How to choose a CPA

5 Replies

My wife and I are in the final steps of closing on our first investment property.  It's a modest duplex with projected positive cash-flow.

We'd like to shop for a CPA but not too sure what to look for other than whether they have Real Estate experience and if we can find any customer reviews on them.  I have a basic understanding of accounting and would feel fine with book-keeping, but beyond that I need professional help.

Does anyone have a system or at least suggestions on what we should look for when interviewing the CPAs?

@Abraham Oros great question. When interviewing CPAs, you need to get a feel for how they will fit as your advisor. Your CPA shouldn't simply be a tax prep pro, you are hiring someone who will learn the intricacies of your financial situation and be able to provide you tailored advice and strategies to help you minimize your tax liabilities and meet your goals.

Some things to consider:
How available will the CPA be after tax season?
How will you be billed if you want to ask questions throughout the year?
Does your CPA have experience in deal analysis and will they help you analyze deals?
Has your CPA built tools to make your life easier - whether it be bookkeeping, deal analysis, ROI calculations etc. and are those tools free to you as a client?
Does your CPA own real estate, and more importantly, what % of the CPA's client base is made up of real estate investors?
Does your CPA stay up to date on new IRS regulations and can they tell you much about the new tangible property regulations (hint: if they falter here, run)?
Is your CPA a member of the AICPA?
What happens in the event of an audit and what are the fees associated with that?

Plenty more questions, but these will help you find out if the CPA will be a good advisor all year round.

Their height. The taller the better. 

Just kidding, almost any CPA will be able to help you. They have ample knowledge of the tax issues you will normally encounter. Also most firms will have partners that may specialize in real estate, but I believe for the majority of Investors any CPA will do fine. Find someone you like, or who is recommended to you.

I've been through 3 in 3 years. The first 2 I found on my own. I asked all the questions and in the end we weren't a good fit. The 3rd came from referrals. I'm very happy with #3.

Get referrals from other investors. 

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