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How to do Bookkeeping for Real Estate: A Complete Guide (2024)

Posted on 21/03/2024

Mastering Real Estate Bookkeeping: A Comprehensive Guide to Financial Management and Compliance

Real estate bookkeeping involves monitoring and arranging financial transactions associated with properties, investments, and operations. Accurate documentation and financial oversight are essential for bookkeepers, especially in the real estate sector. Bookkeeping in the digital world has become more convenient and accessible. Virtual bookkeepers use cloud-based accounting software to efficiently manage their records.

Bookkeepers will no longer have to worry about misplaced documents and struggle with reviewing them. Outsourcing staff members can be beneficial for streamlining bookkeeping processes.

Key Principles of Real Estate Tax Accounting: What You Need to Know

Accounting for real estate, like in other industries, aims to offer financial insights. It ensures adherence to tax regulations and creates financial reports for stakeholders to review. In addition to these general aspects, other important aspects of real estate accounting include the following:


  • Obtain a precise understanding of your financial well-being.
  • Monitoring business expansion across various years
  • Overseeing liquidity
  • Issuing alerts when warning signs are detected
  • An efficient procedure facilitating prompt tax return submission
  • Overseeing accounts payable and accounts receivable
  • Efficient and precise reporting to shareholders, investors, lenders, government agencies, etc.
  • A real estate tax accountant near me must monitor the essential elements of real estate.

Understanding Double-Entry Bookkeeping for Real Estate Transactions

Double-entry accounting is the prevailing method of bookkeeping utilized by the majority of businesses in the present day. This accounting system is named after the two parts of each transaction that document the origin and destination of the funds. This reduces errors, eliminates duplicate transactions, and improves the likelihood of balancing your books. The double-entry method allows you to process the purchase with a single entry and effectively verify that the debits and credits are in balance, preventing errors in any accounts.

Exploring Depreciation Methods in Real Estate Accounting

Real estate depreciation is the recognition that assets deteriorate and lose value as they age. It is an accounting principle that involves allocating the cost of a building or property over multiple years rather than recognizing it all at once.

Operation: Real estate depreciation provides significant benefits in two main ways. Initially, it is beneficial for taxes. When your house depreciates, you will pay lower property taxes. Secondly, it enhances the precision of your financial reports. Depreciation is used to demonstrate the fluctuation in the value of a building owned by a business over time.

Cash vs. Accrual Accounting: Choosing the Right Method for Your Real Estate Business

Income is subject to taxation under the cash accounting method upon receipt of payment. Expenses are deductible when paid, not when an invoice is received.

The accrual method recognizes income when it is earned, regardless of when the payment is received. This situation arises when a service is provided or a product is delivered to the customer.

An important deviation from the accrual accounting method is the acknowledgement of prepaid rents. Property owners must consider these payments as income upon receipt, regardless of the chosen accounting method.

Strategies for Tracking Rental Income and Expenses Effectively

Comprehending rental income tracking is crucial for effective property accounting. Property owners and managers can use this practice to thoroughly monitor their income sources, giving them a detailed financial overview of their rental property’s performance.

Efficient Systems and Tools for Monitoring Rental Income

Rental income monitoring is crucial for financial stability and property management success. Different systems and tools can help property managers track rental income.

  • Manual-tracking spreadsheet templates: Excel and Google Sheets simplify rental income tracking. Excel and Word templates help landlords manage tenant data, payments, and finances. Spreadsheet templates are portable, customizable, and monitorable.
  • Correct data entry and organization: Manual tracking can be useful if done correctly, so input data consistently and orderly. Proper rental income records require precise data entry. Well-organized data with headings, categories, and algorithms improves finance.
  • Property management software: Professional rental property accounting tools help: Rental accounting software details rental income. Rent reminders, automatic income recording, and cost tracking are on websites. These technologies reduce data accuracy, manual labor, and errors. They can manage complex financial tasks for property portfolios with multiple units or income streams.
  • Check out popular software features: Unique property management software tools exist. First, rental property owners should consider budget, number of units, interface, and customer service when choosing software. Popular apps include Buildium, AppFolio, Rent Manager, and Yardi. These systems simplify rental income tracking with financial reporting, expense monitoring, tenant interfaces, and payment channel interaction.

