Understanding DSCR Loans: A Real Estate Investor’s Guide

In the realm of real estate loans, DSCR loans have emerged as an excellent tool for real estate investors. My name is Corey Dutton and with many years in the real estate lending industry, I’ve gained extensive knowledge about various financing options that are available for real estate investors, including DSCR loans. This guide will help explain DSCR loans to you, while offering some insights for you in your journey to finance your purchases of investment real estate.

What is a DSCR Loan?

DSCR, stands for, “Debt Service Coverage Ratio.” This is a term, or type of loan, that is  specifically intended for real estate investors. But why are they for real estate investors? Unlike traditional loans that focus on your personal income for loan approval, DSCR loans have a different approach.

The income potential of the investment property is the driving factor for loan approval with these DSCR loans versus your own personal income. This means that if you have income from non-traditional sources, or if you write off a lot of expenses on your taxes and don’t have a lot of taxable income – – Well, you can still qualify for a DSCR loan on an investment property. 

Now, why is this so crucial? Imagine being an investor with a golden opportunity to snag a rental property, but your personal income doesn’t quite fit the traditional mold. In other words your personal financial metrics don’t align with traditional lending criteria. That’s where DSCR loans come into play. 

These DSCR lenders look more at how much the property itself will earn in income to cover the loan payments over time, rather than the personal income, or the net worth of the borrower. If you’ve snagged a good rental property and can make enough income from the property to support the loan payments, a DSCR loan may be a good fit. Let me tell you why.

 

What Types of Real Estate Can You Buy with a DSCR loan?

DSCR loans cater to a variety of income-producing properties including:

  • Single-Family Rental Property: This includes Single Family Homes, individual Townhomes, Condominiums, and even some manufactured housing.
  • Multifamily Property: Properties with more than one unit, from duplexes all the way to large apartment complexes.
  • Commercial Property: This includes retail, office, and industrial. Pretty much any commercial property that is income-producing.

Mixed-Use Properties: Buildings that combine both residential and commercial elements.

DSCR Loan Programs We Offer

We offer all types of DSCR loans for real estate investors for both the purchase and refinance of investment properties. Our DSCR loans cover a multitude of property types. A summary of the loan terms for our DSCR loan programs include:

  • Property types we lend on: income-producing property types from single family homes, to manufactured homes, from apartment complexes to industrial commercial properties. Most property types are considered as long as the property is income-producing.
  • Under 600 credit score ok
  • Loan amounts up to $50 MM
  • DSCR ratios from as low as 0.85
  • Loan terms: Interest only, 5 year and 7 year fixed, and 30 years
  • Competitive interest rates as compared with banks
  • Low points and fees

Benefits of DSCR Loans for Real Estate Investors

  1. Rental Income Evaluation:
    DSCR loans look at the property’s income potential more than the investor’s personal finances.
  2. Flexibility with Property Type:
    From manufactured or modular housing to multi-unit apartment complexes and beyond. DSCR loans adapt to various property types, freeing investors from traditional loan constraints.
  3. Credit:Even borrowers with low credit scores can qualify for DSCR loans. Some DSCR programs go as low as 580 credit score. But it’s worth noting that the lower your credit score, the MORE you’ll have to bring in down on a purchase using a DSCR loan.
  4. Perfect for the BRRRR Method of Investing:
    Real estate investors can build their real estate portfolios faster using the BRRRR Investment Strategy. Properties can be bought with hard money loans, rehabbed, then rented, and then refinanced with a DSCR loan. Real estate investors are then able to repeat this process over and over again, thereby building their real estate portfolios faster.

How to Calculate DSCR

So how do you know if a property makes enough income to qualify for a DSCR loan? It’s all about understanding the relationship between the income a property generates and the debt  owed on it. Let’s break it down, step-by-step, check it out:

  1. Determine the Net Operating Income (NOI) of the Property:
    Start by figuring out the property’s annual, net operating income. This is the total income the property generates minus its operating expenses. Remember, this doesn’t include any mortgage payments or other financing costs. In this example you will take out your property taxes and insurance as annual, operating expenses to arrive at your final NOI number. (Note: make sure not to include property taxes and insurance as part of the monthly loan payment, otherwise you would be double counting these expenses).

