What can I take you for? (or: Determining Rent)

Some aspects of landlording are so mysterious that they practically border on the occult. Take setting rental prices, for example. We try and we try and we try, but Biff and I haven't been able to truly quantify fair rent setting practices. When we set the rent on House #1 for the first time, the number was little more than a random fling of a dart at a border of numbers.

If you are setting rent for the first time (or just want some guidance) check out this article from bankrate.com. As with almost everything in real estate, there isn't a rule in there that wasn't meant to be broken, but it's a good launching point.

Especially interesting to me was how the more expensive the home, the lower the capitalization through rental income. Essentially, less expensive home have greater yields. This is fascinating to me because it jives with the research Biff did back in summer of 2005. Here's a glimpse at that research.


The blue line is obviously the average, the red dot is House #1. Note that all the calculations are normalized to square footage. Biff believes strongly (and has brought me around to thinking) that the single most important attribute of a rental property after location is square footage.

Biff's conclusion from his research: "Within range of interest ($50k-$200k) trend is nearly linear (i.e., two $100k houses would likely yield only slightly more as one $200k house). Fewer, more expensive properties are better because they're easier to manage and potentially have better quality renters, but more cheaper properties probably have a slight advantage for profit margin and lower financial risk."

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