A week ago today, I got an iPhone. I don't know how I lived without this thing before! It is far more than just a phone. There are hundreds of applications out there, many of which are free, that provide useful functionality, good entertainment, or both.
One free app I found is called Buy That Duplex Lite, or BTD Lite for short. This is a simple little investment property analyzer. You input the property price, down payment amount, loan interest rate, and loan length and it will calculate your monthly mortgage payment and cashflow. You can specify eight different monthly expenses (vacancy rate, maintenance utilities, property management fees, insurance, taxes, and Other) or accept the default values for these fields, and it will calculate your monthly cashflow. Although it is called Buy That Duplex, nothing in the program is specific to duplexes and this could be used to analyze any investment property. And although the calculations it performs are not complex and can be done in a spreadsheet or even by hand on paper, I think the real value of this program is that is runs on the iPhone. This enables you to take it with you when you go out looking at potential properties to perform on the spot analyses. It also gives you some ammunition for those real estate agents who assure you that every property they have available will cashflow. Simply plug in the numbers and see if he or she is telling the truth.
The default values for the expenses (entered as a percentage of the monthly rent) are reasonable and you can change them should you feel the need. I would like to see one more figure added to the cash flow analysis section: the annualized return on investment (ROI) percentage.
A version with more features, called Buy That Duplex Pro, is scheduled to be released next month. This version is set to include the features of the Lite version plus amortization tables, property appreciation tables, an equity analysis function, net sales proceeds calculator, and the ability to store favorites (for when analyzing and comparing several properties at once). No word on the cost for this version yet.
An added feature I would like would be a reverse calculation where you give the program the ROI you want, and it will calculate the price and/or down payment you need to obtain that rate of return. Perhaps that could be a feature in the full version of the program. It would also be nice if you could enter addresses for properties or use the iPhone's GPS feature to mark a location when at the property. Then tie that data into Google Maps. And how about using the iPhone's camera to take pictures of the various properties? Those would likely be deluxe features found in the pay version, but they would be very useful when comparing properties.
All in all, BTD Lite is a slick little program that will really help investors as they travel about searching for new properties to acquire.