 

Formula:
[  NOI = Gross Rental Income – Operating Expenses (incl. Taxes and Insurance)  ]

 

  1. Identify Annual Loan Payments:
    This is the total amount you’ll pay annually for the property’s debt, which includes principal and interest *(Note: In this example you are not including property taxes and insurance as part of the monthly loan payment).

 

 Formula
[  Annual Debt Service = Monthly Mortgage Payment x 12 months  ]

 

  1. Calculate DSCR

Now, divide the Annual Net Operating Income by the Annual Debt Service. The resulting number is your DSCR or “Debt Service Coverage Ratio.”

 

Formula
[  DSCR = NOI  /  Annual Debt Service  ]

 

Example, if your property has an annual NOI of $120,000 and an annual debt service of $100,000, the DSCR would be 1.2. *(Anything over 1 is good, see below why it’s good).

 

Now what does a DSCR of 1.2 mean? A DSCR of 1.2 means the property generates 1.2 times more income than its debt. 

 

A DSCR of 1 means the property generates the same amount of the debt.  

 

And DSCR below 1 means the property is NOT generating enough income to cover its debt. 

 

Many DSCR loan programs require a DSCR of 1 or higher. If the DSCR is below 1, you can still get the loan, but you will be required to bring in a larger down payment or use your personal income to offset the difference between what your property is earning in income and your monthly loan payment.

What is a good DSCR for rental property?

In the realm of rental properties, the DSCR (Debt Service Coverage Ratio) plays a pivotal role in gauging financial health. A good DSCR for rental property typically hovers around 1.2 to 1.4. This means that for every dollar of debt, the property generates $1.20 to $1.40 in income.

However, it’s worth noting that while a DSCR of 1 indicates break-even, anything below 1 can be a red flag, suggesting potential income shortfalls. If there’s not an opportunity to increase income on the property, it may not be a good investment. As always, individual lender preferences can vary, but aiming for a DSCR north of 1.2 can keep your down payment requirement lower, and keep your personal income out of the equation entirely.

Real-World DSCR Scenario: The Case of Emilio’s Rental Property


Emilio, an ambitious real estate investor, had his eyes set on a rental property in a growing part of town. The property gets monthly, gross rents of $1,600. But Emilio’s personal income, derived from being a subcontractor, is inconsistent. Emilio writes off a lot of his expenses so his taxable income is close to zero. Traditional lenders were hesitant to approve him for a loan to purchase an investment property because his personal income is so inconsistent.

Income Potential:
The property’s potential gross rental income is $1,600 per month or $19,200 annually. After accounting for operating expenses like hazard insurance, utilities, property management fees, and property taxes, the annual, Net Operating Income (NOI) comes down to $15,360.00 annually.

 

Loan Details:
Emilio needs a loan of $175,000 on the property. The terms offered by a DSCR lender are: 7.5% interest rate with a 30-year term, fixed rate, principal and interest payments. This translates to an annual debt service (principal + interest) of $14,683.56 *(excludes impounds for taxes and insurance).

 

DSCR Calculation:

Using the DSCR formula, Emilio calculated his ratio: DSCR = NOI / Annual Debt Service

$15,360.00 / $14,683.56 = 1.04

 

The DSCR in this example is 1.04

A DSCR of 1.04 is a good sign. It means that the property is earning more in rental income than the debt. Another way to look at it, is for every dollar of debt, the property could generate $1.04 in income.

The DSCR lender that Emilio is talking to has a DSCR requirement of 1 for the loan amount he’s requesting of $175,000. This means that Emilio will qualify for the DSCR loan for this rental property because the DSCR is slightly over 1 at 1.04. The lender is not concerned about Emilio’s fluctuating personal income because the rental property has a DSCR over its requirement of 1. Emilio purchased the property in under 10 days using a hard money loan. Once he had the property rented, he paid off (refinanced) the hard money loan with a DSCR loan. 

