like Mike. I’m glad he asked his question.

It’s pedantic (because it really doesn’t matter from the investor’s point of view), but the rent really isn’t going up in real dollar terms. It’s flat. That 3% increase is just the inflation protection that real estate enjoys and few other investments do. The Fed can inflate the supply of money, but it can’t inflate the supply of land.


Anonymous August 19, 2008 at 4:26 pm

First of all, thanks for a great case study Ted. I have been buying shopping centers for years and I wish we had a few more good tools for commercial real estate in general. I just found your site for the first time…great site by the way! I added you to my bookmarks!


Anonymous August 20, 2008 at 9:08 am

Thank you for sharing with actual numbers. That really helps to understand visually as to what you are talking about.


James January 9, 2010 at 9:59 pm

my question how can I fine a 6 to 8 unit apartment building in my area less than 5oo.000.00
built before 1985!
area north palm beach, fl


Ryan August 1, 2010 at 7:04 am

I agree with the numbers, and see this as a fair estimate, but it’s a tough sell to compare investing in the stock market versus investing in an apartment building. If someone is willing to work hard it’s a great way to start your own business, which should easily beat a passive investment because your labor is included for “free”, but just to hypothetically beat stocks, probably not so much. Either way, nice breakdown of the numbers, and let me know when you find a deal priced so low ;)


Jay July 26, 2011 at 6:44 am

Hi Ted,

In the Mortage repayment, there is a paret that goes towards interest and there is another part that goes towards the pricipal repayment. Do you ADD the part that goes towards principal repayment as a + cashflow for calulating IRR?.



Nick August 18, 2012 at 3:45 pm

LOL @ the numbers. If there were instant 10% returns in real estate, people wouldn’t invest in anything else. Shoot, I’d quit my job and just buy buildings.


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