Blog about Property Investments

This blog will cover key aspects about finding the right property as investment. We will explain the key measures we use to identif strong properties and provide additional links to intersting websites.
Please contact us via contact AT if you have any feedback or advice on how we can improve further as we would love to hear from you what you need to find the best property.
Background - why did we start this project?

In 2016 we came across a training that was called "Rich dad, poor Dad" written by Robert Kiyosaki. The book explains a concept on how to invest in a smart way. In general the rules can be applied to different investments but Robert Kiyosaki focusses on property investments and uses a few concepts to explain what a smart investment is. The key concept for me was: to find investment that instead of making you dependent to work allow you to have an investment independent from your own working job.
To be able to achieve that he explains that a lot of people fall into a rat race which means that people by their first house, take a morgage and then becoming dependent on their job as otherwise they cant afford the house and would lose everything. To get out of this rat rate he explains that a smart investment is one that does not force you to be dependent on your working job to pay the morgage.
The measure he uses for this is called "Free Cash Flow" . Any investment you make should generate an rental income that is high enough to cover all cost as well as the morgage so that at the end of the year there is free cash available for that you can use. The beauty of this concept is, that even in case you dont have or want a job anymore it still does not yepardize the morgage because there is enough rental income available.
After reading the book, I was thinking about the concept for a while and my first attempt was to explain that this was exactly the reason why the housing market collapsed as so many people tried to buy houses that they cant afford. I was supported in my first attempt as this book was written before the big crash in 2000.
After putting the book aside for a while I always came back to the question: What if there are actually properties that would generate free cash flow?
This idea became even more interesting as in my middle 30th after more than 10 years of work it was time to invest some of the money so that maybe I wouldn't need to work till 70. So I started to look into the book again and found some more books from him about how to find a good property. The simple rule that he used was 100:10:1 which means that you screen 100 properties in your area, you make offers for 10 and you buy one. He also used other advices that I found good:
- 1st time buyer -> Start small, you will make mistakes
- Buy where you know the area
- Don't assume something is too good to be true, ask to be sure
After starting to screen the first property in an excel file I releasized that this is taken much longer than I thought and is more complex as a property in one area might have different rental income and prices than in another area. Even after I found two properties in the same area they had different sizes and it was tough to compare. I think that was the moment when I started to think about this website... the point was: I want to find the best property but just looking at properties that make sense. So I needed a tool that allows me to pre-screen all properties and just allow me to show the intersting onces.
Key measures - Lets take a look
To identify a good investment property it helps to understand what the key measures are to quantify a property. With our tool we try to focus more on the financial aspects than good looking pictures of properties that might burn a whole in your budget.
Therefore we sort and filter all properties based on the most important measure that we mentioned earlier:

1. Annual Cash Flow: The official defintion is "Incomings and outgoings of cash, representing the operating activities of an organization. In accounting, cash flow is the difference in amount of cash available at the beginning of a period (opening balance) and the amount at the end of that period (closing balance)."

But what does "Free Cash Flow" actually mean?
Free cash flow is calculated for a given year. A positive cash flow means the investment gives you real money back every year and that this money can be spend on anything else.
Example: A property generates 5.000 EUR annual rental income. All cost for credit cost, administration, community cost, taxes etc are in total 4.000 EUR per year. Then the annual cash flow is 1000 EUR.

A positive annual cash flow is important, because it makes a specific investment almost independent from other financing.
So in case the owner is working at the beginning but might be without an income for a period of time, he doesn't need to sell the property to pay credit fees as it is cash flow positive. So all cost for the propery are paid already by the rental income.

There is a watch-out if you only look at the Cash Flow as a key measure:
It does not consider other aspects of a property. For example the price does have a major impact as property A might give you a free cash flow of 5000 EUR per year while property B only provides 4000 EUR.
If now property A actually cost 1 Million EUR and property B only 300.000 EUR then obviously property B is much more attractice. Especially as with the remaining budget of 700.000 EUR you could find another 2 properties with the same free cash flow like property B.

Therefore we also consider other measures like internal rate of return (IRR) and the annual interest rate. Let's take a look at these measures:

2. IRR - Internal rate of return: "interest rate at which the net present value of all the cash flows (both positive and negative) from a project or investment equal zero. Internal rate of return is used to evaluate the attractiveness of a project or investment. "

But what does "IRR - Internal rate of return" actually mean?
The measure actually allows to compare different investment choices. As property buyer you always have the choice to put the money on the bank and gain interest fees or to buy a property.
Putting money on the bank account is a relatively save investment even though currently we don't gain high interest rates in our bank account. The alternative is to buy a property. The risk level for buying a property is higher.

Therefore if the internal rate of return is identical to what you gain in the bank: the better choice is to go for the low risk option and put the money in the bank as you gain the same financial benefit.
The general principle is therefore that more risky investments also should offer a much higher internal rate of return.

