Most property owners see the tracking of income and expenses as part of the general process of renting out a home. However, it’s more than that. Rental property accounting actually has an impact on what you earn and how you grow your portfolio.
If you haven’t recently audited your accounting practices, this might be a good time to do it. As you’re evaluating how you manage the documentation and tracking of these details, think about whether those practices are earning you more or costing you more.
With the right accounting tools and software, investors can increase what they earn and decrease what they spend. A lot of rental property owners can’t say with certainty what their assets are worth and how they plan to maximize their value. That’s costly.
Improved accounting practices can increase ROI and reduce the risk of unexpected losses.
Rental property accounting isn’t complicated, but it can be time-consuming. That’s why you need great software or an accounting expert on your Jacksonville property management team.
To maximize earnings, an investor needs to understand their ROI, which, at a minimum, includes:
- Rental income
- Capital gains
- Tax write-offs
- Maintenance and repair expenses
- Property damage
- Taxes and insurance
- Variable expenses
Tracking these details keeps your investment property profitable.
Let’s take a look at some ways that improving rental property accounting can impact your earnings.
Investment Banking for Jacksonville Rental Property Owners
We encourage all the investors we work with to keep business and personal accounts completely separate. Some investors establish an LLC, and in that case, separate funds are a legal requirement. Even outside of an LLC, it’s just good business to keep personal and real estate income and expenses separate. You can easily make a mistake if they’re comingling, and it will cost a lot to untangle those errors.
This is why it’s essential to have a separate business bank account for your rental properties.
Some owners with multiple investments will set up different accounts for each rental property. It’s not expensive to open and maintain a bank account, and as long as all of them are linked to the larger accounting software system being used for rental property accounting, it’s a good way to stay organized.
Include a local banker in your circle of professional contacts when you’re investing in rental property. A good relationship will maximize ROI because a strong professional network always yields great results. Get to know professional brokers, too. They will have their own relationships with banks and lenders.
Keep Good Records and Document Everything
Documentation is a big part of increasing your ROI. When you’re tracking and organizing all of your expenses, you have an easier time taking advantage of tax deductions and write-offs. Documentation is always needed to support the deductions you claim. Keep accurate, detailed, and transparent records. Ideally, they will be digital.
If you work with a professional Jacksonville property management company, your team will provide access to their technology, which should include an innovative accounting system. Otherwise, there are apps available and even software platforms designed to support individual, private investors. The important features to look for include the ability to access records when they’re needed.
Document all the rent that’s collected. Tenants prefer online rental payments, and those are also easier to track and sort. Document what is spent as well. Every bill that’s paid should go into the system and be tracked in a digital file.
This type of documentation and tracking will assist with ROI because it helps you understand your metrics. You’ll be able to set benchmarks and see when you meet or fall short of goals.
Supporting documents also provide evidence if there’s an audit or questions about tax returns. The IRS may demand proof that the income and expenses being reported are accurate. With a solid and digital system, these records can be accessed and documentation provided at a moment’s notice.
Profit and Loss Reports Reflect ROI on Jacksonville Rental Properties
Once you have established your business bank accounts and you have a system to gather and track all the necessary documentation, generating reports will be a great way to increase ROI and understand where each property stands in terms of profitability and needs.
Accounting reports and statements can serve as an easy guide in understanding how much is being earned and spent.
With good bookkeeping, you can identify properties that aren’t performing as well as they should. You can set new goals.
The frequency and set-up of these reports depend on you. Some investors like to run a monthly report and others are fine with a quarterly look at where things stand.
Most profit and loss reports will generate a snapshot of operating earnings, which is the money that’s earned on an investment before rental income and tax. This isn’t net income, which is the sum of what’s earned after taxes and expenses. With data that’s gathered from these numbers, investors can get creative and make digital displays and graphs that make it easier to understand where things are going well and where improvements are needed.
Fiscal trends should be easy to spot. This is essential in budgeting and forecasting, which will directly impact your long-term ROI and immediate rental income. This information helps you make smart decisions about which properties to hold, which to sell, and when to engage in creative endeavors such as a 1031 exchange.
Rental Property Accounting Technology
There’s a lot of accounting software out there, and it can help with banking, bookkeeping, documentation, and reporting.
The best programs and platforms are accessible, user-friendly, and transparent. Anytime there’s an audit, a court action, or even a complaint or dispute from an HOA or a resident or a lender, having the documentation easily available will help.
Have trouble deciding what types of technology might be best for you when it comes to accounting? Here’s a quick list of some of the rental property accounting apps that will help you improve your tracking and automation on the financial side of your business.
- Appfolio. This is a comprehensive, full-service property management software that’s used by many larger management companies. It can be a great tool for investors and property managers who need to think beyond basic accounting and track maintenance, tenants, income, and expenses. The most-used accounting features on this particular platform include deposit tracking, accepting online rental payments, and creating automated fees for things like late rent. It can be customized, but typically works better for larger portfolios.
- Buildium. Buildium is another favorite among professional property managers. The functions of this platform are very similar to those found in Appfolio. It’s not specific to accounting, rather it takes on the documentation and management of the whole process, from property showings to tenant screenings and finally rent collection and accounts reporting. It will collect an investor’s financials, track payments, and manage accounts payable and receivable.
- Quickbooks. One of the most popular general accounting platforms on the market, Quickbooks can be valuable for investors with just a handful of properties to track and manage. Unlike Appfolio and Buildium, it’s not specific to property management, so it’s possible investors have used it before for other business ventures. Simplicity is the biggest selling feature for Quickbooks. It tracks and manages income and expenses. Investors can easily manage their rental properties when it comes to collecting rent, paying maintenance invoices, and tracking professional fees for things like property management, insurance, and legal services.
Those are some of the major and most recognizable platforms, but smaller start-ups and apps are showing up all the time. Often, they’re worth exploring especially for investors who don’t have access to a large technology budget or a platform that comes with professional management services.
Jacksonville property management companies can help with the technology and the accounting. Choosing to work with an experienced and established company that meets every need from the beginning to the end of the investment process is especially beneficial to you and your ROI. At Red Rooster, we have customized plans in place for each investor who chooses to partner with us. The accounting is taken care of, as is the reporting and the documentation. There’s no need for our investors to buy any software or download any new apps. We take care of all that ourselves, providing the required information and reports when necessary.
Even for investors who are not ready to talk about full-service property management, a local professional can provide recommendations and insight about the systems that might work best. A good property manager will also make some referrals to accounting professionals and CPAs if that will help.
We know that accounting and bookkeeping isn’t the best part of investing in Jacksonville real estate. But it is an essential part of your investment plan, and it impacts what you earn. Talk to us about how we can help you track your financials. Please contact us at Red Rooster Property Management. We are your local experts when it comes to rental properties in Jacksonville, St. Johns, and Orange Park.