A valuable number in real estate investing is the price to rent ratio, which is simply the purchase price dividend by the rent received. For example, the condo I purchased for $126,000 and rent for $1,300 / month would have a Price-Rent Ratio of 96.9 (monthly) or 8.08 (annualized).
The annualized ratio is comparable to the P/E of a stock (for which 8.08 is considered quite good!).
The only real problem with this approach is that you can’t really look up ratios for different areas easily. For example, what’s the average Price-Rent Ratio for Toronto? I have no idea! I’d love to know if Kingston or Waterloo have a better Price-Rent Ratio, but that’s not something I can easily look-up, unfortunately.
If you COULD determine this Canada-wide, a community with a very low Price-Rent Ratio, a decent population size and a low vacancy rate (say under 5%) would be an EXCELLENT place to purchase / build rental properties (the other info can be easily determined).
People sometimes talk about properties being cash-flow property from day 1 with 0% down, and I can’t imagine that very many deals like this are possible! As I’m writing this, I did some calculations. Given the fact that my property is $250 cash-flow positive. At the interest rate I’m paying (5.05%), the property could afforded an additional $250 / month in interest, which means I could have afforded to borrow another $59,405.94 (250*12/5.05%). Since I’ve put less than this into the property, if I could somehow have gotten the interest rate I got with 0% down (say with a VTB or something), I could have had this property cash-flow positive with nothing down, so I guess it IS possible.
EDIT: FinancialJungle wisely pointed out that the ratio I’ve calculated is more like the Price:Sales ratio then the price to earnings.