Example: A property with 5% of IRR means that this investment is financially more attractive than any other investment over the lifetime that offers less than 5% of annual interest rate. In case your bank would guarantee your money and offer 5% interest rate then the bank option would be preferred as lower risk.
Depending on the property the IRR could be 100% and more, if the annual cash flow is much higher in comparison to the low captial needs. A higher IRR is better than a lower IRR.

During our work we also realized that there is another aspect of a a property that can make a big difference. It's the difference between market price of a property and the asking price.

3. Bargain: An advantageous purchase, especially one acquired at less than the usual cost
The property buyer can make a very good bargain if the market price of a property is much higher than the actual selling price much lower.
Of course a general higher value property has an easier change to offer a good bargain as a low value property.

Example: If a certain property usually cost 200.000 EUR to purchase and a similar property is on the market for 170.000 EUR. Then the bargain versus the market price is 30.000 EUR. This is beneficial becasue theoretically this property can be purchased at lower price and sold for a higher price even before the full investment period.
By default: Bigger properties have a higher chance to offer a big bargain.
Property guide -Which additional cost should be considered?

Every property is unique and the decision to purchase a property depends on the preferrence of the buyer.
For any property the buyer should already consider upfront the different ongoing cost related to the property.
These cost are dependend on the country, city and condition of the property but can be estimated upfront based on existing laws or experience.
The key cost components for investors are:
-Credit Cost: Annual payments to the bank for the credit based on installment credit type. The credit rate is based on credit length, interest and calculated to have zero remaining credit at the end of the credit period. The bank can offer you different credit models but for better comparison the installment credit model is applied for all properties

-Community Cost: Owners of community properties not only own their homes, but also own a share of the common elements of a building or development, including foyers, hallways, passages, lifts, patios, gardens, roads, and leisure and sports facilities (such as swimming pools and tennis courts). When you buy a community property you automatically become a member of the community of owners. The cost to maintain the community property is called community cost.

-Maintenance cost: Any property needs to be maintained to maintain the current condition of the property. This includes minor renovations as well as potentially required work to replace the heating, electicity or water system as well as isolations or window replacement. These cost will occure during the investment life time. Technically this money does not need to be spend monthly but it's highly recommended to put that money aside every month to generate a buffer for the case when it's needed.

-Insurance cost: Most properties should have an insurance to protect the owner against damage or loss due to fire, storm or water. Especially the banks will ask for it in case a credit/loan is taken.

-Rental income tax: Taxes to be paid on rental income. This varies per country depending on the law. For Spain 25% on gross rental income are expected.

-Property tax: Taxes to be paid on property value (IBI in Spain). This varies per country and region and is expected to be between 0.4% and 1,2 % based on estimated property value (which is usually about 70 % of the price).

-Wealth tax: Taxes to be paid on property in addition to property taxes in certain countries if a wealth is exceeding a threshold. In Spain this threshold is 700.000 EUR
Reference links for Spain

To get an overview for first time buyers it is highly recommended to understand the different legal and cost aspects associated to owning a property.
Especially for first time buyers or property buyers in foreign countries it's crucial to either get support or read into the subject. Therefore the following links should be helpful to get an overview:
Important Links for Property Buyers in Spain:
(1) Spanish Property Market: It's a global website covering the property markets in each country. Great summary of the overall investment market that covers not only the buying prices and the development but also the rental market, expenses and taxes.

(2) Property buying expense in Spain: English websuite about the different expenses related to buying a property in Spain.

(3) Community Cost Explained: English website about Spanish community cost.
Reference links for Germany

To get an overview for first time buyers it is highly recommended to understand the different legal and cost aspects associated to owning a property.
Especially for first time buyers or property buyers in foreign countries it's crucial to either get support or read into the subject. Therefore the following links should be helpful to get an overview:

Important Links for Property Buyers in Germany:
(1) Rendite einer Eigentumswohnung: German website that explains how much of the gross rental income each month remains after all different cost will be paid. The key cost listed are administration cost (50EUR/month) and about 1 EUR per squaremeter for all other cost (except credit cost and taxes).

(2) Mietspiegel von Immobilienscount : German website that allows an easy overview of rental prices per squaremeter in every German city.

(3) Instandhaltungsruecklage-fuer-hausbesitzer: German website that explains the benefit for putting money asside for maintenance. The rule of thumb is to put 1 EUR per square meter per month aside.

