First-Time Investor Guide

Investing in your first rental property can indeed feel intimidating. However, the good news is that there are reliable formulas and guidelines to help you navigate this complex terrain. Keep reading to explore how real estate pro formas and some fundamental rules of thumb can assist you in making informed decisions when considering investment properties in Chicago.

Real Estate Pro Formas: Crunching the Numbers

Real estate pro formas are essential tools that investors use to estimate rental income, factor in expenses, and project long-term gains. These calculations and formulas provide a straightforward way to evaluate the potential profitability of a rental property. While pro forma calculations offer valuable insights, it’s equally important to keep some fundamental principles in mind when scouting for properties.

1) Location, Location, Location

The first rule of thumb in real estate is the age-old adage: “Location, location, location.” When evaluating a property, consider factors such as desirability, proximity to amenities, and whether it aligns with your target market. A great location can be a game-changer for your investment, so choose wisely. Chicago offers a diverse range of neighborhoods, each with its unique appeal, so take the time to explore what suits your investment goals best.

2) Cash Flow is King

One of the most critical aspects of successful real estate investing is ensuring positive cash flow. Carefully analyze the numbers and make sure that the rental income will cover your expenses while leaving some room for unexpected repairs or vacancies. A positive cash flow not only ensures your property remains profitable but also provides a financial cushion for any unforeseen circumstances.

3) The Appreciation Factor

If cash flow is king, let’s call appreciation “queen”. Appreciation is the long-term value of a property. When considering a potential investment property, research both the historical and projected appreciation rates of the zip code and neighborhood. This information will help you gauge what the property might be worth down the road and whether it aligns with your long-term investment strategy.

4) The 1% Rule

Experienced real estate investors often adhere to the “1% rule.” According to this rule, the monthly rent should ideally be at least 1% of the purchase price. For example, if you’re eyeing a property worth $500,000, aim for a monthly rent of $5,000. While this is not a hard-and-fast rule, it can serve as a useful guideline to help you quickly assess whether a property has investment potential.

Investing in Chicago’s Real Estate Market

Despite fluctuations in interest rates, investors who are knowledgeable about what to look for are currently finding success in Chicago’s real estate market. If you’re interested in exploring investment opportunities or have questions about the local market trends, don’t hesitate to reach out. I’d be happy to share a pro forma with you! I’m here to share my resources and connect with you to help you make informed decisions on your journey into real estate investment.


For all your real estate needs, from buying your dream home to selling your property at the right price, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. As a top real estate broker in Chicago, I’m here to guide you through the ever-changing real estate landscape and help you achieve your goals.