Best Practices for Recording Property Acquisitions and Dispositions

Property acquired by the University of Michigan to support its activities cannot be used for personal, for-profit, or illegal purposes. Property comprises capital equipment, other capital assets, and non-capital purchases (not real estate, land, buildings, etc.).

Acquisition of Property

Purchased Property: University-acquired property must follow SPG 507.01, Procurement General Policies and Procedures.

The University of Michigan Chart of Accounts requires university units to code capital equipment and other capital assets into the proper accounts. Financial Operations reviews account activity and records it in the university’s Asset Management System when necessary.

Capital equipment transfer

All capital equipment gifted or transferred to the university from another institution, including research grants or contracts, must be reported to Property Control. Property Disposition determines the fair market value of transferred capital equipment, Property Control tags it, and Financial Operations records it in the Asset Management System. Visit the Property Control website for details on this process.

Capital Equipment Recording and Tagging

Capital equipment must be tagged by Property Control. University units must promptly provide Property Control with accurate location and custodian information for capital equipment tagging. A non-tag number will be assigned for tracking if an item cannot be tagged. Check the Property Control website for details.

Disposal property

University property disposal and distribution are solely the responsibility of Property Disposition. Property disposal must sell or dispose of all scrap and property. Property Disposition must approve the sale of university property to outside buyers. Personal property purchases by university employees are considered outside purchases.

Read More: Property Management Bookkeeping: A Comprehensive Guide

Navigating Escrow Accounting and Reconciliation in Real Estate

Escrow accounting involves a neutral third party managing funds, property deeds, or other assets during a real estate transaction. The goal is to prevent money or property transfers until all conditions are met. The two primary categories of real estate escrow accounts are:

  • Mortgage lenders pay borrowers’ property-related expenses with escrow accounts.
  • Pre-closing Real Estate Escrow Account: Down payments, property deeds, and sale instructions are stored.
  • Buyer, seller, lender, and escrow agency are involved. Each party drafts the escrow agreement, which the officer manages.
  • Escrow closing transfers the title from the seller to the buyer.

Managing Amortisation Schedules for Mortgage Payments in Real Estate

Amortisation is the gradual repayment of a mortgage or loan through scheduled payments that cover both the principal amount and interest. The lender computes the amortisation schedule when you borrow money to buy a property, detailing the repayment plan. This schedule divides the loan amount into uniform monthly payments to guarantee full repayment by the end of the term.

Our Bookkeeping Experts are here to help.

For instance, let’s examine a property valued at Rs 1 crore with a 20% down payment and a 10% interest rate over 20 years. The monthly payment would be around Rs. 81,325. Over 20 years, the total amount paid would be Rs 1,95,18,000, with Rs 95,18,000 being the interest.

Amortization schedule:

Period EMI Interest Principal Balance
0 Rs. 5000000.00
Month 1 Rs. 41822.00 Rs. 33333.33 Rs. 8488.67 Rs. 4991511.33
Month 2 Rs. 41822.00 Rs. 33276.74 Rs. 8545.26 Rs. 4982966.07
Month 3 Rs. 41822.00 Rs. 33219.77 Rs. 8602.23 Rs. 4974363.84

The table below shows the schedule of amortisation in the case of a home loan This table represents the first three payments of the loan. As the payments progress, the interest portion decreases, and the principal portion increases. With every payment, the outstanding amount gets smaller until the loan is paid off in full.

Ensuring Proper Reserve Fund Accounting and Management for Property Maintenance

It is crucial to maintain a precise and detailed record of your reserve fund transactions and balances to oversee cash flow, handle taxes, and adhere to legal requirements. Utilize a distinct bank account for your reserve fund and refrain from commingling it with personal or operational funds. Moreover, utilizing property management software or accounting software that is compatible with your bank account can assist in categorizing, reconciling, and reporting your reserve fund activities. Consider using a ledger or spreadsheet to monitor the inflows, outflows, and current balance of your reserve fund for each property or portfolio. Ensure to regularly review your reserve fund statements and reports and make necessary adjustments to your budget and projections.

Mastering the Art of Recording and Reconciling Security Deposits

Security deposits often cause landlord-tenant disputes. Property managers must track and reconcile security deposits accurately and efficiently to avoid legal issues, maintain good relationships, and protect clients. Security deposit collection, recording, adjustment, and return.

