Asset Type: This determines whether or not a cap rate will be "good". It is also directly linked to risk and historical performance. Multifamily assets have lower default rates and more capital available due to loans from government agencies (Fannie/Freddie, HUD), which support affordable housing. Multifamily assets have lower cap rates than other asset types due to their strong performance and the need for people to live in a home. Because of their higher default rates, hotels are more risky than other asset types. They also often perform poorly when the economy isn't performing well. People don't travel as often for work or pleasure, and they are less likely to be in demand. Hotels are considered a more risky asset type than multifamily assets in the same market. This could lead to a higher cap rate and lower price.
Risk profile: All investments, real estate or otherwise, have returns that are directly related to risk. The return on a treasury bond is relatively low because it is guaranteed by the US Government's full faith and credit and has one the lowest risk investments. Junk bonds, on the other hand, are more likely to default because they have higher risk ratings, and offer higher returns. A lower cap rate (less than 5% in real estate) often indicates a lower risk profile. However, a higher caprate (greater than 7%) is often considered to be a more risky investment. A cap rate is an indicator of how much the investor considers the investment's return to be "good". An investor might choose to buy a Class A 98% occupied multifamily property in San Francisco at a 3% cap, which they consider a good cap rate. Or, a Class C single-tenant office in Richmond, Virginia, which is being offered at 100% occupancy at an 8% cap rate. Both investors are correct, they reflect a different risk profile and desire to take on higher risk with higher returns or lower risk. Real estate investors should ask themselves the following question: "Does my cap rate reflect the risk that I am willing and able to take?"
Time: Investment caps can change depending on the macro- and microeconomic conditions in each market. Also, the timing of valuations in the real estate cycle will affect the cap rates. Consumer spending increases when the economy is doing well. This is usually due to job growth and consumer confidence. A strong macroeconomic environment has a direct impact on commercial real estate. This includes the availability of capital to purchase and finance properties and the actual assets such as office space (space to find employees), industrial space (space to store the goods people want), retail (space to buy them in the marketplace), and multifamily (space where employees can live). A strong economy can have a positive impact on all of these. Commercial real estate can also suffer from downturns if the economy isn’t performing well. Inflation is also a key economic indicator. When interest rates rise, it's because the government wants to keep inflation under control in a growing economy. Because commercial property cash flows can support less mortgage debt, buyers who leverage commercial real estate tend to offer lower prices. A rising interest rate environment is often an indicator of a strong economic situation. However, commercial real estate prices tend to cool when interest rates rise. Cap rates tend to increase. The cap rate of a market will fluctuate depending on the state of the economy, especially in the local market where spending and jobs are most important. Buyers may be interested in reviewing historical cap rate trends in a particular market to determine if current cap rates make sense within a historical context. For example, is the buyer looking to buy an asset in a place where cap rates are lower now than in the past? Markets are always changing so buyers may want to think about the possibility that the cap rate will rise in the future. Depending on the appreciation rate for the asset's rental income, it could lead to a decrease in property value.
Real estate investors often ask the question, "What is a good rate of return?". There is no one universal cap rate. It depends on many factors. We will also discuss how we define "good". If you are fed up with the "it depends" answer, the broker package contains information about potential cap rates that could be used to purchase an asset. This includes comparable sales rates. This should be viewed with caution as some assets might be cherry-picked, and not all assets are comparable.
This article will give you an overview of the factors that can impact how an investor determines what a good cap rate should be in any market or asset.
Asset Class: There are three classes for each property type. These "classes" denote the quality of finishes, the strength and number of tenants, and directly impact the rents that the property can charge. A property of "Class A" is considered the most desirable asset class. It commands the highest rents, and has the highest quality tenants. This is based on creditworthiness and balance sheets. The middle-of-the pack property, a "Class B", receives average rents and has average quality tenants. A "Class C" property, which is the lowest quality property, receives the lowest rents. It also has tenants with poor creditworthiness and receives the lowest rents. The lowest cap rates for Class A properties are the highest and most valuable, while Class C properties have high cap rates but low values. Class B properties have cap rate and values that range between Class A and C. Cap rates also reflect the perceived risk an asset faces. When evaluating whether a cap rate "good", it is important to understand the asset's class and quality in order to determine if it is comparable to other assets in the relevant comparative set.
Deferred Maintenance: This affects the overall quality of assets. For an asset with high deferred maintenance, it may be difficult to get market rents. A Class B multifamily property with a 1980s-era roof may receive market rents, but it is in need of a replacement roof at $500k. A Class B multifamily property in the same area has the same vintage, but it was completely renovated in the last six months. It is now beginning to earn market rents. Although the first asset has an excellent 12 month operating history, it still faces a large capital outlay that could impact tenants and increase vacancy. The second asset is less attractive on paper because its Net Operating Income for the past 12 months appears to be low, but it does not have any additional capital outlay. Potential buyers will be more likely to view the asset's cap rates negatively if there is a large deferred maintenance item. The buyer may find it beneficial to compare the assets to determine which investment is better.