This article is part of a larger series on Accounting Software.
We’ve identified the best five accounting software programs for real estate businesses, including property management companies, real estate agents, and landlords. We choose them based on a rubric weighted specifically for real estate companies, which gives extra importance to features like tracking income/loss by property, automatic monthly e-payments, and real estate-specific management tools.
Based on our criteria and evaluation, here are our top picks for real estate accounting software:
- QuickBooks Online: Best overall for real estate businesses, property managers, and real estate agencies (4.18 of 5 points)
- Buildium: Best for property management features (3.63 of 5 points)
- Quicken: Best for individuals owning a few rental properties (3.54 of 5 points)
- Wave: Best free real estate accounting software for businesses willing to sacrifice tracking income or loss by property (3.03 of 5 points)
- Realtyzam: Best easy-to-use accounting software for real estate agents (2.73 of 5 points)
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Best Real Estate Accounting Software Compared
$25 to $180
Starting at $50 to $4,968
$39.99 to $103.99
Number of Users
1 to 25
Number of Units or Locations
Up to 5,000—custom pricing if above 5,000
Income & Expense Tracking
Tax Tracking & Management
QuickBooks Online: Best Overall Real Estate Accounting Software
QuickBooks Online Standout Features
- Location tracking: QuickBooks Online lets you create and track the locations of your real estate properties. You can even add sublocations for units in the same location. What’s even better is that you can generate a profit and loss (P&L) report by location in the Reports section of QuickBooks Online. In this report, you’ll see revenues, expenses, and net income per sublocation, the total for each location, and the total for all locations.
- External accountant access: QuickBooks Online has a feature for letting external accountants manage your books. You can invite up to two accountants in addition to the users included in your plan.
- Recurring invoices: Instead of sending invoices manually to tenants, you can save precious time with recurring invoices. This QuickBooks Online feature releases you from the burden of manually sending invoices. Instead, QuickBooks Online will send them for you on a monthly basis.
If you’d like help choosing which QuickBooks Online plan best suits your needs, read our QuickBooks Online comparison article to see a detailed comparison of all QuickBooks Online plans, including QuickBooks Self-employed.
Our Expert Opinion
QuickBooks Online is full-featured accounting software that’s relatively easy to use, considering its powerful features and reports. It can be adapted to real estate companies easily by using the class and location tracking feature. You can define classes for each of your real estate segments and then locations for each property. Most of its vast array of reports can be customized to include only the classes and locations you choose. For instance, you could look at the profitability of a particular building by running a report showing only those units, or locations, within the building.
If you want to keep accounting data stored locally on your hard drive, QuickBooks Desktop might be your best choice instead of QuickBooks Online. QuickBooks will handle your bookkeeping easily, but it’s not designed to help with other aspects of your real estate business like managing leases, maintenance requests, rental applications, and showings. Buildium is our choice if you need real property management in addition to accounting.
Buildium: Best for Property Management Features
Buildium Standout Features
- Tenant evaluation: Buildium can help you screen tenants during the application process. This evaluation feature includes credit screening, criminal records, and eviction information. It also lets you customize credit score requirements.
- Specialized accounting functions: Buildium has all the necessary accounting functions you’ll need for real property management. It also features recurring invoices and automatic expense allocation, such as trash removal, among tenants.
- Marketing tools: Buildium can help you create listings that can be posted on managers’ websites, to Craigslist or to the entire Zillow network.
Our Expert Opinion
Buildium is property management software with an accounting component. It manages rental listings, tenant screenings, and online payments. It also provides both a resident portal and owner portal to create and track communications. The accounting features allow you to collect rent, manage bills, and classify transactions transferred from your bank account. There’s also a feature for more experienced accountants to record general journal entries. Buildium provides basic financial statements, including a balance sheet, income statement, and statement of cash flows, plus many reports for analyzing your activity by property.
