You’ve been working up the nerve to get started in real estate investing for some time. You’ve had all the conversations with your rich uncle and your obscenely successful friends. You’ve read the how-to books. And now you’ve finally found the right property. It looks right, and the deal ?smells? right to you. The location seems like a sure bet.
But before you jump right in, take a step back and crunch the numbers. Forget about the back-of-the-napkin analyses your heroes may tell you about. If you’re spending this much of your hard-earned money, you owe it to yourself to do some thorough due diligence. There’s a good reason for it:
- The financial analysis process forces you to take a good look at the entire picture, not just the parts which appeal to you. You are forced to think things through, which in and of itself reduces the risk that you?ll overlook something critical.
Analysis can be an objective exercise, very different from the emotion-laden, and subjective, process of negotiating and getting caught up in deal-frenzy. Especially when it’s your first time out, you don’t want to rush into one of those projects which turns out to be one where you would later say (with regret) ‘it seemed like a good idea at the time.?
There are a few other very solid reasons to perform thorough financial analysis on your deal:
- Techniques such as discount cash flow analysis will project the ultimate potential gain or loss of your investment. This will help you to get from ‘it seems like a great deal’ to ‘it has the potential to net me $200,000 over 5 years.’
- Preparing detailed financial projections is the hallmark of the professional. Doing your homework in this way will improve your attractiveness to bankers, potentially aiding you in attracting financing for your deal.
- Financial analysis can’t see the future- you should not expect to be able to accurately predict the end results. However, through financial analysis, you can generate best- and worst-case scenarios in order to create a range of projected results. This will help you to approximate the maximum and minimum amounts you stand to gain or lose, as well as what you believe to be the most-likely gain or loss.
Investing is all about risk mitigation. Through this process, you can avoid deals which exceed your risk threshold, as well as deals which do not offer an adequate upside to balance against the potential downside. Never pursue an investment where you aren?t comfortable with the risks. That’s what we call ‘gambling.’ Nor should you pursue investments where the best-case scenario doesn?t meet your minimum return.
Don?t leap before you look. Run the numbers and be prepared.
? 2007 All Rights Reserved
Here’s some great news: thorough financial analysis doesn?t need to cost a lot of money or take up much of your time. The Real Estate Genius investment property calculator runs the numbers instantly? you just gather the facts, and plug in your assumptions.
Joe Tosolt is the president of Real Estate Genius, LLC, which empowers property investors with fast, powerful tools for performing discount cash flow analysis and projecting financial returns on prospective property investments. Learn more about this easy-to-use tool at Real Estate Genius.