Derek Morgan
Derek Morgan
counting hundreds of dollars at his table
Derek Morgan
Derek Morgan

    Cash-on-Cash Return: Evaluating Investment Performance

    Cash-on-Cash Return (CoCR) is an essential tool that every real estate investor should have in their investment analysis toolbox. CoCR measures the return on the actual cash invested in a real estate property, giving investors a clear and straightforward perspective on their investment's performance. This guide will delve into what CoCR is, how it's calculated, and how it can be used to evaluate the performance of your real estate investments.

    What is Cash-on-Cash Return?

    CoCR is a financial metric used in real estate investing to determine the cash income earned on the cash invested in a property. This ratio shows you the pre-tax cash flow from the investment as a percentage of the total cash invested. Unlike other investment metrics, CoCR doesn't consider property appreciation, tax benefits, or other non-cash factors. Its primary focus is on the investment's cash flow.

    Calculating Cash-on-Cash Return

    The calculation of CoCR is quite straightforward. It's the net annual cash flow from the property divided by the total cash invested, then multiplied by 100 to get a percentage. Here's the formula:

    CoCR = (Annual Pre-tax Cash Flow / Total Cash Invested) * 100

    Let's break down each component of this formula:

    • Annual Pre-tax Cash Flow: This is the cash flow that the property generates each year before tax. It's calculated by taking the property's annual rental income and subtracting any annual expenses like maintenance, property management fees, and mortgage payments.

    • Total Cash Invested: This is the total amount of money you've invested in the property. It includes the down payment, closing costs, and any renovations or repairs made to the property.

    Using CoCR to Evaluate Investment Performance

    Once you've calculated the CoCR, you can use it to evaluate the performance of your investment. Here's how:

    • Comparing Different Investments: You can use CoCR to compare the performance of different real estate investments. A higher CoCR generally indicates a better return on investment, assuming the risks are the same.

    • Assessing Cash Flow Performance: CoCR allows you to evaluate the cash flow performance of your property. If your CoCR is low, it may indicate that your property is not generating enough cash flow relative to the cash you've invested.

    • Identifying Profitable Investments: CoCR can help you identify potentially profitable investments. A high CoCR could indicate that a property is underpriced and could generate substantial cash flows relative to the investment cost.

    Limitations of Cash-on-Cash Return

    While CoCR is a useful tool for real estate investors, it's important to note its limitations. Firstly, it doesn't consider property appreciation, which can be a significant portion of a property's total return. Secondly, it doesn't take into account tax benefits or other non-cash factors that can affect an investment's return. Finally, CoCR is based on pre-tax cash flows, so it doesn't account for the impact of taxes on your investment returns.

    For more information, check out What are Real Estate Taxes?

    Therefore, while CoCR is an essential part of evaluating the performance of your real estate investments, it should be used in conjunction with other financial metrics and considerations, like the property's potential for appreciation, your personal tax situation, and your overall investment strategy.


    Cash-on-Cash Return is a powerful tool in a real estate investor's arsenal, offering a simple, straightforward way to evaluate the cash flow performance of an investment property. By understanding and using CoCR, you can make more informed decisions about your real estate investments and better assess their performance.

    However, it's crucial to remember that no single metric should be used in isolation. A holistic approach, considering a variety of factors and metrics, will offer the best insights into a real estate investment's overall performance. CoCR is a piece of that puzzle, providing valuable insights into your investment's cash flow returns.

    At Unreal Estate, we strive to make the complex world of real estate simple and easy to understand. We'd love to hear your thoughts about this article and our blog. Let us know how we did by completing the Unreal Estate Blog Feedback Survey.

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