There are pros and cons to using management software for your bookkeeping. If used correctly, it can eliminate the need to enter the same information in multiple systems. However, bookkeeping tends to be more difficult when it’s not the software’s focal point. It’s not always easy to understand how―or if―a particular entry in the management software affects your financial statements. We prefer QuickBooks Online if bookkeeping is the main reason for getting real estate accounting software.
Quicken: Best for Individuals Owning a Few Rental Units
Quicken Standout Features
- Necessary accounting functions: Quicken features all the necessary accounting functions to help you manage your real estate transactions. It has invoicing templates, estimates, receivable and payable tracking, and a tax deduction finder.
- Market value tracker: Quicken can also give you quick insights on the current market value of your property portfolio that can be classified by type, sector, or the integrated Morningstar’s Portfolio X-ray tool.
- Tenant management: Quicken can help you manage your tenants in one software program, keeping track of their accounts and managing their payments easily.
- Online document storage: Quicken also has cloud storage for saving receipts and other business documents. We like this because you can keep copies of lease contracts in the cloud.
Definition: The Portfolio X-ray tool is a special analytical tool of Morningstar, a financial services company. This tool evaluates your asset allocation and sector weightings along with diversification and uncovers potential weaknesses in your portfolio.
Our Expert Opinion
Quicken is designed predominantly to manage personal finances, but the Home & Business edition is very capable of managing a few rental houses owned by an individual. It has some great features typically found in more expensive bookkeeping software, such as a mobile app with receipt capture, receiving online payments, managing unpaid bills, and tracking income and expenses by rental unit. It also has basic property management features like a property dashboard, rental agreements, and a report of income and loss formatted as the Schedule E required on your individual income tax return.
Quicken isn’t a double-entry bookkeeping system and isn’t appropriate for a corporation, partnership, or limited liability company (LLC) because it doesn’t track assets and liabilities. While the mobile app will sync with your desktop computer via the cloud, the software itself isn’t cloud-based and must be installed on your computer. For a full-fledged accounting program that includes tracking income and expenses, we recommend choosing QuickBooks Online.
Wave: Best Free Accounting Software for Businesses Willing to Sacrifice Reporting by Property
Wave Standout Features
- Invoicing tracking and recurring invoices: Never miss a payment with Wave’s recurring invoices. Wave will automatically generate and send an invoice to your tenants. Moreover, you can track invoices on Wave to see the status of payments and obligations of your tenants.
- Bank account connection: On Wave, you can connect your bank accounts and credit cards to track expenses and payments from tenants. This feature is helpful especially if you only accept bank-to-bank transfers or credit card payments.
- Free accounting and invoicing: The free accounting and invoicing feature is probably one of the best features from the perspective of small businesses. Given that most products today come at different price points, small real estate businesses can benefit from starting with a free accounting service.
Our Expert Opinion
Wave is a good free bookkeeping system that will allow you to connect to a bank account for classifying transactions and reconciling accounts. It also provides a good balance sheet and income statement. You can add Wave Payments easily to your account to collect online payments and even set up recurring payments. As with all the software reviewed here, there’s an additional charge for the payments service.
While Wave is pretty good for most companies, it lacks the capability of creating different classes or locations, which means you won’t have any way to classify income and expenses by property. Also, Wave doesn’t have a comprehensive app. It does have an app for invoicing and another for capturing receipts. However, beyond that, you’ll need to log in to their website to complete your bookkeeping. Instead, consider Buildium or QuickBooks Online as two alternatives to consider. We recommend going with Buildium for exclusive rental property management features. Quickbooks Online is our recommendation for bookkeeping needs plus class and location tracking.
Realtyzam: Best Easy-to-use Accounting Software for Real Estate Agents
Realtyzam Standout Features
- Zero data entry: The hardest part of bookkeeping is data entry, especially for real estate agents who are always on the road or meeting with clients. Realtyzam provides a zero data entry feature wherein you can feed data from more than 15,000 banks and credit cards directly into Realtyzam.
- Receipt scanning: Meeting with clients and visiting sites entails expenses. With Realtyzam, you can keep track of your expenses through its receipt scanning feature. You can use your smartphone to capture receipts and ditch the shoe box. Realtyzam will store the digital receipt and reduce unnecessary papers on your desk effectively.
