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Understanding Gross Rent Multiplier As An Investment Tool

Melissa Brock4-minute read

June 03, 2022


When you want to buy investment property, you have a lot to think about. You must determine the best neighborhood and the schools available to renters and also compare investment property portfolios.

Don't leave the gross rent multiplier off the checklist!

Never heard of the term “gross rent multiplier”? That's OK. We'll teach you why you want to add this invaluable tool to your investment property checklist.

What Is Gross Rent Multiplier?

The gross rent multiplier (GRM) is a screening metric used by investors to compare rental property opportunities in a given market. The GRM functions as the ratio of the property’s market value over its annual gross rental income.

In other words, let's say one property collects $2,000 in rent and another property collects $1,200 in rent.

You want to determine how much rent you will collect relative to the property cost. If both properties cost $200,000, the property that rents for $2,000 will give you the most return on your investment. However, this changes when the property costs change. You can use GRM to make that determination.

Note: GRM is not equivalent to the length of time it takes for the investment to pay off because it doesn't include full net operating income. GRM does not represent the only calculation you should use to measure a profitable investment.

How To Calculate GRM Using A Simple Formula

Let's take a look at the gross rent multiplier formula that shows you how to calculate the gross rent multiplier for a property:

Gross Rent Multiplier = Fair Market Value/Gross Rental Income

Example: $200,000 Fair Market Value / $24,000 Gross Rental Income = 8.3 GRM

The GRM formula compares a property's fair market value to its gross rental income. As you can see in the formula example, the payoff period occurs in just over 8 years. Other expenses, such as repairs to the unit, vacancies between renters, property taxes and insurance don't become a part of this calculation. However, it helps you make an accurate comparison between properties without taking these other things into consideration.

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What Is A Good Gross Rent Multiplier?

A "good" GRM depends heavily on the type of rental market in which your property exists. However, you want to shoot for a GRM between 4 and 7. A lower GRM means you'll take less time to pay off your rental property.

However, again, it depends on the particular market in which you're buying. A GRM of 7.5 for a particular investment property might not seem "too high" in a particular market.

The Difference Between GRM And Capitalization Rates

GRM often gets compared and contrasted with capitalization rate and net operating income.

A capitalization rate (real estate cap rate) compares the return on commercial real estate properties by dividing the property’s net operating income (NOI) from its property asset value. NOI determines revenue and profitability after subtracting necessary operating expenses.

GRM offers a more efficient method to quickly evaluate investment properties compared to cap rate or NOI.

How To Use GRM In Real Estate Investments

Let's flesh out how to really use GRM.

Once you calculate your GRM using the provided formula, you can compare GRMs with other properties. For example, let's say you compare one property, which has a GRM of 6. Other properties in the area might have a GRM0 of 8 or 10. In this case, you might want to choose the property with the GRM of 6 because it might offer you a profitable investment opportunity.

You can also use GRM in a backward fashion. In other words, you can use known GRMs of area properties if you know them to get a sense of the fair market value of that property. For example, let's say you know that the GRM of several properties in the area average 6 and the properties generate about $25,000 of cash flow per year. You could estimate what the fair market value of another property in the areas should be. It would look like this: $25,000 x 6 = $150,000.

You can also use the GRM in another way – to calculate the gross rental income. Let's say you know a property value sits at $150,000 and the average GRM in the area is 6, you can divide the fair market value by the GRM to get the total amount of rental income you can expect to receive, like this: $150,000/6 = $25,000.

Manipulating these types of formulas lets you to create your own grading scale for investment properties in a particular market and allows you to get savvier about what numbers you should look for before you buy.

The Bottom Line: GRMs Are A Quick Investment Opportunity Ranker

Ultimately, the GRM offers a sorting tool to give real estate investors a way to make decisions. Lenders view the income and profitability of a property through the lens of GRM real estate as one of the most important lending qualification criteria.

The 1% rule is another commonly used tool in the decision-making process. Along with the GRM, it offers a sorting tool to determine whether a property makes investment sense.

Among other factors, you also need to consider property condition, repair estimates, operating costs, cap rate and more. GRM doesn't offer the final word on whether you should or shouldn't invest in a property, but it does offer a great starting point.

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Melissa Brock.

Melissa Brock

Melissa Brock is a freelance writer and editor who writes about higher education, trading, investing, personal finance, cryptocurrency, mortgages and insurance. Melissa also writes SEO-driven blog copy for independent educational consultants and runs her website, College Money Tips, to help families navigate the college journey. She spent 12 years in the admission office at her alma mater.