Category: Investing

How to Calculate Rate of Return On A Real Estate Investment (John & Jane Jones Pt. 6 of 9)

“Hello, this is John Jones.  I know we have called a number of times with ‘opportunities’ but this time I think we really have one,” John said excitedly as I answered the telephone early Monday morning before my first appointment.

“That is good news,” I said.  “Do you want to tell me about it over the telephone or come in for a sit-down meeting?”  I asked.

“How about tomorrow?” John asked.  “We can come anytime you are available.”

“I am fairly booked up, but this sounds like an important issue for you, I will forgo my lunch and meet with you.  Can you be here at 12:00 sharp?”  I said.

“We will be there,”  John answered.

It was great to see both John and Jane again.  It had been 3 months since our annual meeting, but it had been almost six years since we made many major changes to their policies or plans.  I had made them promise when they were 33 and starting to accumulate a lot of cash in their policy cash values, they would talk to me before making any major purchases.  Through the years there had been a few minor things, but nothing particularly significant.  I made it a point to remind them that opportunities find those who are in a strong cash position.

“Great to see you again,” I greeted them both with a smile and handshake.  “Since we just recently had our annual meeting, let’s forgo some of the pleasantries and get right to the point.”

“Sounds good to me,” John said.  “So we were approached by a friend over the weekend about purchasing his cabin.  A cabin in the mountains is something we have dreamed about for a long time.  Well, at least as long as we have known you.  We would never have thought it possible without the whole truth you have taught us,” John continued.

“Why is he selling the place?” I asked.

“He owns a hardware store in town and really needs some capital to purchase inventory.  His cabin was recently appraised at $150,000 but he is willing to sell it to us for $100,000 if we can close in 10 days,” Jane explained.

“We’ve been there; it is a really nice place.  In fact, I think it is worth more than $150,000 but that is what the appraisal valued it at 4 months ago,” John said.

“How do we know if this is a good thing for us to purchase?” Jane inquired.  “I remember you said opportunity finds those who have cash, but we want to make sure it’s a good financial decision.”

“That is so true.  I cannot tell you the number of people I know who have picked up wonderful investments because they had cash on hand,” I said. “But let’s go through the numbers to evaluate whether buying this cabin is a smart move.”

“I have a calculator – specifically, a Real Estate Analysis calculator – we can use to determine if this ‘dream cabin’ will live up to its name,” I said.   I opened the calculator and said, “As I go down the list here, you can help me fill in the blanks.”

John was right on top of things.  “Ok, the property value is $150,000.  We are buying it for $100,000.  Closing costs will be 3% so $3,000.  No realtor fees.”  Then looking at Jane, “land value was….”

“The appraisal said the land was worth $35,000,” Jane finished John’s sentence.  “We should have just brought a copy of the appraisal with us.”

“That is ok,” I said.  “But it’s good you do have a copy of it.”

“For the purpose of this discussion we are going to analyze this purchase over 10 years,” I said motioning to the calculator.  “Let’s also assume that you are going to pay cash for the cabin.  What would you say property taxes are going to be on a monthly basis?  And maintenance and insurance?”

“They are going to be right around $200 each,”  John said.

“Great.  With this information, what is the rate of return on your ‘investment?'”  I asked.

I could see the excitement in John and Jane’s face leave.  “Don’t worry, this is just a starting point,”  I said.  I want you to see the whole story.  Besides many people say there are only three rules in real estate investing, ‘location, location, location.’  And I agree the location is critical, but I also add three more rules, which I normally put first; ‘financing, financing, financing,'” I concluded.

“I think we can add something in that space for rental income,” John noted.  “Our friend has been consistently renting the cabin for an average of 10 nights a month all year long.  They get $150 per night.”

“I was just going to ask you about that possibility.” I entered that and noticed they were staring at my screen to see how that affected the rate of return.

“Now we’re talking! That’s a good rate of return,” John said excitedly. “Plus we have a cabin we can use about 20 nights a month!”

“But we finance everything we buy, right?” Jane asked.  “We have to figure what that money would be worth in the future and look at the difference.”

“You’re right on target, Jane. That is an issue you need to keep in mind.  But can you pay cash for this cabin?”  I asked them both.

“No, of course not,” John answered.

“So we are going to finance the purchase, just as Jane was saying. Let’s take a look at the rate of return when we take a loan into consideration.  Most likely a lending institution will want you to put 20% down and then finance $80,000.  Let’s say you can get a loan with a 5% interest rate, amortized over 10 years.”  I said as I input the numbers into the calculator.

“We can handle a 20% down payment,” John said, and the numbers changed on the calculator. “Oh, that really changes the rate of return.”

“But does the rate change to a value that is unattractive to you?”  I asked John.

“No, I am still interested in the cabin,” John replied, looking at Jane. She nodded her agreement.

