Learn How To Start Investing In Real Estate
Learn How To Start Investing In Real Estate

NOI Real Estate: Definition, Formula, and How To Use

Written by JD Esajian

When delving into the world of property investment, you’ll encounter a barrage of acronyms and financial metrics that can either pave the way to success or leave you floundering in confusion. One term that continually takes center stage is NOI in real estate, or Net Operating Income. Understanding what NOI is and how it’s calculated isn’t just helpful—it’s fundamental for anyone serious about making informed real estate investments. In this article, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge to not only comprehend NOI but to use it to your advantage in the real estate market.

What Is NOI In Real Estate?

In real estate, Net Operating Income (NOI) represents the total income a property generates after deducting all necessary operational expenses, but before taxes and financing costs are taken into account. It is a key indicator of a property’s profitability.

Net Operating Income Formula

To calculate NOI in real estate, you start by adding up all the income your property generates, which typically includes rent and any other fees like parking charges or service fees. From this total income, you subtract the operating expenses, which are the costs necessary to run and maintain the property. These expenses include property management fees, maintenance, repairs, utilities (if not paid by the tenants), and property insurance. However, they exclude mortgage payments, capital expenditures, and depreciation.

Here’s the simple formula:

Income Generated From Property – Operating Expenses = NOI

However, please keep in mind that the aforementioned net operating income formula is one of many that may be used. Calculating the NOI in real estate deals can vary widely, depending on the individual making the calculation.

The Significance of NOI for Investors

NOI is crucial for you as an investor because it gives a clear picture of a property’s financial performance. It’s the go-to figure when evaluating investment properties, offering a snapshot of the potential return on investment (ROI). When you’re comparing different properties, a higher NOI can indicate a more profitable investment opportunity.

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NOI real estate

The Role of NOI in Real Estate Performance

In the realm of noi real estate investment, NOI is directly tied to a property’s value. This value is often determined by the capitalization rate, or “cap rate,” which is calculated by dividing the NOI by the property’s current market value. This relationship highlights how improvements in NOI, either through increased income or decreased expenses, can lead to a significant increase in a property’s worth.

Assessing Property Health with NOI

NOI in real estate isn’t just about profitability; it’s also a measure of a property’s health. A stable or growing NOI suggests a well-managed property with good tenant occupancy and controlled costs. Conversely, a declining NOI might flag potential issues, such as higher vacancy rates or uncontrolled spending, that require immediate attention.

How to Maximize Your Property’s NOI

Strategies for Increasing Income

To enhance your NOI in real estate, you should consider strategies that increase your income potential. These could include:

  • Renovating units to justify higher rent.

  • Implementing additional revenue streams, such as coin-operated laundry facilities.

  • Improving tenant retention to minimize vacancy periods.

Effective Cost Management

However, increasing your NOI isn’t solely about boosting income—it also involves reducing expenses. Effective strategies include:

  • Regular property maintenance to avoid costly emergency repairs.

  • Negotiating with vendors for better rates on services.

  • Investing in energy-efficient upgrades to reduce utility costs.

What Expenses Are Included In NOI?

The key to understanding the NOI real estate term is knowing which expenses are included and not. As a general rule, operating expenses should refer to any day-to-day costs associated with running the property. The following is a list of examples:

  • Property Management Fees: Property management fees are incurred by investors who choose to invest more passively. Landlords may remove themselves from the equation for a small percentage of the rent collected from a subject property. Nonetheless, transitioning to a primarily passive exit strategy will come at a cost that must be factored into the NOI.

  • General Maintenance: Every rental property, especially older ones, will require at least some degree of maintenance. Whether it’s groundskeeping, plumbing, or electrical work, any maintenance conducted on the subject property must be accounted for in its NOI.

  • Legal Fees: Whether ownership of a subject property leads to litigation or a landlord hires an attorney to draft a lease, the money spent on legal fees is no different from any other expense. Likewise, legal fees are an important variable in a traditional net operating income formula.

  • Utilities Not Paid By Tenants: In the event the owner elects to pay some or all of the utilities, their expense will impact the real estate NOI. For example, any sewage or waste fees paid by the landlord must be deducted from the income generated to identify the property’s NOI.

  • Property Taxes: Property taxes will vary from municipality to municipality, but they are nonetheless an important variable to factor into the NOI of a rental property.

  • Insurance Costs: Money spent on insurance to cover the subject property must be included in the NOI, even if it’s only incurred once a year or biannually.

Is Mortgage Included In NOI?

Mortgage payments are not included in the net operating income formula for one simple reason: mortgage payments are not considered an operating expense. Again, as its name suggests, net operating income accounts for an asset’s total income and subtracts vacancies and operating expenses. Therefore, mortgage payments are not included in the formula. Instead, real estate NOI equations will take the ongoing costs required to run the property into consideration.

What Expenses Are Not Included In NOI?

When determining the net operating income, it is important to differentiate between costs that are unique to the property itself and costs that are specific to the investor. For example, when it comes to NOI, mortgage interest expenses will not be factored in. Here are other costs that would not be included when calculating net operating income:

  • Mortgage Interest

  • Income Taxes

  • Leasing Commissions

  • Debt Service

  • Property Depreciation

  • Tenant Improvements

  • Capital Expenditures

  • Repair For Wear And Tear

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How to calculate NOI

When To Use NOI In Real Estate

Net operating income is primarily used when determining profitability for commercial or residential rental property real estate investments. When considering potential deals, NOI can be utilized by both investors and lenders. By looking at this indicator, lenders can judge whether or not investors will make enough cash flow to make loan payments. It is not uncommon for NOI to be used when approving commercial loans for real estate investors. This is because lenders want to know whether or not investors will pay back the loan when considering the potential cash flow.

While NOI is thought to be a reliable indicator when determining the potential income of a property, it is not the only real estate calculation investors should keep handy. Investors should familiarize themselves with several formulas to analyze deals effectively.

Calculations That Use NOI

Numerous other real estate calculations can help investors evaluate potential deals, some of which include NOI as a variable. These are just some of the other calculations that involve NOI:

  • Capitalization Rate: The capitalization rate, or cap rate, of a property is another calculation used to show a property’s potential rate of return. The formula uses NOI divided by the current market value, multiplied by 100.

  • Debt Service Coverage Ratio: Debt service coverage ratio (DSCR) is typically used by lenders to determine whether or not to finance a specific property. The formula looks at NOI in relation to the annual mortgage debt service to show the potential cash flow.

  • Return On Investment: Return on investment (ROI) is calculated by taking the NOI and dividing it by the purchase price of a property, then multiplying by 100 to get a percentage. ROI is another calculation used to help investors gauge a property’s potential.

  • Cash On Cash Returns: The cash on cash investment formula looks at NOI in relation to the initial cash investment made on a property. This can help investors estimate the annual cash returns of a deal.


In essence, NOI in real estate is a vital tool for assessing the profitability and health of an investment property. By understanding and actively managing your property’s NOI, you position yourself to make smarter, more lucrative investment decisions. The strength of your NOI can serve as a beacon, guiding you through the complex seas of real estate investment toward the shores of financial success. Start today—analyze your properties, apply the strategies outlined, and watch as your real estate investments grow healthier and more profitable.

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