Best Practices To Organize And Track Spending By Property :

34 Replies

I own 8 properties with a partner and were looking for guidance:

We want to find an easy way to track our spending so when tax time comes around we will know exactly what we spent rehabbing each buy and hold rental property that year. Is there a product we could easily use that each time we charged money on our business credit card it would be tracked to a certain property. Each month we use our card for several things (landscaping at one property; fixing a leak at another; new water heater at a third etc etc. All the costs add up quick and it gets complicated without a system. 

I'm not sure. I use credit cards for fuel and travel only.  We have charge accounts at Lowes, Locke a Supply, etc. and every purchase at suppliers we require a PO # which is the house address for the items purchased.  Then when we get the monthly statements we enter and post all purchases to the specific house. We also post the utilities to each house.

Quickbooks - we post income by house and all expenses by house. Year end is a dream. The numbers from the QB p & l goes right to the schedule E.  A 5 minute job.

Quicken makes a software package called Rental Property Manager. It's relatively inexpensive and pretty easy to use, especially if you have experience with Quicken or QuickBooks. I don't have a lot of experience with it, but it seems to fit the bill for what you are looking for.  It can handle up to 100 properties. 

Great advice Arlan. What do you mean". Then when we get the monthly statements we enter and post all purchases to the specific house. We also post the utilities to each house." 

Monthly statements from the stores ? And you post each cost in quickbooks?

thank you Ryan

we have a LAR account at lowes. It allows the people on my list to charge items, and asks for a PO number.

We post the individual charges off the statement to the individual house. We do the same for each vendor account that we use a lot. For invoices like pest control and sewer clean out we post the actual invoice to the house. 

Quickbooks allows all expense entries and payment to attach to a customer job(house)

where is maize Kansas. Come down to Enid ok sometime and I will show you what we do. It helps that I am an accountant by trade, but Quickbooks makes it easy if it is set up right.

I understand - :)

Does it take you forever to personally input all these costs I to quickbooks or is there a simple way it's done? It seems as with a business your size it could take some time to enter for example; 50 costs for a given month.

Originally posted by @Westin Hudnall:

Great advice Arlan. What do you mean". Then when we get the monthly statements we enter and post all purchases to the specific house. We also post the utilities to each house." 

Monthly statements from the stores ? And you post each cost in quickbooks?

 I use quickbooks, and yes, you post the portion for each property.  So, say, you get a $1,000 bill that you paid, and $700 is for one property, $50 for another, and $250 for a third.  You would post one payment and break it up into those three parts.  You might even need to break up the $700 for the first house if part is expensable and part a capital improvement.

You really need to get this under control now before you grow any more.  You may want to hire an accountant.  It is not as expensive as you may think.  Then you can just tell them what reports your want.

just as Larry said.  We post the total Lowes bill with lines for each purchase. That way each expense is tied to a house. It doesn't really take that long.  

And anyway, I need something for the wife to do. I used to but 3 years ago she started working full time for our RE company.  

I can jump out of my backyard and land in West Wichita if that gives you a good idea Arlan :)

I agree  really should nail this down Larry ; I run a rental car business in my day job and look at profit/income statements often so I really have no excuse. It's just hard for me to stop looking for the next deal and instead allocate that time to getting organized 

EXCEL  - lists and pivot tables

@Westin Hudnall  

I have used Excel spreadsheets for many years.  I tried Quickbooks in 2005, but found Quicken Rental Property Manager much easier to use.  Quicken supports everything I need to do to track income and expenses by property, amortize loans, invoice tenants, etc.

Quicken has a "property tag" feature that lets me allocate an income or expense item to a specific property.  At tax time, Quicken groups all my Schedule E items by property tag and easily facilitates exporting to the appropriate property on Schedule E in Turbotax.

any other thoughts ? : what's worked better for each of you out of what has been suggested : quickbooks ; quicken rental manager or excel ?

I'm very unorganized by nature so I'm looking for whatever is most simple to implement so I don't get overwhelmed

Dave NA 

Does quicken support an app I can download on my iPhone that will let me snap a picture of items to put I to quicken such as receipts; leases ; etc. 

