DSCR Loans: Qualify for Investment Property With Its Own Rental Income

Taking the leap to real estate investment can seem daunting. Many investors start a DSCR loan, otherwise known as a Debt Service Coverage Ratio loan. This type of loan allows you to qualify for a purchase of a rental property with the potential rental income that the property will generate. Here’s our full guide on taking your first step into real estate investing with DSCR loans.

Key Takeaways About DSCR Loans

Need quick answers in your journey to finding the perfect home loan? Here’s a quick breakdown of the key facts you need about DSCR Loans:


  • DSCR loans are a great starting point for people who want to build a real estate investment portfolio
  • DSCR loans are calculated using the potential rental income and the annual mortgage debt a property would require
  • DSCR loans require different qualifications to apply since the income verification process is different from traditional loans

What Exactly is a DSCR Loan?

DSCR stands for Debt Service Coverage Ratio. A DSCR loan is a unique mortgage option for real estate investors that focuses on the property’s income-generating potential, rather than the borrower’s personal income. Unlike standard mortgages that rely on W-2s and tax returns to assess eligibility, DSCR loans prioritize the property’s cash flow.

To qualify, the property’s projected rental income is measured against its anticipated expenses (including property taxes, insurance, and maintenance). This ratio, the DSCR, determines if the property generates enough income to cover the loan payment. DSCR loans offer an alternative path to financing investment properties, particularly for those with limited traditional income documentation.

Understanding your DSCR options requires working with an experienced mortgage broker. Talk to the team at Abo Capital about creating a long-term investment strategy that includes a DSCR loan.

How Do DSCR Loans Work?

Understanding how DSCR loans work boils down to two key things: the formula and a good DSCR ratio. Let’s break it down:

The DSCR Formula Explained:

The magic number behind DSCR loans is the Debt Service Coverage Ratio, which tells lenders how much income a property generates compared to its annual debt obligations. Here’s the formula:

  • DSCR = Net Operating Income (NOI) / Annual Debt Service

  • Net Operating Income (NOI): This is your property’s annual rental income minus all reasonable operating expenses. Think property taxes, insurance, maintenance, and vacancy rates.

  • Annual Debt Service: This is the total amount you’ll pay annually towards your mortgage, including principal and interest.

Calculating Your DSCR:

Let’s say you’re considering a property with a projected annual rental income of $48,000. You anticipate annual operating expenses of $12,000, leaving you with a NOI of $36,000. The annual debt service on the potential loan is estimated at $24,000.

Here’s how you calculate the DSCR:

  • DSCR = $36,000 (NOI) / $24,000 (Annual Debt Service)
  • DSCR = 1.5
What is a Good DSCR Ratio?

Generally, lenders prefer a DSCR of 1.25 or higher. This means the property’s income is at least 125% of the annual debt service, indicating a healthy buffer to cover the loan payment. Higher ratios are even better, signifying a stronger cash flow for the property. However, Abo Capital has access to specialized lending options that allow for a DSCR of as low as .75, depending on other variables in the loan. 

For a deeper explanation on how the DSCR ratio is calculated, read our guide on calculating your property’s DSCR.

Remember: DSCR loans offer an alternative path to financing for real estate investors, particularly those with limited traditional income documentation. However, it’s crucial to consult a financial advisor to determine if a DSCR loan aligns with your overall investment goals.

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Financing That Dream Property Could Be Closer Than You Think

Unique DSCR Loan Features We Offer

Our network of lending partners offer a variety of features for DSCR loans that you won’t find with other brokerages. Depending on your circumstances, you could qualify for a loan that allows for:


  • A DSCR ratio as low as .75
  • Gift funds to be used in your purchase
  • The property to be used as short-term rental
  • Only 30-day seasoning of assets
  • Funding a currently vacant property
  • First-time investors
  • 80% LTV up to 1.5million
  • 2-4 units up to 1.5 million

DSCR Loan Requirements: Unlocking Your Investment Potential

DSCR loans offer a unique path to financing real estate investments, especially for those who are self-employed or have non-traditional income sources. Here’s a breakdown of what you’ll typically need to qualify for a DSCR loan:

Financial Requirements:
  • Minimum Credit Score: Requirements vary by lender, but a minimum credit score of 620 is common. A higher score can lead to better interest rates.

  • Down Payment: Expect a down payment between 15% and 25% of the property’s value. A larger down payment strengthens your application and reduces your loan amount.

Property Requirements:
  • Eligible Property Types: DSCR loans are often used for single-family homes, duplexes, and low-rise apartment buildings (up to four units).

  • Minimum DSCR Ratio: Lenders typically look for a DSCR of at least 1.25. This means your property’s rental income should be at least 125% of the annual debt service on the loan. A higher ratio is even better, indicating a strong cash flow for the property.

  • Property Income Expectations: Your property’s projected rental income needs to be sufficient to cover not only the mortgage payment but also all operating expenses.

