Real estate development proforma – Ultimate guide

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What is a real estate development proforma?

A real estate development proforma, also known as a real estate development model, is a feasibility study of a development project used to determine the project's financial viability.

Real estate development proforma considers all sources of financing & all uses (project costs) and projects the cash flow on a project timeline.  

Read more about How to choose a property development feasibility template.

Planning your development proforma

Benjamin Franklin once said, "If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail". It couldn't be more true for your development project.

What is your real estate development strategy?

Real Estate Development Proforma

Start With The End In Mind

Do you plan to Develop & Sell or Develop & Hold or you will deploy a mix of both these strategies? I.e. selling some units to pay down the debt and holding on to a few units for long term operating income.

Develop & Sell

Develop & Sell is a common strategy. The developer will sell all developed units at the end of the project. Typically, the developer would:

  1. Acquire Land
  2. Get Development Approval (Development Permit)
  3. Construction
  4. Sell everything at the end of the project to pay down debt. 

This strategy typically involves two separate development loans:

  1. Land Acquisition Loan
  2. Construction Loan

Develop & Hold

You deploy Develop & Hold strategy when you wish to acquire your investment properties at Cost. It increases the yield and equity in the project and makes financing a lot easier. Typically the Cost of the units will be a lot lower than their market value at the end of the development. 

Develop & Hold strategy inevitably will require three separate loans:

  1. Land Acquisition Loan - to settle on the land.
  2. Construction loan for building and or improvements.
  3. Permanent Loan, which pays out the construction loan based on the operating income from the leased units.

Sell Some & Hold Some

The developer can also sell enough units to pay down the construction loan. The catch is to hold enough units, so your operating cash flow is either neutral or positive during your hold period. 

Project Timeframes and Timelines

Planning your development pro forma timeline is crucial because it's your project timeline that forms the basis of all your assumptions. It includes keying in the start and end dates of all possible events of your development project.  

Here is an example of Project Timeline with Gantt chart.


Project Planning

The following table outlines the Start & End dates for significant events in real estate development. Planning these dates helps allocate costs across your project timeline - which collectively forms your project cash flow.


A development pro forma timeline is typically in months, and your development proforma template must be able to expand dynamically to accommodate the length of your project.


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How to prepare a Real Estate development proforma

In a nutshell, the real estate development proforma includes the proceeds from sales (total sales) and total development costs of the project.

Total Sales


Total sales or Gross Realisation Value (GRV) are the project proceeds realised when all developed units are sold. 

Total Development Costs (Uses)


Total Development Costs (TDC) include both direct and indirect costs. Direct costs, aka hard costs, include all construction and improvement costs: indirect costs, or soft costs, including the architectural, engineering costs & professional fees. Soft costs also include all financing costs and all costs not directly related to the project's construction.


All real estate development proformas and property development feasibility studies are made up of two things:

Uses - which include all project costs

Sources - are all funding sources (debt + equity) used to fund the project.


Equity sources - developers equity

  • Developer's equity
    • General partners
  • Limited partners (investors)
  • Joint venture partners
  • Landowners

Debt sources - development finance

Land acquisition loan - used to settle on land or when acquiring a development site.


Funding Table

Figure out the maximum amount you can borrow based on various funding options. For example, maximum debt available to you can be based on any one of the following:

  1. Lender's LTC (Loan To Cost Ratio). LTC based on total development costs as determined by your lender. 
  2. LTC based on Actual Total Development Costs
  3. LTC based on Total Sales
  4. Fixed maximum debt, i.e. you know the maximum amount you can borrow either through your broker or your dealings with the lender.
  5. Fixed maximum equity, i.e. you know the maximum amount of equity you can inject in the project, and everything else needs to come from other sources.

Cash flow draws, order & Cost of capital.

Construction loan - used to fund construction or refurbishment costs.

Mezzanine Loan - underpins construction loan in case there is not enough equity to cover construction costs.


Order of Draws

In Lead Developer+, you can select the order to utilize various funding sources to fund the development costs. The Developer's (GP) equity is utilized; first, LP second, Mezzanine loan comes in third. And finally, when all these sources are exhausted, construction loan will be utilized last. 

Permanent Loan - pays out the construction loan based on operating income from leased units. 

Interim Income

  • Rental Income
  • Interest Income
  • Sale of chattels, old house etc.
  • Rock, soil, wood available on site
  • Misc. Income

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Real Estate Development Costs Breakdown


Following is a list of property development costs to fund or uses:

  • Land Acquisition Costs 
  • Statutory Fees & Contributions
  • Finance & Interest Costs
  • Finance - Ancillary Costs
  • Holding & Running costs
  • Services Connection Fees
  • Selling & Marketing Costs
  • Budgeting & Estimation
  • Site Works - Developer
  • Drawings & Consultants
  • Site Reports
  • Permit Fees
  • Construction Costs
  • Cost of Developers Equity
  • Operating Expenses
  • GST/VAT (if applicable)

For each of the development costs, input the following:

  1. Contingency
  2. Funding - are those costs funded by debt or by developers equity?
  3. Start & End Dates - based on your project planning, when do you expect them to occur in your project timeline.
  4. Decide the cash flow forecasting method between straight line and S-Curve.
  5. Select the steepness of the S-Curve

Types Of Real Estate Development Proforma

Depending on your strategy (i.e. Develop & Hold Vs Develop & Sell), you will need to adjust your real estate development proforma. So you can account for construction costs, sale value & operating income arising from various residential and commercial units. No matter the type of real estate development model you are using, you need to figure out two main things: 

  1. Cost of Construction of the type of units, i.e. residential, multifamily, condominiums, apartments, townhouses, single-family homes or commercial building like offices, retail, industrial etc.
  2. Total sale value of developed residential and commercial units.

