DSCR in Real Estate Investment – Pros & Cons

When investing in real estate, you will have numerous options for financing. For starters, you have the conventional mortgage. There are also cash or alternative financing solutions. However, there is one option that many people are quite not familiar with—the DSCR loan.

In the dynamic world of real estate investment, numbers and ratios are the name of the game. These figures tell the story of a property’s potential, and among them, one ratio stands out: the debt service coverage ratio (DSCR). Understanding the importance of DSCR in real estate investment is akin to grasping the compass in the unpredictable sea of property investing. But, why is it so significant?

That is what we will be discussing in this article. We will break down the concept of DSCR and explain why it is important for real estate investors to understand and keep track of.

Table of Contents

What Is DSCR in Real Estate

DSCR is an important metric that lenders would use to assess a borrower’s ability to make timely payments on their loan obligations. It is the ratio taken by dividing the cash flow available for debt service (CFADS) by the total debt service (TDS) required.

In a simpler debt service coverage ratio definition, DSCR measures the amount of money left after all operational expenses and debts have been paid. The higher the DSCR, the more cash flow is available to service debt. In other words, it measures the property’s ability to generate enough income to pay debts.

So, what does DSCR mean in real estate?

A DSCR of less than 1 would make it very difficult or even impossible for a real estate investor to obtain financing, as it indicates the property is not generating enough income to cover all its debts. On the other hand, a DSCR of more than 1 implies that there is enough cash flow for additional borrowing and suggests the borrower has financial flexibility.

DSCR in real estate investment is especially important for lenders since it reveals if a borrower can pay the loan debt service or not. For this reason, most lenders would want to see a DSCR of at least 1.2 to 1.3 before they consider releasing a loan.

Applying the DSCR Formula in Real Estate Investments

When you are using this type of loan, it is crucial that you know how to calculate DSCR for a property that you are interested in buying. To give you a better picture, let us look into the following scenario.

Suppose you are looking for a property to buy and have already identified a potential one. After doing your due diligence, you concluded that the annual net operating income (NOI) is $50,000 and the TDS is $45,000. To calculate DSCR for this property, simply divide the NOI by TDS.

50,000/45,000 = 1.11

In this case, the DSCR for this property is just above the minimum of 1 that most lenders would require. It means that there is enough cash flow to pay off debts and still have some left over. This makes it a viable option for investment.

It is important to note that DSCR is calculated on an annual basis, and lenders typically require a minimum DSCR value for each loan they offer. When evaluating a potential investment property, you should check its current DSCR and make sure it is above the minimum requirement for your loan.

You can read about DSCR meaning for other aspects of your investment in more detail below.

Benefits of Understanding DSCR in Real Estate

The importance of DSCR in real estate investment cannot be overstated. Knowing the concept and how to calculate it gives you an edge when looking for investment opportunities.

First, understanding DSCR helps you make better decisions when investing in real estate. It provides you with a better picture of what you are getting into before making any commitments. With this knowledge, you can easily determine if a property is generating enough income to cover operating costs and debt services.

Second, it can help you negotiate better terms when taking out a loan. Lenders are often more willing to offer favorable terms if the DSCR is higher than their minimum requirement. This means that having a good grasp of the ratio could potentially put you in an advantageous position when applying for financing.

Lastly, understanding DSCR allows you to identify properties with strong cash flow potential. Since this ratio measures the property’s ability to generate income, it can be used as an indicator of how profitable a real estate investment can be.

Which Types of Properties Have High DSCRs

When it comes to real estate investment, certain properties are more likely to have a high DSCR than others. Knowing which types of properties tend to have higher DSCRs can be beneficial for investors looking for good opportunities. Here are those you should consider.

Commercial Properties

One type of property that is likely to have a healthy DSCR is commercial real estate. This includes office buildings, retail stores, industrial spaces, and other income-producing properties. Commercial real estate tends to have a higher DSCR because the monthly rent typically covers most or even all of the loan payments.