- Client relationship management module: The CRM module is one of the features we like with Realtyzam. Real estate agents can use this feature to organize clients by storing all client information in one place. Hence, there’s no need to keep physical records.
Our Expert Opinion
Because Realtyzam is designed for a very specific purpose, it didn’t score well in our rubric. RealtyZam does a great job of tracking commission income and expenses for real estate agents. It doesn’t have bookkeeping functions that real estate agents don’t need like invoicing, online payments, inventory, and time tracking. The result is software that’s very easy to use. You set up each of your listings in the software and assign expenses and mileage as they’re incurred. When a listing is sold, you confirm your commission and view your P&L details instantly. Of course, when tax time comes, you can print a cumulative P&L statement for the whole year.
While RealtyZam is easy to use, it scores low in our Ease of Use rubric because it lacks personal customer support. You must submit your question and wait for an emailed response. Unfortunately, RealtyZam doesn’t provide a way to reconcile your bank account. Monthly reconciliation is the only way you can be confident you’ve picked up all the activity in an account. RealtyZam is only for self-employed individuals―not corporations, partnerships, or LLCs―because it doesn’t track assets and liabilities. Wave is our next best bet if you want simple bookkeeping to keep track of your assets and liabilities.
Features To Look For in Real Estate Accounting Software
Real estate companies need accounting software to help them track the expenses and profitability of individual buildings or units. Therefore, a must-have feature for real estate accounting software is the ability to assign income and expenses to a particular class, location, or other identifiers.
Here is a summary of accounting software features that most real estate companies will find either important or unimportant.
Real Estate Accounting Software Features
Separates profit/loss by property
Great mobile app with receipt capture and mileage tracking
Manage sales tax
Common area expense allocations
Track hours and bill to customers
Automatic monthly e-payments
Integrates property management features
If you need more features than a typical real estate company, such as inventory, sales tax, or hours tracking, see our guide to the best small business accounting software.
How We Evaluate Real Estate Accounting Software
We evaluated a range of software based on pricing, features, ease of use, and our own expert analysis. We looked at bookkeeping systems that could be tailored to real estate companies as well as real-estate-specific programs with a bookkeeping component. We evaluated software on features that are useful specifically to real estate companies, such as the ability to track P&L by property. After identifying features, we applied a higher weight to items important to real estate companies and a lower weight―in some cases, no weight―to features unimportant to real estate companies.
20% of Overall Score
The most important factor in our pricing score is the monthly cost of the program. However, we also considered any limitations on transactions, vendors, or customers. Finally, we scored programs higher that offer a month-to-month option versus an annual license.
20% of Overall Score
Along with a subjective evaluation by our accounting expert, the ease-of-use score includes the availability of customer service by telephone or direct message. Other components include whether online payments require third-party integration and the likelihood of finding third-party accountants familiar with the program who are able to assist.
20% of Overall Score
General features include bookkeeping features typically found in modern bookkeeping software, including online payments, mobile apps, and receipt capture. We also determined whether the software is a double-entry system, which means it tracks both assets and liabilities as well as income and expense. Double-entry systems are the standard for bookkeeping and provide checks and balances to ensure accuracy.
20% of Overall Score
The most important real estate feature evaluated is the ability to track profit and loss by property. Other features include the ability to track automobile mileage, automatic monthly e-payments, tenant portals, and maintenance management.
20% of Overall Score
Our expert evaluation is a subjective analysis of the software’s features, mobile app, and reports. It also includes the availability of bookkeeping assistance from third parties.
We’ve rated five real estate accounting software programs and discussed how each could serve the needs of particular real estate businesses. If you’re looking for software that can track your P&L by property and prepare financial statements easily, QuickBooks Online is a terrific choice. However, if you also want help managing your properties, you should consider Buildium. Finally, real estate agents have very specific needs that can be addressed affordably with RealtyZam.