September 26, 2023

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Property administration chart of accounts: What’s it and why is it important?

7 min read

One of the vital essential accounting practices in any enterprise is establishing and protecting a property administration chart of accounts. As a property supervisor, your chart of accounts will provide help to preserve tabs on each transaction for every of your properties in your portfolio.

“Having a transparent, concise chart of accounts is essential in your shoppers to grasp how their rental properties are performing,” says Taylor Brugna, Companion at The Real Estate CPA. “It could possibly information future investments and assist each you and your shoppers make essential monetary choices.”

On this article, we’ll stroll via establishing a chart of accounts in your rental properties and focus on some greatest practices, with the assistance of Brugna.

For a fast overview of a property administration chart of accounts, try our YouTube video.


Take a look at the video session that includes Taylor Brugna and Jeana Pondelli from Buildium’s product workforce as they stroll via the most effective practices and what’s doable with property administration software program.

What Is a Property Administration Chart of Accounts?

Brugna describes a chart of accounts as a report that organizes every transaction made in your properties into accounting classes. These classes supply a transparent understanding of knowledge related to every property. Transactions fall below one among 5 overarching classes: belongings, liabilities, bills, earnings, or fairness. Every property will get its personal coding system inside your chart of accounts. Put collectively, all of these accounts grow to be your chart of accounts.

The codes can get fairly granular. However that’s a very good factor. By giving every transaction for every property a selected code, it’s straightforward to maintain monitor of the place each penny goes and which of your properties are making or dropping cash.

Belongings embody checking accounts, financial savings accounts, and gathered depreciation of every property, whereas your liabilities might embody refundable safety deposits, bank card balances, and taxes/insurance coverage owed on properties.

Fairness entries usually embody internet earnings, retained earnings, and any contributions or distributions made in your properties.

Why Do You Want a Chart of Accounts for Your Property Administration Firm?

Within the days earlier than computer systems, every transaction had its personal web page in a ledger ebook, recording earnings, bills, belongings, liabilities, and fairness. Transactions had been recorded and, on the backside of the web page, the numbers had been tallied. To get a complete image of income and losses, an accountant merely had so as to add up earnings, belongings, and fairness, after which subtract bills and liabilities.

A chart of accounts is the spine of all of the monetary stories and forecasting you do for each your organization and your properties. It permits you to:

  • Report the monetary well being of rental properties to homeowners
  • Decide hire and payment will increase
  • Forecast advertising, staffing, and different budgets
  • Report correct financials for taxes

The right way to Set Up a Chart of Accounts for Your Property Administration Portfolio

A chart of accounts is ready up in a hierarchy of entries. You would possibly even consider it by way of a parent-child group. The very best-level entries could be the 5 we mentioned above. Then, every of your transactions could be grouped as “kids” beneath.

Many experts recommend numbering line gadgets utilizing ranges of 1,000. For instance, belongings could be assigned the high-level quantity 1000, and all belongings could be coded between 1000 and 1999. In accordance with Brugna, a typical numbering system could be organized as follows:

  • Belongings: 1000-1999
  • Liabilities: 2000-2999
  • Shareholder’s Fairness: 3000-3999
  • Income: 4000-4999
  • Bills: 5000-5999

Beneath that, you’ll be able to assign various kinds of earnings their very own numbers. For instance, 1100 is likely to be hire, whereas 1200 may very well be HVAC upkeep charges.

Lastly, you’ll want a option to establish which earnings comes from which property, whereas leaving room so as to add future properties.

To do this, assign every property a quantity within the 1s place of your accounts. So, your property at 123 Elm St. could be assigned 1101 for hire and 1201 for HVAC charges. For different accounts, it could nonetheless be assigned a one within the 1s place.

To maintain line gadgets straight, be sure that every has a transparent and transient abstract.

Property Administration Chart of Accounts Examples

Let’s check out how the above instance would look on a spreadsheet.