Documentation Required:
  • Tax Returns: Recent tax returns (usually 2-3 years) are used to verify income and tax history.

  • Lease Agreements: Copies of existing or planned lease agreements help demonstrate the property’s rental income potential.

  • Property Appraisal: A professional appraisal establishes the property’s value, which impacts the loan amount.

  • Proof of Reserves: Some lenders may require documentation of liquid assets to cover unexpected expenses.

Pre-Qualification Considerations:

Getting pre-qualified for a DSCR loan can be a valuable first step. It provides an estimated loan amount you may qualify for based on your initial financial information. Some lenders might consider additional factors like your experience as a real estate investor and the property’s overall condition.

What Documents Are Required to Apply for a DSCR Loan?

Having the right documentation in order is crucial for a smooth DSCR loan application process. It helps lenders assess your financial situation, the property’s potential, and your overall ability to repay the loan. Here’s a breakdown of the documents you’ll typically need, categorized for easy reference:

Borrower Information:
  • Proof of Identity: A government-issued ID like a driver’s license or passport to verify your identity.
  • Social Security Number: This is needed for a credit check, which helps determine your creditworthiness and loan interest rates.
  • Proof of Employment: For salaried individuals: Paystubs or recent employer statements can be used.
Property Information:
  • Purchase Agreement (if applicable): This document outlines the terms of the agreement between you and the seller for the property you’re looking to finance.
  • Appraisal Report: A professional appraisal establishes the property’s fair market value, which impacts the loan amount you can qualify for.
  • Property Tax Records: These demonstrate your responsibility in managing property tax obligations.
  • Proof of Insurance: Documentation showing the property has the required insurance coverage (usually hazard and liability).
Financial Documents:
  • Bank Statements (past 2-3 months): Provide a snapshot of your recent account activity and available cash reserves.
  • Lease Agreements (for existing tenants): Demonstrate the property’s current rental income stream.
  • Proof of Income:
    • For salaried individuals: Paystubs or W-2s can be used.
    • For self-employed individuals: Tax returns and 1099s for the past 2-3 years will be required.
  • Debt Documentation: This includes existing mortgages, credit card statements, and any other outstanding loans. It helps lenders understand your overall debt obligations.
Optional Documents:
  • Renovation Receipts (for BRRRR strategy): If you’re planning renovations using the BRRRR strategy (Buy, Rehab, Rent, Refinance, Repeat), receipts for these improvements can strengthen your application.
  • References (from contractors, and property managers): Providing positive references from those in your real estate network can add credibility to your application.

For a deeper explanation of the components you’ll need to prepare to apply, read our guide on how to qualify for a DSCR loan


Learn More About DSCR Loans

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Finding the Right Property for a DSCR Loan

Making a profitable portfolio of rental properties requires choosing the best properties for stability and profit. Learn how to advise our clients in choosing the best property for DSCR loans, which includes evaluating the local market, property condition and size, location, maintenance needs and more.

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How to Calculate a DSCR Ratio

Understanding your property options and your potential profit means knowing your numbers. The foundation of a DSCR loan is its ratio, so let’s walk through how we (and our lender partners) calculate a Debt Service Coverage Ratio to qualify you for your next investment property.

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How to Qualify for a DSCR Loan

While many standard loan programs qualify you based on your own income, DSCR loans work differently. We’ll walk you through the unique process of a DSCR loan and explain the elements that will help you qualify for a DSCR loan.

We’ve Got 30+ Years of Originating DSCR Loans

The Pros and Cons of Using a DSCR Loan

DSCR loans offer a unique path to financing real estate investments, but like any financial tool, they come with both advantages and disadvantages. Here’s a breakdown to help you decide if a DSCR loan is the right fit for your goals:

Pros of DSCR Loans:

  • Focus on Property Income: Unlike traditional mortgages that rely on your W-2 income, DSCR loans prioritize the property’s income-generating potential. This is ideal for self-employed individuals or those with non-traditional income streams.
  • Faster Approvals: The DSCR loan application process is often streamlined compared to traditional loans. With less emphasis on personal income verification, approvals can be quicker, allowing you to seize investment opportunities faster.
  • Access to Investment Opportunities: Traditional loan requirements might limit your investment options due to income limitations. DSCR loans unlock opportunities to qualify for properties that may not meet those restrictions, as long as the property’s projected income meets the DSCR ratio.
  • Build Your Portfolio: DSCR loans allow you to finance multiple properties, potentially accelerating your path to building a strong real estate portfolio. This can be a powerful strategy for growing your wealth through real estate investment.

