If you currently invest in real estate, or have invested previously, you understand just how much paperwork it takes to maintain your portfolio. One of the major unanticipated costs of investing in properties, particularly rental properties, is the time and effort necessary for tracking and administration. One way to reasonably and responsibly cut down on tracking your real estate investments is to utilize technology. Here is a rundown of the attributes and possible benefits of real estate tracking software.
Tracking Software vs. Traditional Tracking
A lot goes into managing investment properties. You’ll inevitably accumulate a small mountain of legal documents, miscellaneous property upkeep and inspection forms, tenant agreements, business receipts, and tax files.
You need a system for recording interactions with contractors, and an inbox for tenant complaints or eccentricities. That doesn’t even consider the accounting necessary to efficiently manage the associated finances.
In a traditional tracking system, you might own several filing cabinets and 1,000 different color-coded manila folders. You could open up an Excel spreadsheet, manually designed and maintained, for quickly sorting information.
Not only does professional tracking software make all of these tasks easier, but it also allows you to run different projections and compare key metrics. Good online document storage is more secure and more portable than using a hard drive or monster filing cabinet. It can also integrate with your other financial accounts to produce synergistic savings.
Using QuickBooks as Your Flexible Investing Solution
Though traditionally proposed as an accounting program, Intuit QuickBooks is flexible enough to fit nearly every form of income generation, whether from a list of customers or a list of property receivables.
To use a basic example, QuickBooks Online presents an efficient interface for aggregating and managing revenue streams, expenses, invoices, cash flow, receipts, banking, and taxes. You can apply every single one of these categories to a real estate portfolio or a small business, the major practical difference being the titles on the customer accounts.
By adding a few custom fields in the software to track properties, you can quickly store, sort, and manage important information. There might be fields for:
- Property description
- Floor plan
- Appraisal value
- Lease dates
- Current rent
- Market rent
- Due dates
- Upcoming maintenance
There are more sophisticated and tailor-made products available. Quicken’s Rental Property Manager is designed with real estate investors in mind. Despite the title, users are not limited to only tracking rental properties, either. The software also functions as a reasonable personal financial tracker and can even accommodate tracking for a small business on the side.
There are other budgeting software programs that you can utilize as a healthy complement to QuickBooks. Perhaps the most popular is Mint, an online personal budgeting tool designed for users to sync their bank accounts, credit cards, and other investments.
Mint is free and easy to learn. It does not have all of the tools and features available through QuickBooks, however, so it cannot reasonably perform as a standalone solution for managing multiple properties.