“Let’s make a few changes to our calculator,” I said.  “You have policy cash values greater than $100,000.  Why would you go to a bank and pay them the interest instead of using your own cash values as collateral?” I asked.

“It doesn’t seem right,” Jane answered.

“I am going to input $100,000 and assume it is coming from your insurance company with your cash values as collateral.”  I changed the numbers and showed them the calculator.


“I like that number better,”  John said with a grin.  “This is great. By using our cash values we are improving the rate of return on this investment.”

“Let’s take a closer look,” I said.  “Notice your monthly cash flow is now a negative number.  How happy will you be to be paying $161 every month to keep the place going?”  I asked.

“We might be ok with it for a while, but it will grind on us, especially if we have a bad month or some unforeseen expenses,” John said.

“That’s why a bank will not loan you 100% of the purchase price,”  I said. “But this is not a deal killer.  You must always remember you are the one in control.  The bank will tell you they will only loan you the money for 10 years.  And under that scenario, this does not make much sense. But, can you determine how long it will take you to pay back that loan?”  I asked.

“Um, I am not sure,” John said.

“You are in control,” I said pointing at them.  “You are the ones who determine the terms of the loan, not the insurance company.  So could you take 20 years to pay back the loan?”  I input the numbers as I asked.


“That makes a huge difference!” Jane exclaimed.  “The rate of return went up and the monthly net cash flow is not only positive, it is higher than borrowing 80% from a bank.  ‘How is this a bad idea?'”  Jane quoted one of her favorite movies.

“I know this looks all rosy.  But there is still more to consider,” I said.  “One word: taxes.”

“Ugh.”  John moaned.

“Are you still in the 25% tax bracket?”  I asked.  I input their tax bracket and the capital gains tax as well as the Depreciation Recapture tax bracket and hit enter.

“Always have to pay Uncle Sam,” Jane said.

“Yes, I encourage you to do that,” I said.  “But as you can see, even when we consider the effect taxes have on this purchase, the rate of return is still great and the monthly cash flow is still positive.”

“There is one caveat here,” John said.  “And the reason we were so anxious to meet with you today. Our friend needs to have the money within a week or we cannot buy the cabin.  Can we get that kind of money that quickly?” John asked.

Reaching into my desk I pulled out a loan request form and handed it to them.  “Just fill out this form and you will have the money within a week,” I reassured them.

“Awesome!” Jane said. “That’s so much easier than I expected. And thank you. We will have to invite you up to the cabin sometime!”  Jane said.

“Sounds like fun,” I said.

As John and Jane left I was once again impressed by the power of being in control of a pool of cash to take advantage of opportunities. And I still had time to eat my lunch.


-Jason Henderson for Truth Concepts 


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Average Does Not Equal Actual

Average Rates of Return are often touted by financial experts, and yet simple math can show us that Average does not equal Actual.

Pretend that you invested $100,000 into a mutual fund that had promised an average rate of return of 25% if you left the money alone for 2 years. In the first year it earned 100%.

After the first year, the investment would look like this:

In the second year, the fund earned -50% (that is a negative 50%) and so now your investment looks like this:

While your funds average was 25% (that is mathematically correct, 100 + -50 / 2 = 25%) its actual yield was 0% because you ended up with only the $100,000 you started with.

So, Average does not equal Actual. If you’d prefer to invest your money in a place that does not roller coaster ride, please contact us and we can direct you to some options.


Please note the above illustration was for educational purposes only.

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How do I tell about the Dow in 100 years?

How do I tell about the Dow in 100 years?

In the year 1900 the Dow Jones Industrial Average was 65.29. One hundred years later it was 11,600. Using a Rate Calculator from Truth Concepts we can see that 65 (the calculator doesn’t round internally but it prints that way) growing to 11,600 over 100 years is 5.32%. So the Dow has averaged 5.32% over those 100 years.


What if we looked at the next 100 years?

Now we use a Future Value Calculator, put 11,600 in as the Present Value and the 5.32% for the Annual Interest Rate and we can see the Dow will have to be at 2,067,964 in the year 2100 to have averaged a 5.32% annual interest rate during the next 100 years.



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How do I figure out if I can get ahead by earning 6% if I have an 8% cost?

How do I figure out if I can get ahead by earning 6% if I have an 8% loan?

At first glance, the answer is obvious, you don’t get ahead.  However, sometimes we get confused and think that since an account (say at 6%) has an increasing balance while a loan (say at 8%) has a decreasing balance, we might be able to get ahead.  Let’s look at it to see the whole truth of the matter.

Take a $100,000 account earning 6% over 20 years.  Future Value: $320,714.

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We know it earned $220,714 worth of interest.  This is calculated by taking the  $320,714 total and subtracting the $100,000 initial investment.

Now let’s look at a loan for $100,000 at 8%.

