Based on actual properties listed on the MLS, current rental values as of 2010 and assuming a 20% down payment.

Property Description Price Rent* Mtg** T&I Mgt*** CF Apprec. Year 20****
Southgate 3 bed, 2 bath home $100,000 $950 $480 $136 $133 $201/mo $223K

In this property the cash flow of $201/month can be used for repairs, maintenance or paying down the mortgage in 20 years. Based upon these assumptions (which are designed to be conservative), your initial investment of $20,000 is now worth $223,000. which is a 55% annual return on your original investment. This does not take into consideration tax deductions along the way.

It’s important to note that even if there was 0% appreciation, with the property now paid off and worth what you paid for it, you would still have a 20%/year return on your investment! What is your downside risk? Real estate has never gone down in value over a 20 year period.

It gets even better; Once the property is paid off, it is now throwing off cash which I call a Forever Annuity. If rental rates increase just 2.5% per year over 20 years, this property could become a cash cow earning $1450/month. Again, based upon your initial investment of $20,000, this income of $17,400 would be a return of 87% per year for as long as you own the home (and while it continues to increase in value). Is this a great country or what?

Here are some more examples taken from the current MLS:

Property Description Price Rent* Mtg** T&I Mgt*** CF Apprec. Year 20****
Vamo area 3 bed, 2 bath home $94,900 $900 $456 $130 $117 $198/mo $212K
Ridgewood 3 bed/ 2 bath home $109,250 $925 $524 $148 $130 $123/mo $244K

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*Based on Constant over 20 years
**30 Year at 6%
***Management + Leasing (prorated monthly), (goes down on renewals)
**** Based on 4% annual (NAR average nationally is 6%)