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What Is a Good Cap Rate for a Rental Property?

Have you ever thought about how some investors seem to find those rental properties that just keep making money? Well, let me tell you that this isn’t a trick at all! It is about knowing what we call the “cap rate.” 

The cap rate, also known as the “Capitalization Rate,” is an important number for investors as it gives a quick idea of how profitable a property might be and how much money you could make from it. It’s a ratio that compares how much income you could make from the property to how much it’s going to cost you to buy and maintain it. 

With years of experience, Bay Property Management Group in Baltimore has been managing numerous properties across Baltimore, Maryland. In this guide, we will explain everything related to cap rates, from how to calculate them to the factors that influence these rates. We’ll also offer valuable tips on enhancing your property’s cap rate. Let’s get started. 

What Is A Good Cap Rate For A Rental Property? 

A “good cap” rate for a rental property is commonly between 5% and 10%. The cap rate is important because it helps investors see how much money they could make from the property. However, in some locations, even 4% – 5% can be considered good. The cap rate usually changes depending on where you are because it’s linked to how much homes cost in that area. The more you do it, the better you’ll get at figuring out what works best for your business. 

How To Calculate Cap Rate For Rental Property 

Now that you know what a cap rate is and what is a good cap rate for a rental property, let’s now discuss how you calculate the cap rate for a rental property. Note that there are several methods for calculating a cap rate for a rental property, and what we’ll provide is just one approach to help simplify the process. 

To calculate the cap rate, divide the net operating income by the total property cost. 

  • Cap Rate = NOI (Net Operating Income) / Property Price 

Case scenario: 

Imagine you’re looking to buy a small business. Let’s say you find one that brings in $50,000 in annual profit and its value is at $500,000. To figure out the cap rate, you’d take that $50,000 profit and divide it by the $500,000 valuation. That gives you a cap rate of 10% 

So, it tells you that you’re earning a 10% return on your investment each year from the business’s profits. It’s like getting a percentage of the business’s value back in profit every year. 

6 Factors Influencing a Rental Property’s Cap Rate 

Several factors can influence the cap rate of a rental property. In this section, we’ll divide this into two sections: Property-specific and market-related factors. 

Property-Specific Factors: 

  • Location: Just like what we discussed above, the geographical location of a rental property is important in determining its cap rate. Rental properties located in high-demand areas with strong economic growth, amenities, and low crime rates tend to have higher rental incomes, resulting in a higher cap rate. On the other side, less desirable locations may have lower rental income and lower cap rates. 

Note: You also need to evaluate a location’s proximity to public places such as schools, transportation hubs, and employment centers to help you assess the impact on your property’s cap rate. 

  • Property’s Condition: The physical condition of a rental property matters when it comes to influencing its cap rate. Well-maintained properties with modern amenities typically attract higher rental rates, thus leading to a higher cap rate. On the alternate side, older properties or those needing extensive repairs and renovations may have lower rental incomes, resulting in a lower cap rate.  
  • Property Type: Different property types, such as single-family homes, apartments, and commercial buildings, can have different risk profiles and typical cap rates. Investors often compare cap rates within similar property types to assess potential returns. 
  • Operating expenses: The ongoing expenses associated with operating the property, such as property taxes, insurance, and maintenance costs, can affect the net operating income (NOI) and ultimately the cap rate. Lower operating expenses can contribute to a higher cap rate. 

Market-Related Factors: 

  • Market Conditions: The overall state of the real estate market, including supply and demand dynamics, vacancy rates, and rental trends, significantly impacts a property’s cap rate. In a competitive market with high demand and low vacancy rates, rental properties may mean higher rents, resulting in a higher cap rate, and vice versa. 
  • Economic Factors: Economic indicators such as inflation and interest rates directly influence the cost of borrowing, investment returns, and purchasing power, thereby impacting the cap rate of rental properties. Inflation pressures can ruin the real value of rental income over time, affecting the property’s net operating income (NOI) and its cap rate. 

Cap Rate vs. ROI: What’s The Difference? 

Both ROI (Return on Investment) and Cap Rate (Capitalization Rate) are important metrics used in real estate investment, but they offer different perspectives on potential returns. Here’s a breakdown of their key differences: 



Cap Rate 


Offers a standardized snapshot of current annual return based on market value. 

Gives a comprehensive picture of overall profitability over time, factoring in your specific investment details. 


ROI = (Gain from Investment – Initial Investment) / Initial Investment x 100% 

Cap Rate = Net Operating Income (NOI) / Property Value 

How to Improve Your Property’s Cap Rate 

If you’re starting out or still haven’t decided on the best location for your property, you still have the choice to select the optimal location where you believe you can find a good cap rate based on all the factors we mentioned above. However, let’s assume that you already own a rental property and can’t change its location. 

As a real estate investor, there are several things you can do to improve it: renovate and upgrade the property to increase its value and rental income. 

Additionally, here are some tactics investors can employ to improve their cap rate: 

  • Identify a location that aligns with your investment goals and risk tolerance. Cap rate is just one factor, so consider factors like property type, market trends, and appreciation potential. 
  • Carefully evaluate renovations based on cost-benefit analysis. Focus on improvements that will attract higher-paying tenants while keeping costs reasonable. 
  • Implement cost-effective energy-efficient measures to reduce utility expenses. 
  • Expand revenue streams by offering additional amenities or services to tenants. 
  • Consider consulting with a property manager/property management company to develop a personalized strategy for maximizing your cap rate. 

How Bay Property Management Group Can Help 

Feeling overwhelmed by cap rates? We’ve got you covered! Understanding your property’s cap rate can be complex, but you don’t have to navigate these alone. 

At Bay Property Management Group, we specialize in handling every aspect of your business, from effective rental marketing and meticulous tenant screening to prompt maintenance, seamless rent collection, and expert eviction services. Why burden yourself with these tasks when you can trust us to ensure the well-being of your properties 24/7? Get in touch with BMG today to explore our property management services across Baltimore, Philadelphia, Northern Virginia, and Washington, DC.