PDA Software

Frequently Asked Questions

The Real Estate Geek is designed for the Real Estate Professional. The software and add-ins are to be used for informational purposes, and assumes that the user has a good understanding of finance, investment principles and accounting practices. The information provided on this site relates to the operation of the Real Estate Geek software, and is not intended as an educational resource for investment analysis.

What OS does the Real Estate Geek support?

The Real Estate Geek supports all Palm OS 3 and above, as well as a version for Pocket PC.

The feature to beam Property and Financial data between PDAs is unavailable in the Pocket PC version.

If you purchased our version specifically designed for Palm OS 5 BEFORE December 2003, your registration key will permit you to upgrade to the latest version of the software, however, due to incompatibilities with the database structures. All information stored in your PDA using the older versions of the software will be lost.

I purchased your software a few months ago, now an newer version is available. What is you upgrade policy?

Your purchase of a single use license for the Real Estate Geek includes complementary upgrades for versions using the Palm PDA platform.

If you change from a Palm to a Pocket PC device, or visa versa, you will need to purchase another license.

Is there a downloadable users manual that I can use to help evaluate your product?

There is no user's manual for the Real Estate Geek. In lieu of the user manual, we focused our efforts on the help functions available from within the application. You get to them by clicking on the "?" icon in the upper right corner. We also have a tutorial/demo for both PDA operations as well as demo-ing the PDA to Excel reporting interface functionality available here. I think the tutorial will be an excellent tool for you to get an understanding on the operation and capabilities of the Real Estate Geek.

This list of FAQs is another resource regarding the use of the Real Estate Geek. If you have still have questions, please email us.

When I launch the Real Estate Geek, I get a "No MathLib/Trig Library" Error. What should I do?

You are using an older version of the Real Estate Geek software. Please download and install the most current version of the software.

For those of us who are just starting out (not your intended audience), can you suggest a web site or book that would help me understand some of the inputs and outputs of the Real Estate Geek?

We realize that many neophyte Real Estate Investors have downloaded evaluations of the Real Estate Geek. In order to help you understand the analysis methodology behind the software, we've constructed a page of resources which provide definitions of Real Estate terminology and illustrate the Income/Cash Flow approach to Real Estate Investment valuations.

References to these sites are for informational and educational purposes only, and does not make any representation to any person as to the quality or suitability for any purpose of any financial or investment product or professional services offered by that site.

Does the Real Estate Geek provide Canadian support for loan scenarios?

Yes. In addition to Canadian loan scenarios, by selecting "Canada" as the tax calculation scenario on the "Var" screen, tax calculations will employ Capital Cost Allowance (CCA) guidelines to depreciation values input on the "Inc" screen, as well as Canadian calculations for capital gains.

Does "Expense Escalation" reflect inflation of an aggregate of expenses?


Does this software work for international properties?

Yes. The software is geared towards the US and Canadian markets, but can be used for international properties. By default, the software uses US Federal Income Tax requirements in calculation of overall profitability and after tax income and cash flow.

This calculation method can be changed by selecting the either Canadian or disabling the tax calculation on the "Var" screen. If "none" is selected as the tax calculation method, income taxes will be calculated as a straight percentage based on the tax bracket input on the "Var" screen, and tax burden is not reduced by depreciation.

The currency display can be changed by clicking the menu button on the Palm, then selecting "Options", then "Set Currency". For Pocket PC, select "Options" from the menu bar, then "Set Currency". Euro, Pound Sterling, Yen, or Dollar can be displayed.

I received the program files with my registration key by email, and am having trouble installing them on my PDA.

The zipped file sent to you contain the companion Excel spreadsheet template and Add-in for use on your desktop computer. They are not meant to be installed on your PDA. They are bonus applications providing a way for you to export the real estate investment data from your PDA to your desktop computer for printing or further analysis. Instructions on installing the Excel Add-in are included in the zipped readme.txt file. Detailed installation and troubleshooting is also available on our website.

The PDA Real Estate Geek software should be downloaded from our site at, or one of our marketing partners. The trial version and full versions are one and the same, with the full functionality unlocked by the registration key emailed to you with the companion Excel files.

What are Amoritized Fees?

Amortized Fees is a catchall category for all non specific fees incurred at purchase that are to be amortized, such brokers fees, deferred leasing commissions, or due diligence costs.

Why are there two entries for Capital Improvement? What's the difference?

The Real Estate Geek allows for expenditures for Capital Improvements to be spread over two years, then will depreciate them in accordance to the year they were installed. The "1st Yr Capital Impr" form item is the value of Capital Improvements installed in the Acquisition Year, and the "2nd Yr Capital Impr" form item is the value of the Capital Improvements installed in the year after the Acquisition Year.

I'm looking at a property which currently has a high vacancy rate. I think that with some cosmetic improvements to the property and better management, occupancy can be significantly improved. How do I input this scenario into your software?

The Real Estate Geek does not offer multiple inputs for the Vacancy Allowance, which is intended to describe a "stabilized" vacancy rate. This value should be the Vacancy percentage that you anticipate once the property experienced the occupancy improvements you described.

Use the "Escalation Factor for Cap Impr" to describe the increase in rental income as a result in the increased occupancy. For example, if the property is now only 60% occupied, and you anticipate that this can be increased to 90%, the rental income would increase by 50%. Input 50% as the "Escalation Factor for Cap Impr" with the year you expect this increase to occur.

