Looking for virtual assistant help - bookkeeping and PM review

6 Replies

Own about 30 doors with a few different property managers. I work full time and don't have time to really review the property managers. Was thinking about hiring a VA who can review the PM expense reports and also compile all of them into one QuickBooks account for the tax guy. I think I am looking for a bookkeeper with real estate experience to keep an eye on things. That is, not just a "bookkeeper." Anybody had any luck hiring someone like this through elance or other online place? Anybody have any leads? Any idea what I should expect to pay for someone like this?

I'd probably watch your properties more closely, rather than outsource this.  Especially if they are smaller properties, where the expenses can escalate.  

@Bob Smith - If you are to bring on help for this, you are correct in that you need more than just a "bookkeeper". Most bookkeeping services you'll find online or through a VA will trend toward data entry as the primary value provided and most run between $20/hr to $50/hr. Bookkeeping itself not a highly technical nor specialized function, it is more akin to data entry. As such, you should not pay equivalent rates like you would to a CPA, attorney, or another professional with deep technical experience, but there is still significant stratification across bookkeepers as to their plug and chug skills vs actual financial competency. Bench is an online service I would recommend checking out as a point of reference. They'll be more advanced than a non-specialized bookkeeper but will not specialize in real estate or provide any advisory along those lines. 

That said, a great bookkeeper/controller/tax accountant who manages your ledger and advises on strategy is worth every penny. A good controller/accountant will pay for themselves multiple times over each year through tax savings opportunities and helping plan for the future. 

There's too much at risk to cheap out on this front. "It's not what you earn, it's what you keep that matters."

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@Anthony Emtman hit the nail on the head. At your size, if you are looking to maintain your company as-is and are comfortable with your portfolio, I would recommend leaning more towards a bookkeeper. It will likely be worth it to pay for someone who is familiar/specializes in real estate.

However, if you are looking to scale your company, a strategic advisor will be crucial. Someone who manages your books, advises on investment and tax strategy, and can help you systematize your business will be what you need.

Hiring a controller a CFO will likely pay for itself, but at your size- a full time controller or CFO would probably be out of budget.

Do a search here on BP for CPAs that can act as an outsourced CFO or controller. They'll take care of your books, all compliance, tax prep/strategy, and help you build out and automate your accounting systems.

Please make sure if you go the outsourced CFO/controller route- do not hire someone who bills by the hour.

You want them to value effectiveness and efficiency over time... plus, you're buying results, not time.

Once again- right now, you're probably good with a RE Bookkeeper, but if you continue to grow, start looking for an outsourced CFO/Controller.

I’m in the same boat. I have properties in different states with different managers. I hired a book keeper that specializes in real estate. She has a degree in accounting and has worked in accounting firms and major real estate companies for years. She doesn’t offer tax advice. She doesn’t do taxes either. She doesn’t have anything to do with handling money. So if you’re looking for those things a CPA is best.Her role is mainly that of an assistant. She logs everything in Quick Books and makes a monthly report combining all expenses and income so I can easily see the big picture and then breaks it down so I can see where my strengths and weaknesses are. She keeps records and receipts and will double check all of the maintenance expenses. She always keeps a running total of year to date expenses and sends her closing statement to my CPA every year. She’s caught several errors on the PM side. Mainly double billing for maintenance. Is that the kind of service you’re looking for? Message me if you want the info for the woman that keeps my books in check. My CPA wanted $100 an hour for this service but actually recommended the girl I use now. I pay her $25.

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