You own a business? Wow.
Maybe you spend your day letting houses...
Or you use your 9 to 5 developing and practicing your skills as an architect...
You could even work as an estate agent, helping properties change hands!
Either way, if you work in property, you need a property accountant.
“Sorry - a what?”
Money makes the world go ‘round, right?
That means staying in control of your cash is pretty important.
And when it comes to the price tags on properties, you have a lot more responsibility on your hands - especially if it affects peoples’ livelihoods.
Sure, you can try and balance the books, and you could attempt to stay on top of the changing taxes, but a small mistake…
Could come with a costly consequence.
Have I scared you straight, yet?
Cause you need one, and you need one now.
Just like my client did:
7 months ago I got an emergency email from a landlord working in South London.
And by emergency I mean big, bold fonts and stressful walls of text.
As a landlord, they focused on student properties, and thus had to juggle many-a-property at many-a-time.
As they were experienced in dealing with such properties, they did all of their accounting and bookkeeping on their own.
Read More: Wikipedia On Accountants
Risky - but possible.
The thing is, they also sold 3 houses last year, but incorrectly deducted mortgage repayments.
With a hefty fine under their belt, they were stressed.
Hence the emergency email.
My response was short and sweet:
“You need a property accountant. And I’m going to find you one.”
Not only did I stick to my promise, they witnessed an increase in profit of 35% within 3 months of hiring one.
(That’s the fine paid off!)
Fancy seeing the same for your business?
Well, that’s why I’m here.
This article will take you through:
- What a property accountant is
- What they can do for your business
- Whether you need a property accountant
- How to actually hire one
- And how to save on the final bill!
When any of my clients ask me for help, we always start with one thing:
We work out exactly what they are dealing with.
The definitions, the jargon, the laws - we untangle each and every one.
Once you understand what a property accountant is, you can see with greater clarity whether you need one for your business.
Because despite the lengthy emails that tend to clog up my inbox, you understand your business best.
Let’s go back to basics, shall we?
An accountant is someone who practices accounting. This is the measurement and presentation of financial information to business owners and investors, for example.
Property accountants, however, follow a more niche path, and work on the financial side of buying and selling real estate.
Their specific responsibilities include:
Maintaining records of assets and funds
Setting up escrow accounts
Preparing tax returns and reports
Supervising internal accounting controls
Staying up-to-date with legal changes
Fancy ticking any these tasks off your to-do list?
You know what you need to do.
HINT: hire a property accountant.
Running a business is hard, isn’t it?
When you’re making a loss, or you have a tight few weeks, it can feel like you have to make a decision regarding how you should - and should not - be doing things.
And that requires making some difficult decisions.
The same goes for being successful!
Your profits could be soaring, but chances are you want to stay sky-high. You have to determine how you can stay afloat.
Lucky for you, I’m versed in convincing my clients to make the switch from DIY to ultimate accountant.
And finding one of these awesome accountants starts with determining if you actually need one!
So, to help you cut to the chase, I’ve brought together the 3 questions you need to ask yourself to calculate if hiring a property accountant should be the next task on your to-do list:
1. Are you struggling to meet your deadlines and do your own accounting?
Let’s be honest: who actually sticks to deadlines?
Who meets 5 pm and thinks “wow, I feel satisfied”?
It certainly isn’t me.
But if you are struggling to run all components of your business, outsourcing hefty tasks like accounting is key.
Skipping out on professional help might save you a quick buck in the short run, but it will cost you many when you inevitably make a mistake.
But it won’t just be financial errors that’ll rack up a high bill:
When you’re attention is divided between 137 different tasks, you will start to slack. Even if you do complete your accounting to an awesome standard, I can bet that the other areas of your business will suffer.
One of my clients from last year contacted me when they realised that they faced this predicament:
As the owner of an online vintage boutique, the sheer amount of admin for their shop was riddled with errors as they knew their accounting had to be spot on.
I know, I know...
It’s like you just can’t win!
The bottom line is this: if your workflow feels more like a tidal surge, a property accountant can protect you.
2. Do you have complicated financial affairs?
I’m no good at maths.
I can switch on a calculator, I can tot up my grocery bill in my head to the nearest ||$||10||$||, and I know that cheese I just bought was waaay out of my budget.
