What accountancy software do landlords use?

by Readers Question

11:48 AM, 7th November 2013
About 6 years ago

What accountancy software do landlords use?

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What accountancy software do landlords use?

Hi all,

I’m fairly new to property investing and brand new to this site. Thanks Property Geek, Rob Dix, for your podcast on Mark Alexander that pointed me here.

Quick question; what accountancy software does this community recommend? What accountancy software do landlords use?

I currently only have three properties, but plan to scale to a lot more. I use spreadsheets for now, but it may be nice to use something with cool, pre-customised reporting and dashboards.

I’m going to use odesk to find a Virtual Assistant to do the book-keeping for me: they could use excel, but again, I want to know if there is something better out there. I’ve checked out Xero, but it seems more relevant to a trading company.

Any recommendations?

Thanks

Martin



Comments

Mark Alexander

11:59 AM, 7th November 2013
About 6 years ago

Hi martin

So far I've managed to run a very large portfolio, built over a period of 25 years without using accountancy software.

I simply forward all email and attachments over to my accountants on receipt and post any extra paperwork to them every two weeks.

My brother manages the portfolio of my entire family and reports any issues very quickly, e.g. rent arrears.

If my accountants pick up any issues they call me, otherwise they provide me with a monthly report.

I pay £100 a year per property for this service plus a bit extra for completion of my tax return. Before I do anything significant, e.g. a new deal (sale, purchase, refurb) I call them and let them know what I have in mind. They then talk me through the tax implications and advise me the best way to structure the deal. A good accountant who works this way is worth their weight in gold. My accountants bill has never exceeded the money they have saved me as a result of their advice. Therefore, in my mind, all the book-keeping and tax returns etc. don't cost me anything in real terms. My accountants are landlords themselves and specialise in advising clients in the property business.

If you would like an introduction please see >>> http://www.property118.com/member/?id=452
.

Jeremy Smith

12:20 PM, 7th November 2013
About 6 years ago

Hi Martin,

Spreadsheet every time !

I've tried software, can't name it, but it has something to do with herbs!...
It was early days, when it was just launched, I used it for employees wages and it got all the NI and tax wrong!... It caused no end of problems.
Ended up doing my employees wages from the HMRC tables/books - so much simpler to understand.

With a spreadsheet you can put in exactly what you want, you can create checksum columns to check the figures all add up correctly.

Money in -rents
money out -expenses
etc, etc....

You should keep it simple and be able to check that it's right for yourself!!

You should even be able to check your accountant's got the tax return right, now that I've registered myself on the HMRC website, I've found out that my accountant got both of my last two years returns wrong, they've got errors in them.
Anyway, I digress.

...Spreadsheet for me.

Fiona Macaskill

12:25 PM, 7th November 2013
About 6 years ago

I've used Quicken 2002 for years - it's really easy to use and does everything you need to do. I now manage over 200 tenants on it and its absolutely fine. It has a good Reports facility(so you can look at your income and expenditure an a variety of ways) and you can set up as many Categories as you like (Rents, Repairs, Services provided etc) - these can also be subdivided. You can find any text, eg payee etc very easily using Cont. F. You can download your bank accounts straight into Quicken (I am with the Co op and they don't have a direct method so you have to save your statement as a spread sheet and then convert it but once you get used to it, its not too complicated).

Ollie Cornes

12:29 PM, 7th November 2013
About 6 years ago

I've used no software (like Mark, though I imagine his accountans use Sage), Sage Line 50, Excel, FinancialForce, and now use Xero. I hated all of them apart from the last one, Xero, which I have used for coming on three years now. Sage sucks, I mean seriously, it's one of the worst pieces of software ever designed. It's almost impenetrable to normal human beings. Accountants like it, but that's no use to a landlord unless they want to delegate EVERYTHING to the accountant.

