What Questions Do I Ask To Make Sure an Accountant is Competent

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Just as the subject suggestions, I would like to know what questions (and the answer to those questions if possible) I should be asking a real estate accountant so that I know that they are competent. I am not looking for general questions that any accountant should be able to answer, I am looking for the hard ones, the ones that only those who really know their niche and who actively seek out loopholes would know.

Just in case it matters, we started flipping homes this year and we plan on having rentals, apartments as well as some buy and hold investment properties, each of which will be set up in their own entities. 

Check out the blog below on the topic.


I just got off the phone with a potential tax CPA. Below was my focus:

Credentials - Self explanatory...big four CPA firm experience a plus.

Tax specialty - Specializes in real estate (#1 requirement). The one I spoke with today has 99% of their clients who have investment real estate holdings and they are also the vendor rep for the local REI group.

Consultation and tax strategies (#2 requirement) - I wanted someone who would provide advice on things like asset protection, entity structure, liability protection, cost segregation, real estate professional status, non-working spouse salary, bonus depreciation, capital versus expense and anything else I am not thinking about. Some of this will be handled by an attorney and an insurance agent but I want the CPA to have a holistic view and be the first point of contact.

Communication - Mid year plus ad hoc questions during the year for one set annual price rather than by the hour (i.e. a business partner).

Referrals - Attorney, cost segregation, insurance for asset protection

Aggressive/conservative on subjective matters - Fit with your needs and style

Software - What does CPA need from me to track during the year and how (quickbooks, etc.)



And the rest of the list.  Hope that helps.