Want to invest in rental properties but totally overwhelmed by which location and neighborhood to start searching in? Mashvisor promises to “turn 3 months of research into 15 minutes.” Their data visualization tool helps investors quickly evaluate markets by aggregating high-level metrics for neighborhoods across the US. But a real estate analytics tool is only as good as the accuracy of its data. We test Mashvisor’s features against our own rental portfolio to see how accurate and helpful it is. We also evaluate how well Mashvisor stacks up against competitors.
What is Mashvisor?
Mashvisor is a site that helps real estate investors research the best neighborhoods for investment properties. They do this by collecting rental and home price data and visualizing it on a map that is very intuitive to navigate. You can use Mashvisor to either research short-term (Airbnb) investment properties or long-term rental properties.
One of Mashvisor’s most powerful features is its heatmap. The heat map is meant to quickly get investors up to speed with unfamiliar markets. From your dashboard, the “Explore the data” view visualizes an area’s rental metrics such as cash on cash return and rental income. You can generate a heat map based on any of the following criteria:
- Listing Price
- Long-term Rental Cash on Cash Return
- Airbnb Cash on Cash Return
- Airbnb Occupancy Rate
Mashvisor uses an intuitive map interface that is color-coded to quickly give viewers a sense of which neighborhoods have high yield rentals. In our example, you can see above that Anaheim and Westminster are green while Laguna Beach and Newport Beach are red in the “Traditional Cash on Cash Return” view above. This tells you right away that cash-flowing properties are located inland, in Anaheim and Westminster. The more green an area is, the higher the cash on cash returns. The more red a neighborhood, the lower the returns. You can imagine how helpful this function is for out of state investors who are trying to get a financial picture of a foreign location. A Bay Area resident, I've been looking to buy rental properties in more affordable areas. I used Mashvisor to help me understand what type of cash on cash return I could expect in the cities I was vetting. (If you're curious, I was looking in Reno, Houston, Oakland, and Pittsburg). Once you’ve identified a few areas to investigate, you can zoom in further to see neighborhood statistics.
You’ll find circles with numbers in them on the map. Each circle represents a neighborhood and the number inside is the number of properties on the MLS in that neighborhood.
Mashvisor also lets you see units that are currently being rented out both long-term and on Airbnb. If you were contemplating purchasing a property, it’s a good exercise to go through these listings and see if their prices are in line with your projections. I like to export the listings data into Excel.