Real Estate Leverage is simply the used of borrowed money used in purchasing real estate. Equity is the amount of money that the real estate is worth above the amount of money owed. For example, let’s say that you have $100,000 available to invest in real estate and the average price of a home in your area is also $100,000 and the average rent for that home is $1,000 per month just to keep the numbers simple.
You could purchase one home for $100,000 cash and then rent it out for $1,000. This would give you a return on investment of 1 percent per month 1,000 / 100,000 = .01) or 12 percent a year. The average real estate appreciation since 1968 has been 6.34 percent per year. Some years it is less and some years it is more, but for this demonstration we will use 6 percent to keep it simple. Add 12 percent and 6 percent and you will have an 18 percent Return On Investment (ROI) for your $100,000. Not a bad return and much better than you would get at a bank or deposited in a CD.
Now let’s add leverage into the equation. If you purchase the same home with only 10 percent down ($10,000) with an interest rate of 6 percent then your Return on Investment would look like this. $1,000 rental income minus $450 interest divided by $10,000 down payment for a return on investment of 4.5 percent per month or 54 percent per year plus 6 percent in appreciation is equal to 60 percent ROI per year. Remember you only used $10,000 of your own money and you leveraged $90,000 and your profit per year would be $6,000.
Since you still have $90,000 in case available you could purchase 9 more homes. Then you would still have a Return On Investment of 60 percent but your profit per year would be $60,000 instead on $6,000 and you would also have leveraged $900,000.
I have not discussed taxes, maintenance, insurance or any other expenses associated with owning real estate. The expenses would be proportional for each home that you owned whether it is one home or ten homes.
The amount of money that you get from your real estate investments is always offset by the amount of debt you have; rent checks from tenants need to go toward mortgage payments and other debt. With real estate leverage it’s important to make sure that the income generated from real estate is enough to cover the negative cash flow of the real estate debts during the bad times. Renters can and will damage properties, vacancies will happen from time to time.
If you finance with a variable interest rate mortgage or if the tax appraiser raises the value of several of your homes, you could be in a negative cash flow within just a couple of months with no way out.
Investing in real estate without significant cash reserves is, shall we say, not recommended. An investor without reserves might as well send an engraved invitation for disaster. Investing in real estate is a daunting task. There are hundreds of elements which must come together in harmony for a transaction to close.
Using real estate leverage is a great way to increase your own personal wealth and to build a large and healthy portfolio if it is done wisely. The more real estate leverage you have the more property you can acquire by using this debt or leverage.
It’s not difficult to understand the concept of real estate leverage and if used properly can not only make for sound investments but can also make for a healthy financial portfolio.