Security deposit receipt

The security deposit is due before moving in. Local laws govern the amount, method, and receipt of security deposits. A detailed lease agreement should explain the security deposit’s purpose, deductions, interest, and refund policy. Take photos and sign a checklist after the tenant inspection.

Recording security deposits

Security deposits should be recorded in property management accounting. All tenants’ security deposits should have a ledger account for balance, transactions, and dates. Security deposits must be reported per trust fund rules and held in a separate account from your operating account. Check your bank statements and security deposit ledger regularly and report discrepancies.

Security deposit adjustments

Third, adjust security deposits when tenants leave or renew. Check the property with the tenant against the initial condition. Damages, cleaning, unpaid rent, and other charges can be deducted from the security deposit, per lease and local laws. Also, calculate any interest you owe or can deduct from the security deposit. Adjust security deposit ledgers and prepare tenant statements.

Security deposit returns

The fourth and final step is returning tenants’ security deposits according to local laws. Send the tenant a security deposit check and account statement with deductions and interest. Tenants must sign security deposit refund receipts. Shut down and save the tenant’s security deposit ledger.

Achieving Compliance with GAAP and IFRS in Real Estate Bookkeeping

IFRS Standards account for real estate based on company use. IAS 40 applies to all investment property owners, regardless of industry.

US GAAP lacks investment property, unlike IFRS. Whether the company adopts a cost model or a fair value model as an investment company (Tip. 9467) or operates under industry-specific accounting advice will determine the implications of this basic difference.

IAS 40 is used by real estate companies and funds; US GAAP follows industry guidance and accounting practices.

IAS 40 applies to real estate funds and companies. Thus, these companies can measure using the cost or fair value model. To satisfy foreign investors, most US real estate companies and funds use the fair value model under IAS 40.

Investment companies use profit or loss to value their investments under US GAAP. Real estate funds may be investment companies and cannot use the cost or fair value model to measure their real estate, unlike IFRS Standards. Although not investment companies, some non-public real estate companies use narrowly-scoped industry-specific accounting practices to value their real estate at fair value. Based on our observations, a significant number of real estate companies and funds are unable to adhere to a fair value model per US GAAP, particularly non-investment company real estate funds.

Handling Joint Ventures and Partnerships: Accounting Considerations in Real Estate

  • Due diligence

Due diligence on potential joint venture partners is crucial. This involves assessing their financial situation, reputation, track record, and suitability for the initiative’s goals and principles.

  • Well-defined duties

Joint venture partners’ roles and responsibilities must be clearly defined for efficient project management. Each party should have a clear scope of work and joint venture agreement obligations. Clarity prevents confusion and ensures partners understand their roles.

  • Communication and Conflict Resolution

Maintaining a healthy working relationship requires effective communication and conflict resolution. Open communication and fair conflict resolution can be achieved through joint venture agreement meetings, reporting requirements, and dispute resolution provisions.

  • Leave Methods

Joint ventures are usually long-term, but exits and terminations should be planned for. The joint venture agreement should cover exit mechanisms, buyout options, and dispute resolution in the event of dissolution or asset sale. Prepare for these scenarios in advance to minimize disruptions and protect all parties.

Conclusion: Essential Steps to Strengthen Your Real Estate Bookkeeping Practices

Proper bookkeeping is essential for success in the fast-paced world of real estate. Retain duplicates of receipts and classify your expenditures. Integrate your bank and credit card accounts with accounting or property management software. Maximize the automation of the bookkeeping process.

Perform monthly account reconciliations to verify the accuracy and balance of your financial records. Simultaneously, examine your financial statements to stay informed about your cash flow and anticipate any potential issues.

Software cannot yet replace a skilled CPA with expertise in real estate. Find one and utilize it to ensure that you have organized your assets most efficiently. You could achieve substantial savings.

Ensure that you establish a business bank account and consistently maintain a clear separation between your personal and business expenses.

Topics: Real Estate Bookkeeping




About the Author:

Pramod has over 11 years of experience relating to finance and accounts in diversified industries. He is an expert in resource and process optimization resulting in greater operational efficiencies.

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