Like most modern software Xero is web based, and there are also Apple and Android mobile apps. The price includes unlimited user accounts so my bookkeeper, property manager and accountant all have access to the data. I like having access myself as I run reports every month to look at who has paid, profitability, repair costs, etc. It's also very useful for running off statements when tenants are in arrears, in fact I can click a couple of buttons and a PDF statement is emailed straight to the tenant. Xero has things called "tracking codes" which are what Sage calls "Departments" and allow you to assign transactions to a specific property, so I can run reports for any specific property, or all of them.

Another thing I love about Xero is it includes a secure system to automatically grab your bank statements from your bank. This means no-one has to manually enter bank transactions, they appear in Xero every day automatically. All that needs doing is to reconcile them. It's a big time-saver and makes it much easier to keep the books up to date.

As an aside, I recommend going paperless. If you buy a Fujitsu ScanSnap or similar, you can scan all paperwork into PDFs, but where the text is read using Optical Character Recognition, so when you search your PC/Mac for some text, it can look INSIDE the documents. Every day as a matter of course I scan and shred the day's post (bank statements and contracts I keep) and so I hold hardly any paper, and store all documents in an online storage system (there's Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, Skydrive and many others). I think a paperless office is a very good partner to an online accounting system. Xero lets you attach scanned copies of invoices to transactions.

I've no relationship with Xero other than as a customer, and I am generally very happy with the product and to comfortable recommending it. They are a New Zealand company, but now have two offices in the UK as well as the US, and just raised a staggering $150m so there will be a lot of new features coming.

Martin, do be careful using odesk to find people - mistakes in your books could be costly. If you do use Xero, they have a section on their web site that lists bookkeepers and accountants who know Xero.

There are many packages out there that claim to be an all-in-one package for landlords that manage accounts, repairs, tenants etc, but I've never seen one that looked any good. Many are purchasable downloads, which is pretty daft in 2013 - online apps are generally much better (though obviously the NSA and GCHQ may have more access 😉 )

Dunsaw Sawyerr

12:30 PM, 7th November 2013
About 6 years ago

I use Landlord Property Portfolio Software with the tax option. I have been using it for 4 yearsyears and it helped me understand my numbers fully as I worked fulltime whilst running a small portfolio. I file my tax myself and as I like keeping my paperwork organised it has not been too much trouble.

You can try it free of charge for 30 days. As you can tell I am a fan.

Karisse Stanley-Jones

12:32 PM, 7th November 2013
About 6 years ago

Hi Martin,

Perhaps have a look at LetMC - http://www.letmc.com/ or EZPZ Software - http://www.ezpzsoftware.co.uk/. They both offer very helpful services.

Karisse

Fiona Macaskill

12:36 PM, 7th November 2013
About 6 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Ollie Cornes" at "07/11/2013 - 12:29":

Xero sounds very interesting. I bank with the Co op. do you know if its possible to download statements from them every day or do only a few banks allow this facility?

Mike W

12:46 PM, 7th November 2013
About 6 years ago

Microsoft money - out of date but now free. Excellent. Have used since 1999 on up to 12 properties.

Ollie Cornes

12:52 PM, 7th November 2013
About 6 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Fiona Macaskill" at "07/11/2013 - 12:36":

Fiona, I just checked and Xero shows me support for bank feeds for Co-op personal and business accounts, so it seems the answer is yes. As far as I know all of the banks where this facility is in place do a download of transactions every day.

I think you can create a 30 day trial Xero account, set up a bank feed and see how it works. Doing this seems to be the only way to check if there are automatic feeds for a particular bank. For what it's worth Xero usually use a company called Yodlee to provide the bank feed technology, although some banks (e.g. HSBC UK) are bypassed and Xero go straight to the bank direct.

I concur with comments that LetMC are a nice company with good people, but the last time I looked their product was specifically for letting agents, not landlords.

Fiona Macaskill

12:56 PM, 7th November 2013
About 6 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Ollie Cornes" at "07/11/2013 - 12:52":

Thanks Ollie,
I'm looking at it - moving from Quicken 2002 after 10 year's use would be a very big deal for me so I've got to take a lot of care and make sure its worth all the effort - automatic downloads are very attractive!

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