Example 1: Residential Units - Develop & Sell

Step 1 - Calculate construction costs.

To calculate construction costs - find out the total built area of each type of unit. In the image below from Lead Developer Plus, you can use three different methods of calculating residential construction costs:

  1. Average construction cost per unit 
  2. Average cost / UOM (Unit of measurement m2 or SF) or if you know your numbers well, you can use
  3. Average cost / individual area - this requires a breakdown of all built areas by various spaces, i.e. Net Saleable Area (NAS) + Non-saleable built area = Total built area. You can then multiply each area by a Value / UOM or $/SF or $/m2 to arrive at a more accurate construction cost.

Step 2 - Calculate total sale value.

To calculate total sale value, you can use two methods: 

  1. Average market value per unit or 
  2. Average $/UOM i.e. $/m2 or $/SF x total net saleable area

Step 3 - Time of Sale & Sales Commissions

Finally, to project total sales or cash inflows on a project timeline, you need to key in the date as to when you expect these sales to occur. If you are using a sales agent, you should allocate your sales commission percentages here. 

Suppose your sales team requires that a percentage of sales commissions be paid when a sale contract is signed. In that case, you can also add the % of total sales commissions due when signing the contract. (see image below)


These dates are then used to project your cash flow across your project timeline, as shown in the image below:


Example 2: Operating Income Proforma

Operating Forecasts

Operating forecasts should consider concessions such as free rent, tenant design, and construction costs. In addition, they should reflect future rent escalations. They must also take into account expenses for capital improvements and escalations of operating costs.

Follow the steps below to forecast operating income accurately: 

Step 1 - Calculate construction costs (Leasable Units)

For a real estate development project, apart from calculating the Net Operating Income, you also need to calculate the construction costs of leasable units. (residential or commercial). In Lead Developer+, construction costs are automatically added to the total construction costs of the project.

To calculate construction costs - find out the net rentable area for each type of unit. In the image below from Lead Developer Plus, you can use two different methods of calculating residential construction costs:

  1. Average Cost per m2/SF
  2. Average Cost per individual area - where you can apply a different construction rate depending upon the space. For example, the Cost of common areas will be cheaper per m2/SF than the Cost of building a kitchen.

Step 2 - Calculate Potential Gross Operating Income

  1. Specify Monthly Rent
  2. Rent Free Months (if any)
  3. Annual rent escalation rate
  4. Market Capitalisation Rate 
  5. Exit Capitalisation Rate
  6. And Closing Costs (Sales Commission Rate)

Step 3 - Calculate Effective Gross Revenue (EGR)

Gross Operating Income

  • (less) Concessions Rent Free Months
  • (less) Non-Revenue Units
  • (Add) Recoverable income (if applicable)
  • (Add) Other Income

= Gross Potential Income

  • (less) General Vacancy
  • (less) Credit Allowance

= Effective Gross Revenue

Step 4 - Calculate Net Operating Income (NOI)

NOI = EGR - (Operating Expenses + Recoverable Expenses + Other Fixed & Variable Costs)

Step 5 - Calculate Cash flow from Operations (CFFO)

Also knows as below the bottom-line expenses.

CFFO = NOI - (Capital Expenditure + Leasing commissions + Tenant Improvements (if applicable)


Step 6 - Calculate End Sale Value aka Reversion value

  • Sale Value = NOI / Exit Capt. Rate

Step 7 - Debt Service

The debt service is the amount of money that is paid to service the permanent Loan. It includes interest on outstanding loan balance as well as a principal loan reduction payment.

Step 8 - Before-Tax Cash Flow

Before-tax cash flow = Cash flow from operations - Debt service

Step 9 - After-Tax Cash Flow

After-Tax Cash Flow = Before-Tax Cash Flow - Applicable Taxes

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Real Estate Development Proforma Summary

A detailed development summary for a real estate development proforma should include the following:

  • Project details like name, duration etc.
  • Brief project description
  • Project stats
  • Project timeline / Gantt chart
  • At a glance - Decision metrics
    • Profit before tax
    • Development margin
      • On costs
      • On sales
    • Equity Multiplier = (Total Profit + Max. Equity Invested) / Max. Equity Invested
    • Internal Rate Of Return (IRR)
    • Present Value (PV) & Net Present Value (NPV)
    • And hurdle rates used

Project Timeline/Gantt Chart


As a check and an assurance to investors and lenders, it should summarise the sources and uses of funds i.e. Debt + Equity must equal Project Costs.

It should clearly have a summary of:

  • Net revenue
  • Development costs
  • Less and proceeds that we utilised to fund the project costs during the development phase.

Finance Costs, Equity & Debt


Revenue & Cashflow Summary


Residential proforma summary


Commercial proforma summary


Sensitivity Analysis



What is a real estate development proforma?

A proforma analysis is the method of calculations that forecasts the financial return on a planned real estate development. The proforma is the most common "go/no-go" analysis used by developers to determine whether or not to proceed with a project.

Are proformas accurate?

Proforma data are meant to provide investors with a better understanding of a company's performance. Due to the apparent nature of their businesses, proforma results give a considerably more accurate insight into their financial performance and forecast for several businesses.

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