Charmain Mayssa February 6, 2021 Spreadsheet
Designing a strong real estate spreadsheet requires some forethought about the uses, calculations, and net results you‘re looking for. This should be done before you ever get started. Here we demonstrate some key considerations by means of a case study. To demonstrate the proper approach to designing and building a real estate spreadsheet in Excel, let‘s use a residential multi‐unit rehabilitation project example. To keep it simple, let‘s assume it has 4 apartment units, was built 60 years ago, has 3 existing tenants, and requires new interior and exterior paint, some plumbing and electrical work to update the property to modern safety standards, and a partial re‐roofing to fix some water damage.
Since this is a residential rental apartment building it makes sense to include rental income in your real estate spreadsheet. That‘s obvious. What isn‘t so obvious are things like interest on tenant deposits, subsidies, tax refunds, etc. When you‘re building the spreadsheet you need to estimate when those revenues will arrive, and that relates to the number of tenants, the rental rates you charge, how long the lease term is for each tenant, etc. You also need to assume some late payments, evictions, and vacant units. If you haven‘t invested in the area before this can be a challenge. You can gather data on that by speaking with local real estate agents, lenders, and tax agencies, or subscribe to an industry database that covers the local area.
Part of the fundamental financial analysis of any company, investment security, or business project entails the computation of cash flows. This is typically done in a cash flow template Excel spreadsheet which is pre‐built for the purpose. The reason for this is that this type of template is not a simple calculator you build on the fly with little effort. It requires a lot of thinking, organizing the spreadsheets and formulas, and some planning about how to model cash in and cash out for each potential investment. In other words, there is no cookie cutter approach because each potential investment has different profit and loss drivers.
Examples of third party evidence would be sales invoices, purchases invoices and bank statements. Financial transactions where no receipt exists can still be entered in the business books although all transactions not carrying third party evidence could subsequently be disallowed for tax purposes and certainly would be if the amounts entered indicated unusual income or expenditure.
Such software allows you to compare Excel documents as if you were editing it from the spreadsheet itself. Commenting can also be a possible feature that you can utilize with a comparison software. You can also convert data into reports after making changes or updates to the data entered on your spreadsheet. With this easier option in comparing files you can surely make the most out of your time and be more productive with your paper work. There are two information‐related walls that a young company hits while trying to grow. The first wall is what I call "spreadsheet suffocation." It is that stage of information sharing pain that causes people to start cussing. Where did you save the Johnson calculations? Who has the orders spreadsheet locked? Where did my new inventory list go? Did someone write over it? There was 2 days work in that spreadsheet!
One of the first things to consider is what kind of data you have to work with in your cash flow template Excel spreadsheet. Ideally, you‘re looking for accurate monthly data including income statement items like revenue and operating expenses and balance sheet items like equipment purchases and cash from financing activities. If you have a longer time frame you can go with quarterly periods, but annual tends to be too long. After all, how can you predict what is going to happen beyond 5 years with any accuracy unless you‘re valuing an annuity?