But that’s as far as my mathematical expertise stretches.
What about you?
Accounting is no easy skill to claim as a part of your arsenal, and requires rigorous training and examining.
And when it comes to such a complicated set of financial affairs, knowing what you’re up against is pretty significant.
Mistakes here don’t figure in a small fine; they are paired with hefty penalties.
Remember my client? Remember the financial struggles they walked into?
It was all down to underestimating the financial intricacy of property accounting. Don’t make the same mistake.
Property accountants can take one look at your business, and tailor their accounting to it.
3. Are you a buy-to-let landlord?
Thought you were the only one that hadn’t heard of a property accountant?
This is because they perform quite a niche role in the financial world, and stay closer to real estate than to the financial world.
The legal side of real estate is constantly changing.
New laws crop up whilst others change; if you’re not versed in complicated accounting, you simply don’t have a chance.
Did you know about the spring budget changes to income tax relief?
I didn’t think so.
In fact, that was another reason my client contacted me, you know, the one with the mortgage payment problem?
A colleague asked them if they knew anything about it…
(They didn’t even know the spring budget was a thing.)
Lucky for you, there are people that do!
So, what’s your verdict?
Are you in desperate need of a property accountant?
(Or are you in denial and pretending you don’t need one?)
If you’re ready to make the switch, you should now know what the best accountant for your business can do.
And you should also be ready to read the rest of the article, and find out how to hire one...
You’re interested, aren’t you?
You want the cost-saving benefits, the financial expertise, and the security of a plan for your property business.
You want a property accountant - no, you want the ultimate property accountant for your business.
Question is, how can you find one?
And how do you even hire them?
Hire Through A Firm
Firms are the first place to head if you’re on the lookout for a property accountant.
Accounting firms often have a wide variety of accountants on offer, but it's the vetting of the accountants they take on that makes them a trustworthy source of solutions to your accounting needs.
Perhaps they only hire those with a certain level of experience ? Or maybe their accountants have worked with a wide stretch of businesses and thus can respond to any of your needs ?
Either way, you’ll know that your property business needs will be sorted.
But which firm is best for my business?
Oh, you won’t have to worry about that.
That’s our job - we find the best one for your business for you!
In fact, that’s exactly what I did for my student property client.
They wanted a property accountant, but simply didn’t have the time nor the technical knowledge to go about searching for and interviewing potential hires.
I found him a firm that he could trust for a high quality accountant.
And look at him now!
Hire A Freelance Property Accountant
It’s official: the world has changed.
Working from home and freelancing are the business buzzwords of this decade - and the pace of transformation is only set to increase as time goes on!
That means that freelance accountants are now more common than ever, and are used by a variety of businesses.
(Like your competitors, who are probably mid-Skype call with theirs, now!)
Freelance property accountants also stake their claim as a part of this group, and can provide the tailored support often expected from firm-based accountants.
On top of that, as they can stay in control of the number of clients, they can provide a more personalised service.
Have a question at 11pm?
They can answer it.
Think you’ve made a mistake with a client?
They’ll be there to check it.
So - are you in?
Hire A Virtual Assistant Accountant
Speaking of freelancers, why not swap a long-term employee for a short-term solution?
Virtual assistants are the new way to get ahead in business.
If you have a task, they can do it; just pen the problem in an email, and send over the relevant documents.
Wait for the solution, et voila!
Problem sorted, finances fixed.
And guess what?
There are virtual assistants that specify in property accounting.
Better so, you can control the amount of hours they are contracted for, controlling the amount you end up spending on their services.
Having a tight month?
Hire them for less hours.
Need some support, like, right now?
And as VAs are a cheaper source of labour thanks to reduced office and employment costs, they are the low-cost solution to high-price problems.
It’s no wonder I always suggest my clients try out a VA before they go to a firm or put out a job listing for a freelancer.
By using a VA for a brief window of time, you can see whether you do in fact need an accountant, and the extent of your accounting needs.
Hire An In-House Employee
In need of constant property accounting support?
Willing to splurge on a full-time employee?
Then hiring a property accountant to work in-house is an option for your business.
As they can focus on just you - their sole client - the accounting will be tailored and fine-tuned to your changing needs.
