One of the most valuable tools in real estate is calculating the net operating income or NOI. Investors looking to invest in a property often use this figure as a crucial real estate tool to help them make decisions at a glance. Therefore, understanding what it is, how it works, and how it is calculated is vital. Here is everything you need to know about net operating income in real estate.

Net Operating Income: Defined

The net operating income is a calculation used by real estate investors to assess a specific investment's profitability swiftly. After deducting essential operational expenses, NOI evaluates the profits and revenues of an investment in a real estate property.

This formula effectively takes all of a property's income, such as the money made from rental income and parking fees. It subtracts all its general operating expenses, such as property management fees.

The cost of maintenance isn't the only thing to consider when it comes to operating costs. Insurance and expert assistance are also essential considerations.

NOI’s strength is that it combines all the essential revenues and operating expenses for each property into a single computation, and it is generally calculated annually.

It is a statistic that is reflected on an estate's income and cash flow statement that does not take into account depreciation, loan repayments, amortization, and capital expenditures.

How to Calculate Net Operating Income

Calculating net operating income is relatively simple. All you need to do is subtract the operating expenses from the gross operating income. The net operating income formula for the calculation of net operating income (NOI) is as follows:

Net Operating Income (NOI) = Gross Operating Income - Operating Expenses

Because the net operating income is calculated yearly, all the income received from a property is added together to give you the gross operating income.

To get the operating expenses, add together all the money spent on the property and then subtract this figure from the gross operating income to get the net operating income (NOI). These figures would be estimated based on research while evaluating a possible investment in a property.

On the other hand, gross operational revenue isn't merely the ideal annual rental income generated by a fully occupied residence or apartment block. You must still consider any current or upcoming vacancies or potential rental income that can be made from vacant apartments.

Additionally, it is essential to remember that operational expenses simply refer to the expenditures incurred on a daily basis to keep the rental property functional. This includes costs to an accounting firm and attorney, as well as plumbing and electrical expenses, among others.

In addition to this, employing a gardener or caretaker also forms part of operating expenses, as do property taxes. However, mortgage payments for the property or your personal income taxes do not form part of the operating expenses.

Net Versus Gross Operating Income

In the real estate market, gross operating income is defined as a property's gross potential income, excluding rental income that may have been lost because a unit or apartment was vacant. It also excludes any lost rental income from tenants who have not paid their rent.

However, in real life, homes sometimes stay vacant for a variety of reasons, including tenant relocation, job loss, or inability to pay rent for several months. You can subtract these amounts from the total prospective income to arrive at gross potential income if some or all of your building is vacant.

You may be unsure of how to determine losses on a building you have not purchased yet. In this case, you can look up these vacancy rates or rental default rates for similar buildings nearby.

Subtract the expenses linked to running your property to get from the gross operating income to NOI. The NOI considers the profit left after operating expenses are removed rather than the overall sum of money you receive from the property. Insurance, repairs or maintenance, property management fees are all possible operating expenses.

Calculating Gross Operating Income

The formula for gross operating income is as follows:

Gross Operating Income (GOI) = Gross Potential Income (GPI) - Losses

Use the gross operating income to calculate the NOI by subtracting the operating expenses. Now that we have a good understanding of what is included in the gross operating income, let’s take a closer look at operating expenses.

A Detailed Look at What Is Not Included in Operating Expenses

The operating expenses do not include anything that can be paid for with future taxes or earnings, so it can be confusing to know exactly what to include when calculating net operating income. Here is a detailed look at what you must not include in the calculation and why.

Capital Expenditures

Running a rental property can be costly, and there are often years when additional funds are necessary for repairs. These substantial one-time charges are not included in an NOI computation because they can differ significantly from one year to another and from one property to another.

A significant expense, such as a roof replacement, is also unlikely to be paid for with the income received from rental income. Because investors frequently use reserve funds or money from their savings to finance these costs, it is not practical to include both the additional costs and funds in the net operating income calculation.