Multi-Family Homes

These properties also tend to have higher DSCRs than single-family homes. This is because you will have multiple sources of rental income, and you can save more on maintenance and repair expenses.  

Single-Family Homes

Single-family homes typically have lower DSCRs than commercial and multi-family homes. They often require additional cash flow in order to make debt service payments. While this means that the DSCR may not be as high, it also leaves room for additional investment and potential growth.

Short-Term Vacation Rentals

Short-term vacation rentals, such as Airbnb properties, are another type of asset that can have a high DSCR. This is because the rental income from these properties often covers most or all of the loan payments. Additionally, these types of properties can provide other benefits, such as tax deductions and potential long-term appreciation.

High-End Apartments and Condo Units

These properties usually command higher rental rates, making them attractive options for investors looking to maximize their DSCR. Additionally, these properties also tend to appreciate in value over time.

Usual Requirements When Taking Out a DSCR Loan

Alt-Text: an investor reviewing the requirements of taking out a DSCR loan for real estate investment

To increase your chances of getting approved for a DSCR loan, there are certain requirements that you need to know before applying for one.

DSCR of More Than 1.25

While a DSCR of 1 means break-even, most lenders would prefer a minimum DSCR of 1.25 to 1.3 before they approve a loan. This is to provide assurance that the cash flow generated is more than enough to cover all loan payments and other costs associated with the property.

So, using the standard DSCR formula in real estate, make sure to acquire the numbers of the property you are interested in and do the calculations. This way, you can easily determine if the property meets the lender’s minimum requirement.

Minimum Down Payment

Like applying for other types of home loans, DSCR lenders would also usually require a down payment. The amount will depend on the lender, but typically it is somewhere between 10-20% of the purchase price.

However, you can always negotiate and try to lower this requirement. For instance, if the property has a higher DSCR than what is required by the lender, then you might be able to get away with a smaller down payment.

Good Borrowing History

Lenders would usually check your credit score and borrowing history before approving your loan. If you have a good track record, then this can work in your favor as it reassures lenders of your capability to pay off the loan and other associated costs.

If you notice that there is something amiss in your credit report, then it is best to address them before applying. You can also pay off any outstanding debts to boost your credit score and make it easier for the lender to approve your loan.

Also Read: What are the Telltale Signs of a Reliable Real Estate Firm?

“Investment Properties Only” Policy

When using DSCR in real estate, you should keep in mind that this type of loan cannot be used to purchase your primary residence. Lenders would only issue DSCR loans for investment purposes, which means income-generating properties, such as long-term residential rentals, vacation rentals, and commercial properties.

Also, it is important to note that DSCR loans are usually short-term, with a usual maximum maturity of five years. This means that they should only be used for properties where the investors can quickly turn a profit and pay off the loan within the specified term.


All in all, understanding the importance of DSCR in real estate investment is crucial for any sort of investing activity that involves taking out loans. It gives you insights and the ability to make informed decisions so that you can maximize your chances of success. Not only will it help you determine the best properties to buy, but also allow you to negotiate better financing terms.

Of course, DSCR is just one of many metrics that you should consider when evaluating a potential investment opportunity. Other financial ratios, such as cash on cash return and cap rate, should also be taken into consideration. Additionally, you should take into account the location of the property and the overall real estate market conditions before making a decision.

Remember that real estate investments are long-term investments and should not be taken lightly. So, make sure to do your due diligence before taking out a loan and investing in any kind of property. Doing so can save you time, money, and even potential headaches in the future.

For more tips that you can use in your investment journey, you can check out the other articles on our site. Good luck!

Saad Iqbal is a professional civil engineering and freelance write. He's passionate about structures, construction management, and home improvement topics. He's been working as a Senior Engineer in a consultant firm for over 8 years. Besides he loves writing informative and in-depth content focused on construction and home-related topics. You can catch him at his linkedin page or reach out via our contact us page.

Read all his articles

Leave a Comment