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TheNiche

Accounting Software for Real Estate Investments

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I've never really worked the back office side of a business before, and my knowledge of accounting is purely theoretical and very basic, yet I've been able to satisfy my LLC's accounting and financial needs thus far using improvised Excel-based accounting systems. That's going to change as I start recognizing revenue, so I need to purchase and then learn how to use accounting software.

Is there anybody on HAIF that has a background in accounting and that could provide some guidance as to which type of software would be best for a small business that is acting as the owner, developer, contractor, and management company for a single commercial property?

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I create everything I need from Excel. From statements to dashboards. I only use it because of the flexibility in programming it. If you're moving away from Excel I would suggest Peachtree. I've had limited experience with it - I've used it for a few months a couple years ago. It asked me a series of questions about the business, start dates, reporting dates, and questions about the accounting system I have setup. I think there is a trial version on their site. You may want to take a look at it.

http://www.peachtree.com/productsServices/tryPeachtree/

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I'm a CPA, but my background is Excel and corporate-level Oracle solutions...obviously $overkill for a small business. However, you might be well-served posting on this forum:

http://www.accounting-and-bookkeeping-tips.com/accounting-forum/index.php

I think that Quickbooks has a real estate template, which might be of benefit to you.

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I used Quickbooks for years, in several different businesses. It is easy to use, has a reasonable template for various types of businesses (that can be easily modified to suit your needs), is cheap, prints out numerous reports, and even can make an accountant's copy, if your accountant's software accepts it. I used it for businesses with and without employees. For your situation, I highly recommend it.

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I create everything I need from Excel. From statements to dashboards. I only use it because of the flexibility in programming it. If you're moving away from Excel I would suggest Peachtree. I've had limited experience with it - I've used it for a few months a couple years ago. It asked me a series of questions about the business, start dates, reporting dates, and questions about the accounting system I have setup. I think there is a trial version on their site. You may want to take a look at it.

http://www.peachtree.com/productsServices/tryPeachtree/

Excel. My step-mother used Peachtree, back in the late 80's? Maybe early 90's.

I liked Excel going in for the same reasons LTAWACS mentioned, and because I'm familiar enough with it to do anything. This move went against the advice of two accountants I knew, who insisted that Excel would yield nothing but headaches, however were utterly incapable of articulating why at the time.

So I set up my books in Excel and began making journal entries...because I knew better. :wacko: It makes perfect sense to me, and because the firm is closely-held, it was satisfactory to my partner and all the stakeholders. It's not like I own a hedge fund, after all. My banker has actually complimented me on the completeness of the entries as compared to what they usually receive, the at-a-glance formatting, and references that include a hyperlink to scanned copies of receipts and invoices. It's nothing fancy, mind you, but it is functional...especially for managerial purposes during the construction process. Once revenues started coming in and operations stabilized, I'd have wanted to go to Quickbooks or something like that because it's harder to accidentally screw up in unnoticed yet profound ways than it is in Excel.

Come April, I submitted my Excel files to a tax accountant. Nearly a month later, after they (and I) filed for an extension, they got around to asking for more documentation. Three more iterations of documents were requested, with requests averaging about three or four weeks apart, and here we are in September, and I've spent the last week learning Quickbooks in order to barely meet the deadline for late filing.

Having spoken with a friend of mine that is an accountant, I've come to realize that what likely happened is that the staff accountant realized that a few hours of bookeeping had to be done in order to transfer it neatly onto their system, but that she didn't like doing bookeeping because she perceives it as beneath her (as is apparently often the case with staff accountants in small firms that can't afford support staff). So she put it off for several weeks until more interesting work was completed and then got back around to it, reviewed it again because she'd forgotten why she didn't like it in the first place, and then complained up the chain of command, all the way to the partner, who had no concept of what was going on but gave directives anyway because partners like issuing directives. "If you don't have enough to work with, then ask them for more information." Several hours would then be spent typing up an e-mail asking point-by-point for documents of peripheral imporance to computing the tax implications. Repeat, repeat, repeat. It took about $2,600 of effort on the part of a licensed CPA to request and receive information by e-mail before a $200-per-hour meeting with the partner took place where he succinctly advised me to get Quickbooks and switch over from Excel retroactively for 2008.

I'm chalking this up to one of my very expensive lessons of 2009 (and there are many). Do not entrust simple things to college-educated people that get to bill hourly; their uppitiness and boredom get expensive. ...and that's also the story of how I got enrolled in a bunch of accounting courses at HCC this semester. If I'm going to have to deal with accountants on a regular basis, I need to be able to speak their language.

I'm a CPA, but my background is Excel and corporate-level Oracle solutions...obviously $overkill for a small business. However, you might be well-served posting on this forum:

http://www.accounting-and-bookkeeping-tips.com/accounting-forum/index.php

I think that Quickbooks has a real estate template, which might be of benefit to you.

...and you say you live right down the street from me? You shall prove useful. ;)

The real estate template wasn't especially useful at all, though. My LLC is an investment vehicle that also acts as the developer, general contractor, and property manager. Makes for a long chart of accounts. If it were a bigger operation, I'd have formed several different companies to specialize according to these roles, but I can make it work for what it is, and so that's good enough.

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You need to get a better CPA. One who isn't totally consumed by their own way of doing things. All they really needed to do was check your work, then enter balances in whatever system they use. Quickbooks works well, I've set up a few companies and a social club on it. If I had my own company, I would probably use Quickbooks. I've never been that impressed with Peachtree - it's harder to set up than Qucikbooks, and I wasn't impressed with the support.

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You should try online accounting services software ZipBooks. I have tried several others. Some are pricey solutions like Xero, quickbooks. Some free like ZipBooks, Guncash etc. ZipBooks has the best reporting system. Very user friendly. You can entitled into a short AICPA course if you want to learn more about bookkeeping.

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