Best Quickbooks ( Desktop Vs Online) for Landlords?

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Im currently using a basic Excel spreadsheet to keep track of my properties and tenants. My file is detailed but not enough. Im looking for a software that can help me better manage the finances as well as tenants for each property. Being able to pull reports such as P&L, cost of repairs, etc is important. I also need the ability to download credit card and bank statements into the software so that I have a one stop shop!

So, Im settling on Quickbooks ( I think). I know there will be a learning curve and Im ready to put in the effort. I have an accountant who takes care of my taxes, so right now, all the info I need is just for my personal education to make me a better investor because numbers dont lie!

My question is which version of Quickbooks to use? Desktop or Online? It looks like Quickbooks Online ( QBO) will work for my needs but I read that the cost will be high in the long run and it lacks some features. 

Those of you using Quickbooks or any other software, what do you think? All suggestions welcome!

Comparing QuickBooks Desktop with QuickBooks Online January 31, 2013       Written by Charlie Russell When I refer to QuickBooks Desktop I’m just talking about the Windows version, not the Mac version.
  • In all cases I’m referring to the US versions of the products.
  • Both products have a number of add-on options available from third party vendors. I’m not including the features found in those. Note that at this time QuickBooks Desktop has more add-on products than QuickBooks Online, but that is changing rapidly.
  • I’m not including features that are found in the optional Advanced Inventory feature for QuickBooks Enterprise. I consider this to be the same as an add-on product, since it is only available for a significant additional fee.
  • To try to keep this simple, I’m not going to get into all the variations that we see with QuickBooks. I’ll ignore, to a degree, QuickBooks Desktop Pro and QuickBooks Online Simple Start. I’m not getting into the differences between the various “Editions” of Premier (or Enterprise). The matrix can be really complicated, with some features found in Enterprise but not Premier, or found only in Accountant (which is Premier level) but in all Enterprise versions, and so forth. I’m trying to simplify things a bit.

Features That Are Common To All

Let’s start with some easy stuff. Here are features that you will find in both QuickBooks Desktop and QuickBooks Online, although many times the specific implementations may differ.

  • Accept credit card payments from customers
  • Audit trail to track changes to transactions and lists – Note that QB Online has an activity log that also tracks user login/out
  • Bank reconciliation
  • Company Snapshot
  • Custom fields – varies on the number, and how you can use them, so you have to look at the specifics
  • Express setup of QB company file
  • Multi user access (different limits to the number)
  • Multiple windows
  • Online banking
  • Payroll (additional fees may be required)
  • Print Bills
  • Recurring Billing / Memorized Transactions
  • Zoom into details from reports
  • Document management – is much more limited in Online
  • Budgets (not in QB Online Essentials)
  • Class Tracking (not in QB Online Essentials)
  • Create Estimates (not in QB Online Essentials)
  • Prepare and print 1096, 1099 (not in QB Online Essentials)
  • Job costing – although this is quite limited in QB Online
  • Purchase Orders (not in QB Online Essentials)
  • Invoices
  • Time tracking and billing by customer (not in QB Online Essentials)
  • Reversing journal entries
  • Memorized reports

In addition, there are some features that are only found in the Accountant versions of both products.

  • Accountant Center
  • Adjusted Trial Balance (also in Enterprise)
  • Client file dashboard , File Manager kind of stuff
  • Set accounting period

These features will be found in most QB Desktop products, but only in the Accountant version on the QB Online side.

  • See and Undo previous reconcile
  • Client Data Review – some portions available in non accountant desktop if you log in using external accountant, features differ between online and desktop
  • Comparative balance sheet and P&L
  • Adjusting journal entries – only in Enterprise on the desktop side
  • Voided/deleted transaction report

Features Found in QuickBooks Desktop but not in QuickBooks Online

OK, so the QuickBooks Desktop product has been around longer, and in the past it has gotten a lot more attention from the developers. Sometimes I think of the differences between Microsoft Word (which has EVERYTHING but you might not use it all) and Google Docs (simpler, has the basics, but not all the extra stuff). Do you need all these things? If not, QuickBooks Online is an option. If you need them, however, you either need QuickBooks Desktop, or you need to find an add-on to QuickBooks Online.

