Investment analysts, students of real estate, investors, and developers frequently need to present a slew of quantitative information to a third party. This information communicates the viability of a particular investment: what the cash flows and expenses look like, what the returns are, and a host of other investment metrics. This information is most often conveyed to senior partners at investment firms, to lenders, to investors, or to third parties that will work in conjunction with the fund.
The truth is, conveying this information can be rather dry and difficult to communicate in a memorable way. This applies especially to the modern real estate professional, who faces information overload on a daily basis. The solution that is becoming more commonplace is to use infographic style dashboards to communicate vast amounts of data in a visually stunning and memorable way.
Because a significant portion of the brain is used for visual processing, we can get the sense of a visual scene in less than 1/10th of a second. Our eyes host most of the body’s sensory receptors, so infographics are a natural choice to improve financial presentations. These dashboards convey pertinent investment information without overwhelming the viewer with numbers.
If made correctly, excel dashboards can be extremely engaging, helping the viewer recall more numbers from the presentation and allowing them to identify key takeaways quickly. Here are some of the components of inputs and outputs that can be used to build an excellent excel dashboard for real estate investments.
Purchase Price, Purchase Date, Asset class
In many cases, you will be analyzing a host of different properties at the same time. This can get confusing, so be sure to keep this basic information handy at the top of every dashboard. This reduces the chances that both you and the person you are presenting to will be confused about the asset in question.
Sizing metric (number of units, square footage, etc).
This information can be very important to lenders, investors, and other third parties. When they see information about square footage and number of units, they can quickly calculate metrics and use their internal benchmarks to understand whether or not the asset is reasonably valued.
Price per measure metric (price per unit, price per square foot, etc).
Most third parties who work with real estate private equity funds have a great sense of what will work in their local market. For example, they know that if retail units are renting at $50 per foot in Phoenix in 2016, rents likely cannot be increased without substantial reasoning to prove otherwise.
Other property basics
Purchase Cap, Exit Cap, Refinance amount (if applicable), Pie chart showing equity vs debt, Sources and Uses, Strategy milestones (renovation starts or ends, refinance dates, net cash flow positive, breakeven).
This section provides the most imperative information for a particular investment. These are the metrics investors will focus on, and are already a part of most excel models and ARGUS outputs.
Investment Multiples, DSCR (Min and Average), Yield-on-Cost (Timeline metric), FCFE (Timeline metric), Net Cash Flow (Timeline metric), Cash-on-cash returns, Net Operating Income, Project IRR (Levered), Project IRR (Unlevered), NPV @ x% discount rate.
When evaluating a portfolio, asset-by-asset
Comparison of Investment Metrics (if evaluating multiple strategies side-by-side)
There are many other investment metrics that are not covered here – if you can dream of a metric, it can be added to the dashboard. Less is more – the dashboard is meant to convey some semblance of financial information to pertinent parties, but not to overwhelm them. You will likely find that they come away feeling more engaged (and therefore more likely to appreciate your presentation). Best of luck!
Here are some examples of stellar looking dashboards (in other industries) from www.chandoo.org: