DSCR Calculator: How to Calculate Debt Service Coverage Ratio

Determining the debt service coverage ratio (DSCR) is vital to identify how much financial cushion a borrower has. It can be calculated with an online DSCR calculator, and there are specific DSCR ratios for real estate. When considering whether to lend funds, lenders will calculate the DSCR rate to assess their risk and determine if an applicant can cover loan payments each year. 

Knowing how to calculate DSCR is essential for anyone looking into obtaining a loan from a lender as it provides insight into their ability to cover payments commensurate with their creditworthiness.

What Is Debt Service Coverage Ratio (DSCR)?

DSCR is a financial metric to assess whether an investor has enough income to meet their outstanding debts. It is equal to the net operating income (NOI) divided by annual debt service; it indicates their ability to meet obligations from their available cash flow.

A higher DSCR rating indicates a greater ability to cover debt payments. In comparison, a lower rating may lead lenders to question the ability of an individual to keep up with scheduled payments. 

Knowing your DSCR can help you anticipate how likely you are to get approved for loans and can provide guidance on how best to manage your finances going forward.

DSCR Formula and Calculation

The DSCR formula assesses the NOI of an investor in comparison to their total debt service by taking NOI divided by the total debt service amount. This calculation analyzes how easily and safely someone can pay off their debts through their NOI. 

The higher the DSCR number, the better an investor’s overall financial health is, as there are often restrictions in place for borrowing that set a minimum DSCR requirement for lenders. Therefore, knowing this formula and understanding how it works is critical when analyzing someone’s ability to pay short-term liabilities over long-term assets.

Debt Service Coverage Ratio (DSCR):

A DSCR greater than 1.25 is considered optimal

The property does not produce enough cash flow to cover its annual debt service

Debt Service Coverage Ratio (DSCR):

A DSCR greater than 1.25 is considered optimal

The property does not produce enough cash flow to cover its annual debt service

How is NOI Calculated?

NOI is calculated by subtracting the expenses associated with a property, such as taxes, insurance, and operating costs like utilities and maintenance, from its total revenues. 

Of particular importance is the ability to precisely determine exactly which expenses should be included in the calculation so that a clear picture of the financial health of an investment can be established accurately. 

Net operating income plays a crucial role in determining the overall performance of any venture, and understanding its calculation can help investors make informed decisions.

What Lender Adjustments to NOI Can Be Made When Calculating DSCR?

Some common lender adjustments include:

  • Adding non-recurring expenses 
  • Subtracting non-cash items and other income sources 
  • Adjusting rental income based on fair market value or current market trends
  • Adding back salary expenses paid to principal owners
  • Deducting marketing and reserve funds

Without adjusting NOI properly, lenders may come to an inaccurate conclusion regarding the risk posed by approving the loan.

How Is Debt Service Calculated?

Debt service is the total amount of interest and principal that are due over the entire course of a loan. To calculate debt service, you subtract the loan principal from all payments made over the life of the loan, adding in any additional fees charged by lenders, or borrowing arrangements. 

This makes it easy to compare different loans or debt options and choose one that fits your needs financially and realistically. 

How Does the Amortization Period Affect Debt Service?

The amortization period determines when a borrower has to pay off a loan. This is generally determined by the loan terms and will affect the total amount repaid, as shortening the amortization period results in higher payments being made each month. However, this can reduce the overall interest a borrower has to pay. 

By contrast, increasing the amortization period allows for lower payments. However, this will increase the total interest over the life of the loan. Therefore, borrowers must understand how their decisions on amortization periods will affect their debt service if they want to make informed financial decisions.

How Does Interest-Only Affect DSCR?

Interest-only payments can significantly impact DSCR. These payments, separate from principal payments, allow a borrower to pay only the interest costs of their loan each month. As a result, this leads to lower debt obligations being reported and often an increase in cash flow. 

This can lead to improved DSCR metrics, but it also can create more financial risk if interest rates increase or the borrower’s cash flow decreases.

What Is a Good Debt Service Coverage Ratio?

A good debt service coverage ratio must be higher than 1.2. The number indicates how often an investor can pay off their current debts with their income before taxes. The closer the ratio is to 1, the more financially stretched someone is. Alternatively, if it is much higher than 1, the investor has the capacity for additional borrowing and probably good cash flow.

How Does an Impounded Loan Payment Affect DSCR?

When a loan payment is impounded and applied to a borrower’s DSCR, it can significantly affect the amount of money available for covering payments. If the loan was taken out to cover a certain period and payments are made consistently, then the impoundment reduces the amount that can be paid and could tie up future cash flow. 

In addition, it may prevent other lenders from extending new or additional capital due to lowered liquidity. Ultimately, an impounded loan payment can lead to poorer DSCR numbers for borrowers and put them in less favorable positions when looking for credit or refinancing options.

What Does Your DSCR Say About Your Cash Flow?

A high DSCR indicates relatively strong cash flow and means that you will likely have enough income to cover your upcoming payments easily. A low DSCR can signify financial strain, as it indicates that you may not have sufficient funds to meet your debt payments comfortably.

Income Taxes Can Complicate DSCR Calculations

In many cases, income tax deductions can significantly reduce a property’s taxable income, affecting the DSCR calculation. It is important to remember to include any applicable tax deductions to demonstrate the proper level of financial performance for the property. 

Without factoring in these deductions, businesses may unknowingly underestimate their ability to pay off loans and put their investments at risk. Understanding how an entity’s tax may affect DSCR calculations can ultimately save investors money and prevent unexpected financial setbacks.

Different Lenders May Calculate DSCR Slightly Differently

The approach that different lenders take can vary significantly. Some lenders may use a net-of-taxes approach where their calculations include taxes when counting the cost of paying off loans. Others may exclude taxes when accounting for the cost of repayment. 

Additionally, some lenders may allow for expenses not allowed by other types of financing but also take variables such as occupancy rate into account more strictly than others. The differences in calculation methodologies make it essential for would-be borrowers to understand the types of debts they will have and be aware of different lenders’ approaches before they start the application process.


  • What is a 1.25 DSCR?

A 1.25 DSCR means an investor has 25% more income than required for debt service payments. A higher DSCR amount can be more comforting to lenders since it states that the borrower has a strong capacity to repay their debts in full and on time, making them an attractive borrower. 

Although there is no set rule for what constitutes a good DSCR, ratios above 1.2 are typically considered adequate or desired when seeking loan approval.

  • What is the minimum or appropriate debt service coverage ratio?

The minimum or appropriate DSCR varies depending on the type of loan sought and the lender. Generally, a higher ratio indicates lower risk and vice-versa, but optimal levels depend on other factors such as country-specific regulations, credit ratings, taxation rules, expected revenue growth, etc. 

Generally speaking, a healthy DSCR should exceed 1.2, with investor lenders typically expecting ratios in excess of 1.5, though higher requirements may be applied depending on the risk profile and liquidity of an individual.