Cap Rates vs Yields: Decoding Real Estate Investment Metrics

Cap Rates vs Yields: Decoding Real Estate Investment Metrics

3 min max read

If you're delving into the world of real estate investing, you've probably heard about capitalization rates and yields. These two real estate metrics are paramount to understanding and evaluating prospective investment opportunities. But what's the difference between a cap rate and a yield? This blog post will shed light on these vital terms and illustrate their impact on your investment.

What are Capitalization Rates?

The capitalization rate, or cap rate, is a metric that provides investors with an estimate of their potential return on an investment property. In essence, the cap rate compares the property's net operating income (NOI) with the property's market value. It's calculated by dividing the NOI by the purchase price or market value of a property.

The Mathematics Behind Cap Rate

Let's break it down mathematically:

Cap Rate = (Net Operating Income / Purchase Price)

If, for instance, you purchase a property for $1,000,000 that generates an annual NOI of $80,000, your cap rate would be 8%.

What are Yields?

Yield, on the other hand, is a general term that represents the earnings generated on an investment over a specific period. In the sphere of real estate investing, yield often refers to the annual return on an investment, expressed as a percentage of the property's cost or market value.

The Mathematics behind Yield

Yield = (Annual income / Total Investment)

For example, if you purchase a property for $1,000,000 that generates $100,000 in annual income, your yield would be 10%.

Cap Rate vs. Yield: Spotting the Difference

On the surface, cap rates and yields may seem identical - they're both expressions of return on an investment. However, the crux of the difference lies in what constitutes the return.

Cap rate is computed purely on the basis of the property's NOI, which does not factor in any financing costs. It is a measure of the profitability of a property if it were bought in cash in its entirety, thereby excluding any impact of leverage.

Yield, however, does take into account the impact of debt financing. It considers the income generated as well as the cost of the mortgage, if any. Consequently, yield is a reflection of the overall return on investment, including both equity and debt.

Why Understanding the Difference between Cap Rate and Yield is Crucial?

A clear understanding of cap rates and yield can significantly benefit your decision-making process in real estate investing. The cap rate is useful for comparing different commercial real estate investments and determining the inherent risks and potential return. A higher cap rate typically indicates higher risk but also higher potential return.

Yield, on the other hand, gives an understanding of the actual return on your investment, taking into account your financing costs. A higher yield may mean a better overall return on investment. So, if you're comparing two properties with similar cap rates, the yield could be the deciding factor.

A common pitfall among investors is confusing these two metrics or using them interchangeably. They each offer unique insights into your potential return and should be taken into account together, rather than in isolation.

Cap Rates and Yields with Buy and Holds

In buy-and-hold real estate, cap rates and yields aren't just static metrics; they are dynamic indicators of a property's growth potential and financial health. Unlike short-term flips, buy and hold properties benefit from a nuanced view of these metrics.

A property with a moderate cap rate but in an area with appreciating values can signify long-term capital gains, making it an attractive buy and hold option. Similarly, yield isn't just about immediate cash flow; it's a barometer for gauging the scalability of your investment portfolio. Understanding these subtleties helps investors identify properties that promise not only immediate returns but also sustainable growth, ensuring a robust and diversified real estate portfolio.


Through the lens of real estate investing, understanding the difference between cap rates and yields is vital. The cap rate gives an inkling of the property's inherent risk profile and potential return, while the yield provides insight into the total return on your total investment, including debt.

So next time you're assessing an investment property, don't overlook these valuable metrics. A successful real estate investor is always equipped with the right knowledge, and understanding cap rates and yields is a significant step in the right direction.

Samantha Ankney

About Samantha Ankney

Samantha has been a media specialist for DealMachine for 2.5 years. She produces, edits, writes, and publishes all media that is distributed to the DealMachine and Real Estate Investing community.