What is a residual calculation in real estate?

What is a Residual Calculation in Real Estate?

Residual calculation is a valuation method used to estimate the value of a development site or project. This method works by determining the residual land value, which is essentially the value of the land after deducting all costs associated with the development, including construction, financing, marketing, and developer's profit. The process involves calculating the total potential revenue from the project (e.g., from selling or leasing properties), then subtracting all the development and holding costs to arrive at the land's residual value. This calculation is particularly useful for developers and investors to assess the feasibility of a project and determine the maximum amount they should pay for a piece of land to ensure a desired return on investment.

How to Calculate Residual Value

Calculating the residual value in real estate, particularly for development projects, involves several steps to determine what the land or project is worth after accounting for all expenses and desired profit. Here’s a simplified approach:

1. Estimate the Gross Development Value (GDV)

Begin by estimating the Gross Development Value (GDV) of the project. This is the total value you expect to realize from the project once it's completed and fully operational, often calculated from sales or rental income.

2. Deduct Development Costs

Subtract all costs associated with developing the project from the GDV. This includes construction costs, professional fees (architects, engineers, legal fees), marketing expenses, and financing costs.

3. Deduct Developer's Profit

Developers undertake projects with the expectation of earning a profit. Deduct the desired profit margin from the remaining value. This margin can vary but is typically between 15% to 20% of the GDV for residential projects.

4. Consider Other Costs

Include any other costs not previously accounted for, such as land acquisition costs, taxes, and contingency costs (a percentage of the total costs to cover unforeseen expenses).

Residual Value Calculation Formula

The formula to calculate the residual land value looks like this: Residual Land Value = GDV − Total Development Costs − Developer’s Profit

Example Residual Value Calculation

Suppose you’re developing a residential project with a GDV of $1,000,000. The total development costs are estimated at $600,000, and you aim for a 20% profit margin on the GDV.

  • Step 1: GDV = $1,000,000
  • Step 2: Development Costs = $600,000
  • Step 3: Developer's Profit = 20% of GDV = $200,000 (0.20 * $1,000,000)
  • Step 4: Residual Land Value = GDV - Development Costs - Developer's Profit = $1,000,000 - $600,000 - $200,000 = $200,000

Based on this calculation, the maximum amount the developer should pay for the land to achieve the desired profit margin is $200,000.

As you can see above, residual calculation offers a valuable framework for assessing project feasibility and financial goals.

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