May 14, 2024

Real Estate NOI: How to Calculate (+ Formula)

Ameet Mehta
Real Estate NOI: How to Calculate (+ Formula)

Understanding Net Operating Income (NOI) is not just important, it's crucial for investors to evaluate the financial health of commercial real estate (CRE) investments.

NOI provides a clear picture of a property's income potential, excluding taxes and interest expenses. It's a key metric for comparing different investment opportunities and assessing a property's profitability.

When I evaluate a potential investment, I look at the property's NOI to gauge its ability to generate income. A high NOI indicates a substantial income stream, which can lead to a higher property valuation and potentially higher returns on investment. 

Conversely, a low or negative NOI may signal financial challenges and could impact the property's long-term viability as an investment.

In this article, we will explore the concept of NOI, why it matters in real estate, how to calculate it, and which expenses are factored into it.

Definition: What is NOI in Real Estate?

Net Operating Income, or NOI, measures a property's profitability before taxes and interest expenses are taken into account. It represents the income generated from a property after subtracting operating expenses such as maintenance, utilities, property management fees, and insurance. NOI does not include financing costs, such as mortgage payments.

Why Does NOI Matter in Real Estate?

Here's why NOI matters so much in real estate:

  • Financial Performance Evaluation

Like you'd check your financial health by looking at your income and expenses, NOI gives investors a quick check on how well a property is doing financially. It shows if the property is making enough money to cover its costs and still turn a profit.

  • Comparison with Other Investments

When shopping for investments, you want the best bang for your buck. Comparing the NOI of different properties helps you see which offers a better investment return. A property with a higher NOI than its price is like finding a hidden treasure.

  • Income Generation

Net Operating Income (NOI) is a crucial indicator of a property's income-generating potential. Think of it as the engine that drives cash flow for real estate investors.

When NOI is high, the property generates a healthy income after accounting for operating expenses. This is excellent news for investors looking for steady cash flow from their real estate investments.

A high NOI doesn't just indicate, it guarantees that the property is well-managed, in a desirable location, and has strong rental demand—all factors contributing to its ability to generate income. This doesn't just provide, it assures investors with a sense of security and confidence in their investment, knowing they can rely on a consistent income stream from the property.

Conversely, a low or negative NOI is like a red flag waving in the wind. It could mean the property needs to make more money to cover its expenses, leading to financial trouble. It's like seeing your bank account balance drop below zero—a sign that something needs to change.

Estimating Value: Estimating the value of a property is not just a step, it's a crucial step in real estate investment, and Net Operating Income (NOI) plays a significant role in this process. As an investor, I don't just use NOI, I rely on it to estimate how much a property is worth based on its income potential. 

One way to estimate a property's value is to use the capitalization rate (Cap Rate). By dividing the NOI by the Cap Rate, I can get an idea of the property's value as an income-generating asset. It's like putting a price tag on the property based on the income it can generate. This method allows me to assess a property's income potential and determine if it aligns with my investment goals.

How to Calculate Net Operating Income (NOI)

Calculating NOI involves subtracting a property's operating expenses from its gross operating income (GOI). 

The Formula for Calculating NOI

Net Operating Income =  Gross Operating Income - Operating Expenses


  • Gross Operating Income includes rental income and other income. Rental income consists of the total income generated from rent payments. Other income comprises additional income sources such as parking fees or laundry services.

  • Operating Expenses include all costs associated with operating the property, such as property taxes, insurance, maintenance, utilities, and property management fees.
The Formula For Calculating NOI
The Formula For Calculating NOI

Calculating a Property's Cap Rate Using Net Operating Income

The Capitalization Rate, or Cap Rate, is another critical metric used in real estate investment. It is calculated by dividing a property's NOI by its current market value or acquisition cost. 

The formula for calculating Cap Rate is:

Cap Rate = (NOI / Property Value or Acquisition Cost ) ×100%

Cap Rate is used to assess a property's potential return on investment (ROI). A higher Cap Rate indicates a higher potential return, while a lower Cap Rate may suggest a lower return.

Calculating a property's Capitalization Rate (Cap Rate) using Net Operating Income (NOI) is like figuring out the return on your investment. It helps you compare properties and decide the best bang for your buck.

For example, if you have a property with an NOI of $50,000 and its worth is $1,000,000, you would calculate the Cap Rate like this:

Cap Rate = ($50,000 / $1,000,000) ×100%
Cap Rate = 5%

This means the property has a Cap Rate of 5%, which tells you how much income it generates relative to its value.

Which Expenses Are Factored in NOI?

When we talk about Net Operating Income (NOI), we look at the income a property generates after deducting its operating expenses, which are the costs of keeping the property running smoothly.

  • Property Management Fees: Fees paid to property management companies for managing the property, including leasing, maintenance, and tenant relations.
  • General Maintenance: Costs associated with keeping the property in good condition, such as repairs, landscaping, and cleaning.
  • Legal Fees: Fees for legal services related to the property, such as drafting leases, resolving disputes, or handling evictions.
  • Utilities Not Paid by Tenants: These are expenses for utilities that tenants do not cover, such as common area electricity, water, or gas.
  • Property Taxes: Taxes levied on the property by local governments based on its assessed value.
  • Insurance Costs: Premiums for insurance coverage on the property, including property insurance, liability insurance, and any other relevant coverage.

