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Best Real Estate Accounting Tips for Agents and Brokers

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in November 2019 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness. 

As the owner of a new real estate business, you’re probably aware of the unique characteristics of your industry. You take a personal interest in the real estate market, and you are excited to do great work for your clients, whether buying or selling pieces of property. 

But here’s the thing—running a real estate business is about more than making great deals. Accounting plays a major role in staying organized, managing taxes, and making smart decisions in any business. 

Why accounting is important for real estate businesses

Setting up your real estate accounting system the right way will enable you to minimize the labor and stress involved in large-value transactions, extreme income fluctuations, employee pay formulas, and government regulations.

These tips are for you if your business is:

  • Real estate broker or agent
  • Property management
  • Building construction
  • Residential sales
  • Real estate investment management

Another reason to keep accurate financial records is that you will probably have to show them to interested parties at some point. These entities include:

  • Lenders
  • Shareholders
  • Creditors
  • Government bodies (e.g., the IRS)

There are many motivations to keep accurate books. And, contrary to popular belief, doing so does not have to be a major headache or hassle. With a service like Xendoo, you can outsource your bookkeeping and tax work to focus on what you do best. For more information, check out this post on how to choose the right software to simplify your real estate accounting. 

Two men go over real esate regulations at their desk.

Learn the Regulations

Did you know that it is not just real estate transactions that local and state commissions oversee? These bodies also oversee the financial management of a real estate business, so playing by the rules is essential. Therefore, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with their requirements before making any decisions about your bookkeeping system. If the language is unclear, consult a professional accountant who specializes in real estate. It’s far better to spend extra time setting up your accounting procedures properly at the start than trying to untangle a mess when you run into trouble later on.

Choose Who or What Will Do Your Real Estate Accounting

For real estate professionals, the most viable options are:

  • Hire an accountant as a full-time employee
  • Outsource accounting services
  • Accounting software used by management or other designated employees

Hiring an accountant to work in-house is undoubtedly a powerful approach, but it will be costly and likely beyond the scope of many real estate businesses. On the other end of the spectrum, acquiring accounting software to manage the books yourself or amongst your team might be difficult if no one has proper accounting training or the time to dedicate to ensure your books are up to date. Even minor accounting mistakes can add up to bigger ones down the road.

It’s the middle ground – outsourcing accounting tasks to a third party like Xendoo – that will make the most sense for many real estate agents and brokers. This option keeps the costs down while still freeing up your time and utilizing experts to make sure the work is done properly. 

Select Your Accounting Method

You have two choices: cash basis or accrual. Once you make a choice, you must stick with it, unless you submit a change request to the IRS. (Your first tax return shows the IRS which one you chose in the beginning — you don’t have to submit any forms for that.)

Cash basis accounting is often preferred by small businesses because it’s easier to maintain, and it tells you how much money you actually have in the bank on any given day. Accrual accounting is usually the choice of larger companies because it portrays a more accurate portrait of your real estate business’s financial performance. Accrual accounting also allows you to better your long-term plan, which is helpful if you are thinking about expanding your business.

A real estate agent looks over his accounting charts on a tablet.

Create a Chart of Accounts

This complete index of your company’s transactions is essential for knowing how you stand. It will save you many hours of work when you need to measure performance, generate a report, locate past transactions, or prepare tax returns.

The chart of accounts is organized into categories for easy sorting and retrieval. These categories can be anything you need. Under Assets, they might include Cash, Accounts Receivable, and Vehicles. Under Liabilities, you might have sub-accounts such as Accounts Payable, Loans, and Payroll.

Keep Business and Personal Transactions Separate

Don’t fall into the bad habit of pulling out your business credit card or checkbook to pay personal expenses — or vice versa. Without fail, it will cause more problems than it solves, including inaccurate books, tax mistakes, and cash flow issues. 

Real estate accounting shouldn’t be complicated, and this is one of the golden rules that can keep things simple—don’t make personal purchases with business accounts. Opening a separate bank account and a credit card strictly for your business will also make you look more professional to your customers, creditors, and investors.

Fool-Proof Accounts Receivable

Collecting payments that are owed is one of the biggest headaches for small businesses. Prevent delayed and missed payments with an automated invoicing system that:

  • Sends invoices promptly
  • Includes all the necessary information
  • Offers several convenient ways to pay
  • Tracks and contacts delinquent payers

With an automated system in place, you’ll save time and avoid missing out on revenue that slipped through the cracks when you were too busy to track it down. 

Reconcile Your Bank Account Every Month

Reconciling your bank account means checking that the transactions listed on the bank statement match what you have in your books. This process will identify any discrepancies so you can figure out why they happened and make a plan for avoiding those issues in the future.

