Accounting for real estate: Everything you need to know

5 min read
people viewing a real estate property

Real estate accounting is a growing and lucrative field that provides exciting opportunities for CPAs and accountants, whether you’re taking the first step into your career or a veteran searching for a new challenge. And if you’re already employed as a real estate accountant, you know that the industry is constantly changing — meaning there are always new skills to develop and regulations to learn.

Becker is here to help you answer your questions surrounding this accounting specialization and share the knowledge you need to succeed as a real estate accountant.

What is real estate accounting?

Accounting is an important part of every industry and real estate is no exception. A real estate accountant tracks and manages all financial records related to real estate transactions, ensuring accuracy and tax compliance.

Accounting for real estate agents and firms generally requires:

  • Helping the business manage its money intelligently to expand revenue and shrink costs
  • Evaluating and understanding property income, profits, losses, gains, and value 
  • Preparing and reviewing quarterly and year-end tax reports, correctly and on time 
  • Ensuring compliance with federal, state, and local financial regulations and tax laws 
  • Performing financial audits and analyses

Overall, accountants help real estate agents and real estate firms make smarter financial decisions by giving them an accurate, high-level view of their business performance.

Why is real estate accounting important?

Real estate accounting is essential to the success and daily operations of real estate agents and firms. They help mitigate risks and the chance of tax noncompliance, as well as provide undeniable advantage in a competitive market.

Benefits of hiring a real estate accountantRisks of not hiring a real estate accountant
Improved cash flow, such as faster payments from tenantsIncurring tax penalties and regulatory fines
Lower expenses, wider margins, and more control over incomeOverpaying and losing track of costs
Improved performance of financial portfolioMissing opportunities to increase revenue and profit margins
Greater tax efficiency and discovery of more deductionsFailing to prepare for changes to tax codes and regulations
Support and guidance for internal and external auditsLack of insight into financial performance and market conditions

Real estate accountants also give their clients or employers the peace of mind that comes with knowing that their finances are in good hands. And by hiring a real estate accountant, real estate agents and firms can shift the time and energy previously dedicated to accounting toward managing their properties and growing their businesses.

Skills you need for real estate accounting

As the leading voice for all things finance within a company, real estate accountants must possess the general knowledge and skills necessary to all accountants—attention to detail, accounting best practices, analytical prowess, critical thinking, auditing and report generation, bookkeeping and accounting software proficiency . You will also need skills particular to the real estate industry.

  • Real estate tax law: Understand regulations and places in which clients may benefit from additional tax deductions 
  • Budget preparation: Analyze all financial records to determine budgeting across properties and investments 
  • Lease administration: Maintain records of lease agreements, rent rolls, and security deposits to ensure accurate compliance 
  • Investment analysis: Provide financial insight and suggestions into potential future investments 
  • Cost control: Identify areas of potential cost reduction and ways to save on overhead costs 
  • Purchase and sale management: Facilitate logistics during sales and purchases by printing and distributing checks


Is real estate accounting right for you?

Real estate accounting provides an interesting career specialization for those intrigued by property management and person-to-person interaction. It’s an in-demand position that provides great benefits to real estate agents and firms, and therefore real estate accountants also have good earning potential. Like all accountant and CPA salaries, real estate accountants' salaries vary based upon experience and position. However, the average salary for this specialization is about $87,480 per year1.

Is this the career specialization for you? Only you can decide. But if the skillsets match your goals and the field sparks your interest, there’s a good chance that the ideal real estate accounting job is waiting for you.

Real estate accounting courses

Whether you are new to the field and want to learn more about accounting in real estate, an active CPA looking to expand your knowledge and earn more CPE credits, or a current real estate accountant interested in deepening your expertise, Becker is here for you. 

Becker CPE offers real estate accounting courses specialized in a variety of topics to get you up to speed quickly on the complexities of real estate tax accounting, while also earning CPE credits upon course completion. 

Explore the Becker Real Estate Industry Library, a package of real estate accounting courses that offer 10 in-depth classes for a total of 18.5 CPE credits. These courses include: 

  • Real Estate: Mapping the Industry 
  • Real Estate Developers: Mastering Tax Accounting for Long-term Construction Contracts
  • Real Estate Developers: Mastering Revenue Recognition 
  • Real Estate Developers: Analyzing Financial Statements 
  • Real Estate Investors: Understanding and Arranging Section 1031 Exchanges 
  • Real Estate Investors: Understanding Loss Limitations 
  • Real Estate Investors: Understanding Rental Real Estate Tax Reporting 
  • Real Estate Investors: Understanding Opportunity Zones 
  • Real Estate Developers: Analyzing Sales and Use Tax, Part 1 
  • Real Estate Developers: Analyzing Sales and Use Tax, Part 2 

Ready to get started refining your career specialization? Rely on Becker to help you achieve your goals! 

  1. U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes132011.htm#(1)


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