Cash on cash return (CoC) is a measure of the cash flow from a real estate investment, expressed as a percentage of the initial cash investment. It is used to evaluate the profitability of a rental property or other real estate investment. A high cashoncash return indicates that the investment is generating a good return on the initial cash investment.
Low cash on cash return indicates that the investment is not generating as much cash flow as expected. The cashoncash return of an investment property is a measurement of its cash flow divided by the amount of capital you initially invested. This is usually calculated on the beforetax cash flow and is typically expressed as a percentage.
Cashoncash returns are most accurate when calculated on the first year's expected cash flow. It becomes less accurate and less useful when used in future years because this calculation does not take into account the time value of money (the principle that your money today will be worth less in the future). Therefore, the cashoncash return is not a powerful measurement, but it makes for an easy and popular “quick check” on a property to compare it against other investments.
For example, a property might give you a 7% cash return in the first year versus a 2.5% return on a bank CD. It's worth noting that cash on cash return is a shortterm metric, it doesn't take into account the longterm appreciation of the property, and it doesn't include tax benefits. Therefore, it should be used in conjunction with other metrics, such as the cap rate, to evaluate the overall performance of a real estate investment.
The cashoncash return is calculated by dividing the annual cash flow by your cash invested:
Annual Cash Flow / Cash Invested = CashonCash Return
The annual cash flow is the net income from the property, which is calculated by subtracting the annual operating expenses (such as mortgage payments, property taxes, insurance, and maintenance) from the annual rental income. The initial cash investment is the total amount of cash invested in the property, including the down payment, closing costs, and any other expenses.
Let's make sure we understand the two parts of this equation:

The firstyear cash flow (or annual cash flow) is the amount of money we expect the property to generate during its first year of operation. Again, this is usually cash flow before tax.

The initial investment (or cash invested) is generally the down payment. However, some investors include their closing costs such as loan points, escrow and title fees, appraisal, and inspection costs. The sum of which is also referred to as the cost of acquisition.
Let's look at an example. Let's say that your property's annual cash flow (before tax) is $3,000. And let's say that you made a 20% down payment equal to $30,000 to purchase the property. In this example, your cashoncash return would be 10%.
$3,000 / $30,000 = 10%
Although the cashoncash return is quick and easy to calculate, it's not the best way to measure the performance and quality of a real estate investment. Future articles will introduce you to better ways to evaluate your real estate investments.
What is a Good Cash Cash Return in Real Estate?
There are no hard and fast rules for determining a specific figure that should be considered a good cashoncash return. Most investors, however, agree that a projected cashoncash return of 8% or higher is the ideal figure. It also relies on the investor, the local market, and your future value appreciation forecasts. Some real estate investors are happy with a safe and predictable CoC return of 7% – 10%, while others will only consider a property with a cashoncash return of at least 15%.
Cash on Cash Return Vs ROI
Cash on cash return (CoC) and return on investment (ROI) are both measures of the profitability of a real estate investment, but they are calculated differently and provide different information. Cash on cash return is a measure of the cash flow from a real estate investment, expressed as a percentage of the initial cash investment. It is used to evaluate the profitability of a rental property or other real estate investment.
Return on investment (ROI) is a measure of the overall profitability of an investment, expressed as a percentage of the total investment. It takes into account both the cash flow and the appreciation of the investment.
The formula for ROI is: (Net profit / Total investment) x 100
The net profit is the total return on the investment, which includes the cash flow, any appreciation, and any other income from the investment. The total investment is the initial cash investment plus any additional costs, such as closing costs, repairs, and improvements.
For example, if an investor purchases a property for $200,000 with a $40,000 down payment, the property generates $12,000 in annual cash flow and the investor sells the property for $220,000, the ROI would be: ($12,000 + $20,000 / $40,000) x 100 = 80%
Cash on cash return provides information on the shortterm cash flow of the investment, while ROI provides information on the overall profitability of the investment, including both cash flow and appreciation. It's important to use both metrics to get a full picture of the investment's performance.
Cash on Cash Return Vs Cap Rate
Cash on cash return is a measure of the annual cash flow of a rental property as a percentage of the initial cash investment. The capitalization rate, or cap rate, is a measure of the rate of return on a real estate investment property based on the income that the property is expected to generate. While both measures are used to evaluate the performance of real estate investments, they are calculated differently and provide different information about the potential returns of a property.
Although there are many variations, the cap rate is generally calculated as the ratio between the annual rental income produced by a real estate asset to its current market value. Cap rates are measures used to estimate and compare the rates of return on multiple commercial or residential real estate properties. In contrast to the cap rate formula, which should only be used to compare similar properties in the same market, the cashoncash return formula can be used to compare potential cash returns across real estate markets.
To calculate the cap rate for a rental property, you will need to know the property's net operating income (NOI) and its purchase price or current market value. The formula for calculating the cap rate is:
Cap Rate = NOI / Purchase Price (or Market Value)
For example, let's say you are considering buying a rental property for $300,000 and the projected net operating income (NOI) is $30,000. To calculate the cap rate, you would divide the NOI by the purchase price:
Cap Rate = $30,000 / $300,000 = 0.1 or 10%
So in this example, the cap rate for the property is 10%. This means that the property's projected net operating income is 10% of its purchase price. A higher cap rate indicates a higher rate of return, so in this case, you would likely see the rental property as a good investment opportunity.