Published by Kartik Subramaniam
Get ready for a little bit of basic math as we define the GRM in real estate investing and compare it to the capitalization rate.
Both the GRM and capitalization rate (also known as the “cap rate”) are important metrics for investors to consider when looking at an investment property.
If you are interested in real estate investing this will be a good read for you. I’m guessing that most readers who are interested in getting their real estate license have at least toyed around with the idea of investing in real estate.
The gross rent multiplier represents the relationship between the gross income that a property produces and its potential purchase price or value. It is a simple back-of-the-envelope way to represent the multiple of the gross income relative to the property’s purchase price - the GRM is not a measurement of time (more on that later).
As a general rule, the higher the GRM the more pricey the property is relative to the income. The lower the GRM the more of a “value” investment the property might be. Investors looking for the most “bang-for-their-buck” might seek out properties with lower GRMs as the multiple of gross income to the amount invested is lower.
Examples of the GRM
As an extreme example, consider the property below.
Purchase price = $100,000
Gross yearly income = $100,000
In the above case, the GRM would be 1x. The purchase price of this property equals the gross rent collected. This is an impossible and extreme example but it illustrates just how good of a deal this would be if it were true. Imagine a property that rents for $100,000 per year (or about $8,333 per month) that you could buy for only $100,000. This would be such a good deal that you would have to get in line and fight hundreds of other investors for it.
More likely, is that if a property rents for $100,000 per year that it would cost something like $2,000,000 or 20x the gross rent collected.
Again, lower gross rent multipliers can generally represent better value purchases for investors and higher gross rent multipliers mean that the investor is paying more for every dollar of rent collected.
More Realistic Examples of GRM
Purchase price $2,500,000
Gross annual income of $50,000
$2,500,000 / $50,000 = The purchase price is 50x the gross rent collected.
Purchase price $1,750,000
Gross annual income of $75,000
$1,750,000 / $75,000 = The purchase price is 23.3x the gross rent collected.
Drawbacks to the GRM
There are some drawbacks to using the gross rent multiplier method as the only way to value property. Because only the gross rent is considered expenses are not factored into this equation. This is a key distinction between the gross rent multiplier compared to the capitalization rate of a property.
Unlike the GRM, the cap rate does consider expenses like property taxes, insurance, maintenance and management to name a few to calculate net operating income. The GRM merely looks at the total rent collected relative to the gross income of the property.
Investors may look at both the gross rent multiplier and the capitalization rate to determine whether or not a property is a good investment and compare it with other properties the investor might be considering.
However, rarely will an investor only consider the GRM.
What is the difference between the GRM and cap rate?
The Gross Rent Multiplier and the capitalization rate are two wildly different methods of valuing an investment property.
As I mentioned above, the GRM is a very simple way to find out how many times the gross rent collected will equal the value. The capitalization rate on the other hand is a way for an investor to determine the annual rate of return.
Formulaically, the capitalization rate is calculated by taking the net operating income that the property produces and dividing it into the purchase price.
If you are interested in learning more about the cap rate check out the first in a 3 part series here:
As a matter of practice, most investors will give more credence to the capitalization rate as opposed to the GRM.
Why the GRM isn’t a measure of the number of years it will take to pay off the property
There are several problems with assuming that the GRM is the number of years it will take to recoup your investment. The first fallacy with considering GRM as a measurement of time is that it does not take into account expenses. If a property produces $50,000 per year in gross rent, the GRM does consider property taxes, insurance, maintenance, management nor does it include any debt service that the investor might be paying to secure the investment.
The second issue with considering GRM as a measurement of time is that rent typically increases as time progresses. The gross rent multiplier only considers the current rent not any future rent increases.
For the above two reasons, it is inaccurate to assume that the GRM is some measurement of the “number of years” it would take to recoup your investment because it doesn't include expenses, nor does it include any future increases in rent. Both of these affect the amount of time it will take to get your investment back.
Does a buyer want a high GRM or a low GRM?
Generally, as a buyer, a low GRM is preferred. Lower GRMs generally represent better deals for buyers because the ratio of the gross income to the purchase price is lower.
Higher GRMs generally mean that the buyer of an investment property is paying more for every dollar in income that the property produces.
While not perfect, the gross rent multiplier is still a common method that investors used to analyze a particular property. Keep in mind that this is not the ground truth golden method, because expenses are not considered.
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