What is a Cap Rate?

A cap rate, short for capitalisation rate, serves as a crucial metric in the world of real estate investment. It enables investors to evaluate and compare the potential returns of various properties.

By analysing the relationship between a property’s net operating income (NOI) and its current market value, the cap rate offers valuable insights into the profitability and attractiveness of real estate investments.

Essentially, the cap rate acts as a yardstick for determining the potential return on investment (ROI) and helps investors make informed decisions. Understanding the cap rate and its significance is vital for anyone seeking to navigate the complex realm of real estate investment.

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What is NOI?

Net operating income (NOI) is a critical financial indicator used in real estate investment analysis. It provides a clear picture of the income generated by a property after deducting its operating expenses.

By subtracting the property’s operating expenses from its gross income, investors can determine the NOI, which represents the actual cash flow generated by the property.

How Do You Calculate NOI?

To calculate NOI, various operating expenses are deducted from the gross income. These expenses typically include property taxes, insurance premiums, maintenance and repair costs, property management fees, utilities, advertising expenses, and other costs associated with running and maintaining the property.

NOI does not include non-operating expenses such as mortgage payments, interest, and depreciation.

By subtracting the operating expenses from the gross income, NOI reflects the property’s ability to generate income on an ongoing basis. It provides investors with a reliable measure of the property’s profitability and helps them assess its financial performance independent of factors such as financing and investment structure.

NOI is an essential component in determining a property’s value and evaluating its investment potential. It allows investors to compare the income-generating capabilities of different properties, irrespective of their financing or purchase price.

A higher NOI signifies a more lucrative investment opportunity, as it indicates greater cash flow potential and potential for higher returns. On the other hand, a lower NOI may suggest that the property’s operating expenses are eating into its income and could warrant further investigation or consideration of cost-cutting measures.

How is a Cap Rate Calculated?

The calculation of a cap rate involves dividing the NOI of a property by its current market value. This straightforward formula provides investors with a percentage that represents the potential ROI of the property.

To calculate the cap rate, follow these steps:

  1. Determine the property’s NOI: Start by calculating the property’s annual NOI. This is done by subtracting the operating expenses from the gross income generated by the property. Operating expenses include costs such as property taxes, insurance premiums, maintenance expenses, property management fees, utilities, and any other expenses directly related to operating the property. The formula for calculating NOI is:

    NOI = Gross Income – Operating Expenses

  2. Determine the Property’s Current Market Value: The current market value of a property is the estimated price it would sell for on the open market. This value is determined by factors such as location, market conditions, comparable property sales, and other relevant factors.
  3. Calculate the Cap Rate: Once you have the NOI and the current market value, divide the NOI by the property’s market value and multiply by 100 to obtain the cap rate as a percentage. The formula for calculating the cap rate is:

    Cap Rate = (NOI / Current Market Value) * 100


    For example, if a property has an NOI of $100,000 and a current market value of $1,000,000, the calculation would be as follows:

    Cap Rate = ($100,000 / $1,000,000) * 100 = 10%

The resulting cap rate represents the expected rate of return on the property based on its income-generating potential. A higher cap rate indicates a higher potential ROI, while a lower cap rate suggests a lower potential ROI.

What Does a Cap Rate Tell You?

A cap rate provides valuable insights into the potential ROI of a real estate property. By understanding what a cap rate tells you, investors can make more informed decisions and evaluate the profitability of different investment opportunities.

  • Expected Return on Investment: The cap rate indicates the expected rate of ROI for a particular property. A higher cap rate suggests a higher potential return, while a lower cap rate indicates a lower potential return. For example, if two properties have cap rates of 8% and 5%, respectively, the property with the higher cap rate is expected to provide a better ROI.
  • Comparison of Investment Opportunities: The cap rate allows investors to compare the potential returns of different properties. By considering the cap rates of multiple properties, investors can identify which properties offer better investment prospects. For instance, if Property A has a cap rate of 7% and Property B has a cap rate of 9%, Property B may be considered more attractive due to its higher potential return.
  • Market Efficiency and Property Value: Cap rates are influenced by market conditions and investor sentiment. They reflect the market’s assessment of the property’s value based on its income-generating potential. If the cap rate is lower than the average for a specific market, it may indicate that the property is overvalued. Conversely, a higher-than-average cap rate may suggest an undervalued property.
  • Risk Assessment: Higher cap rates may indicate higher risk, as properties with higher potential returns often come with increased uncertainty or factors that make them less desirable. It is crucial to consider other risk factors, such as market stability, property condition, location, and tenant quality in conjunction with the cap rate when assessing the overall risk-reward profile of an investment.
  • Market Trends: Cap rates can also reflect market trends and investor demand. In a competitive market with high demand for properties, cap rates tend to be lower as investors are willing to accept lower returns. Conversely, during economic downturns or less favourable market conditions, cap rates may rise as investors seek higher returns to compensate for increased risk.

What is a Good Cap Rate?

