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What Makes a Superior Real Estate Investment Spreadsheet


The majority of investment funds real-estate financial modeling is completed in spreadsheets.  When creating or buying a quality real estate investment spreadsheet, there are several critical elements you should think about.

The very first thing to consider is how obvious and correct the spreadsheet formulas are.  The keys here are easy accessibility and rational flow of the formulas.  This means they ought to be either directly entered in the spreadsheet cells or designed in an accessible VBA module.  Both of these approaches offer the ability to review and test the formulas without needing complicated actions on the end customer's part.

The next element of an effective real estate investment spreadsheet is a long cash flow projection period.  Real estate investments are typically very long term -- between 10-20 years on average.  In particular, if you are buying real property for long-term portfolio holdings, it's wise to have a minimum of 10 years of monthly or quarterly figures, and in many cases as much as 3 decades.  This ensures you capture the whole potential cash flows, and allows a more accurate determination of NPV, IRR, and cap rate factors.

The third important consideration is the option of various cash flow valuation approaches.  Depending on the purpose and format used for the investment, you might want to value the investment on a pro forma basis under multiple different presumptions.  You may also desire to calculate or apply the zero sum point, IRR, NPV, and cap rates for several purposes.  Making sure the necessary calculations and inputs are available makes it simple to utilize the same model for various investment opportunities, and removes the need to enter all the required data twice.

The fourth element to look for in a real estate investment spreadsheet is the ability to adjust growth rates. Instead of manually entering in different figures, say for utility costs or rental rates, simply changing a periodic growth rate is way quicker and easier.  Most good investing models will allow the user to change the important input factors using growth rate assumptions.  This substantially reduces the time to analyze different scenarios and allows the spreadsheet model to be highly flexible.

The above are only a handful of the elements you should consider, but these particulars are quite important for an advanced real estate investment spreadsheet.

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