What is CapEx in Real Estate? How to Budget for It

Real estate is one of the most popular and lucrative forms of investment.

However, owning and managing a property is not as simple as collecting rent and paying bills.

There are many expenses involved in maintaining and improving a property, some of which are more significant and long-term than others.

What is Leverage in Real Estate
What is Leverage in Real Estate?| Buttonwood

These expenses are known as capital expenditures, or CapEx, in real estate.

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Definition and Examples of CapEx

Capital expenditures (CapEx) are funds used by a company or an individual to acquire, upgrade, and maintain physical assets such as property, plants, buildings, technology, or equipment.

CapEx is often used to undertake new projects or investments by a company or an investor.

Making capital expenditures on fixed assets can include repairing a roof, purchasing a piece of equipment, or building a new factory.

In real estate, CapEx are expenses that go toward adding to or improving a property beyond common, routine repairs and maintenance.

Since the costs associated with these improvements are usually substantial, real estate professionals put aside cash from their monthly revenue into reserves.

Sometimes referred to as a capital expenditures budget, a reserve fund is a savings account or another highly liquid asset set aside to finance emergency and major long-term projects.

Examples of CapEx in real estate include:

  1. Buying land or a building
  2. Adding a new unit or a floor to an existing building
  3. Renovating or remodeling a unit or a common area
  4. Replacing major systems or components such as HVAC, plumbing, or electrical
  5. Installing new technology or equipment such as security cameras, smart locks, or solar panels

How to Calculate and Budget for CapEx

CapEx can be calculated by using data from a company’s or a property’s income statement and balance sheet. On the income statement, find the amount of depreciation expense recorded for the current period.

On the balance sheet, locate the current period’s property, plant, and equipment (PP&E) line-item balance.

Locate the prior-period PP&E balance, and take the difference between the two to find the change in the PP&E balance.

The formula for calculating CapEx is:

CapEx = PP&E + Current depreciation


PP&E is the change in property, plant, and equipment in the current period from the prior.

The difference is usually calculated yearly.

Depreciation is the amount of the cost of an asset that is allocated as an expense over its useful life.

Budgeting for CapEx is crucial for real estate investors and managers, as it can affect the cash flow, profitability, and value of a property. There are several factors to consider when planning and budgeting for CapEx, such as:

1.The age and condition of the property and its components
2.The expected useful life and replacement cost of each component
3.The market demand and competition for the property and its features
4.The tax implications and benefits of CapEx
5.The availability and cost of financing for CapEx

One common method of estimating and budgeting for CapEx is to use a percentage of the gross income or the net operating income (NOI) of the property.

For example, some investors may allocate 10% of the gross income or 20% of the NOI to CapEx reserves.

However, this method may not be accurate or sufficient for every property, as it does not account for the specific needs and characteristics of each property.

A more detailed and customized method is to use a CapEx schedule, which lists each component of the property, its useful life, its replacement cost, and its annual CapEx allocation.

This way, investors and managers can plan ahead for future CapEx and avoid unexpected expenses or cash flow shortages.

Why Proptech is a Great CapEx

Proptech, or property technology, is the use of digital and innovative solutions to enhance the real estate industry.

Proptech can include software, hardware, platforms, or services that aim to improve the efficiency, convenience, security, sustainability, or profitability of real estate. Some examples of proptech are:

1.Online platforms and apps that facilitate the search, listing, leasing, or management of properties

2.Smart devices and systems that enable remote control, automation, or optimization of property functions such as lighting, heating, cooling, or security

3.Data analytics and artificial intelligence that provide insights, predictions, or recommendations for real estate decisions

4.Blockchain and cryptocurrency that enable transparent, secure, and decentralized transactions and contracts for real estate

5.Virtual reality and augmented reality that enhance the visualization, marketing, or design of properties

Proptech can be a great CapEx for real estate investors and managers, as it can offer many benefits, such as:

1.Increasing the appeal and value of the property to tenants and buyers
2.Reducing the operating and maintenance costs of the property
3.Improving the performance and sustainability of the property
4.Generating additional revenue streams or savings from the property
5.Enhancing the customer experience and satisfaction of the property

However, proptech also comes with some challenges and risks, such as:

1.The high upfront cost and complexity of installation and integration of proptech
2.The compatibility and interoperability issues of different proptech solutions and systems
3.The security and privacy concerns of data collection and sharing of proptech
4.The legal and regulatory uncertainties and compliance of proptech
5.The obsolescence and disruption of proptech by new technologies and innovations

Therefore, real estate investors and managers should carefully evaluate the costs and benefits of proptech, and choose the most suitable and effective proptech solutions for their properties.


CapEx is an important concept and practice in real estate, as it can have a significant impact on the value and performance of a property.

They are expenses that go toward acquiring, upgrading, and maintaining physical assets such as property, plants, buildings, technology, or equipment.

CapEx can be calculated by using data from the income statement and the balance sheet, and budgeted by using a percentage of the income or a CapEx schedule.

Proptech can be a great CapEx for real estate, as it can offer many benefits, but also some challenges and risks.

Real estate investors and managers should understand and plan for CapEx, and leverage proptech to enhance their real estate portfolio..

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