Usually, it’s something simple like a financial transaction that’s recorded in your books, but the bank hasn’t processed it yet. However, it could be a more severe problem such as data entry error, misunderstandings of using the bookkeeping system, or even theft.

A broker goes over his taxes for his real estate business.

Figure Out Worker Pay and Taxes

Your business may pay one or more of these types of compensation:

  • Salary employee
  • Commission employee
  • Salary plus commission employee
  • Independent sub-contractor

Ideally, you’ll have payroll software that can calculate them all, as well as track them for income tax withholding. Fees to independent contractors may be handled separately by accounts payable since these workers are not, by definition, your employees.

It’s not only the fees that you have to be aware of but also the proper paperwork for each type of employee. You’ll need to learn which tax forms to collect from employees (W-2) and contractors (1099) and how to report their income to the IRS.

At Xendoo, we can also help with payroll processing as an add-on service to our real estate accounting. You won’t have to worry about issuing and filing your W-2s or1099s, which means one less thing keeping you from focusing on your business. 

Make Professional Life a Little Easier

If all this seems overwhelming, consider outsourcing to financial professionals. Xendoo specializes in small business accounting. We’ll relieve you of all that work and worry with services that range from real-time bookkeeping to timely financial reports to preparing your tax return. 

 

See for yourself with a one-month free trial.

 

This post is intended to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute as legal, business, or tax advice. Please consult your attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in our content. Xendoo assumes no liability for any actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.

 

How to Choose the Right Software to Simplify Your Real Estate Accounting

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in June 2018 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness. 

Let’s face it, bookkeeping for a business in the real estate industry is complicated. That holds true whether your niche is sales, management, construction, or tax and legal services. Unlike some other types of business, you must deal with variables like fluctuating income, expenses, payroll, and property values, not to mention a heavy load of government regulations.

All these factors must be accounted for completely and accurately to control profit margins, satisfy clients, and be prepared for tax filing. It’s a big hassle if you’re doing it the old-fashioned way, creating custom spreadsheets and writing down transactions in a ledger. However, the right real estate accounting software will do many accounting tasks for you automatically, leaving you free to focus on your core business.

Real estate business payroll

Processing payroll is a core function for any business. Using accounting software that takes some of the hassles out of completing payroll each period can save you time and keep your records accurate year after year. 

Your business may have one or more of these types of workers:

• Commission

• Salary plus commission

• Salary

• Independent subcontractors

As it relates to real estate accounting specifically, choose software with a payroll feature capable of calculating commissions and tracking those amounts for income tax withholding. Similarly, you should categorize payments made to independent contractors, as those are typically not subject to withholding.

A person works on their laptop.

Real-time remote work tracking

Whether your people are out on a building site or showing homes to prospective buyers, a cloud-based management app will give them access to the office. At the same time, the office is tracking their activities. Info on everything from materials used to schedule changes can be updated and shared with everyone in real-time.

A system that integrates all departments saves time and money for workers and managers. It also means that data from the field is incorporated into the books automatically, eliminating duplicated effort and potential errors for the accountant. The inherent challenge with real estate accounting is the many moving parts involved—everything doesn’t happen in the same place. Leveraging technology to automatically collect all of this information and incorporate it into a bookkeeping system is sure to lead to better results. 

Breeze through tax time

The topic of taxes will come up again and again in the search for the right real estate accounting software—and for a good reason. Taxes aren’t only necessary because they are a legal requirement but also because they can represent such a significant expense. If your real estate business holds properties, for example, the property taxes alone can take a big chunk out of your bottom line. 

You can’t get away from paying taxes, of course, but you can use good accounting software and a tax filing service like Xendoo to make sure you don’t pay more than your share. 

A real estate records her numbers for the week on a laptop,

Streamline operational expense recording

One of the best real estate accounting tips you can receive is to enter all of your transactions each day. Suppose you wait until a week before your tax return is due to get your books updated. In that case, you’ll be facing a major headache and the likelihood that there will be errors beyond tax filing. Keeping your figures up to date will also reveal when and where you’re losing money. This makes it easier to make sound decisions and avoid spending too much time on a losing endeavor. 

Consider accounting software that integrates with your bank, recording every transaction automatically and saving you a great deal of time and paperwork. Plus, you’ll be ready for an audit any day of the year. Many real estate professionals – and professionals in other industries – feel like they are constantly behind on accounting. The key to getting ahead of the game is not to spend more of your precious time on the task but rather to streamline it using the right real estate accounting software. 

