Investing in real estate presents an array of financial metrics and tools to assess potential investments. One of the most straightforward and insightful of these tools is the Cash on Cash (CoC) return. This blog post delves into the mechanics of calculating CoC, its importance in real estate investment, and other critical factors to consider when using this metric.

What is Cash on Cash Return?

Cash on Cash return is a rate of return ratio that calculates the cash income earned on the cash invested in a property. In simpler terms, it measures the annual return the investor makes on the property in relation to the amount of mortgage paid during the same year.

Why is Cash on Cash Important in Real Estate?

  1. Simple Understanding of Profitability: CoC offers a straightforward way to understand the profitability of a real estate investment, making it easy for general partners and investors alike to assess performance.
  2. Comparison Tool: It allows investors to compare the profitability of different real estate investments quickly.
  3. Performance Tracking: Investors can track the performance of their investment over time, observing how changes in rental income or expenses affect their returns.

How to Calculate Cash on Cash Return

The formula for calculating Cash on Cash return is:

Step-by-Step Calculation:

  1. Determine Annual Pre-Tax Cash Flow: This is the net cash flow after all expenses are paid but before taxes. Calculate it by subtracting all annual expenses (including mortgage payments) from the annual rental income.
  2. Calculate Total Cash Invested: This includes the down payment, closing costs, renovation expenses, and other upfront fees paid in cash.
  3. Apply the Formula: Divide the annual pre-tax cash flow by the total cash invested, and multiply by 100 to get the percentage.


Suppose an investor buys a rental property for $100,000. They put down a 20% down payment ($20,000) and spend an additional $5,000 in closing costs and initial repairs. The total cash invested is $25,000. The property generates $12,000 in annual rental income and has $7,000 in annual expenses, including mortgage payments. The annual pre-tax cash flow is $5,000 ($12,000 - $7,000).

Applying the CoC formula:

This means the investor's annual return on their actual cash investment is 20%.

Key Considerations When Using Cash on Cash Return

  1. Not Accounting for Appreciation: CoC does not consider the potential increase in the property's value over time (appreciation).
  2. Ignoring Financing Costs: The calculation assumes that the cost and structure of financing (mortgage) are constant, which may not always be the case.
  3. Oversimplification: While CoC is straightforward, it can oversimplify the investment’s profitability by not considering tax implications and other nuanced financial factors.
  4. Market Variability: CoC returns can vary significantly depending on the real estate market and economic conditions, affecting rental income and property expenses.


Cash on Cash return is a valuable tool for real estate investors, particularly for those involved in private real estate and equity funds, providing a clear, simple gauge of investment performance. However, it should be used in conjunction with other financial metrics and market analyses to make well-rounded investment decisions. Understanding the nuances of CoC can significantly contribute to making informed, profitable real estate investments.

Note: This article is intended for informational purposes and should not be construed as investment advice. Always consult with a financial advisor for investment decisions.