Bookkeeping for rental property

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Takeshi Yashima

Real Estate Investor from Monterey Park, California

Feb 20 '12, 06:05 PM

Hi everyone,

I am wondering how you guys are doing accounting and bookkeeping for your rentals, doing by yourself, hiring bookkeeper or hiring accountant? I am currently managing the bookkeeping and accounting myself but the more I acquire properties, the more my time is sucking into just bookkeeping and accounting.

My question for someone who hiring the accounting or bookkeeping service, which companies would you recommend (Local, or online like Odesk or Elance?)

Suggestion is highly appreciated. Thank you very much!

Steven Hamilton II Verified Moderator

Real Estate Investor from Lake Villa, Illinois

Feb 20 '12, 08:57 PM
1 vote

Invest a scanner and scan your receipts, find a part time bookkeeper who you can pay once or twice a month to come in and handle everything for you.

I do bookkeeping for a lot of my clients; many do not need constant help, they mostly just need assistance occasionally a day or two per month.

-Steven the Tax Guy

Your guide to IRS laws, rules and regulations.

Dale Osborn

Mobile Home Investor from Spanaway, Washington

Feb 20 '12, 09:11 PM

How many units do you have that the book keeping is taking up too much of your time?? We have been able to manage things using Excel for most of the paperwork. Unless you have over a 1000 units, you should be able to keep up.

Ziv Magen

Real Estate Investor from Fukuoka, Queensland

Feb 20 '12, 09:22 PM

Don't know about a 1,000, but definitely up to a 100 don't take more than a day a month, do they?
And I agree, Excel does an excellent job.

Ziv Magen

Edited Feb 20 2012, 21:48 by Administrator: Signature info belongs in your signature, please.

Arthur Garcia

Real Estate Investor from Glendora, California

Feb 21 '12, 12:48 PM

Would any of you care to share your files? I would be interested in seeing what you guys are currently using.


George P.

Real Estate Investor from Livonia, Michigan

Feb 21 '12, 01:04 PM

i'd like to see a file like that too. even if it's just a picture of one.

i use quicken for my tracking. no excel. i use excel just to evaluate the deals.

Jason Mak

Real Estate Investor from Pasadena, California

Feb 21 '12, 01:48 PM

I suggest quickbooks. It's a good pure accounting software that you can just handover to your CPA at the year end for taxes. i agree with Steven Hamilton that if you really don't want to do the bookkeping, then to hire a part-timer. We have a part-time bookkeeper who e-mails us the updated quickbook files of each property at the end of the week for us to review and to pull reports. That being said, it's important that you learn how to use quickbooks (or whatever software for that matter) so that you can catch mistakes, verify records, or simply do the work yourself when you bookkeeper goes on vacation.

One more thing, since our properties have onsite management, we use google docs to coordinate rent collection with the bookkeeper. This is nice so we can keep track of our rent collections as we collect them each month.

This post has been removed.

Alton D.

Real Estate Investor from Fairfax, Virginia

Mar 04 '12, 11:46 AM


I with you - rather have someone else do the bookkeeping so I can focus on finding more deals.

I personally use a bookkeeper I found on Elance. Cost me $9/hr.

Bill Wallace

Residential Real Estate Agent from Mound, Minnesota

Mar 04 '12, 06:57 PM

I use Quicken Property Management and a local accountant (6 rental properties). He is really inexpensive ($175/year for entire tax return including self employed realtor business) and the software is pretty easy to use once you get it set up.

Ed O.

Real Estate Investor from

Mar 04 '12, 07:04 PM

I'm shifting to buildium. The potential time savings at tax time is going to be WELL worth the expense. Getting set up is feeling like having teeth pulled, but the reward will be there.
There's a million mistakes you can make when using excel, imo. I'm thinking about my early years and the uneducated, foolish things I did.

Also, it makes sense to learn (& stay on top of) the accounting side of the business. Most accountants put numbers into forms and leave it at that. If you fail to stay on top of how things tie in together, you're gonna pay more in taxes than you need to.

