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Commercial Real Estate

MOIC in Commercial Real Estate Investing: Definition, Calculation, and Applications

Let’s break down the sometimes confusing nature of the MOIC (Multiple on Invested Capital) metric and its role in evaluating commercial real estate investments.

In the world of commercial real estate investing, performance metrics are essential tools for assessing the potential return on investment (ROI) of a given property or project. Among these metrics, the Multiple on Invested Capital (MOIC) is a valuable indicator that helps investors evaluate the overall profitability of their investments. In this article, we will explore the definition of MOIC, its calculation, limitations, applications in private equity real estate, and its comparison with another commonly used metric, the Internal Rate of Return (IRR).

Definition of MOIC:

MOIC, or Multiple on Invested Capital, is a performance metric used in finance and investment to express the return on an investment as a multiple of the initial investment. In the context of commercial real estate, MOIC allows investors to assess the overall profitability of a property or project by comparing the total cash received from an investment with the initial capital invested.

Calculating MOIC:

Calculating the MOIC (Multiple on Invested Capital) for an investment is a crucial step to understand the return on your investment. To compute MOIC, follow this simple formula: MOIC = Net Cash Return / Initial Cash Investment. Net Cash Return, also known as “cash inflows,” represents the total amount of money received from the investment, while Initial Cash Investment, or “cash outflows,” refers to the initial amount of money invested. MOIC is synonymous with other terms like “Multiple on Money (MoM)” and “Cash-on-Cash Return,” and it is widely used by investors to measure the effectiveness of their investments by comparing the initial capital to the return generated. It is essential to note that MOIC is expressed as a multiple (e.g., 2x) and does not indicate the duration of the investment, which is crucial for annualized performance comparisons.

MOIC Formula Simplified:

Formula: MOIC = Total Cash Received / Initial Capital Invested

Example: If an investor puts $1,000,000 into a commercial real estate project and eventually receives $3,000,000 in cash (from rental income, sale proceeds, or a combination of both), the MOIC for that investment would be:

MOIC = $3,000,000 / $1,000,000 = 3.0

This means that the investment generated a return of three times the initial capital invested.

Limitations of MOIC:

While MOIC is a helpful metric for evaluating investment performance, it has certain limitations:

  1. Time horizon: MOIC does not consider the time horizon of an investment, making it difficult to compare investments with different holding periods. A high MOIC may not necessarily indicate a superior investment if it took a significantly longer time to realize the return.
  2. Cash flow timing: MOIC does not account for the timing of cash flows, which can be an important factor when assessing the risk and return of an investment.
  3. Risk assessment: MOIC does not directly address the risks associated with an investment, such as leverage, market conditions, or property-specific risks.

Disadvantages of MOIC:

Despite its usefulness, MOIC has certain disadvantages that investors should consider when assessing the performance of their investments:

  1. Lack of risk-adjustment: MOIC does not account for the risk associated with an investment, making it challenging to compare investments with different risk profiles. This limitation can lead investors to overestimate the attractiveness of high-return investments without considering the potential risks involved.
  2. Insensitivity to time: As mentioned earlier, MOIC does not factor in the time horizon of an investment. This insensitivity to time can result in misleading comparisons between investments with different holding periods. For instance, an investment with a high MOIC but a long holding period may not be as attractive as one with a slightly lower MOIC but a much shorter holding period.
  3. Inability to capture interim cash flows: MOIC focuses on the total cash received from an investment, ignoring the timing and frequency of interim cash flows, such as rental income or dividend payments. This limitation can lead to an incomplete understanding of an investment’s cash flow profile and its implications on the investor’s overall financial position.
  4. Potential for misinterpretation: Since MOIC is a simple ratio, it can be easily misinterpreted or misused by investors who may not fully understand its limitations. For example, a high MOIC may be perceived as a sign of a successful investment, even if the investment took an unreasonably long time to achieve that return or was associated with high risks.

In light of these disadvantages, it is crucial for commercial real estate investors to use MOIC alongside other performance metrics, such as IRR, equity multiple, and risk-adjusted returns, to obtain a more comprehensive and accurate assessment of their investments’ performance. By considering the strengths and weaknesses of each metric, investors can make more informed decisions and maximize their returns while managing risks effectively.

MOIC in Private Equity Real Estate:

In private equity real estate, MOIC is often used alongside other performance metrics, such as IRR and equity multiple, to assess the performance of real estate funds or individual property investments. MOIC can provide a high-level overview of the profitability of a real estate investment, allowing investors to compare different investments or funds and make more informed decisions.


While both MOIC and IRR are useful performance metrics, they have distinct differences and serve different purposes:

  1. MOIC expresses the return on an investment as a multiple of the initial capital invested, whereas IRR represents the annualized rate of return over the investment period.
  2. IRR considers both the magnitude and timing of cash flows, while MOIC does not account for cash flow timing or the investment’s time horizon.
  3. IRR can be more challenging to calculate than MOIC, especially when cash flows are irregular or inconsistent.

In commercial real estate investing, it is beneficial to use both MOIC and IRR in conjunction to gain a comprehensive understanding of an investment’s performance and risk profile.


MOIC is an essential performance metric for commercial real estate investors, providing a simple way to evaluate the overall profitability of an investment. While it has limitations, MOIC can be effectively used in conjunction with other metrics such as IRR to gain a comprehensive understanding of an investment’s performance and risk profile.

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