Determining what constitutes a “good” cap rate in Australia, or any real estate market, involves considering various factors specific to the property, location, and prevailing market conditions. While there is no definitive threshold universally recognised as a “good” cap rate, a range of 8-12% is commonly considered favourable.

However, it is essential to delve deeper into the factors that influence cap rates to gain a more nuanced understanding.

  • Property Type: Different types of properties typically have different cap rate expectations. For example, residential properties often have lower cap rates due to lower risk profiles and consistent demand. On the other hand, commercial properties or properties with higher risk factors may command higher cap rates.
  • Location: Cap rates can vary significantly based on the location of the property. In highly sought-after areas with strong rental demand and limited supply, cap rates tend to be lower as investors are willing to accept lower returns. In contrast, properties in less desirable or emerging areas may offer higher cap rates to entice investors. Location-specific factors, such as economic conditions, infrastructure development, proximity to amenities, and market dynamics, should be considered when assessing the “goodness” of a cap rate.
  • Market Conditions: As mentioned before, the state of the real estate market plays a crucial role in determining cap rates. In a booming market with high demand and low supply, cap rates may be compressed as investors compete for properties, driving prices up and potential returns down. Conversely, in a market downturn or during periods of economic uncertainty, cap rates may rise as investors seek higher returns to compensate for increased risk.
  • Risk Tolerance and Investment Strategy: The determination of a “good” cap rate is subjective and dependent on an investor’s risk tolerance and investment strategy. Some investors prioritise stable, low-risk properties with lower cap rates, while others may be willing to take on higher risk for potentially higher returns.

Ultimately, when assessing the “goodness” of a cap rate in Australia or any market, it is crucial to consider the property’s type, location, prevailing market conditions, and individual investment objectives.

Cap rates should not be viewed in isolation but rather in conjunction with other factors such as potential for growth, property condition, tenant quality, financing costs, and long-term market prospects.

Conducting thorough market research, consulting with local experts, and considering a holistic approach to investment analysis will provide a more accurate assessment of what can be considered a “good” cap rate for a specific property and investment strategy.

How Can I Use a Cap Rate to Compare Properties?

When comparing properties using cap rates, it’s important to ensure consistency in the calculation of NOI and the determination of current market value. By following a systematic approach, you can effectively use cap rates to assess and compare different properties:

  • Define NOI: Start by establishing a consistent definition of NOI for all the properties you are comparing. Ensure that you consider the same factors for each property to maintain consistency in the comparison. Operating expenses typically include property taxes, insurance, maintenance costs, utilities, and property management fees.
  • Determine Current Market Value: Establishing the current market value of each property is crucial for an accurate comparison. Market value can be determined through various methods, such as appraisals, comparative market analysis, or recent comparable sales in the area.
  • Calculate Cap Rates: Once you have the NOI and current market value for each property, calculate the cap rate for each one individually. The formula for calculating the cap rate is:

    Cap Rate = (NOI / Current Market Value) * 100

  • Compare Cap Rates: After obtaining the cap rates for each property, compare them to identify the property with the higher cap rate. A higher cap rate generally indicates a higher potential return on investment. Therefore, the property with the higher cap rate may be considered more favourable in terms of potential profitability.
  • Consider Other Factors: While cap rates provide a valuable comparison metric, it is essential to consider other factors that may impact the investment decision. Factors such as property location, market conditions, growth potential, property condition, tenant quality, financing options, and personal investment goals should be taken into account alongside the cap rate.

Understanding the Cap Rate

Utilising cap rates to compare properties can be a valuable tool for evaluating potential returns on investment. By calculating the cap rate for each property and comparing the results, you can gain insights into the relative profitability of different investment opportunities.

However, it is important to consider other factors, such as property location, market conditions, and individual investment goals, in conjunction with the cap rate. Remember, the cap rate is only one aspect of the investment analysis.

To make well-informed decisions and explore financing options tailored to your specific needs, it is highly recommended to speak with a mortgage broker. A mortgage broker can provide guidance on financing strategies and loan options and help you navigate the complex process of securing financing for your real estate investment.

Take the next step in your real estate investment journey by reaching out to our mortgage brokers. We are a leading Australian mortgage service provider for Australian expats and foreign nationals globally. We can assess your situation and help you find the right lenders to finance your mortgage.

Speak with one of our expat mortgage brokers today to gain valuable insights into financing opportunities that can enhance your investment potential.

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Frequently Asked Questions

A cap rate is a measure of the return on investment of a property, while a yield is a measure of the income generated by a property. A cap rate is calculated by dividing the NOI of a property by its current market value, while a yield is calculated by dividing the annual rent of a property by its current market value.

A good cap rate for a rental property depends on a number of factors, including the type of property, the location, and the current market conditions. However, in general, a cap rate of 8-12% is considered to be good.

There are a number of ways to increase the cap rate of your property. One way is to increase the NOI of the property. This can be done by increasing the rent, reducing operating expenses, or both.

Another way to increase the cap rate is to decrease the current market value of the property. This can be done by making improvements to the property or by waiting for the market to cool down.

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