George P.

Real Estate Investor from Livonia, Michigan

Mar 04 '12, 07:22 PM

ed, buildium is saas based. what are you going to do when/if you ever decide to switch to something else?

Ed O.

Real Estate Investor from

Mar 04 '12, 08:58 PM

I'm too young to not know what saas means. Does this mean it's a nightmare to export data?
thanks for the heads up and explanation!

Michelle Marty

Landlord from

Mar 04 '12, 09:11 PM

I do all of my own and really enjoy it. I have a bs in accounting and have always been a numbers gal so it's just my cup of tea. I use quickenbooks. I think it's a lot easier than excel. I'm not good at dealing with sob stories from tenants so my hubby handles all of that. He stinks at numbers. Together we are a good team. I think if numbers aren't your thing build a "team" and find someone who is. Good luck!

Ty Joseph

Residential Real Estate Agent from Hollywood, California

Mar 04 '12, 11:57 PM

I use Quickbooks, not just for my rental properties nut for all my business activities. Although Quickbooks is not really customized for rental properties, it is a straightforward accounting program that will allow you to follow any investments or business activities.

Rich Schmidt

Landlord from Valparaiso, Indiana

Mar 05 '12, 04:13 AM
1 vote

Originally posted by Ed O.:
I'm too young to not know what saas means. Does this mean it's a nightmare to export data?
thanks for the heads up and explanation!

Saas = Software as a service. In other words, it's "in the cloud" instead of on your computer and you pay a subscription fee to use it rather than making a one-time purchase.

George P.

Real Estate Investor from Livonia, Michigan

Mar 05 '12, 05:41 AM

yeah ed, it's in the "cloud", which means you dont have the file that you are working with. so, if you were ever to want to move to another provider, you might not have an actual physical file that you can upload in the new system.

i back up my quicken file every week, but in your case there's no need for that.

Kenneth LaVoie Verified

Real Estate Investor from Winslow, Maine

Mar 05 '12, 01:51 PM

I use quickbooks and would be happy to share my chart of accounts and systems with you. I use "classes" so that each building is a class and can generate a PL based on cash or accrual, with a couple of mouse clicks. There are a few books out there that show you how to "hack" quickbooks for rental properties. But a quick primer: buildings are customers, tenants are jobs.... create a class for each bulding also .... that will get you 85% of the way there! I've used QB for two other businesses for about 12 years now. Not a pro, but a semi geek!!

Edited Jan 22 2013, 10:46 by Administrator: Phone number removed

Ann Bellamy Verified

Real Estate Lender from Tyngsboro, Massachusetts

Mar 05 '12, 05:13 PM

I use quickbooks. Since all my entities are single member LLC's, I can incorporate my rental property LLC's and my lending LLC into one QB file. I therefore include my personal accounting into it.

When I am involved in an LLC with partners, I set up a new QB file. Since I don't use QB online version, I can't use a remote bookkeeper. so my local assistant does much of the entry. For complex transactions, I enter them myself.

One of the best investments I ever made was John Hyre's QB overlay. It is essentially a real estate investors chart of accounts with instructions for every conceivable transaction including mobile home notes, subject to's, returning security deposits while withholding repairs, etc. Google John Hyre, he is a real estate attorney, real estate investor, and CPA.

Like Kenneth, I use classes for each building, but my tenants are customers and my buildings are classes. I don't use jobs.

Medium_small_logoAnn Bellamy, Buy Now, LLC
Telephone: 800-418-0081
Hard money lending in NH and MA, and for free networking in MA,

Steven Hamilton II Verified Moderator

Real Estate Investor from Lake Villa, Illinois

Mar 05 '12, 11:01 PM

My clients who use Buildium make my life easier. Than the "Excel keepers" as I can go through their records there and see the receipts and classify depreciable assets as they should be.

Granted, I prefer to do their books myself so I know its right.

-Steven the Tax Guy

Your guide to IRS laws, rules and regulations.

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