Income Tax

Because the NOI is a pre-tax estimate, all income taxes are factored out of the equation. Tax charges vary greatly according to the investor, and because NOI is specific to the property rather than the person, it is not included.

It is important to note that while income tax (the investors' personal taxes) is not considered as an operating expense when you calculate net operating income, property taxes are, as they do, form part of the operating expenses incurred for running a property.


Depreciation isn't considered an operating expense because it is never paid and is not included in the formula since net operating income only considers real, yearly expenses paid out of cash gained annually.

Mortgage or Debt Payments

Because the debt amounts vary from one investor to another, loans, mortgage payments, and other debts are not included in the net operating income formula.

This amount would have a significant impact on the net operating income if it were included. Still, since we want to examine the general performance or profitability of the property rather than the financial status of a single investor, it is not included in the NOI calculation.

Net Income (NI) Versus Net Operating Income

Net income and NOI are two different terms, although they may appear to mean the same thing. The profits raised from a property's operational activities, including rental income from tenants, minus its operating expenses or the expenses incurred for running the property, are referred to as its net operating income in real estate.

It excludes income from other ventures, tax, interest on loans, and other capital expenses. All revenue and expenses, including income from investments and expenses including debt repayments and taxes, make up the NI.

What Net Operating Income (NOI) Means in the Real Estate Business

The net operating income (NOI) is essential in property investment since it either tells you how a property has performed in the past or forecasts how much future income your property can earn when compared to its operating expenses.

Rather than displaying how much cash a property may earn if it were fully rented, it provides a realistic picture of what an average year of revenue from the real estate might be. This can help real estate investors make a more educated decision about whether or not to buy or invest in that property.

When you calculate the net operating income without taking debt into account, it helps you to compare houses on the same merit.

The Debt Service Coverage Ratio (DSCR) is a calculation that compares a building's cash flow to the amount needed to pay off any debts. The NOI is taken into account by the debt service coverage ratio.

NOI and Other Ratios

NOI can be used to calculate several other ratios. Here is a summary of those ratios and what they mean in the real estate business.

NOI and the Cap Rate

The capitalization or cap rate is used in real estate to indicate how the revenue provided by a property corresponds to the property's worth in the form of a percentage. It is helpful because it determines how much of the revenue a building produces can cover the cost of running that property, similar to NOI. The cap rate is calculated by dividing the NOI by the acquisition price of the property.

Net Income Multiplier (NIM) and NOI

This ratio, which is the inverse of the cap rate, compares the NOI to the amount paid for the building. It is derived by dividing the acquisition price of the property by the NOI. A lower net income multiplier is better because it indicates your NOI can cover a larger portion of the property's purchase price.

NOI and the DSCR

As previously mentioned, this ratio is used by real estate investors to see if the income a property pulls in can cover both its operational costs and any mortgage repayments. It is determined by dividing the entire amount of debt owing annually by the NOI for the year.

Cash Yield and NOI

The cash yield calculation provides investors with an accurate depiction of cash flow. It's determined by dividing the yearly earnings before tax by the overall cash investment to get a yearly estimate of revenues on a property in comparison to the yearly mortgage. The cash yield is an indication of what percentage of the price of the building is covered by the yearly rental income.

Key Takeaways

If you are considering an investment in a property, you may be concerned whether it is indeed a worthy investment. By calculating the NOI, you can gain a good understanding of how the property's income fairs against the cost of running it.

NOI is regularly used in real estate as a metric for determining the profitability of a property. To calculate net operating income, the operating expenses on the property are subtracted from the revenue generated by the property, such as rental income, in the NOI.

A building is more lucrative if its profits are greater and its operating expenses are lower. Property owners interpret net operating income as the feasibility of operating a property.

David is the co-founder & CMO of DoorLoop, a best-selling author, legal CLE speaker, and real estate investor. When he's not hanging with his three children, he's writing articles here!