Financial reports data access

Using cloud-based software allows you to see your financial reports or share data with your accountant anytime, anywhere. And with no need for in-house servers to store your data, you’ll mitigate the risk of losing your data and bring down IT expenses as well. If you are currently storing all of the financial data for your business on a single computer in your office, you are playing with fire in terms of data loss risk. Turning to the cloud leaves you with off-site storage that is backed up and secure. 

Two noteworthy options

Most real estate businesses won’t need to take their accounting software search beyond two of the market leaders—Xero and QuickBooks Online. Each of these options includes all of the features you are likely to need to keep the financial side of your business in order. And, as an added bonus when working with Xendoo, we can provide you with a discount on either one of these two excellent accounting platforms. 

Xendoo believes that cloud-based accounting is the right choice for any real estate business looking to increase growth while reducing inefficiencies. By automating bookkeeping chores, we eliminate the hassles, the mistakes, and more than half the costs of traditional accounting. Our real estate accounting service will leave your business ready at every moment to meet challenges and seize opportunities for success.

 

This post is intended to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute as legal, business, or tax advice. Please consult your attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in our content. Xendoo assumes no liability for any actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.

 

How Outsourcing Accounting Can Help Grow Your Small Business

Small business owners are notoriously short on time. They manage everything from sales and marketing to employee scheduling and benefits, not to mention being an expert in whatever good or service it is that their business offers. And there are hurdles every step of the way as you try to grow your business. Hiring an outsourced accounting service can help you tackle many of these including ensuring you don’t pay too much in taxes, that you have time to focus on sales and marketing, and that you are able to prepare thorough financial reports for investors.

Why is an accountant important in a business?

Accountants consider the big picture strategy needed to keep your business strong and growing. They can answer your questions about financial reports, cash flow, depreciation, and more. They can give tax savings advice, such as when to make capital purchases, what you can deduct, and how to reduce taxes on capital gains. They can identify opportunities to improve profit margin and business growth and keep you legal – preventing missed deadlines and noncompliance penalties. 

When you’re looking to grow your business but don’t have the time or resources to do so, hiring an outsourced accountant or outsourced accounting service like Xendoo can free up your time and provide insights and ways into how you can increase your cash flow, strategically prepare for your taxes, and focus on what you do best.

Closeup of two plant sprouts growing

How does outsourcing accounting help your business grow?

It’s not just keeping track of your financials. Outsourcing an account can help your business grow in the following ways:

Accountants help save money

We can tackle the reinvestment more in detail here and use the tax preparation anchor here. 

Accountants help small business owners save money in many ways, including through strategic tax preparation. They help you make smart decisions on your operating expenses, when to make big purchases, and what deductions you can make. Many small business owners spend too much money on taxes – an accountant can help you prevent overspending on taxes and help you strategize on how to cut costs in every area of operation. The money you spend on an accountant is an investment into your business and will help you grow by saving you money in the long run and leaving you with more money to invest back into your business. 

Accountants help save you time

Time can be spent on marketing and other business growth while they look into the books.

Small business owners have enough on their to-do list – when you’re looking to outsource some of the work and focus on growing, outsourcing accounting and bookkeeping services are the best choices. Bookkeepers and accountants will do a better job at a quicker pace than a small business owner who is strapped for time and whose talents might lie elsewhere. You’ll be able to focus on sales, marketing, and all of the other ins and outs of growing your business when you aren’t worrying about accounting.

Outsourced accounting services are scalable

As you grow so can your services without the need to hire FTE. 

Your outsourced accounting team can easily grow as your small business does. You won’t need to hire a full-time employee to handle your accounting when you have a scalable outsourced accounting team on board. You can skip the hassle of hiring and managing a full-time employee as you grow (and save on the need to offer expensive benefits, too!) by hiring outsourced accounting services like Xendoo.

Better business analysis

Gives you accurate insights into your business strengths and weaknesses, which is important if you want to expand. Investors will want to see accurate books. 

As you grow you will continuously need better analytics on your business. An outsourced accounting team can provide accurate insights into your business strengths and weaknesses, helping you strategize on how to grow. And when you’re ready to take on investors or apply for a line of credit the banks and investors will want to see accurate and detailed financial reports. By having an outsourced accountant on your team, you will be able to show investors and banks precise, up-to-date records and prove you take your finances and the growth of your small business seriously.

Help increase cash flow

Keep track of outgoing and incoming money. Can find ways to help you save money long term with paying on time or ahead, and chasing down delinquent invoices. 

A key strategy to growing your business is taking charge of your cash flow. Outsourced accounting services like the team at Xendoo can keep track of your incoming and outgoing money and can help you find ways to save money in the long term – through strategic tax preparation, cutting operational costs, and paying your bills on time or even ahead of time! And they can help you chase down delinquent invoices from clients who are behind on paying you. Your accounts payable and receivable will be closely monitored and managed without you ever needing to worry about it.