On the highest degree, you chart of accounts will look one thing like this:

Chart of Accounts: High-level Structure for Property Managers

Beneath these high-level classes, you’ll then fill in every line merchandise description:

Chart of Accounts for Property Managers: Line Item Example

Lastly, transactions for every property could be recorded utilizing codes primarily based on the descriptions you already arrange:

Chart of Accounts for Property Managers: Line Items

If performed utilizing a easy spreadsheet, a chart of accounts can take a while to arrange. You’ll have to trace down each transaction that goes via your property administration agency, create a coding system that works greatest in your firm, after which arrange the sheets. Placing within the time to create a constant accounting technique that makes including new transactions straightforward, nonetheless, is nicely value it.

If the concept of updating a spreadsheet is unappealing, there are, after all, software program options that automate accounting processes and preserve your books rather more safe than a spreadsheet ever would.

Quickbooks for a Rental Property Chart of Accounts

Quickbooks in all probability involves thoughts in your personal enterprise’ financials. This versatile software program contains templates that work for many companies, and it may be built-in with different instruments. When you’re utilizing a property administration software program answer with an open API, you’ll be able to combine Quickbooks immediately into that instrument.

It’s essential to remember, nonetheless, that Quickbooks auto-populates their charts of accounts and is greatest suited in your inside firm financials versus accounting for the properties you handle. You’ll have to spend a while tweaking it to fulfill the wants of a property administration firm.

In relation to dealing with the accounting in your homeowners’ properties, a strong property administration answer, nonetheless, may have accounting instruments constructed proper in, with templates which can be already configured for these wants. Buildium comes with a regular chart of accounts for rental properties together with the choice to edit an existing general ledger account.

Buildium Chart of Accounts in Property Management Software
The chart of accounts view within Buildium’s property administration software program.

Chart of Accounts Finest Practices

When you get your chart of accounts up and operating, arrange a coaching session with stakeholders, explaining the coding system. Educate them to stick to the next greatest practices, as nicely.

#1: Designate One Individual to Replace the Chart of Accounts

A chart of accounts is unquestionably a cooks-in-the-kitchen scenario. Too many individuals accessing the file will solely trigger errors and chaos—and by too many, we imply multiple.

#2: Replace Ceaselessly and Constantly

Get your workforce on a daily schedule of reporting transactions to you or the particular person answerable for the chart of accounts. Give them a deadline to get all of their transactions in. That method, there’s time to replace and reconcile by the tip of the month.

#3: Persist with Your Coding System

In fact, you’ll have to add new line gadgets for brand new transactions, however every new merchandise needs to be sorted into current classes that comply with the coding system you arrange.

“Consistency in categorizing will assist your property homeowners establish developments, areas of success, and the place to enhance,” says Brugna. “For instance, monitoring repairs and upkeep prices month over month offers you a transparent breakdown of bills and present you ways renovation budgets are monitoring.”

#4: Report Completely Every thing

Don’t preserve something off the books, and even in a separate chart of accounts. Report each single transaction in the identical place. Taxes, compliance, property forecasting, and funding choices all rely on an entire image of your properties’ funds.

#5: Hold the Miscellaneous Gadgets to a Minimal

When you’ve ever moved, you understand you at all times find yourself with that one field of miscellaneous stuff you don’t know what to do with. While you unpack it, you’re left with a large number of random issues to take care of.

The identical goes in your chart of accounts. Whereas you’ll have some miscellaneous earnings or bills, you shouldn’t use that class as a catch-all for transactions you simply don’t wish to take care of in the meanwhile. You’ll find yourself with a large number that will likely be powerful to reconcile on the finish of the month, quarter, or 12 months.

A chart of accounts is a must have instrument for any profitable property administration enterprise. Whether or not you retain a spreadsheet, use a one-size-fits-all program similar to Quickbooks, or go for specialised accounting instruments from a property administration software program answer, select the tactic and the system that works greatest for you and persist with it.

Need extra insights to deepen your understanding of the Chart of Accounts? Take a look at our step-by-step information, Setting Up an Efficient Chart of Accounts.

For a extra in-depth have a look at a property administration chart of accounts, you’ll be able to try the on-demand video beneath for an concept of how property managers can use expertise to assist, as nicely.

Learn extra on Accounting & Taxes

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