This is the first of three episodes in our new real estate mathematics series. Here, we apply mathematics to California real estate practice, and provide actionable guidance to aspiring agents and brokers preparing for the State Exam.

The mathematical tools you need

As a requisite for entry into the real estate profession, a thorough understanding of the formulas commonly used in the real estate industry is necessary.

Once the basic formulas and logic behind them are mastered, most math issues in mortgages, income property, property management and investment are solved with a basic, nonprogrammable calculator. Further, a nonprogrammable calculator is provided during the agent and broker Department of Real Estate (DRE) licensing examination.

Editor’s note – Once an individual is licensed, a financial calculator is a wise investment in the real estate industry. Frequently used formulas are pre-programmed into the financial calculator, such as amortization schedules, making it an invaluable asset.

Based on consistent feedback from recent examines, only a very small proportion of the salesperson and broker licensing examination consist of math questions. An examinee could miss or skip every math question and still successfully pass the exam.

However, these math concepts are important in the context of actual practice nonetheless.

When you’re in the field, a grasp of mathematical basics is critical when dealing with a myriad of real estate concepts. To name a few:

  • land measurements;
  • percentages;
  • fractions;
  • area;
  • fees/commissions;
  • loans;
  • investments/cost analysis; and
  • capitalization (cap) rates.

Basic units of measurement in real estate

Before delving into problems involving land descriptions and areas, here is a review of basic units of land measurement:

  • Township = 36 square miles broken up into 36 sections;
  • Section = 640 acres and 1 square mile;
  • Half section = 320 acres, a quarter section = 160 acres, and a quarter of a quarter = 40 acres;
  • Acre = 43,560 sq. ft;
  • Mile = 5,280 ft;
  • Square mile = 27,878,400 sq. ft (5,280 ft x 5,280 ft) or 640 acres (27,878,400 sq. ft / 43,560 sq ft);
  • Square acre = approximately 209 ft x 209 ft;
  • 1 yard = 3 ft;
  • 1 square yard = 9 sq. ft (3 ft x 3 ft);
  • 1 mile = 320 rods; 5,280 ft; and
  • 1 rod = 16.5 ft or 5.5 yards (16.5 ft x 3 ft).

Editor’s note – Stay tuned. A new episode of this series will release each week.