And with no other clients detracting from their time, they can provide the consistent support your business needs.
But how can you find your new employee?
1. Pen a job posting, and put it on the web.
2. Wait for responses, and then review the top candidates.
3. Set up an interview or two with the best contenders, and fire some questions their way. You could even send ‘em a trial task, and peruse their performance.
4. Hire the one that impressed you the most, and enjoy not having to do your own accounting!
Question is, how can you be sure they really are the ultimate accountant?
If only someone provided a check list of qualifications to look for…
Oh wait. Someone already has?
(That someone is me!)
What qualifications should they have?
A top-notch property accountant starts with a top-notch accountant.
You should always be on the lookout for the ACA chartered qualification. Considered one of the best stamps of approval in accounting, this sets accountants apart.
ACCA is also a sign of a high-quality accountant, but it's the CIMA which should be at the top of your list.
The CIMA provides training in management accounting, and focuses on those working in industry.
This is considered key for property accountants as it ensures accountants are versed in property-related tax.
Whenever I seek a property accountant for a client, the CIMA is the first thing I look for.
And if they don’t have it? They won’t be hired.
How many years of experience do they have?
They could be at the top of their class, and they could have every qualification in the book...
But having experience in such a dynamic sector?
You can’t get a certificate in that.
Only hire someone if they have more than 3 years’ property accountancy experience to ensure they can align with your accounting needs.
What specific experience should they have?
If there’s one word which matters in business, it’s this:
When something is tailored to your business, or when a service is personalised for its needs, it provides the best support at the best value.
Money saved, success promised!
So, when looking for a property accountant, looking for a specific one is key.
There’s several variants of property accountant that can match your business and its needs:
Are you a landlord? Then you need a landlord accountant.
Need someone who knows tax inside-out? Source a specialist.
Make sure that their experience aligns with your specific business to ensure that their expertise can translate.
Whenever I look for an accountant for any of my clients, their specialist experience is the first thing I look for.
Every business is unique, and thus requires the niche expertise to see their business through to success.
Doesn’t your business deserve that?
Let me guess:
You’re sooo ready to hire a property accountant.
Like gimme-the-bill-and-I’ll-sign-the-cheque ready.
But how much is that cheque worth?
It's all well and good to have found the ultimate property accountant for your business, but if you can’t afford them, it’s time to wave goodbye to the dream of financial security.
An ultimate accountant for the lowest price?
That’s what you want.
And I’m gonna tell you how you can have just that.
But first, let’s discuss how much property accountants actually cost:
As mentioned before, there’s many-a-way to hire a property accountant. And given that VAs are low-cost and firms are expensive, it’s difficult to give a straight answer.
For firm-based and freelance chartered accountants, the average rate is £200-250 for a landlord’s tax return.
The hourly rate tends to be between £80 and £150.
VAs, on the other hand, will work for far lower-costs, and start from as little as £8 an hour!
Of course, this will vary depending on their individual experience, expertise, and the tasks they can complete.
You might even want to consider splashing the cash on such a key asset to your business!
Cheap might be cheerful, but the lack of know-how isn’t.
That doesn’t mean you’re stuck between paying a hefty bill and having no financial support at all, however.
(Rather ironic, isn’t it?)
Here are some of our QuoteGrab-certified ways to lower your property accounting bill:
I know, I know. Clearing out your filing cabinets and sorting out your Microsoft Word documents is far easier said than done, but what if I told you it could help you save some cash? Now you’re interested… For an accountant to do their job, they need to use data from your paperwork. And if that’s a mess, it’ll take longer for them to do their job. And if it takes them longer to do their job, their hourly rate will start to add up.
Do It Yourself (Well - Some Of It)
DIY might bring back past memories of you trying to fix the sink - and failing in the process… But simply accounting tasks can take up your accountants time and make your final bill that much bigger. Help them beat the clock by doing the accounting that's within your skillset. Even the basic admin can save them time and you money!
Read More: Accounting Coach On The Accounting Basics
You should now know what makes a property accountant an ultimate accountant…
And how to find ‘em!
So, now it’s over to you:
Are you ready to get back to business?
And what accounting tasks are you ready to hand over?