We can see that our loan payment is $9430.76 and if we multiply that by 20 years, we get $188,615.20, so we know that we paid $88,615.20 in interest.  So an incorrect deduction would be that it would make financial sense to have 6% earnings while we are carrying 8% debt, but this is only because all of the facts are not presented.  Let’s take a closer look.  The only way to make valid financial conclusions is to have exactly the same cash flows and time periods in each of the comparisons we are trying to make.

Under those guidelines, if we take the $100,000 and pay off the loan at 8%, then take the payments of $9430.76 that we no longer have to make loan payments of and pay them instead to the 6% account, in 20 years, we have $367,731, instead of $320,714 in the earlier example.

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So while it is true that we pay less interest ($88,615.20) than we earn ($220,714), that is only part of the truth.  The whole truth is that cost of money does matter and in the above example, our costs are greater than our gains.  This is the whole truth, even though we earned more interest than we paid out in interest.  There is a $47,017 improvement by paying off the 8% loan with the 6% account and redirecting the freed up payments to the investment.

One critical issue left over is liquidity.  Obviously $100,000 in an account leaves us in a more liquid position initially than $9430.76 being contributed to an account every year.  But eventually the investment account with $9430.76 being added annually will over take the account with $100,000 being contributed up front and will exceed it by $47,017 in the 20th year.

So if initial liquidity is a concern, then it may be worth giving up some of the $47,017 gain to be in a more liquid position.  However, it is not true that there is a mathematical advantage in having a higher rate of interest on your debt than on your earnings.

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How Can We Prove a 15% Flat Tax is the Most Efficient?

Let’s use a Cash Flow Calculator from to tell the whole truth about what happens to an account when it gets taxed. We’ll put in $20 in 1913, the year the tax system started. We’ll show the account earning 20% per year.

We can see below that the account has $798,784,476 (that’s $798 million) in it.


This assumes no taxes or management fees were taken out during this time

If we adjusted the account for inflation, assuming a 4% annual rate, it would have $18,502,442  ($18 million) in it assuming no taxes or management fees.


It’s interesting to note that this income tax was intended to be temporary when it started, was only at 8%, and affected only the upper income earners.  The person who owned this account was in a 50% average tax bracket over those 96 years, using the table below as a guide.


So, applying the 50% tax bracket to the $798 million account would cut it in half, right?  NO, it brings it down to $188,247.  Notice below in the government only gets $188,227.


How is that?  It’s due to the fact that taxes are predatory or confiscating in nature.  Every time taxes are taken out of the account, those tax dollars can no longer earn the 20% rate of return the account is earning. This is also known as opportunity cost since the tax dollars lose the opportunity to earn interest. 

Now, let’s see what dropping the tax to 40% would do.  Watch both the End of Year Account Value on the far right and the Tax  Payment in red next to it to see how to increase both the owner of the account’s estate and the government’s take as well.


 Lowering taxes to 40% shows the owner at $1,061,598 and the government at $707,719.


 Lowering taxes to 30% shows the owner at $5,806,250 and the government at $2,448,384.


Lowering taxes to 20% shows the owner at $30,831,664 and the government at $7,707,911.


Lowering taxes to 10% shows the owner at $159,111,913 and the government at $17,679,099.


Lowering taxes to 5% shows the owner at $357,715,937 and the government at $18,827,154  If we really want the government to get the most, we’ll try 6.65%.


So we could surmise that if one is talking about 20% rates of return, a 6.65% tax bracket is the most efficient. According to our studies, if we are talking about a 9% rate of return, a 15% rate of taxation is the most efficient.

So now that you know the whole truth about the matter, what do you do with this information? Focus on accounts that do not get eroded by taxes and/or implement strategies that mitigate the taxation on these types of accounts such as taking dividends, interest and capital gains in cash instead of re-investing them.

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Calculating Internal Rate of Return

How do you calculate the internal rate of return on an investment when the cash flows vary and you can’t use a typical financial calculator that only functions with the same stream of payments, not a varying stream? 

For example, you invest in an oil well where you contribute $100,000 the first year and the second year there is a $20,000 capital call (meaning you contribute $20,000 more).

Then in the third year, there wasn’t any income but starting in the fourth year, you received the following stream, $30,000, $25,000, $30,000, $28,000 and on down and then in the 14th year you got your last payment of $4000. For this example we are ignoring any tax implications on the contribution and on the income. 

What is the annual internal rate of return? It is 8.57% as calculated below on the IRR calculator available at 

How is the calculator figuring out the 8.57% return?  It’s taking the investment of what you put up front, and getting the income stream back out as listed, and then figuring out that the account would have to earn the 8.57% every year in order to generate that stream of income and end up with zero at the end of the 14th year.

Anyone is welcome to buy this software if this type of calculation is something that they would use in their own personal situation or for any type of work they may do.  Internal Rate of Return Calculations are helpful for figuring out IRR’s on oil and gas deals as above,  life insurance policies,  real estate deals and other investments where the money in and/or the money out is an uneven dollar figure every year.

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