  • Average Cost inventory valuation
  • Balance Sheet by Class
  • Batch Invoicing
  • Batch Timesheet Entry
  • Billable Time and Expense preferences
  • Billing rate level
  • Business Planner
  • Forecasting
  • Calendar
  • Change orders on Estimates
  • Collections center
  • Condense data file – but it isn’t clear to me if you actually would need this in QuickBooks Online?
  • Available Quantity in Inventory
  • Customer Snapshot
  • Convert estimate to a purchase order or sales order
  • Advanced Excel export that can update existing exported reports
  • Industry specific reporting (lots and lots of industry specific reports here)
  • Inventory assembly items, Bills of Material, the ability to build assemblies
  • Inventory Center
  • Lead Center
  • Fixed Asset Manager
  • Mileage tracking
  • Multiple currencies
  • Multiple ship to addresses for Vendors
  • One click transactions (pay bill from bill, create credit memo from invoice, etc.)
  • Price Levels
  • Progress Invoicing/billing
  • Receive partially against a purchase order
  • Report Favorites
  • Report – collapse rows
  • Share report templates with Intuit community
  • Inventory – reorder/rebuild points
  • Shipping Manager
  • Sales Orders
  • Sales Order Fulfillment Worksheet
  • Transaction History Panel
  • Units of Measure

One interesting difference is the ability to give someone a copy of a file that they can look at (like an audit) that isn’t your real copy. In some cases you can say “we don’t need the ‘accountant’s copy’ kind of feature in QuickBooks Online” (or things likeSend General Journal Entries) since the accountant can easily log in to my QuickBooks Online account. In other cases there may be times when you want to give a copy of your file to someone that is totally separate (IRS audits, perhaps?), which is more complicated with QuickBooks Online.

Moving up the line, here are some features found only in QuickBooks Enterprise.

  • Auto price markup
  • Default classes with class tracking
  • Enhanced Item Receiving, to split receipt from bill
  • Advanced find/select of items
  • Journal entries, list of previous entries (also found in Accountant)
  • ODBC access for reporting
  • Auto purchase orders
  • QuickBooks Statement Writer (also found in Accountant)
  • Working Trial Balance (also in Accountant)
  • Batch Enter Transactions (also in Accountant)

Features Found in QuickBooks Online but not QuickBooks Desktop

It goes both ways – QuickBooks Online has features that don’t exist in QuickBooks Desktop!

  • Remote access – you can do this with QuickBooks Desktop but you need an additional software product or use QuickBooks Hosting (at a higher price)
  • Auto Send Reports – reports or report groups can be scheduled to send automatically
  • Automatic upgrades – this is both a good and a bad feature, with QuickBooks Online you are almost always running the most up to date version (whether you want to or not)
  • Company Scorecard
  • Delayed charges/billing – enter charges to be billed later
  • Income list/transaction center
  • Invoice automation – automatically create invoice from unbilled activity
  • More than one A/R or A/P account per journal entry
  • Location tracking, a secondary level of class tracking (QB Online Plus only)
  • FIFO Inventory valuation (available in QuickBooks Enterprise but only with the additional cost Advanced Inventory feature)

There Are More Differences

I’m sure that this isn’t an exhaustive list of differences – please feel free to point out others! I’ll admit that I’m still learning about QuickBooks Online, so I can be missing things.

This comparison list also doesn’t highlight other aspects that are different between the two products. I hope to be able to point out more of these kinds of things in future articles. For example, both products integrate with Intuit PaymentNetwork (which I didn’t point out, since it is essentially an add-on feature), but there are big differences in how it is implemented on each side. The workflow is VERY different, and in this case you may find that the feature is much easier to use (at this time) in QuickBooks Online than in QuickBooks Desktop.

I hope that this serves as a starting point for understanding the differences between QuickBooks Desktop and QuickBooks Online. You need to understand both products if you are going to make good decisions about which product to use or recommend.

Again, my thanks to Woody Adams ofRadio Free QuickBooksfor the great information that he has compiled (and is updating).

