Don't get me wrong. Cash flow is good (assuming it's positive), but absolutely NO one has ever become rich from cash flow alone. Think about that for a minute.
Let’s look at a quick example. Let’s say you have a $100,000 property that generates $200 per month in positive cash flow. That’s $200 per month after all your expenses and debt service. That would give you $2,400 per year or $12,000 over five years in cash flow.
Assuming you follow our advice of maintaining a reserve account for each of your properties to cover future maintenance and repairs, you will have made $12,000 in net profit over those five years. This assumes that nothing unforeseen happens along the way such as a hot water tank or leaky roof requiring replacement, or a long-term vacancy.
If you’re going to put your investment capital, credit, and possibly your income at “risk” for $12,000, then you’ll need more than just cash flow to make it worthwhile. You need to be investing in markets that offer good appreciation potential. That is how you become rich!
Live where you want and invest only where the numbers make sense! This stresses the importance of investing in good markets and good neighborhoods.
Going back to our example above, what would happen if we averaged only 5% appreciation per year in addition to the $2,400 in cash flow? (Remember that the national average has been 6.2% going as far back as the 1940s.)
With only 5% appreciation per year you’d make over two (2) times more money in equity than cash flow alone. And with a 10% average rate of appreciation over five years you’d make over five (5) times more money in equity than cash flow alone.
Did you forget that appreciation in many markets used to be over 10% as recently as four years ago? Markets move in cycles and appreciation always happens as markets cycle off their bottoms. We are seeing it today in markets all around the country.
Of course, in addition to the positive cash flow and money made through appreciation, you also benefit from the amortization of the mortgage and the tax benefits through depreciation, tax deferred exchanges and lower capital gains when holding your property for more than a year and a day.
Now is the time to be investing with so many markets near their cyclical bottom or turning back up. Cash flow is great, and it’s the “glue” that keeps your investment together, but it’s the equity growth that will make you rich.