What Accounting Software Do You Use?

19 Replies

I am just getting going with my real estate business, and I was wondering what people are using to manage their bookkeeping.  I have been suggested Quickbooks and Xero, but was wondering if there are any others I should consider.  Is one better tailored to the real estate business than the other?  Are their others I should be considering? 

What do you use?  

@Jason DeMauro I use QuickBooks Desktop and love it, but there is a learning curve if you don't know accounting.  There are cheaper options you can learn on (Stessa, Freshbooks, etc.)

@Simon W.

Thanks for the reply. I have considered and the CPA I am working with does offer those services. However, starting out I am trying to remain as liquid as possible and for the relatively small size of my operation the cost seems excessive.

IYO what are the trade offs? I am wondering if the benefit of a dedicated bookkeeper would pay for themselves.

@Greg S.

Thanks for the recommendations, I will check these out. Off hand, do you know if these programs easily draw data from major banking institutions? I noticed with Xero, the data needed to be downloaded from my bank and then read into the software.

It depends on what your real estate business does. As @Bill Hampton wrote, Stessa is free and is great if your doing your own property management. If you hire a property manager for buy and hold, you can get away with spreadsheets. If you have a fix and flip business, use QuickBooks Online’s project accounting features  QBO automatically imports bank transactions.

You don’t need a CPA to do your bookkeeping; you’ll pay through the nose. You absolutely do need a bookkeeper who knows real estate accounting, especially if you use QuickBooks. I make most of my money cleaning up people’s books after they’ve made a mess of them trying to do it themselves  


@Cara Powers

Thanks Cara. My strategy for the first year is to purchase properties through the local land bank, rehab and flip. It is a small operation, just my dad and I. We don't expect to withdraw any funds, except to remove our original investment (down the road). The vast majority of transactions will be materials or contractor fees.

I appreciate the food for thought, that given my lack of experience with accounting, I may still be paying to have my books cleaned up if I decide to manage them myself.

Originally posted by @Jason DeMauro :

@Simon W.

Thanks for the reply. I have considered and the CPA I am working with does offer those services. However, starting out I am trying to remain as liquid as possible and for the relatively small size of my operation the cost seems excessive.

IYO what are the trade offs? I am wondering if the benefit of a dedicated bookkeeper would pay for themselves.

Jason, I wouldn't use the CPA to do the bookkeeping services because they will charge a premium for it. I, myself, offer bookkeeping services and how I work is that I maintain your books and work closely with the CPA. I make sure the codes being used are correctly and it can present more details. CPA tends to simplify the books for tax return purposes.

A dedicated bookkeeper would more likely remember your day-to-day operations/revenues/expenses and can respond to you with more accurate information. CPA will just know your annual numbers. If you are starting small, you will just need someone to handle your books once a month or so to get the books in order. Volume of work = $$$.

Hope this can shed some light. 

I've checked into to Waves before. I haven't used it for real estate though. It's a free so you might want to try using that one as well. Quickbooks Online is my favorite. It allows you to do everything you need including pulling all the reports needed for each property. If you sign up for Quickbooks Online do it through a bookkeeper b/c they just might pass along their wholesale price to you. If you were to go to Quickbooks.com and sign up, you'll pay full price for it. Hope this helps.

@Jason DeMauro

If you are small - you can get away with using excel.
If you have a separate bank account for your rental related activities - you can request your online bank to provide you detail of all transaction in excel. Once that is done, if you are good with formulas and classifying items - the books can be done very quickly.

If you are looking for an accounting software, Quickbooks Desktop, Quickbooks line, Stessa and Xero are some of the more popular softwares.

An accounting software is normally better than excel with its ability to quickly create reports to your liking. The reports also come pre-formatted if you ever need to report your financials to your accountant, banker or investors.

Good luck!

We use Rentec Direct for our Property Management and it also has accounting into it. We do NOT use some of the newer features such as the depreciation part, but it gives us everything we need to take to our accountant to take care of that. Kills two bird with one stone.

We hold 30 units in 7 different formats, and it handles all of that nicely.

Dan Dietz

@Jason DeMauro , what I mean is that they are in 7 different 'legal structures'. 3 of us each own 1 or more in our own name, and there are 4 different LLCs of a mix of partners and percentages. So from an accounting standpoint, EACH of those needs to be done separately. The version of Rentec Direct that we use is their "Property Management" version. What that means is that it is designed for for taking care of more than one entity.

Dan Dietz

@Jay Ingersoll it does have that option, but we have not used it yet. We are planning on offering people the option (maybe make it mandatory if it goes good?) of direct deposits of their payments, and would be using it them for the income side of things.

We are somewhat old school and have done our day business accounting without the linking, mostly to have "job costing control" and it is hard to change ;-)

Dan Dietz