This scenario shows the power of DSCR loans, but it is also a good example of how real estate investors are using the BRRRR method of real estate investing. delve deeper into the BRRRR method. Real estate investors like Emilio who are building their real estate portfolios typically use hard money loans to purchase properties quickly because a hard money loan can resemble cash transactions. Once the properties are rehabbed and rented, real estate investors are able to refinance the hard money loans into 30 year loans based on the rental income, rather than based on their personal incomes.

 

FAQs on DSCR Loans

Who Offers DSCR Loans?

Traditional Bank Lenders:

Yes it’s true, traditional bank lenders do offer DSCR loans. Banks tend to advertise these loans as “investment” property loans. Although DSCR loans from banks take awhile to fund so don’t think you can use a DSCR loan from a bank to purchase a property quickly.

If you have all the time in the world to close on the purchase of an investment property, a DSCR loan from a bank could be an option. But normally, sellers of investment properties want to sell as quickly as possible, especially if they are selling properties at good prices. The role of hard money loans in swift aquisitions. A hard money loan is typically used for the purchase of the investment property, which is later refinanced by a bank loan.

 

Credit Unions:

Similar to banks, credit unions also offer DSCR loans to real estate investors. Although sometimes faster than a bank, credit unions are still very slow in underwriting and funding loans. So if you want to purchase a property quickly, a hard money loan is your best bet. But make sure to talk with a loan officer at your credit union before you complete the purchase to make sure you understand all of the requirements for refinancing and can meet those requirements. The importance of a planned exit for hard money loans because hard money loans are short term loans of usually one year, with higher interest rates as compared with traditional loans.

Specialty Finance Companies:

These are lending firms that specialize in niche financial products and DSCR loans are often in their long list of loan offerings. Most of them are found online and are more of a broker, or loan wholesaler, rather than a direct lender. 

 

What Are the Downsides of a DSCR loan?

Some real estate investors might find the loan terms of a DSCR loan less favorable as compared with a traditional bank loan. Firstly, they often carry higher interest rates compared to traditional mortgages. Secondly, the loan approval process can take a long time, with lenders evaluating the property’s income potential by ordering appraisals which can often be very slow.

This means it’s very difficult to use a DSCR loan for a property purchase because it’s just not a fast process to get to the finish line on a DSCR loan. If you need to move fast to close on an investment property you would typically use a hard money loan for the purchase and then refinance later with a DSCR loan.

Other downsides are the shorter, fixed rate, loan terms often found in DSCR loans, which means the rate may only be fixed for 5 to 7 years. DSCR loans may also come with prepayment penalties, for example, some with up to 5 year penalties.

This means if you have a high interest rate DSCR loan, and then rates suddenly go down, you’re stuck holding the DSCR loan for 5 years because it has a 5 year prepayment penalty on it. If you pay it off in under 5 years, you have to pay a penalty, and sometimes a very stiff penalty.

And another downside of a DSCR loan is the larger down payment requirements as compared with traditional bank loans. Credit plays a factor in how much down payment you will be required to bring in on an investment property purchase when using a DSCR loan. For example, if you have a credit score below 650, you may be required to bring in a 25% down payment on a DSCR purchase loan.

If you have bad credit and are considering DSCR loans, make sure you understand how your credit score will affect your required down payment. Also if you have a low credit score, find out the loan amount you can get approved for if you’re planning to refinance a hard money loan with a DSCR loan.

Can a DSCR Loan be Owner Occupied?

Traditionally DSCR loans have been the go-to loans for non-owner occupied properties. However, the landscape of lending is ever-evolving.

While it’s less common, some lenders have started offering DSCR loans on properties that are only partially owner-occupied. For example a multifamily property like a four plex, whereby the owner occupies one of the units and rents out the other four units. As always, make sure to check with each individual lender, as the requirements and conditions can vary greatly among DSCR lenders.

Does DSCR include Property Taxes and Insurance?