Be aware that the "Vacancy Allowance" will be applied to increased rental income value, so the Actual Occupancy will be something less than 90%. This behavior is by design, as "Vacancy Allowance" is a provision for bad debt, uncollected rents, vacancy resulting changing of tenants, units unoccupied during maintenance/renovation, as well as market driven vacancies. Even a fully occupied property should carry some nominal value as a Vacancy Allowance.

Is the "Vacancy Allow" the % of the Annual Rent you expect to not collect for a given year?

Yes. The loss of rent represented by the Vacancy Allowance can be the result of a projected occupancy of less than 100%, or other uncollectable rents.

What is an example of "Other Income"?

Other Income is a catchall input value for all non-rental income associated with a property, such as parking fees and fees charged for amenities.

What is the purpose of the lower section on the Inc form?

The bottom section of the Inc screen provides information for depreciation calculations, and are reflected in the property's Income stream.

Since land value cannot be depreciated, building value, land improvement value (such as hardscapes and site infrastructure), and personal property value are input as components of the purchased property. The sum of these depreciable assets must be less than the overall purchase value of the property. The difference between the overall purchase value of the property and the depreciable assets is the calculated land value.

The depreciation period is determined by the type of asset, as well as whether it is a residential or commercial property. Capital Improvements begin depreciation in the year of their installation, and are deprecated as a structure.

What is the "Resale Factor"? What is the "Valuation Method"?

Resale Factor is applied as indicated by the Valuation Method to calculate the projected Resale value of the property.

As an example, selection of Cap Rate as the Valuation Method, and 11% as the Resale Factor will apply an 11% cap rate to the NOI of the resale year to calculate the estimated Resale value. Other Valuation Methods are Gross Rent Multiplier which applies the Resale Factor to the Gross Rent value of the resale year and Inflation which applies the Resale Factor to the Purchase Value plus Capital Improvements to calculate the Future Value of the Property.

What is the purpose of the "Use Suspended Losses at Resale" check box?

Checking the "Suspended Losses" check box indicates that taxable losses are to be carried forward in time as suspended losses and used to offset future taxable income and resale proceeds in Income Stream and Return calculations.

Showing the taxable loss in a given year maybe desired in situations where the subject property is part of a larger portfolio and will be used to offset income gained by another property in that year.

The Real Estate Geek provides an option where both scenarios can be easily analyzed.

What is "PV for Calculations"?

PV for calculations is an arbitrary value selected by the user and represents a "safe" investment rate, such as a tax-free T-bill.

This value is used as the reinvestment interest rate for calculation of MIRR, calculation of interest earned on cash reserves, and calculation of the "safe" investment return used for comparison.

What does IRR represent?

The IRR value is the internal rate of return for the property's cash flows with the initial cash flow value as the initial cash investment, and the final cash flow value as the cash flow of the resale year plus (or minus) the resale proceeds.

Would it make sense to show the IRR for each year as well since this calculation looks at how the cash flows and property value change with time?

IRR and MIRR are shown on an annual basis on the companion Excel worksheets, but are calculated and displayed only for the resale date on the PDA application due to limitations in display and computing power of the PDA device.

The IRR and MIRR calculations generated by the PDA application uses values related to the actual resale date are more accurate than those generated in the Excel worksheet which uses a year-end income stream. As an example, if the resale month is June, the PDA will calculate IRR and MIRR for a 6 month income stream in the resale year, while the Excel worksheet will calculate this value on a full 12 month stream.

What does the #NUM error in the Excel Worksheet mean?

Microsoft Excel uses an iterative technique for calculating IRR. Starting with guess, IRR cycles through the calculation until the result is accurate within 0.00001 percent. If IRR can't find a result that works after 20 tries, the #NUM! error value is returned.

How can I determine how the analysis values are generated?

The Real Estate Geek is essentially a 'black box' where information is input and analysis is output. We recognize that the calculation methodology is important to the overall understanding and validity of the generated analysis. To provide an auditable track of the analysis, the Real Estate Geek PDA software is distributed with a companion Excel Workbook which clearly shows all calculations.

During the testing phase in development of the Real Estate Geek, identical data was input in both the PDA and the Excel spreadsheet with the results compared and validated.

While the Excel Workbook is not available for trial use, an example of the Excel generated reports can be viewed on-line . The input values shown on the PDA tutorial are used to generate the Excel reports.

Where can I get an evaluation on the Excel Worksheets?

The companion Excel Worksheets are not available for trial use, but are included with purchase of the PDA application.

Excel is used for the Real Estate Geek's desktop tool instead of a stand-alone application in order to provide the end-user maximum flexibility in reporting customization and additional analysis. Excel is a standard application for businesses, easily used, and widely available. Formulas used in the analysis are clearly shown in the spreadsheet cells.

These worksheets provide core functionality and generate similar reports to desktop Real Estate Investment Analysis software costing from a hundred to several thousands of dollars. A full investor's pro forma package can be easily generated by adding back-up documentation, such as market data, rent comparables, and construction estimates for capital improvements, to the Real Estate Geek's analysis reports. However, the ease of use of the spreadsheets and open nature of the analysis calculations make protection and limitation of the use of the worksheets on a trial basis impossible.
Copyright 2001 - 2004 E. Chan & All rights reserved.
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