(4) Erste Mal Vermieten: German website that explains the legal frame for first time property owner who want to rent out. It covers question like renter selection, rental price increase and special rental conditions for the contract.
Reference links for USA

To get an overview for first time buyers it is highly recommended to understand the different legal and cost aspects associated to owning a property.
Especially for first time buyers or property buyers in foreign countries it's crucial to either get support or read into the subject. Therefore the following links should be helpful to get an overview:

Important Links for Property Buyers in USA:
(1) Estimating Rental Property Expenses: Nice article from 2012 that covers the different property expenses if a property is rented out.

(2) Great website for finding properties in the US.

Great article about property buy in Germany from the biggest online news page

5 Steps to assess what property you can affort:

1. Berechnen Sie Ihr monatliches Budget
Um herauszufinden, was Sie sich leisten können, sollten Sie klären, wie viel Sie jeden Monat fürs Wohnen aufbringen können. Wenn Sie eine Immobilie auf Pump kaufen, kommen drei Arten an laufenden Kosten auf Sie zu:
- Zinszahlungen
- Tilgung Ihres Kredits
- Nebenkosten (Betriebskosten) für die Wohnung oder das Haus.

Zu den Betriebskosten gehören Aufwendungen für Heizung, Strom, Wasser, Müllabfuhr, Grundsteuer und Wohngebäudeversicherung. Diese Betriebskosten sind meist höher als in der bisherigen Mietwohnung, da sich in der Regel auch die Wohnfläche vergrößert. Außerdem sollten Sie eine monatliche Instandhaltungsrücklage einplanen, zum Beispiel 200 Euro pro Monat. Dieses Geld wird für unvorhergesehene Ausgaben zurückgelegt, etwa für eine neue Heizungsanlage oder eine Dachreparatur. Bei Wohnungseigentümergemeinschaften (also in der Regel beim Kauf von Eigentumswohnungen) sind die Betriebskosten im sogenannten Hausgeld enthalten. Erkundigen Sie sich also vor dem Kauf unbedingt nach der Höhe dieses Hausgeldes. Zinsen und Kredittilgung fasst man unter dem Begriff Kapitaldienst zusammen. Nach einer Faustformel sollte dieser nicht mehr als 40 Prozent des Nettoeinkommens eines Haushalts ausmachen. Inklusive Betriebskosten sollen es nicht mehr als 50 Prozent sein.Doch diese Regeln sind tatsächlich nur grobe Anhaltspunkte. Eine Familie mit drei Kindern und einem Haushaltseinkommen von 2500 Euro dürfte mit einer Quote von 50 Prozent schon über die Belastungsgrenze kommen, wenn nach Abzug aller Wohnkosten nur noch 1250 Euro zum Leben übrigbleiben. Andererseits kann ein kinderloses Paar mit einem Nettoeinkommen von 5000 Euro pro Monat womöglich auch mehr als 50 Prozent fürs Wohnen ausgeben, weil pro Person auch deutlich mehr Geld zum Leben bleibt. Wichtig ist deshalb, dass Sie Ihre laufenden Kosten und monatlichen Ausgaben ehrlich durchrechnen - und dann für sich selbst festlegen, wie viel Geld Sie für Kapitaldienst und Betriebskosten aufwenden können. Rechnen Sie nicht zu knapp - und bedenken Sie, dass Ihr Einkommen auch einmal sinken kann, zum Beispiel im Falle eines Jobwechsels oder gar Arbeitsplatzverlusts.

2. Denken Sie an die Kaufnebenkosten
Wenn Sie ein Haus oder eine Wohnung kaufen, ist der Preis, den Sie in der Anzeige sehen, nicht das, was Sie wirklich zahlen müssen. Ihre Kosten liegen leider deutlich höher. Zum Kaufpreis hinzu kommen nämlich auf jeden Fall noch die Grunderwerbsteuer (je nach Bundesland zwischen 3,5 und 6,5 Prozent) und die Gebühren für den Notar, der den Kaufvertrag aufsetzt, sowie für die Änderung des Grundbucheintrags. Außerdem kann noch die Maklercourtage hinzukommen. Ein Beispiel zeigt, was dabei zusammenkommen kann: Ein 40-jähriges Paar will eine Eigentumswohnung in Hamburg kaufen. Die Wohnung soll 450.000 Euro kosten.

Dafür fallen folgende Nebenkosten an:
-4,5 Prozent Grunderwerbsteuer: 20.250 Euro
-1,5 Prozent Notar- und Grundbuchgebühren: 6750 Euro
-6,0 Prozent Maklercourtage: 27.000 Euro

Die Nebenkosten liegen damit also bei 54.000 Euro - und die Gesamtkosten bei 504.000 Euro. Da sind etwaige Ausgaben für Renovierung oder Sanierung der Wohnung ebenso wenig mit eingerechnet wie Kosten für neue Möbel.

3. Kratzen Sie Ihr Eigenkapital zusammen

Please continue to read the full article on the website --> Wie viel Sie für eine Wohnung ausgeben können