This concept is a super important thing to understand so don’t skim over this section! When calculating your DSCR, or Debt Service Coverage Ratio, it’s essential to understand what operating expenses are factored into the calculation.

Typically, the DSCR calculation focuses on the annual Net Operating Income (NOI) of a property, which is rental revenue for the year minus operating expenses for the year. In the previous example described above, operating expenses did include property taxes and insurance.

Please note in the above example that property taxes and insurance are not included in the debt payment total. In the above example, the DSCR lender only requires principal and interest payments, the lender does NOT require insurance and taxes to be included in the monthly payments.

On the flip side, some lenders will include the taxes and insurance in the monthly payment amount. This means you will pay these expenses as part of your total monthly payment. In other words, you would pay principal, interest, a portion of property taxes for the year, and a portion of the insurance for a year as part of your monthly payment.

If a DSCR lender does require that you escrow the property taxes and insurance, make sure not to count them as operating expenses.

 

What’s the Down Payment Requirement for a DSCR loan?

As with any loan, the question of down payment is usually the first question. While the traditional amount for conventional mortgages is typically a 20% down payment, DSCR loans can have higher down payment requirements.

This is where credit score and loan size come into play. Typically the lower the credit score of the borrower, the higher the down payment requirement. And likewise, the higher the loan amount over $1 MM, the higher the down payment requirement.

For example, a borrower with a 750 credit score borrowing under $1 MM can get away with only a 20% down payment. While a borrower with a 575 credit score borrowing under $1 MM would need to bring in 35% down.

But what if you have a good credit score of 750, but you’re wanting to borrow $2 MM?
Most DSCR loans over a $2 MM loan amount, even with good credit, require a down payment of 35%. That’s a sizeable down payment if you’re not expecting it! And those with credit scores below 650 may not qualify AT ALL for a DSCR loan with a loan amount over $2 MM.

Conclusion

DSCR loans are a great tool for real estate investors to use for building their real estate portfolios over time. DSCR loans go off the income potential of the property for loan approval rather than going off of your personal income for approval.

This means you can hold multiple properties in your real estate portfolio for between 5 to 30 years using DSCR loans. However, because DSCR loans are typically slow to fund, you can get away with using a hard money loan to purchase an investment property quickly and then refinance with a DSCR loan.

And some DSCR lenders allow your credit score to be below 600, so you don’t need excellent credit to qualify. But be aware that the lower your credit score, the larger the down payment requirement on a purchase with a DSCR loan.

And on a refinance using a DSCR loan, the lower credit score you have the lower the loan amount you can qualify for. This means, you should take your credit score into consideration when looking at DSCR loans for the purchase or refinance of investment properties.

 

 

2 thoughts on “Understanding DSCR Loans: A Real Estate Investor’s Guide

  1. Good morning
    I need a DSCR loan on a property, but would like a second as the first is 3.31
    The property is worth 1.3 m, balance on the first is about $ 550,000
    We have a lease/purchase in place that the renter who has been in the house 7 years, has agreed to purchase
    the house in 1 to 5 years…with a today price of $ 935,000 leaving us with about $ 390,000 equity. They pay
    $ 4,460.14 p/m includes taxes and the renter pays all repairs. Our first is $ 2,062.02 p/m.

    1. Hello,
      Thanks for your comment. We don’t offer second mortgages that large. And those are REALLY hard to get unless you are planning to pay it off in 12 months. Lenders that go in a second mortgage position want to be paid off in a short amount of time to reduce their risk. That said, a bank or credit union is probably your best bet but it would be a HELOC, not a second mortgage. I think you should try a HELOC with a bank or credit union. If you want to discuss strategy with me give me a call, 435-565-1768. – Corey Dutton

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Corey Curwick Dutton, MBA Park City, Utah

About the author

Corey Curwick Dutton, MBA Park City, Utah - 2005 MBA Graduate with 10 years experience in Business Management including International Management. Corey is a Private Money Lender and Loan Officer. In her spare time Corey enjoys writing on topics in the private money lending industry. She also enjoys hobbies such as mountain biking and skiing in the great outdoors of Utah.