If I use a large software device like quicken I would like to easily be able to get documents into it. I don't see myself using it if I have to turn on a scanner and scan documents in each time.

Any suggestions here for someone "always on the go" with a lot of incoming paperwork?

I too am a fan of Quicken Rental Property Manager but I cannot provide an adequate comparison to quickbooks since I have not used. I already have a bank account/ debit card per property so that allows me to not have to worry about splitting up the costs per house on a single bank account or credit card and geting confused. I setup quicken rental property manager to download transactions from the bank via online account info on a periodic basis directly into the software so no or very little manual input of transactions is needed (quickbooks does this auto download as well I believe). Once every few weeks or as needed, I open the software and categorize the transactions by type of rental expense, then tag the property that expense is associated with. You can set it up to remember that all expenses on credit card "A" or bank account "A" are to be associated and tagged with property 1234 and just review them to make sure they are accurate. its a pretty nice time saver, needs only a couple of minutes a month for my 2 properties and then churns out a handy Schedule-E sheet for me at the end of the year for me to provide to my CPA. Not too technical or difficult...

The excel spreadsheet seems like it would work, but more manually intensive and the more properties and expenses you incur, the more unwieldy this becomes. Auto download of transactions from your property bank account is a huge time saver and is easily scalable to adapt as your grow a larger portfolio of properties... 

@Jeff Bridges   

This post is truly what bigger pockets is all about. (Providing great help to those in need)

I would vote for you 10 X's if I could

@Jeff Bridges  

Does your bank charge you a fee for this ? I use Bank Of Anerica. Do you know if they allow quicken to transfer expenses ?

@Westin Hudnall  

I have several bank accounts linked to Quicken.  Bank of America is not the most customer friendly.  At one time they wanted to charge a monthly fee for Quicken downloads.  I refused to pay the fee, and now just go to the bank website and click the download link for my account a couple times a month to create a download file in Quicken format.  

A little more manual intervention involved for Bank of America, but they do have a free mechanism to download transaction activity to Quicken.

I also have banking relationships with BB&T, Pentagon Federal Credit Union, Palmetto Heritage Bank, First Citizens Bank and TD Bank.  All of these financial institutions let me download account activity to Quicken with no fee.


There are no fees for quicken download transactions. that's included and offered by your bank. You simply enter your online account ID and password for the bank into quicken and it logs in on your behalf and pulls in all of the latest transactions into your database. All major banks including BOA will interface with quicken software, however some require you to let the bank know you give permission for quicken to download transactions directly and have a section in your online bank account website somewhere such as financial downloads or something like that. Your bank can help you find this section.

Quick tip: you don't need to download new software for quicken every year just because its not titled for 2014/2015 etc. It will separate your transactions for each calendar year and continue downloading data as directed for 3 years after your purchase so a single software purchase should hold you over for a couple of years before you might need to upgrade to a new version. Most of their upgrades each year are not huge or worth the benefit or purchasing the upgrade.

It looks like @Dave T  is correct. BOA looks like they are trying to add additional income stream by charging for the direct connect service for quicken software. So if you want quicken to auto download for you, you'll have to enroll with BOA for a monthly fee. Or you can log in to your bank portal and manually download the transactions once a month or any frequency and they will export as a download file into your software the same way. Plenty of options still.

Originally posted by @Westin Hudnall:

@Dave T 

Does quicken support an app I can download on my iPhone that will let me snap a picture of items to put I to quicken such as receipts; leases ; etc. 

 Quicken does seem to have a mobile app for Quicken that lets do what you are asking.

Here is the Quicken website link that explains it all.

@Arlan Potter  

I lived in Enid a short time and went to St Joseph Catholic School. Enid is a nice quiet town and a great place to live!

As far as the OP question: I use quickbooks. There may be more sophisticated programs (some that may offer analysis of each property, etc) but QB is fast, easy, and I can run several businesses and accounts with the program.

John Thedford, Real Estate Agent in FL (#BK3098153)