TO THE SMART CA(SA)'s  - A Career in Property?


Before I was involved with my current business, I was the CFO of a property company. I worked close with probably one of the most creative and ballsy property men in the country…….and he was not a CA!

He taught me the magic of the commercial property financial model specifically the impact on the  long term cash flow.  

Simply put, it pumps cash!

There is no doubt that the wealthiest people in the world know this and they all unreservedly invest in property in some manner or form.

So what is it that makes it so fascinating?

Well, working in the industry and applying my accountancy skills it didn’t take long to see some unique aspects of the real estate business that makes it so exciting.


You can get property valuations to work on a simple back-of-the-cigarette-box calculation. Using the  YIELD method, it is easy to get to a ball-park value quite quickly without doing the detailed NPV/IRR calculations (obviously these need to be done at a later stage to double check the numbers).

This simple yield method is the annual EBITDA divided by the yield percentage. This percentage is market driven and is usually related to risk.

So if the EBITDA of building A is R1,000,000 and the yield is 10% pa, then the value f the building is R10,000,000 (EBITDA/Yield%).

I like starting at this  10% yield factor as it is the middle road and I can adjust my risk factor from there.

What comes out of this, though, is the magical part of the whole equation;

For every Rand that I can get in extra rental (or by saving expenses), I get 10 times more on the capital value. 

So if I could buy a building on a 10% yield where the rental were say R15 per square meter and I could re-let it out at R30 per square meter, the numbers will look like this:

Gross rental (@R15 per sq meter)                          R1.250.000 (assumed)

Expenses                                                                    (R   250,000) (assumed)

EBITDA                                                                        R1,000,000

Valuation at a yield of 10%                                                                   R10,000,000

Increase rental to R30 per sq meter

Gross rental (@R30 per sq meter)                           R2,500,000

Expenses  (remain unchanged)                               (R   250,000)

EBITDA                                                                          R2,250,000

Valuation at a yield of 10%                                                                      R22,500,000

Capital gain                                                                                                 R12,500,000

(This is a simplistic representation as it assumes that rentals could be             doubled without incurring any further costs but many clever property                     mongols have made their fortunes doing exactly this!).

Look at this carefully – there is definitely something magical happening here.

The arithmetic is accurate and easy.

Take this one step further and you could find yourself  buying the property by rising finance from the banks without you contributing any money at all!

How so?

If you were able to approach the bank with a signed 10 year lease at R30 per sq meter, they could consider the increased value of R12,5m your equity contribution and happily advance the R10m required to purchase the property.

Yes, this is very simplistic but the theory holds good.


Property is a fascinating business and the theory applies internationally. CA’s, with their training, are ideally suited to this industry. This is besides the fact that it is a wonderful opportunity to create real wealth……..for yourself!

About the author:

Clive Kaplan, is a CA(SA) having studied at both Rhodes and UCT. With over 20 years experience as an executive director in both listed and unlisted companies. Clive offers a wealth of wisdom on both the people and business front. He is the CEO of Green Mind Capital. The company focuses on assisting executives, especially emerging young CA’s, maximize their potential and fast-track their careers. Clive has been involved with coaching and self development since 1994. Green Mind Capital is an emerging leader in the field of personal development and self-actualization.