These expenses are essential for the property's day-to-day operation and maintenance, and including them in NOI provides investors with a clear picture of its profitability.

Expenses Not Included in NOI

  • Mortgage Payments: Your mortgage payments are not included in your property's NOI
  • Property Depreciation: The gradual decrease in the property's value over time.
  • Tenant Improvements: Costs incurred to customize or improve the property for tenants.
  • Capital Expenditures: Major expenses for improving or replacing assets, such as a new roof or HVAC system.
  • Repair Costs for Wear and Tear: Routine maintenance and repairs to keep the property in good condition.

How to Maximize Your Property’s NOI

Maximizing your property's Net Operating Income (NOI) is crucial for improving its profitability and value. Here are some strategies to help you maximize your property's NOI:

  • Increase Rental Income: One of the most direct ways to increase NOI is to increase rental income. This can be done by raising rent prices in line with market rates or adding value-added services or amenities that justify higher rents.
  • Reduce Vacancy Rates: Vacant units generate no income but still incur expenses. Minimize vacancy rates by implementing effective marketing strategies, offering incentives to attract tenants, and maintaining good tenant relations to encourage lease renewals.
  • Decrease Operating Expenses: Review your operating expenses regularly and find ways to reduce costs. This could include renegotiating contracts with service providers, improving energy efficiency to reduce utility costs, or outsourcing maintenance to more cost-effective providers.
  • Implement Cost-Effective Property Management: Efficient property management can help streamline operations and reduce costs. Use property management software to automate tasks, reduce paperwork, and improve tenant communication.
  • Invest in Property Improvements: Like upgrading your home, investing in your property can increase its value and rental potential. Renovating units, adding modern amenities, or improving curb appeal can attract higher-paying tenants and increase your NOI.
  • Reduce Tenant Turnover: Tenant turnover is like losing a key player on your team. To minimize turnover, focus on maintaining positive tenant relationships, promptly addressing maintenance issues, and offering lease renewal incentives.

Expert Quote

As a real estate investor, I've learned that diversifying income streams beyond rent can significantly boost a property's income without adding substantial expenses. Additionally, regularly reviewing budgets and NOI projections is crucial to adjust financial plans according to market conditions, ensuring profitability and resilience. - TJ Lokboj

When to Use NOI In Real Estate?

  • Property Valuation

 If you want to buy or sell a property, NOI can help you estimate its value. By dividing the NOI by the capitalization rate (Cap Rate), you can get a rough idea of the property's worth based on its income potential.

The formula for property valuation using NOI is:

Property Value = (NOI / Cap Rate)

Let's say you have a property with an NOI of $50,000 and a Cap Rate of 5%. The property's estimated value would be $1,000,000 ($50,000 / 0.05).

  • Investment Analysis

When comparing different investment opportunities, NOI can help you assess their profitability. A higher NOI relative to the property's value indicates a better return on investment.

If you're considering two properties—one with an NOI of $50,000 and another with an NOI of $40,000—but the second property is priced lower, it might offer a better ROI.

  • Budgeting and Financial Planning

NOI is a compass for property owners, guiding them in creating budgets and financial plans. It's like mapping out a road trip—you use past income and expense data to forecast future financial scenarios and make informed decisions.

For example, if your property's NOI has steadily increased over the past few years, you might feel confident investing in upgrades or expanding your portfolio. Conversely, if your NOI has been stagnant or declining, you might need to tighten your budget and find ways to increase revenue or reduce expenses.

  • Loan Qualification

Lenders use NOI to measure a property's income-generating potential when considering a loan application. Like a bank would assess your income before approving a personal loan, lenders use NOI to determine how much they're willing to lend and on what terms.

Some standard loans where NOI is a crucial factor include:

  • Commercial Real Estate Loans
  • Multifamily Loans
  • Hospitality Loan
  • Mixed-Use Property Loans

In these cases, lenders typically calculate the property's Debt Service Coverage Ratio (DSCR), the ratio of NOI to the property's annual debt service (mortgage payments). A higher DSCR indicates a property's ability to cover its debt obligations, making it more likely to qualify for a loan.

  • Negotiations

In real estate negotiations, NOI  helps buyers and sellers determine a fair price for a property based on its income potential. For example, the seller might justify a higher asking price if a property has a high NOI. In comparison, the buyer might use the NOI to negotiate a lower price if they believe there are risks or opportunities to increase the income.

The Bottom Line

Net Operating Income (NOI) is a vital tool in real estate for evaluating property profitability. It focuses on income and expenses related to property operations. 

Understanding NOI and its role in real estate, including its formula, definition, and relationship with cap rates, is essential for any investor. This knowledge enables investors to accurately assess the profitability of potential real estate investments, leading to more informed investment decisions.

Investment management software can significantly assist in this process by providing tools to calculate NOI, analyze trends, and compare properties. It can also streamline financial analysis, helping investors make more efficient and data-driven decisions. Start optimizing your real estate investments today with SyndicationPro—Request a Demo.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a good NOI in real estate?
What is ROI vs NOI in real estate?
Why is NOI so important in real estate?
Are mortgage payments included in NOI?
Is NOI monthly or yearly?
Are repairs included in NOI?
What is excluded from NOI in real estate?
What is a Good NOI Margin?

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