Outsourcing accounting can help you grow your business.  By outsourcing your accounting, you can save money on hiring a full-time accountant, plus, it will give you more time to focus on running your business and creating value for your customers and your employees.  Xendoo is all about providing timely and accurate financial information to business owners allowing them to make strategic decisions. If your business is struggling, know that there is a better way and Xendoo can help. 

This post is intended to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute as legal, business, or tax advice. Please consult your attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in our content. Xendoo assumes no liability for any actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.

When You Need to Hire a CPA

Bookkeeper? Accountant? CPA? Which one does your business need, or does it need all three of them? Actually, it depends. Staying on top of your business’s finances is key for a small business owner, but you may need more than day-to-day bookkeeping. When you have more questions than a bookkeeper can answer, you’ll probably need to look into CPA services. Fortunately, Xendoo has you covered. Read on to see if online CPA services are best for you and your business.

What is a CPA?

It’s important to understand the differences between a Certified Public Accountant, CPA, and a regular accountant. A CPA is an accountant who has met specific state and education licensing requirements and passed the CPA exam. So, accountants with the title of CPA offer a higher level of financial analysis for you and your business and can act as a fiduciary on your behalf.

At that same time, an accountant can give you tax savings advice, such as when to make capital purchases, what you can deduct, and how to reduce taxes on capital gains. They can answer your questions about financial reports, cash flow, depreciation, and other accounting processes and identify opportunities to improve profit margin and business growth. Additionally, they can help set up business accounting systems, teach you best practices, keep you legal, and prevent missed deadlines and noncompliance penalties.

What does a CPA do?

Certified Public Accounts can be the financial strategist for Fortune 500 companies or advisors to neighborhood businesses.  CPA act as consultants on many issues, including taxes and accounting. Generally, online CPAs services include:

  • Prepare financial statements
  • Identify red flags and growth opportunities
  • Prepare and file taxes
  • Plan capital purchases and other investments
  • Strategize for scaling the business

When should I hire a CPA?

Whether you’re starting or growing your business, an accountant can help set up financial systems and analyze data so that you can make smarter business decisions. They have the power to forecast business success, diagnose financial health issues, and increase revenue—saving you significant money, time, and hassle. 

So while a bookkeeper focuses on the everyday tasks that maintain your business’s finances, accountants consider the big picture strategy to keep your business strong and growing, and a CPA has an even higher level of financial analysis to assure you’re making the right moves at the right time.

How much does a CPA cost?

Budgeting for bookkeeping and accounting services is tough for a small business. Traditionally, bookkeepers have charged an hourly rate; the more time they spend on your books, the more you have to pay. Typical rates are:

  • Bookkeeper — $30 to $90 per hour
  • CPA — $150 to $450 per hour

Or you may only need an accountant for an occasional project such as tax preparation.

  • Tax return (unincorporated) — $200 to $500
  • Tax return (incorporated) — $800 to $1,800
  • Financial statement — $1,000 to $2,500
  • Audit — $2,000 to $5,000

This is why accounting for a small business can become expensive. Plus, you may decide you only need an accountant for an occasional project such as tax preparation, financial statement, or audit, which costs a fixed amount that can add up, or you may not have allotted this in your end-of-the-year budget. A popular option with small businesses is an accounting service that charges a fixed amount every month. It’s easy to budget for, and it can cost less than half what you would pay an hourly accountant for the same amount of service. That’s why Xendoo offers a monthly pricing structure to our clients, charging a fixed amount every month. It’s easier to budget for bookkeeping and inline CPA services monthly and cost less than half of what you would pay an hourly accountant for the same service amount.

The right account professionals for your business

A small business accounting service will file your taxes, but you’ll need to have your bookkeeping in order so you can provide them with the data and reports they need. Xendoo’s online team of bookkeepers and CPAs will handle everything for you – they will manage all of your bookkeeping and accounting and will file the right return for you, right on time. Plus, Xendoo also takes care of all the filing that goes along with your tax return to itemize your business deductions.

Ultimately, it’s best for you and your business to have both a bookkeeper and an accountant. Making Xendoo your financial partner means joining a community of small business owners who love working with Xendoo’s bookkeepers and CPAs. Xendoo’s online CPA accounting services are ideal for small businesses because the more eyes looking out for your business, the better. Your dedicated financial team provides the perspective on your finances that can help ensure you’re able to anticipate problems and have the appropriate solutions ready to go. In gaining a complete picture of your company’s financial health, you can confidently grow your business.