Cons of DSCR Loans:

  • Higher Interest Rates: Because DSCR loans are viewed as slightly riskier for lenders due to the focus on property income, they typically come with higher interest rates compared to traditional mortgages.
  • Larger Down Payments: Be prepared for a larger down payment requirement compared to traditional loans. This can be a significant upfront cost to consider.
  • Stricter DSCR Ratio Requirements: Qualifying for a DSCR loan hinges on the property’s projected income covering the debt service (mortgage payment, taxes, insurance) with a minimum DSCR ratio (often 1.25 or higher). This means the property needs to generate enough income to comfortably support the loan payment.
  • Property Performance Dependence: The success of your investment heavily relies on the property’s rental income and occupancy rates. Vacancies or lower-than-anticipated rents can impact your ability to cover the loan payments.

    Quotes Are Cool, But Real Rates Are Better

    The experienced team at Abo Capital will run your numbers and get you an accurate rate estimate to help you make an actionable mortgage plan. With a deeper understanding of all your numbers, we can guide you to the best mortgage choice for your short- and long-term goals.

    What is a Good DSCR Ratio?

    Understanding the calculation for DSCR (Debt Service Coverage Ratio) is key to qualifying for a DSCR loan. It’s calculated by dividing the property’s Net Operating Income (NOI) by its Annual Debt Service.

    • Net Operating Income (NOI): This is your property’s annual rental income minus all reasonable operating expenses. Think property taxes, insurance, maintenance, and vacancy rates.

    • Annual Debt Service: This is the total amount you’ll pay annually towards your mortgage, including principal and interest.

    So, what’s a good DSCR ratio? Generally, a higher DSCR indicates a stronger property – one that can comfortably cover its debt obligations. A range of 1.25 – 1.50 is considered a good DSCR ratio by many lenders. This means the property’s income is at least 125% to 150% of the annual debt service on the loan.

    Remember: Vacancy rates, property taxes, and insurance can all impact your DSCR. Higher expenses will result in a lower ratio.

    Minimum DSCR requirements can vary between lenders. For the most accurate information, consult with a DSCR loan specialist to understand what ratio is needed to qualify with your preferred lender. To do your own calculations, follow our step by step guide to calculating the debt service coverage ratio.

    Who Are DSCR Loans Best For?

    DSCR loans cater to a specific group of borrowers who can leverage the unique strengths of this financing option. Here’s a breakdown of who benefits most from DSCR loans:

    Ideal Borrowers:

    • Self-Employed Investors: If your income fluctuates or you lack traditional W-2s, DSCR loans allow you to qualify based on the property’s projected rental income, not solely on personal income verification. This opens doors for real estate entrepreneurs and freelancers to build their investment portfolios.

    • Real Estate Professionals: DSCR loans are a powerful tool for flippers and landlords. You can finance fix-and-flip projects or acquire additional rental properties even if your personal income doesn’t meet traditional loan requirements. As long as the projected rental income demonstrates a strong DSCR ratio, you can access the capital needed for your REI endeavors.

    • Individuals with Investment Properties: Looking to expand your existing investment portfolio? DSCR loans can help you finance additional properties strategically. This allows you to potentially grow your wealth faster through real estate investment.

    • Strong Rental Income & Investment Plan: The core of a successful DSCR loan hinges on the property’s income-generating potential. If you have a property with a solid rental history and a well-defined investment plan demonstrating how the property will cover the loan obligations, a DSCR loan can be a great fit.

    DSCR Loans Offer Advantages:

    • Qualify Based on Property Income: Unlock financing opportunities unavailable with traditional loans that rely solely on personal income verification.
    • Grow Your Portfolio Faster: DSCR loans can potentially accelerate your path to building a strong real estate portfolio by financing multiple properties.
    • Streamlined Application Process: For self-employed individuals, the DSCR loan application process can be faster and less document-heavy compared to traditional loans.

    Not Ideal For:

    • First-Time Homebuyers: DSCR loans are geared towards investment properties, not primary residences. If you’re looking for financing for your first home, a traditional mortgage would be a better option.
    • Low Credit Score or Limited Investment Experience: DSCR loans often require a minimum credit score and some lenders may prefer borrowers with a proven track record in real estate investment.

    Are DSCR Loans Right for You?

    If you see yourself reflected in the ideal borrower profile and have a strong understanding of real estate investment, then DSCR loans could be a powerful tool to unlock your investment goals. Consider consulting with a DSCR loan specialist to discuss your specific situation and determine if this financing option is the right fit for you.

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    FAQs About DSCR Loans

    Are DSCR loans hard to get?

    Qualifying for a DSCR loan, like any loan, requires you meet some standard financial requirements. DSCR loans are different in how they qualify your income. They use the potential rental income of the home to create the viability of the loan amount.

    How many years is a DSCR loan?

    Like most other loan types, DSCR loans usually are amortized over 30 years. You may be able to find different term amounts, depending on the lender you choose.

    Can I live in a home I bought with a DSCR loan?

    No, properties bought with a DSCR loan must be an income-generating property and cannot be the primary residence of the owner.