The Importance of Debt When Evaluating Real Estate Investments

Debt plays a critical role in real estate investment decisions for several reasons. Properly understanding and managing debt can amplify returns, provide leverage, and offer tax advantages. Here's why debt is crucial when evaluating real estate investment decisions:

 Check out these real estate model templates for evaluating commercial and residential property. They all include assumptions for leverage (debt) usage.


Leverage allows an investor to buy an asset by using a mix of their own funds and borrowed money. For instance, if a property costs $1 million, an investor might only contribute $200,000 of their own money and borrow the remaining $800,000. If the property appreciates to $1.2 million, the investor has effectively made a $200,000 gain on their $200,000 investment, doubling their money. Without debt, the return would have been only 20%.

Enhanced Returns:

By using leverage, investors can achieve a higher return on equity. If property values rise or if rental incomes exceed interest costs, the return on the owner's equity can be magnified.

Tax Advantages:

In many jurisdictions, interest payments on debt for real estate investments are tax-deductible. This means that by taking on debt, investors can potentially reduce their tax liability, making the effective cost of debt even lower.


By using debt, an investor can spread their available capital over multiple properties rather than tying up all their funds in a single investment. This allows for risk diversification across different assets or geographies.

Inflation Hedge:

Real estate is often seen as a good hedge against inflation. When inflation rises, so do property values and rental incomes, while the debt remains constant in nominal terms. Thus, in an inflationary environment, the real value of the debt decreases, benefiting the property owner.

Cost of Capital:

Debt, especially in periods of low-interest rates, can be cheaper than equity. If the returns from a real estate investment exceed the interest rate on the debt, it makes financial sense to borrow rather than fund the entire investment with equity.


Debt provides flexibility in terms of capital structuring. Investors can choose from various debt products with different terms, interest rates, and payment structures to suit their investment strategy and risk tolerance.

Asset Control:

Even with a significant amount of debt, an investor retains control of the property, reaping the benefits of any appreciation in value and rental income.

However, it's essential to approach debt with caution. Over-leveraging can lead to financial distress if property values decline or if cash flows can't cover debt service obligations. A well-considered balance between debt and equity is vital in real estate investment to optimize returns while managing risks.

You  may also like this WACC calculator and this cost segregation study template.