QuickBooks,QuickBooks Online

Category:Cloud Accounting,QuickBooks Online,QuickBooks Tips/Tricks

About the Author(Author Profile)

Charlie Russell is the founder of CCRSoftware. He's been involved with the small business software industry since the mid 70's, and remembers releasing his first commercial accounting software product when you had a one-floppy disk drive system, loading the program from one floppy and then replacing that with the other floppy to hold the data. He has a special interest in inventory and manufacturing software for small businesses. Charlie is a Certified Advanced QuickBooks ProAdvisor with additional certifications for QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Enterprise. He also is a Xero Certified Partner. Visit hisCCRSoftwareweb site for information about his QuickBooks add-on products. Charlie can be reached [email protected] is also the author of theCalifornia Wildflower Hikesblog Connect with Charlie atGoogle

I found this article written by Charlie Russell

@Account Closed  excellent compilation, thank you. To all of you "non accounting " type out there do not let this list overwhelm you. If you do not know accounting you still need software like this. Have your accountant set it up on your ur computer and show your you how to use it. It's nice knowing Exactly where ythe u are financially, everyday, to the penny!

Because five out of three people have trouble with math, Don

Thank you Don, but I want to emphasize that the article was written by Charlie Russell.  He did an excellent job on explaining and goes even further. 

The bottom line and summary of the above, is that Online will one day be the "big daddy".

However, unless it incorporates the Class Feature it won't be a "big daddy" for Landlords.  It's important to have the Class Feature for us.

Charlie also emphasizes that QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop are two different products from each other.

For right now the desktop beats Online for most people.  But QuickBooks online gets better and better and seems to be in competition with each other.  Who will be best one day. 

I'm sure as we get more tech savvy, the online will be the way to go.  But once again, unless it offers the Class Feature, it really isn't good enough for our Industry.

Nancy Neville

@Nancy Neville  - Are there any add-ons available that offer the class feature? I REALLY want to switch to QB Online but I have to have classes for all my properties. 

How about other cloud accounting software like Xero?

Updated almost 7 years ago

The "Plus" version has class tracking. Does anyone use this to track properties? "Categorize your income and expenses using class tracking"

I hear that QuickBooks has a Mobile Version now.  I haven't looked into.  But I see lots of advertisement about some stuff with QuickBooks. 

You can make a Portable File to take with you in the field from your main PC.  Enter in data in your laptop using the Portable QBS File, then upload it to your PC when you get to the office, would that work for you.


Originally posted by @Jason Nickel:

QuickBooks Online does offer Class feature - You will have to use the Plus version.

Here is a compairson chart for QuickBooks Online

What you need to decide is if you want to use QuickBooks as a:

-- property management software  (use QuickBooks desktop version) and/or

-- accounting software (use QuickBooks online version)

You cannot use QBO for property management - what I mean is track lease expiration dates, and more detailed reporting.

I use QB to track property expenses, run P & L reports for each property and my overall business. I have rehab (flipping) income, wholesale income, and rental income streams from multiple properties. Will QB Online Plus work for me? 

@Account Closed  Hi Nancy that was a helpful post.

Quickbooks is the way to go, but it is not easy to apply it to landlording.  For example it is best to have your houses  treated as "customers" and your  tenants as "jobs." Things like this can be learned if you click the ad at the bottom of Nancy's signature.  I have no financial interest in her company, but she has spoken at one of the landlord groups I belong to, and I was impressed by her knowledge. 

I made the switch to QB Online Plus... and I LOVE it! I can easily stay on top of every expense by classifying expenses from my computer, iPad or phone. It's easy to run reports to see exactly where I'm at with each project, and because I've got all my bank accounts linked (even my line of credit from a small community bank) I can see near real-time info on my books.

QB makes it easy to try it out if you want - just update your QB software and then select help > export to QB Online. It took about 10 minutes and all my accounts were online.

I'm still getting settled but I can tell already this will be very helpful in growing my business. I got a link for half off the first year from my CPA which brought it to about $15/mo. See if this link works for you - be sure to sign in if you already have an Intuit ID, which you probably do:

Quickbooks Online Plus for $15/mo (50% OFF)

Otherwise just buy a year on eBay for around $200.