Real estate

What is loan to Cost Ratio - Ultimate Guide 2023?

Written By Urban Real Estate Center
Last Updated: Jan 10, 2023 •

Do you have plans to upgrade, develop or expand your real estate property in today's market but need to know how to calculate the necessary funds? Loan-to-cost (LTC) ratio is an essential metric used by lenders when evaluating financing requests and determining loan amounts.

This ultimate guide helps explain what LTC is, how it works and why it matters a great deal for all real estate investments. The must-know details, such as differences between loan-to-value vs. cost ratios, will be explained as examples of its practical use cases so that you can make informed decisions about your real estate development project finances.


What is a loan to Cost Ratio?

A loan-to-cost (LTC) ratio is a metric used to measure the financial risk of a commercial real estate project. It is calculated by dividing the total loan amount by the total cost of the construction project. The LTC ratio is often used as an indicator for lenders when considering offering a construction loan. It gives them an indication of how much equity the developer will retain in the project. 

The LTC ratio should be distinct from the loan-to-value (LTV) ratio, which compares the total loan amount to the fair market value of a completed project. While both ratios are important indicators of a commercial real estate project's risk, they provide different insights and should not be used interchangeably. 

Lenders typically consider both ratios when determining whether to approve a construction loan and what terms to offer. They may also consider other factors such as appraisal value, property condition, location, economic drivers in the area, and more. By considering all these factors and comparing them against industry standards, lenders can determine how risky it would be to finance a real estate development project.


What Does the Loan-To-Cost Ratio Tell You?

The Loan-To-Cost Ratio (LTC) is an important tool used by lenders to determine the maximum amount of financing that can be provided for a construction project. It allows them to calculate the percentage of a loan, or the total funding available, relative to the estimated costs associated with a particular project. In other words, it helps to determine how much of the cost of a construction project will be financed by a lender.

The LTC ratio is particularly useful regarding hard money loans and higher-risk construction projects. Since these projects are often more costly and involve more uncertainty than traditional mortgages, lenders use the LTC ratio to assess their willingness and ability to finance such projects. A higher LTC ratio indicates that there is more potential risk involved in providing financing for a particular project. In comparison, a lower LTC ratio suggests that less risk is associated with providing financing.

Most lenders generally provide up to 80% of a project's estimated cost; however, some lenders may provide up to 100% financing. The LTC ratio can be used by both borrowers and lenders alike as it helps them get an idea of what kind of funding they can access on these kinds of projects. As such, knowing your LTC ratio can help you make informed decisions about whether or not you should pursue certain types of construction projects and what type of lending options may be available for them.


Examples of Using Loan to cost LTC

Another example of using Loan to Cost (LTC) involves a property purchased for $200,000, and the construction cost of the project is estimated at $100,000. If a lender approves a loan amount of $80,000, this will give an LTC ratio of 80%. The higher the LTC ratio, the more likely the borrower will be able to get funding without putting down too much of their own money. 

The purpose of using LTC is to help borrowers determine how much they should borrow and how much equity they should have in a project. By calculating the ratio between construction costs and the property's value, lenders can limit risk and ensure enough capital is available for completion. This helps them ensure their investment is secure before releasing funds for projects.

When using LTC analysis, borrowers should always consider both the cost of the project and its potential value after completion. Calculating these factors will help them get accurate figures for maximum loan amounts as well as work out appropriate interest rates. Additionally, doing an LTC analysis can provide insight into what kind of returns can be expected from any development project based on its initial costs versus projected income after completion. 

In conclusion, Loan to Cost (LTC) provides borrowers with an easy way to analyze construction projects and establish whether or not they are suitable candidates for borrowing funds from lenders. It also allows lenders to assess risk more accurately and ascertain whether or not their investment in any particular project will be worthwhile in terms of return on their capital outlay.

By taking cost and projected value into account when analyzing projects, borrowers can use LTC assessments to determine maximum loan amounts while ensuring that adequate equity is retained by all parties involved in any development project.


What is the difference between Loan-to-Cost and Loan-to-Value Ratio?

The difference between Loan-to-Cost (LTC) and Loan-to-Value (LTV) ratio lies in the measure used to determine the ratio. The LTC ratio compares the total loan given for a project against the cost of the project's construction, whereas the LTV ratio uses the property's value after completion. 

The purpose of each is similar; they are both used to calculate how much of a loan can be offered based on how much a lender is willing to risk; however, their applications differ depending on the situation. 

In terms of application, LTC is most commonly used before construction begins as it measures risk by comparing the total loan amount against the total construction cost. Lenders can use this information to determine whether or not they are comfortable offering their maximum loan amount based on the estimated costs associated with the project at hand. On the other hand, LTV is usually used when valuing properties that have already been completed or are close to being finished; it helps lenders identify high or low-risk projects by comparing the total loan amount against the property's current value. 

It's important to remember that both ratios are equally important when determining lending terms, as they provide valuable insight into a potential borrower's risk factors. Depending on what type of project is being considered, lenders may choose one ratio over another to better assess their own risk level. The goal for any lender should always be to ensure that borrowers can make timely payments while mitigating their own exposure in case anything goes wrong during or after construction.


Pros Of Loan to cost (LTC) Ratio

The loan-to-cost (LTC) ratio measures the financing provided for a construction project or real estate investment, calculated as the loan amount divided by the project's total cost. Here are some potential advantages of using the LTC ratio as a financing tool:

  1. It allows borrowers to finance a higher percentage of the project costs, allowing them to undertake larger or more ambitious projects.
  2. It may enable borrowers to secure more favorable loan terms, such as lower interest rates or longer repayment periods.
  3. It can help borrowers manage the financial risks of a construction project by limiting their out-of-pocket expenses and exposure to cost overruns.
  4. It may provide a more accurate picture of the project's economic feasibility, as it considers both the loan amount and the total project costs.
  5. It can be a useful tool for lenders to evaluate the risk of a project and determine the appropriate loan terms.


Cons Of Loan to cost (LTC) Ratio

Here are some potential disadvantages of using the loan-to-cost (LTC) ratio as a financing tool:

  1. It may increase the borrower's debt burden, as they must pay back the loan and cover the remaining project costs out-of-pocket.
  2. It may result in higher interest payments over the life of the loan, as lenders may charge a higher interest rate to compensate for the higher risk of lending a larger percentage of the project costs.
  3. If the project experiences cost overruns or other unforeseen expenses, the borrower may have difficulty repaying the loan and face financial hardship.
  4. The lender may require collateral or other security to protect their investment, which could put additional financial pressure on the borrower.
  5. It may be difficult for some borrowers to qualify for an LTC loan, as lenders may have strict underwriting criteria and may require the borrower to have a strong financial track record.



The loan-to-cost ratio is a vital metric for real estate investors to understand. It tells you how much of the purchase price of a property is being financed by a loan and how much equity you'll have in the property. A higher LTV ratio means more risk for the lender and may result in a higher interest rate on the loan. Knowing your LTV ratio is important when negotiating with lenders and can help you get the best terms on your investment property loans.

Urban Real Estate Center

Discover the ultimate guide to the loan-to-cost ratio for commercial real estate financing lenders. Learn about the importance of loan-to-cost and loan-to-value ratios in 2023.