What is Net Operating Income (NOI)?

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When considering real estate investment, a primary concern is the profitability of the property being acquired. Various metrics can be employed to assess this aspect, with Net Operating Income (NOI) standing out as a crucial indicator. Calculated by factoring in total revenue and subtracting operational costs, NOI provides a measure of the investment property’s profitability. Let’s delve into the calculation of NOI and understand its optimal utility.

NOI is a key indicator for investors to determine annual returns from commercial and residential rental property investments. It provides a general assessment to gauge if an income-producing property can generate positive cash flow. Not only investors, but lenders also use NOI to evaluate if investors have enough cash flow to meet loan repayments.

NOI is a reliable measure as it is unaffected by the financing method used to purchase the property, allowing for an unbiased comparison. However, it’s important to note that since NOI excludes the cost of financing the property, other metrics should be considered for a more comprehensive view. Here are some advantages and disadvantages of using NOI.


  • NOI provides an overarching indication of recurring revenue and helps lenders assess property investment potential.


  • The value of NOI heavily depends on efficient property management and accurate estimation of rents.

The formula for calculating NOI is as follows: NOI = Income Generated from Property – Operating Expenses. The components of the NOI calculation include Income Generated from Property and Operating Expenses. Let’s dive into each.

Income generated from the property includes more than just rental income. To calculate an accurate NOI, all property income should be included, with potential vacancies subtracted. Consider the following points:

  • Gross Operating Income (GOI): Calculated by subtracting vacancy rates from potential rental income to estimate annual income accurately.
  • Other income: Additional revenue from the property, such as parking fees, laundry machines, vending machines, or other service fees, should be included.

Operating expenses encompass all costs related to owning the property, providing an accurate NOI. Some of these expenses include:

  • Maintenance and repair costs
  • Property management fees
  • Property taxes
  • Insurance costs
  • Legal, accounting, and marketing costs
  • Utilities paid by the landlord

Certain costs are not included in NOI calculations, such as:

In conclusion, understanding and accurately calculating NOI is crucial for making wise and profitable real estate investments.

Understanding Net Operating Income (NOI): Net Operating Income, often referred to as NOI, is a crucial financial measure in real estate. It represents the profitability of an investment property through a definitive number, rather than a ratio or percentage. A higher NOI indicates a more lucrative property, providing an accurate estimation of potential cash flow and aiding investors in assessing profitability. It also serves as a comparative measure and reflects property management quality. A decline in NOI may suggest mismanagement or diminishing profitability, prompting intervention or a potential sell-off.

Optimizing NOI: Since NOI is directly linked to profit, optimizing it means maximizing returns. There are several strategies to boost NOI:

  1. Increasing Rent: Rent is a vital factor influencing NOI. Raising it can improve NOI, but should be done judiciously to prevent high vacancy rates. Considering inflation, cost of living, market rates, and local regulations (including rent caps) is crucial.
  2. Minimizing Vacancies: Lower vacancy rates contribute to higher NOI. Implementing long-term leases, efficient turnover processes, robust marketing tactics, and attractive incentives for new tenants can help reduce vacancies.
  3. Reducing Operating Expenses: Operating expenses significantly impact NOI. Regular audits can identify cost reduction opportunities, such as adopting energy-efficient utilities or renegotiating property management contracts.
  4. Exploring Additional Income Sources: Identifying and leveraging additional income streams, like paid parking, property amenities, or laundry services, can enhance NOI.

Applications of NOI in Calculations: While NOI itself provides a measure of profitability, it also aids in calculating other important investment metrics, including:

  • Capitalization Rate: Cap rate determines the return rate on a real estate investment. It is calculated as Cap Rate = (NOI / Current Market Value) x 100.
  • Debt-Service Coverage Ratio (DSCR): Lenders use DSCR to evaluate if a property’s cash flow can cover operating expenses and mortgage payments. DSCR = NOI / Total Debt Owed (mortgage + interest expense).
  • Return on Investment (ROI): ROI helps assess a property’s investment potential. It is calculated as ROI = (NOI / Purchase price of the property) x 100.
  • Cash on Cash Returns: This metric compares a property’s income with its purchase cost. Cash-on-cash Returns = (NOI – Annual mortgage payments) / Cash invested.

Maximizing Real Estate Investments: Beyond NOI

When evaluating the profitability of a real estate investment, one important metric is the Net Operating Income (NOI). While crucial, it’s best to consider other real estate metrics for a comprehensive view. A correctly calculated NOI can help guide investors in making sound purchase decisions and provide insights into effective property management post-purchase. However, expanding your real estate portfolio doesn’t have to be limited to direct property acquisition. 

With the Foothold platform, you can fractionally invest in selected vacation rentals properties, allowing you to start earning rental income quickly without a large down payment or cash investment. To learn more about this opportunity, explore our available properties.

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